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Australia’s first airport RESORT set to launch at Darwin Airport

Two firsts for the Top End! Australia's very first Airport Resort is set to open & travellers take the first ever direct flight from The Sunny Coast

Australia’s first airport resort will be unveiled on December 5, 2023, opening to guests at a time of expansion of direct services into Darwin Airport.

The launch of The Novotel & Mercure Darwin Airport Resort follows the complete reimagination and integration of two existing airport hotels at Darwin Airport. The development was made possible through a $30 million investment by the Airport Development Group (ADG), which also owns the adjacent Darwin Airport. 

ADG’s visionary $30 million project has produced a remarkable transformation of the hotels, with the progressive refurbishment of existing rooms and the creation of new pool villas, suites and bungalows perfectly capturing Darwin’s tropical environment. 


Previously, the two hotels had separate receptions, but now a combined reception area has been opened, along with a new 60-metre/one million litre swimming pool (one of the largest city hotel pools in Australia), poolside cabanas, children’s aquatic playground, and new poolside dining. 

The newly launched resort will position itself as a premium destination venue for leisure visitors, business travellers and conference groups to the Northern Territory’s Top End. 

Darwin Airport Resort
Darwin Airport Resort. Image: Supplied
The provision of world-class resort accommodation is a key component of ADG’s Darwin International Airport 2023 Master Plan, which focuses on the significant infrastructure required to support growth in passenger numbers to between 3.7 and 5.5 million annually by 2043. The Master Plan will guide the development of existing and proposed airport facilities and land use for the next 20 years, as an ‘aertroplis’ evolves in the 80 acres of airport land. 

A feature of the resort is the diversity of rooms available to guests as part of the 423-room inventory. New-look Novotel and Mercure hotel rooms boast sleek interior designs, and guests can also choose family suites, freestanding bungalows, and new 5-star tropical villas with their own plunge pools. 

Offering outstanding comfort, the Tropical Pool Villas have been meticulously crafted for indulgent stays. The interior design and Indigenous-inspired features provide an authentic feel of the tropical Top End environment.

The villas offer a plush king-sized bed, large LCD TV, Nespresso coffee machine, and large spa-like bathroom with a rejuvenating rainforest shower. Sliding doors reveal a spacious pool with sun loungers, overlooking the picturesque Rapid Creek bushland, creating an idyllic setting for unwinding and soaking in the serene surroundings. 

Capturing their connection to Larrakia country, each of the villas is named after a leading Territorian, with their story outlined for guests to read. Individually designed and decorated, Resort Bungalows are ideal for longer stays, with kitchenette facilities, a veranda and additional space to relax and enjoy the tropical experience. 

Darwin Airport Resort Pool Villa
Darwin Airport Resort Pool Villa. Image: Supplied

The resort now also offers two poolside dining options. The new Splash Café joins the laid-back Cossie’s Poolside Bar & Bistro, which is situated in tropical gardens and showcases the Territory’s famous barramundi as well as grills, salads, pizzas and burgers. Tropical cocktails and mocktails are created by the bar staff to complement the poolside atmosphere.  

The Darwin Airport hotels are a pioneer in Indigenous engagement. As part of the hotel redevelopment, extensive Indigenous art has been incorporated in the design, including two massive murals on the Novotel exterior, while the 41-metre water tower in front of the hotels has been decorated with a striking Indigenous mural designed to give visitors their first connection to Larrakia people and tell their story.  

Its official title is the Water Tower Welcome to Country Project – though already known locally as the ‘Darwin Didgeridoo’ – and is part of ADG’s vision to provide visitors with an exceptional gateway experience to the Northern Territory’s unique lifestyle, ancient cultures and stunning landscapes.  

Reflecting this, ADG is dedicating each section of the property to different NT regions, each represented through colour palettes, artwork, and landscaping. Information boards enhance the visitor’s experience and understanding of Aboriginal culture and the history of the Territory.  

The hotels are planning to introduce the Gurambai Cultural Experience to give guests an immediate appreciation of Larrakia culture. Gurambai is the Larrakia name for the area known as the Rapid Creek Conservation Reserve which features Darwin’s only natural freshwater creek, just a short walk from the airport hotels.

The experience will be curated by Larrakia guides who will deliver a one-hour guided walking tour that will include information about the area’s cultural and historical significance, their connection to the land and freshwater, information about some of the Reserve’s seasonal bush tucker.  

The resort is located on the lands of the Larrakia Nation, the traditional custodians of the greater Darwin area. Indigenous engagement is an integral component of the hotels’ redesign. 

A priority of the hotel operation is to employ as many Indigenous staff as possible, and to achieve that goal ADG has established an Indigenous Training Academy to deliver nationally recognised qualifications in the hospitality and tourism sectors. The ADG Training Academy offers traineeship and apprenticeship qualifications, Vocational Education and Training in-school programs, and a mentor program to support students.  

Darwin Airport Resort General Manager, Chris Chaffe, says that guests arriving at the resort will be immediately immersed in the Northern Territory’s unique lifestyle, ancient cultures and stunning landscapes. 

 “Integrating and recognising Larrakia Indigenous culture and heritage has been an integral component of the project,” he said. “The new resort is enriched with Aboriginal art and themes, inside and out, providing an appropriate reminder that this pioneering world-class resort is on the lands of the world’s longest-surviving culture.  

“Visitors wanting to explore the Top End will be able to enjoy a complete resort experience, including an Olympic-plus size swimming pool, a range of dining options. 

“It will also provide an ideal base for visitors travelling elsewhere in the Top End. Darwin Airport is a feeder airport to a number of international destinations as well as local Territory destinations such as the Tiwi Islands, Katherine and Arnhemland, while tourism attractions such as Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks are just 80 minutes and two and a half hours drive, respectively, from the resort.” 

Voyager of the Seas docked at Darwin Port

The resort is launched at a time of expansion of direct services into Darwin Airport. The latest airline to fly into Darwin Airport is Australian low-cost carrier, Bonza, which has just commenced flights from Australian east coast destinations, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. 

As the Resort prepared to open, travellers took flight on the first-ever direct flight between the Top End and the Sunny Coast. 

The new twice-weekly Bonza airline service from Sunshine Coast Airport to Darwin service touched down last week, with twice-weekly flights set to connect the two holiday and leisure destinations for the first time. Darwin became the eleventh direct Bonza service from the Sunshine Coast and the first direct commercial service from Sunshine Coast Airport to anywhere in the Northern Territory (NT) in the airport’s history.

In the first twelve months, Bonza will have added more than 300,000 additional seats into the region. The new Darwin service will create more opportunities for travellers to experience the best the Sunshine Coast and Noosa have to offer, while opening up new opportunities for locals to visit the NT.

Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Chris Mills said: “Our partnership with Bonza has connected us to incredible destinations across Australia, and now the connection to Darwin opens up a world of new opportunities.

“We are extremely proud of our region, and the incredible entrepreneurs and businesses that make it special, which is why we wanted to welcome travellers with a breakfast to showcase what the region has to offer.

“Our focus at Sunshine Coast Airport is to increase visitation to our region, and give locals more choice and flexibility to connect them with family, friends and loved ones.”

Bonza Airline launch Darwin to Sunshine Coast

Bonza CEO Tim Jordan joined customers onboard the inaugural flight. He said: “We know the Top End is often a bucket list destination and by introducing more affordable flights from $149 per person (one way), we’re making it easier for Aussies to explore more of their beautiful big backyard. Our latest route is also more good news for the Sunshine Coast tourism industry as they welcome additional visitors ahead of the summer peak season,” added Jordan.     

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said the launch of Bonza’s Darwin service provided another amazing opportunity for the Sunshine Coast tourism industry. “It’s the first time folks from Darwin have been able to travel directly to the Sunshine Coast, and in just over four hours they can be here to enjoy a croc-free swim or explore our incredible hinterland and world class attractions,” Mr Stoeckel said.

“How fitting that passengers on the first flight get to sample the range of delicious fresh foods from Queensland’s Sunshine Pantry for breakfast.”

Tourism Noosa CEO Sharon Raguse also offered a warm welcome to the first visitors from Darwin. She said: “It is great news for our region to have the addition of the Darwin to Sunshine Coast flights from Bonza. Darwin will become an important link to our region offering new opportunities for not only Northern Territory travellers but also providing easier connectivity and access for international visitors to visit our region.”

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