Reasons to linger at Longitude 131
Not many luxury lodge owners would allow a corrugated iron lean-to in the middle of their property. Even fewer would deliberately erect one.
Words by Ute Junker
Originally published in Australian Financial Review
However, Hayley and James Baillie, of Baillie Lodges, like to do things differently, as the revamp of their luxury desert camp, Longitude 131, proves.
Until now, this exclusive retreat overlooking Uluru has been famous for its distinctive “tents”, their white canopies floating like sails above the sandy plains of the Red Centre. Now, however, a pair of corrugated iron constructions have arisen in the heart of the tented camp.
“When we first went up there, we saw some things crying out for an update,” Baillie says. That included bringing in more contemporary stylings – a task accomplished in a soft refurbishment in 2014 – and giving guests more opportunities to soak up the desert’s unique charms.
In 2015 they added verandahs to every tented accommodation, each equipped with an ethanol fireplace. Guests can now fall asleep on their decks tucked into a comfy swag, bathed in firelight and the glow of a million stars.
This year’s renovation, however – which saw the property closed for four months – is the most extensive yet. The central Dune House building has been reworked, with a new bar area and a deck for al fresco dining. A new Dune Top vantage point has also been established, complete with a plunge pool and a help-yourself bar.
“The Dune Top is the highest point of the property, with views of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and there was nothing there,” Baillie says. The area is now an inviting place to lounge around during the day; at night, a number of pods offer an intimate dining experience.