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A non-gambler’s stay at Darwin's Sky City

Sunset from the infinity pool.

Territory Day fireworks.

Can you take an enjoyable family holiday at a casino if you are a none-gambler?

If it’s the Star City Casino and resort in Darwin you can, at least my wife and I did. We were there in June/July in the beautiful dry season, which made it quite comfortable for walking around the city and along the beach to the famous Mindil Market.

We had nine enjoyable nights in the hotel without spending a single cent in the casino, even though we were given free plays on keno quite often.

The hotel itself needs a bit of sprucing up - it was built in the 1980s – but our room, 106, was clean and extremely well serviced. The bed was comfortable and the bathroom functional with a shower but no bath and the toiletries were excellent. There was a balcony that overlooked the gardens with a brilliant view of the Arafura Sea. The balcony though is small with just enough room for two chairs and a small, square basket wave table.

The bar fridge was well-stocked with drinks at bar prices and amenities included a toaster and a kettle and plenty of tea or coffee. A good thing was that the milk came in a container that held around 300 mils rather than the tiny single serve plastic cups. There was a problem filling the kettle though, it would not fit under the bathroom tap and had to be filled by the glassful.

The toaster was useful too, for cooking up a light breakfast occasionally.

It was not far from our room to the fabulous infinity pool, which was set with a great view of the beach and right next to the Sand Bar, where patrons gathered to watch the sun go down over the water every night.

There were phones dotted around the pool too that linked directly to the Vue bar and drinks were ordered and promptly delivered.

With the hotel being fully booked most days we thought it would be a problem getting a pool lounge chair, but with most guest popping the handles on the pokies not many people used the pool we never had a problem at any time of the day or evening, so it was very pleasant and the pool was magnificent, a bit cool at times but more often refreshing.

We tried three of the hotel restaurants – The Vue, Il Piatto and Dragon Court.

The Vue is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and does special half price deals for seniors each Monday, where a “senior” starts at 50! The breakfast buffet was excellent with a wide variety of cooked food and Continental style food; all for a half price $9.95. The full cost is $28 while kids under five eat free.

We tried the senior’s half price special lunch on the Monday too, but it didn’t suit our palates, as it as all deep fried with chips (apart from a Caesar salad). It was good value though.

W tried the buffet dinner on the following Monday, heaps of food for $12.95 (full price $35). The only problem with The Vue was the noise. Chatter was amplified by the acoustics and tended to be rather loud.

It was different with Il Piatto the Italian restaurant next to the Sand bar.

That was beautiful food beautifully served outside in the cool of the evening.

I had Scaloppine di vitello, veal escalope, asparagus, goat’s cheese, roast garlic mash, cabernet jus with herbs for $36. My wife had Risotto alla zucca a vegetarian dish of butternut pumpkin, asparagus, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, oregano, grana padano which cost $26. I enjoyed every mouthful.

At the Dragon Court my wife chose Cantonese roast duck with hoisin and soya, which was huge and cost $27. I had sizzling Mongolian beef, which really did sizzle on the metal plate. We both declared the meal delicious and well worth the cost at $28. There was certainly no room for dessert!

We also took a look at the new Resort and pool, which was served by the steak restaurant and bar The Cove. We didn’t use the pool though, It looked very pretty, but was set on an artificial beach, similar to the one on South Bank in Brisbane, and we didn’t fancy getting sand on feet and bodies so we stuck with the infinity pool at the hotel.

All in all we had a terrific holiday and wouldn’t hesitate to return.

The well-stocked Sand Bar.

Our room, 106

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