As we flew out of Sydney towards Alice Springs, I couldn’t stop myself from peering out over the changing scenery outside the plane’s window. Without any warning, the greens and blues of the landscape below transformed into something else entirely as we drew closer to Australia’s interior.
The land became dry, with a colour palette of dusty browns and reds, and we started spotting large basins of what looked like salt flats from where we were up in the air. We had spent a fair bit of our Australian travel budget to travel into the Outback, and as soon as I saw this almost-otherworldly terrain, I knew that we had made the right choice.
We had come to Alice Springs to explore but, more importantly, also to use it as a jumping-off point for our Uluru multi-day tour. Having flown in from New Zealand earlier that same day, we knew that we wanted some proper rest and relaxation before embarking on a tour.
When we heard about Desert Palms Resort – and saw photos of the property – we knew that this had to be the place we’d stay while in Alice Springs. We booked one night there and what we found was an ideal spot to prepare for the rest of our Outback adventures.
– Where is Desert Palms? –
You’ll find Desert Palms alongside the Todd River, in the company of a lot of the other major accommodation options in the area. We caught a hotel transfer from Alice Springs airport that took us right to the gate; if you have your own set of wheels, the resort is a 15km drive away.
If you’re planning to do a self-drive tour of the Northern Territory’s most iconic sights, then you’ll find having a car pretty handy, especially if you need to stock up on supplies in Alice Springs. But even without the car, it was an easy 15-minute, flat walk into the town centre. Just remember to dress for the weather – we were there on some scorching-hot days and there’s not a whole lot of shade along the way!
Most of Alice Springs’ shops, restaurants and bars can be found in the town centre, but there are some eateries near Desert Palms, as well as a casino and golf course.
– Staying in a private villa –
Considering we would be spending the next few nights sleeping in swags (read: slightly upgraded sleeping bags), we were thrilled to see that our home for the evening was our own little villa, complete with a private veranda.
Desert Palms offers villas in double, triple and quad varieties. Each villa contains bed(s), a kitchenette with a mini dining area and a bathroom. The kitchenette is fully stocked in case you’d like to make your own meals: there’s a cooker, microwave, kettle, fridge, cutlery, crockery and cooking utensils. Complimentary tea and coffee is available, along with some boxed milk in the fridge. All of the villas are completely separated, and we found this situation ideal for getting a solid night’s sleep.
There’s parking available just outside the villas, as well as decent Wi-Fi coverage. Dropping our heavy bags on the floor, it honestly felt like we had absolutely everything we needed in the villa. Once we were settled in, the staff at reception gave us great advice on things to see in the immediate area and in town.
There are other facilities on the property, such as washing machines, undercover barbecues, a mini mart for any emergency supplies you might need and luggage storage.
– An oasis in the desert –
Our first impressions of Australia’s interior had been those of a dusty and dry red landscape and, upon walking out of the airport, we had become immediately aware of the intensely hot temperatures that had created such surroundings.
Standing outside the gates to Desert Palms, it was almost as though we had been teleported momentarily to a beachside destination on the coast. Ahead of us we could see tall palm trees, casting much-needed shade onto the rows of villas and their verandas below.
The tropical feel is further enhanced by the presence of Desert Palms’ amazing pool area. If you come to Alice Springs in the summer, I guarantee that you will want to jump into a body of water after about 5 seconds of standing in the heat. At least that’s how I felt – and I wanted to launch myself into the resort’s pool as soon as I spotted it!
There are deck chairs (with umbrellas, don’t worry) located around the pool and, when swimming, it’s good to pay attention to a low structure called Headache Bridge, for rather apparent reasons…
While I definitely recommend venturing into Alice Springs to look around, I’ll admit it was hard to leave the resort, as we felt we could’ve easily spent all of our time relaxing at Desert Palms.
– A perfect choice for a pre- or post-tour stay –
A lot of Uluru tours start or end in Alice Springs, and I’d recommend planning an overnight stay before and after your tour, if only to ensure that you get a good night’s rest. With our pick up coming at 5:30AM, we felt ready, albeit a little disoriented as it was still dark, for the tour ahead.
Not only is Desert Palms a perfect place to unwind, it’s also close to the centre of Alice Springs, where you can pick up last-minute supplies for your tour (top tip: buy a fly-net for your head; you can thank me later).
Last but not least, the kind folk at Desert Palms really went above and beyond expectations by allowing us to leave our big luggage bags with them, meaning that we could take our smaller backpacks on the tour while leaving our valuables in a safe place. This made perfect sense for us, since we were flying out of Alice Springs to our next Australian destination at the end of our tour.
If I venture out to Uluru again (and I hope I will), I have no doubt in my mind that I would stay at Desert Palms for another stress-free night before or after other Outback adventures.
Do you have any pre-tour rituals? Or have you been out to Alice Springs? Let me know in the comments below.
Note: Our stay at Desert Palms was complimentary in exchange for a review but, as always, all opinions and swimming pool infatuations are entirely my own.
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