Home DESTINATIONSAUSTRALIA I spent the weekend at the airport & didn’t need a boarding pass!

I spent the weekend at the airport & didn’t need a boarding pass!

Hotel review: Novotel Darwin Airport Resort by Fiona Harper travel writer

by Fiona Harper
Novotel Darwin Airport Resort

Welcome to Darwin Airport where resort hotel and terminal sit side-by-side

Fiona Harper checked into Darwin Airport for a weekend getaway with a difference. Arriving at the airport she bypassed the airport terminal and went straight to the all-new Novotel Darwin Airport Resort instead.
Read her review to see how this airport resort hotel in the Northern Territory lived up to expectations.

Imagine stepping off an aircraft, waltzing through the airport terminal and plonking yourself down poolside in a sunlounge amidst a tropical paradise. This is the sort of welcoming experience awaiting at Darwin Airport Resort, a groundbreaking concept that redefines airport accommodation. Stepping out of Darwin Airport the first thing you’ll notice is the steamy heat of the tropics. A swimming pool in this climate is not a luxury it’s essential for your sanity. So it makes absolute sense that the Territory’s sexiest pool is the central hub of this swanky new airport hotel.

You can imagine my disappointment upon checking in to be told that the mammoth Olympic-plus sized pool is closed. Looking over the receptionist’s shoulder I can see the water cascading down the glass-fronted swimming pool.

The Novotel Darwin Airport Resort with its mammoth swimming pool. Image Fiona Harper
The pool looks inviting! Image Darwin Airport Resort

Swimming pools in the Territory are essential to combat tropical heat

“How come it’s closed?” I ask.
“They’re doing maintenance,” says the receptionist without further explanation. That’s odd I think. The hotel and its pool only just opened. Weeks later, a friend who was lured to the hotel for its alluring pool gets the same explanation. I have plenty of time to ponder the question as I wait for my room key. It’s just after midday, so I’m a little early for the 2pm check-in time. 

But, it’s low season, and according to room availability listed online, there’s plenty of unoccupied rooms. But, rules are rules.
So I wait. After 30 minutes or so after wandering around the open-air lobby, perusing the menu at Splash Cafe and peering over the wall to see the pool which is invitingly close but most definitely out of bounds, I decide to get back in my car and drive to Casuarina to get lunch. The receptionists takes my number and says she’ll call me when the room is ready.

The call never comes. So I go to my room at 2pm and kill more time waiting outside while someone comes to give me a key card and let me in. My room – a Deluxe King Suite – when I finally get in, is lovely. It’s an odd start to a weekend getaway at a hotel which proudly boasts of its in-house training program. I do hope that things become a little more polished as the busy season arrives and guests are likely to be far more demanding.
A New Chapter for A

A new chapter for airport resorts and hotels opens

Gone are the days when airport hotels were just a quick stopover. The Novotel & Mercure Darwin Airport Resort has undergone a dramatic transformation merging luxury with convenience. Guests can now enjoy a unified reception, leading to a world-class aquatic centre featuring an Olympic-plus size swimming pool, surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The old Mercure Hotel has been updated, while the adjacent Novotel with it mammoth Olympic-plus pool is new. The whole complex of two hotels and two pools melds as one, with the convenience of an airport locality creating a tropical haven gateway to exploring the Northern Territory’s Top End.
Deluxe King Suite. Image Fiona Harper
Tropical pool villa with private plunge pool. Image Darwin Airport Resort

Darwin Airport Resort is rooted in tradition

Rooted in Tradition Darwin is located on the traditional lands of Larrakia Nation, and the resort honours this heritage. Aboriginal culture is woven into the fabric of the resort’s design, paying homage to Larrakia people, the traditional custodians of the Darwin area. Diverse Accommodations The resort boasts a variety of rooms within its 423-room inventory. From sleek hotel rooms to luxurious 5-star tropical villas, each space is designed to harmonise with Darwin’s tropical environment. Families and long-stay guests will find the bungalows and family suites a perfect match for their needs. Indulge in Tropical Luxury The Tropical Pool Villas are a sanctuary of comfort, offering a king-sized bed, state-of-the-art amenities, and a spa-like bathroom. Step outside to your private pool, set against the tranquil backdrop of Rapid Creek bushland. Each villa celebrates a prominent Territorian, inviting guests to connect with their stories and the spirit of Larrakia country.

Savour the airport resort's local flavours and tropical vibe

Dine poolside at two exquisite eateries. Splash café and bar is all breezy spaces where walls are nonexistent and gardens create a tropical ambience. Cossies Poolside Bar & Bistro is beside the pool at the Mercure. It’s menu serves local favorites like barramundi, pizza, burgers and steaks complemented by tropical cocktails and an Australian wine list. Buffet breakfast is served at Cossies and comes with a limited hot and cold selection. It’s adequate but doesn’t tempt me to linger any longer than is necessary to refuel and scarper. I walk back to my room via the new pool, hoping that it may have opened. A sign on the gate saying ‘Closed for maintenance’ needs no further explanation so I return my still-dry bathing suit into my bag.
Splash Cafe is poolside at Novotel Darwin Airport Resort. Image Fiona Harper
Open air lobby has a tropical vibe. Image Fiona Harper

Darwin Airport Resort commits to Indigenous hospitality

The resort is a leader in Indigenous engagement, featuring a stunning Aboriginal mural that connects guests with the Larrakia people and their enduring legacy around the Darwin area. At the heart of our mission is the empowerment of Indigenous communities. Through the Indigenous Training Academy, the hotel nurtures talent and provides nationally recognised qualifications in hospitality and tourism. Aboriginal creativity is on show through oversized murals and artworks throughout the resort. The most obvious artwork is the Water Tower Welcome to Country piece which rises high above the palm trees. Affectionately dubbed the Darwin Didgeridoo, the 41m tall water tower is adorned with a striking Aboriginal mural which weaves the stories of Larrakia people. Other artworks honour the worlds oldest living culture with massive murals on external hotel walls. Information boards enhance the stories of Aboriginal culture and history that underpins much of any visitor’s Northern Territory experience. Novotel Darwin Airport Resort is a terrific introduction to the Territory. AT least it will be once that pool opens.

Here's what I liked about Darwin Airport Hotels

The mammoth pool looked so inviting, and I’m sure it’s a terrific place to hang out. When it opens. 

I really liked my King Deluxe Suite for its modern, clean look and spaciousness with bedroom and separate living room. A small deck is shaded by tropical garden. The bathroom has a massive walk-in-shower with enough room to hold a dance party. The king bed with crisp linen and overstuffed pillows was an absolute delight.

The lush gardens are trimmed and well cared for and give a tropical feel and soften concrete hotel walls.

Here's what I didn't like about Darwin Airport Hotels

Again, the mammoth pool looked so inviting, so it was disappointing that it wasn’t open. The lagoon pool at the Mercure was hosting kids birthday parties on both the days I was there so it was a noisy, chaotic space that didn’t endear me to lounging in a sun lounge reading a book.

I put the laborious check-in process down to teething problems as staff presumably become accustomed to new processes.

More information Darwin Airport Hotels

The writer was a guest of Novotel Darwin Airport Resort.

Lagoon swimming pool at Mercure Darwin Airport Resort
Aboriginal mural on external hotel walls

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Travel Boating Lifestyle is managed by Fiona Harper

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and waters on which we live, work and travel. As people who seek meaning and knowledge through storytelling, we recognise that the First Peoples of this land have been doing so for over 60,000 years. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.