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Longitude 131: Glamping Fit for Royals

Rumor has it that the royal couple, William and Kate, will be staying for one romantic, baby-free night at the five-star Longitude 131 resort when they visit Uluru in Australia. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is one of Australia’s most iconic sites, and Longitude 131 is located just outside the park’s boundaries. (And as for why the royals are leaving baby George at home? Only kids ages 10 and older are allowed at the tranquil resort.)

The first thing you’ll see after a night in one of Longitude 131’s tents is a stunning view of Uluru—directly from the foot of your bed. Yes, we said bed. Staying at Longitude 131 is like camping without really camping, which is perfect for those of us who like our creature comforts (and running water).

Unlike camping, where you’re just paying for a parcel of ground on which to lay your head, at Longitude 131, you’re shelling out a hefty $1,100 AUD (approximately $1,035, according to per person, per night. That rate includes all meals, an open bar stocked with premium wines and spirits, an unlimited in-tent minibar, and signature experiences offered by the resort.

If the word “tent” doesn’t seem to fit the more than $1,000 daily price tag, that’s because these are only tents in the loosest sense of the word. Each of the 15 large tents on the sprawling property has hardwood floors and walls and even a solid door that locks. Domed fabric ceilings will make you feel like you’re really sleeping in a tent when you look up from your plush king-sized bed. (Twin-bed tents are also available.) One “wall” of the tent is entirely a picture window, complete with a special one-way privacy film that allows you to see out during the day but doesn’t let passersby look in. On cooler nights and mornings, you can open the window (it has a screen to keep out bugs) and feel more like you’re sleeping in nature as the sounds of the wildlife outside lull you to sleep. Or if it’s too hot, all tents have air-conditioning. And at Longitude 131, there is no braving the outback in the middle of the night when nature calls—all tents have running water and en suite bathrooms.

Best of all, these tents all feature incredible, unparalleled views of Uluru. Since camping by Uluru is now illegal, there is literally no place closer to the rock that you can sleep.

Beyond the tents, the views of Uluru are just as amazing. Take a refreshing dip in Longitude 131’s pool (and we mean really refreshing—the pool somehow stays chilled even on the hottest desert days), from which you can see the rock. The attentive staff will bring you your drinks of choice (all included!) to sip on while you admire Uluru from the pool or a lounge chair.

Expect to be well taken care of by the dedicated staff here. From the minute you arrive, everyone knows your name and will remember your dining preferences. Vegetarian? Gluten-free? There’s a special menu for you that you can even customize according to your preferences. Lunch and dinner are both three-course affairs featuring locally sourced Australian specialties and including wine and cheese. Road trains bring in fresh fruit and vegetables multiple times each week, so you won’t be dining on frozen food or “bush tucker.”

The draw of Longitude 131 is, of course, its location, and the resort makes the most of it. There are twice-daily activities that guests can participate in along with plenty of free time to take part in optional activities. A typical day might start with a guided tour of Kata Tjuta at sunrise, led by an informative and enthusiastic area expert. Or, in the evening, there’s nothing more luxurious than gazing at Uluru’s spectacular color changes at sunset with a glass of bubby in your hand (in a real wine glass—no plastic cups here). The morning and evening tours are all included with the price of your stay, but if you want something even more adventurous, the staff can arrange a wide variety of other tours, such as a helicopter flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta or a spin around Uluru on the back of a Harley-Davidson with Uluru Motorcycle Tours.

One of the best included experiences at Longitude 131 is Table 131, the resort’s dinner under the stars. After a sunset tour of Uluru, guests are whisked out to a seemingly remote location in the desert (which is actually within walking distance of the tents), where a table is set up for a four-course dinner complete with wine pairings. There’s no light pollution in the area, so you’ll be able to see stars you may have never seen before. The knowledgeable wait staff double as astronomers and use a high-powered laser pointer to highlight and explain the legends behind constellations such as the Seven Sisters. Between courses, you’ll be treated to performances by a didgeridoo player and traditional indigenous dancers.

Post-vacation blues are a real thing—leaving Longitude 131 feels like an abrupt departure from fantasy to the real world. No more sunrise views of Uluru or greeting the sunset with a glass of sparkling wine. It’s a harsh world outside of Longitude 131.

How to Get There: Ayers Rock Airport is a short drive from Longitude 131, and the resort operates a complimentary transfer service to and from the airport.

Cost: $1,100 AUD per person, per night (based on two people sharing one tent). The extra-person rate is $600 per night. A minimum two-night stay applies to all bookings.

Amenities: All tents come with pre-loaded iPads, MP3 docks, Wi-Fi access, and a free minibar. Twice-daily housekeeping is also standard.

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