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Green & Chic ~ Longitude 131°, Ayers Rock, Australia

July 31, 2009

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The name Longitude 131° refers to the precise east-west location of Uluru, the rust-colored monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock, itself the primary attraction in Australia’s Red Centre, and the reason for this hotel’s existence. Not quite the only lodging within sight of this popular tourist destination, Longitude 131° is by far the most luxurious, and offers the best view — each of the tentlike guest cabins looks through full-length windows across six miles of desert at the thousand-foot-high Uluru.


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Guest rooms are built on steel stilts, elevated a foot or so above the fragile brush, and guests are asked to keep to the paths, to minimize environmental impact. Inside the décor is a bit British Africa, of all things, each room themed after a different Australian pioneer, featuring a bit of memorabilia, perhaps a letter or some photos from the settlers’ time. Luxury carries the day, with vast plush beds and futuristic bathrooms, featuring views even from the shower and the bathroom mirror. And the front window’s blinds and screen are remotely operated — upon waking, you can let in the view and the breeze with the press of a button.
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There’s a small pool, but aside from that, resort-style leisure activities are at a minimum. The rock is the main attraction, and guided tours to and around it and Kata Tjuta, its perhaps more dramatic sisters, are as close as you’ll get to any kind of sport or exercise. Some guests may prefer to contemplate the formations at a distance, and Longitude 131° is well suited to that, either from the guest rooms or from the Dune House restaurant and bar.
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Best of all may be the sunset, when Uluru is at its most dramatic, changing colors rapidly with the setting sun. This location is among the world’s most spectacular, and it’s best enjoyed from an equally spectacular hotel. All of our favorite hotels strive to offer guests a unique experience — this one proves, if you’ll forgive the seeming absurdity of the sentiment, that some experiences are more unique than others.
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