On its own secluded 30,000-year-old sand dune with Uluru in its sightlines, and a ‘beaut’ collection of 16 minimal-impact tented pavilions, Longitude 131° is truly a one-of-a-kind destination.
Run by James and Hayley Baillie, who signed a long- term lease agreement with the Indigenous Business Council of Australia in 2013, the iconic safari-style camp in the “Red Centre” has had several multi-million- dollar eco-reinventions. The latest, supported by a budget of upward of AU$8million, was in 2017.
The Baillie’s voluptuous tents, designed to “float above the desert floor,” adopt the spirit of the original pioneers, recreated for the 21st century as a sanctuary of earthy elegance. Each plays a visual narrative that pays homage to both Indigenous artists from the Maruku, Ernabella, Thala and Tjumpi Arts centres. Separate layers of fabric, enhance thermal and acoustic insulation to maintain a comfortable interior climate. Natural stone floors cool in summer and insulate in winter. In-tent custom furnishings, made by local designers, contrast with memorabilia from notable early explorers. Floor to ceiling windows at the end of bespoke, Baillie Beds dressed with organic linens, luxe throws private bathrooms with precious water saving- showers are princess-worthy. Adventurers even have the option of sleeping with the window-wall entirely open to the star-sparkling desert skies.
James and Hayley invited architect, Max Prichard and to create sumptuously designed balconies for every tent—ideal for enhancing their panoramic private views of 348 metre Uluru, (24 metres higher than the Eiffel tower at its tallest point). More commonly known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is a mere 10km as the crow flies away.
The refreshed central Dune house is a large structure, partially built into the side of the sand dune to maximize insulation and reduce energy needs. It now features a stylish new bar with some five hundred individually hand- painted tiles from nearby Indigenous Arts communities. An outdoor terrace for dining, and a desert sanctuary with built-in day beds around swimming pool have also been added.
With the most recent upgrades, Table 131, a signature eco-campfire dining experience on a central decked area came to life as did Spa Kinara (aka moon), the property’s first dedicated spa. With a pair of cabin cool and cozy treatment rooms and a chic outdoor shower, Kinara takes its inspiration from the Wilja—the traditional Aboriginal outback shelter. Guests choose from signature treatments and a posy of outback botanicals, including the cure-all Irmangka Irmangka, a salted emu bush.
Dress for success looks different at Longitude 131° depending on the season. Expect a desert climate with average daytime temperatures ranging from 22° Celsius in winter to 35° Celsius in summer. Morning and nighttime temperatures can be very low during winter—bring your woolly jumpers and, of course, your hiking gear.
The Dune Pavilion
Set on a private desert dune, away from other guests, it’s Australia’s only accommodation that offers views of both World Heritage-listed Uluru and
Kala Tjuta (the Olgas). Architecturally designed to mimic an Australian homestead of days gone by, Dune features two bedrooms, its own lounge, a bespoke bar, private decks luxury swag for stargazing and a trough-style plunge pool. Where else in the world?