Australia's first desert golf course to open near Uluru

Australia's first desert golf course will have a view of the Northern Territory's Uluru and Kata Tjuta from every hole. Photo / Thinkstock
Australia's first desert golf course will have a view of the Northern Territory's Uluru and Kata Tjuta from every hole. Photo / Thinkstock

Visitors to Australia's Red Centre will soon be able to play a round of desert golf as part of a makeover at the Ayers Rock Resort.

The Northern Territory property has also signed a major agreement with the world's largest hotel operator, Accor, to help it open up new markets, such as China and India.

In addition, the federal government will contribute A$4.9 million (NZ$6.4m) towards a National Indigenous Training Academy at the resort.

The Uluru property - recently purchased by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) for $300 million - currently employs 51 indigenous Australians.

When ILC bought the resort in May only two of the 670 staff were indigenous Australians.

By 2018, the ILC hopes at least one in two - or over 300 employees - will be indigenous Australians.

Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which manages ILC's tourism activities, said the main complaint it received from guests of the resort was that they had not interacted with an Aboriginal person during their stay.

"As one of our first initiatives, and with the help of local Elders, we have invited surrounding indigenous communities to the resort to sell their art and crafts directly to our guests, display cultural performances, take guests on bush tucker tours around the resort, explain their art, and so on," Voyages managing director Koos Klein said in Sydney recently.

"Since then we are getting letter after letter from overseas guests who have had an experience that they will never forget."

Klein said the resort's overall objective was to repositioned itself as an indigenous centre of excellence, employing and training significant numbers of indigenous Australians and offering guests a genuine indigenous experience.

The facility upgrade will include building a children's play and education centre with an indigenous theme, a spa and wellness centre with indigenous treatments, a new conference centre and Australia's first desert golf course, which will have a view of Uluru and Kata Tjuta from every hole.

"Its facilities will be upgraded, but we could have gold and marble dripping from the walls, without the indigenous experience the resort would not meet our guests' expectations."

Accor will assist with sales, marketing and distribution, procurement and in the area of human resources, he said.

Ayers Rock Resort consists of five hotels, which will retain their names but be aligned to corresponding brands in Accor's portfolio.

Sails in the Desert will become a member of Pullman Hotels, Desert Gardens Hotel will be a part of Novotel Hotels, Outback Pioneer a member of All Seasons Hotels, Emu Walk Apartments a member of Grand Mercure Apartments and Lost Camel Hotel a member of Mercure Hotels.


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