travelling the seven parts of the world
Feb 27th, 2008

After spending 3 nights in Ayers Rock, we wanted to drive to Kings Canyon, spend a night there, then come back to Ayers Rock Resort to spend the night, and fly off the next morning. Voyages, which operates both Ayers Rock Resort and Kings Canyon Resort would have no such thing. Apparently, booking our 4th night in Ayers Rock Resort breaks our consecutive night deal with them, so we no longer get our special price anymore, and our room, which we otherwise paid for $150/night, would cost us $290 a night. Two hundred and ninety dollars a night! I remember our luxury hotel in the middle of Manhattan costing less, and here we're talking about a room where the toilet seat is 2 meters away from my head when I sleep.

Rooms in Kings Canyon Resort were ONLY $140/night. I explained that we are either going to stay in Kings Canyon Resort or Ayers Rock Resort. If they let me have a a room in Kings Canyon Resort and then a room in Ayers Rock Resort for the same price I have been paying all the time, they make $290. If they make me stay in Kings Canyon Resort, they make $280. But no, this made no sense to them. They found that making less money for giving basically the same service and making us go through the inconvenience of waking up at 5AM to drive 355 km to Ayers Rock to catch our plane was more sensible than simply letting me have my room for the same price I had been paying all along.

So we had to take 2 nights in Kings Canyon Resort, and drive back in the early morning. That's OK. But by the time I ended up actually reserving the rooms in Kings Canyon, I was told there are no more standard rooms left. Apparently, the only rooms there were luxury rooms for $295 per night. Wow! I told the clerk to go screw himself, and he almost immediately located a budget room for me, for just $100 per night. How convenient!

And what a budget room it was. I have never seen the term "budget" stretched so much to meet the lower end. They called them "lodges", apparently they realized the term "room" doesn't quite fit. I called them jail cells. The only light was a single bulb hanging from the ceiling on the electricity wire. The toilets were in a different building altogether. Sitting in the bed and and leaning against the wall made the bed roll into the middle of the room. Leaving any food on the table inside the room made for a night of sleeping alongside an ant colony. There was no wallpaper, just blocks of concrete that were really cold. And worst of all, the air conditioner could not be turned off as it was a single unit for the whole building. I caught a really bad cold that persisted for weeks afterwards.

The term "resort" is a joke. Over here "resort" apparently means a small swimming pool, a run down tennis court with holes in the net I could stick my head through, and a restaurant building that made of plates of metal nailed together.

I mean, I wouldn't expect anything more from accommodation in the red center, but please, then don't call it a resort and don't charge a hundred bucks a night. You are ruining the whole experience for everyone.

Getting to Kings Canyon is an ordeal all within itself. You can take a bus, or you can rent a car. If you want to rent a car, you have to live with the fact that car rental companies only give 150 km free with your rental. The drive to Kings Canyon and back ended up being 710 km. We only had 2 days. It is 25c + tax + tax + some other tax per extra km, so we ended up paying more for the extra kilometers than for the actual rental. Oh yes, and lets not forget that petrol in Kings Canyon was nearly $2 per liter. Oh yes, and if you're under 25, that'll be $25/day extra + tax, never mind the fact that there we saw about 20 cars in a 700 km stretch of road making it possibly the safest place to drive anywhere.

Wanna take the bus instead? Sure, no problem, that'll be $116 per person one way. For two people going there and back, that's $464. Dear AAT Kings (which is the company that operates this rip off), riddle me this, how is it possible that pooling lots of people in a single bus ends up being more expensive than if every person in that bus hired a car and drove himself?