The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pins

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SponsorSFC

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Finally have the last of my USDM redemptions this one is PER-SYD-NOU-SYD-PER with a short domestic flight added with cash on Air Caledonie to get to the Ile des Pins in between. Not a bad value redemption as the points were part of a 100% bonus offer.

Currently sitting in the QP in Perth but disappointingly our flight had been subbed from the new J config back to the old a couple of days ago and looks like we missed the new business lounge opening by a few weeks.

We have a short overnight at Rydges Sydney International ahead of a 7:30am departure to Noumea.

As we are staying at the Le Meridien in Noumea and the Ile des Pins I have also registered for a Gold/Platinum Challenge which will get me to Gold next month after a weekend in Sydney.
 

smit0847

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Subscribed. Was thinking of doing NOU through USDM
 

LadyC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Subscribed. Looking forward to reading more - I would like to go to New Caledonia.
 

smit0847

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Im especially keen to understand if you thought the high prices were worth it.
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

We landed this morning after no where near enough sleep however I have decided to keep all you AFF members updated instead of taking a nap with my wife (well that and I suspect if we both sleep we may not wake up until tomorrow)

The Rydges Sydney Airport was clean quiet and in good condition. As a no status member of their loyalty program we were given 2 free drinks in the bar which was a nice touch. I would recommend it if you have a short overnight transfer but I still would prefer to head into the city if I had more time.

We had been advised that due to industrial action there could be significant delays through customs so a 5am start it was for our 7:30 QF91 flight. We had no issues but the express pass from Qantas did hasten that a bit as well.

Seems we were well advised as I had to go back near customs to get a TRS refund processed and it seemed like it was an absolute shambles about half an hour later.

My wife decided to have coffee and some pastries whereas I decided to have something more tradtional.

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The flight itself was uneventful but more comfortable in row 2 than the horrible J config on the A330 from PER where we had seats 1J & 1K.

The views during the approach to NOU were quite nice with mountains on one side and ocean and small islands on the other.
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We had a shuttle transfer to Port Moselle which took just under an hour where we waited for our boat transfer to Ilot Maitre. While waiting we saw a giant P&O cruise ship pull in, I am hoping they will not be stopping at the Ile des Pins while we are there.

The boat out to Ilot Maitre was pretty fun as we bounced off the chop and we could see the Le Meridien Noumea which we will say at before our flight home.

We pulled up to L'Escapade Resort where a lovely check in agent has a juice coughtail waiting for us while we completed the formalities to check in to our over water bungalow.

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So far we have not had to buy anything but I will report back on the costs and our thoughts as we go.
 

smit0847

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Great start! How much was the accom? Hows the weather?
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

The room was $420 per night booked through the VA Agoda profile on a free cancellation rate including breakfast and 50% off meals in the hotel.

Weather has been pretty good about 25 Celsius high but now it is still 23 Celsius at 9pm.

Dinner tonight for the 2 of us cost 10,000 XPF (approx $125) which included 2 glasses of champagne a coughtail and a beer. The champagne was Laurent Perkier and 1,500 a glass, coughtails were 2,000 and beer 600 a can. Not cheap but not outrageous considering you are on an island with the hotel restaurant as the only option.

Dinner is a buffet but there was a chef cooking a grill to order at no additional cost, there was a choice of beef, veal, lamb and a spicy north African sausage.

The buffet was pretty extensive with a range of anti pasto and cheeses, oysters, prawns, beef carpaccio in a cold station with about 5 hot main choices. Desserts were a highlight there was about 10 options of which I may or may not have had about 6.
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

We landed in Ile des Pins last night after a short 30 minute trip from Noumea Magenta. It is not the best photo but the plane spotters out there may be able to tell you the aircraft as I forgot to check.

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A word of warning you only get 3kg of hand luggage on Air Caledonie and they actually check, my bag was 9kg with my camera, laptop, cords HDD and books. I knew we only had 12kg check baggage so put all the heavy items in my carry on as I have never had my carry on weighed before. The excess baggage charge was still pretty reasonable at 1,710 XPF so I was not that worried.

We had the transfers included as part of our rate (WEEKEND4 on spg.com which includes breakfast, transfers, 25% off the spa and 4th night free) as an indication I previously had a BRG and was advised the transfers would have cost 3,000 XPF per person. The Le Meridien rep was easy to find as their desk is right outside the baggage claim.

After a short 15 min drive we checked in at the bar/lounge area with an ice tea mocktail where Pierre assisted us by booking a tale at the restaraunt and confirmed our late checkout as we are on an afternoon flight back to Noumea.

We are staying in a Deluxe Bungalow and after consulting with the hotel prior to our arrival I requested a bungalow with a view of the lagoon (there are garden view and river view bungalows all priced at the same rate). They however did us one better and put us in bungalow 36 which is situated on the beach a few steps from the lagoon but also on the river. The view from our room and deck is over both and having walked around the property this morning I would say this is even a better view than the higher priced panoramic bungalows.

The rooms themselves are well appointed with a comfortable chaise lounge in the living area, a desk with plenty of power points, new Sony LED TV and DVD player with usb, ipod connectivity and an LCD screen that can play photos from USB or SD card.
The bed had some flower petals spread over it which was a nice touch. The bathroom is also huge with large his and hers robes on either side of a double sided sink and make up mirror as well as separate bath and shower.

This is the view looking back to our bungalow.


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SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

The room
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Some more photos around the bay from sunrise at low tide then around midday after the tide had come in a bit.

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esseeeayeenn

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Did you snorkel near your above water bungalow? If so was any of the coral alive or was it all dead?
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

We did snorkel off the bungalow.

Most of the Coral close to the bungalows is dead but if you swam a fair way out there was live coral not amazing but worth doing.

More interesting was watching the fish, sea snakes and sea turtles.
 

dk4

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

While waiting we saw a giant P&O cruise ship pull in, I am hoping they will not be stopping at the Ile des Pins while we are there.
I watched the same ship cruise in - my pic from Baie des Citrons!
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SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

That's the one dk4, how did you find Noumea?
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Now that we are back home I have a bit of time to update this thread.

We had a fantastic time at the Le Meridien Ile des Pins but you definitely need to budget for the expense otherwise you may not enjoy it as much. As a guide I would say it is equivalently priced to Perth. Certainly not cheap but I would happily go back in an instant.

One thing I would recommend looking into is the Star Privilege Pacific membership as it gives you 50% off food and 15% off drinks. The card cost $339 for the year and includes some room upgrade/4pm late check out vouchers and discounted SPG rates (though from what I can see so far you can usually get better with a BRG).

For instance the first night we went all out and my wife had the word's largest lobster (sold by weight at 1500 XPF per 100g) our bill came to 24,000 XPF including drinks (glass of champagne each and a bottle of wine) which came down to 14,000 XPF with the card (roughly a $120 AUD discount).

Overall our bill for food and drinks post discount came to about $1,100 over the 4 days. We had breakfast included in the room rate so this was basically the patten of our charges each day. After the first day when we ordered a meal each we shared a club sandwich with chips for lunch each day as the portion size was more than enough for the both of us we usually had a couple of drinks over lunch. We made use of the bars happy hour usually having a couple of coughtails each before dinner which ran daily from 6 to 7:30pm with coughtails discounted from the usual 1,700 XPF to 990 XPF, as an unexpected benefit the Star Privilege discount was also applied to happy hour meaning we were paying about $10 AUD a coughtail during happy hour. Dinner we usually had 2 courses each, shared dessert and a bottle of wine.

From memory the prices were
Local beer on tap 590 XPF
Glass of champagne 1,700 XPF
Glass of Wine between 1,200 -2,000 XPF
Average Bottle of Wine 5,000 XPF
Sandwich/Burger with chips 2,100 XPF
Entrée 2,000-3,000 XPF
Main 3,000-4,000 XPF
Dessert 1,500 XPF

By my rough calculations we saved about $800 by using the Star Privilege card and were able to confirm a late checkout when our flight back to Noumea was rescheduled from a lunch time to late afternoon departure (this was handy as I do not yet have status with SPG).

One note was that on the Saturday night (which was our wedding anniversary) there was only the option of a buffet or a 5 course with matching wine degustation in the terrace bar hosted by their wine supplier who had flown in from Noumea. We chose the degustation however on arrival were greeted with a welcoming glass of champagne and after being wished a happy anniversary we were placed on a group table as the only two smaller tables were already occupied. This is not what we really had in mind and upset my wife as she was (justifiably so in my opinion) expecting us to be seated on a table for two.

After I asked if we could be seated elsewhere the staff were fantastic, bringing out another table for us without any issue and apologising profusely. I believe this was the first of these types of dinners that they had run and I suspect it had dawned on them that they may not have planned their seating allocation appropriately as the dinner was for 10 couples and no larger groups. After this point Julien the restaurant manager took special notice and was on hand to ensure her glass was never empty, even noticing that she did not enjoy the escargot appetiser and without asking us had the kitchen bring out a small portion of the Tuna Tataki she had ordered and complimented the chef on the evening prior.

We did not have a bad meal while there everything was of a very high standard so the high prices are justified considering the location. The Service was definitely a step above the L'Escapade with Julien going well above what was expected to ensure my wife was happy on our anniversary evening, though commendations should also go to Marie and Laura in the Bar and Jeremy in the restaurant who made every evening a pleasure.
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

One place that is a must do is taking the short ( about 20 min) walk to the Piscine Naturelle (Natural Pool). I would recommend taking a snorkel and mask as well as some reef or light canvas shoes that you don't mind getting wet. Most of the ground is sandy and you can follow the beach around but there are parts of rocks and coral and you may to go inland a bit an negotiate tree roots on the bush path if it was high tide.

It is a small lagoon that is protected but still fed by a stream and the ocean and filled with fish that will calmly swim around you. The best time to go would be mid to high tide.
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SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

As I had heard the local Air Caledonie services are often subject to cancellation or delays I organised for the final night of our trip to be spent at the Le Meridien Noumea.

As I had mentioned our flight did end up getting rescheduled by a few hours a couple of weeks prior so we did not arrive in Noumea until late afternoon and did not get to see much apart from the room and restaurant.

The hotel has bee undergoing a pretty significant renovation though it appears by now this is limited to the rooms as the common areas and restaurants all looked unaffected. The one exception to this was the pool. A few weeks before our stay we were notified by the hotel that the pool would be closed for maintenance and as this was not know at the time of booking they offered to rebook us in an equivalent room at the newly opened Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Resort and Spa or if we would like to retain our booking they would allow us access to the indoor spa (which looks to be a separate business with a fee for entry) as well as a daily transfer and beach chair hire to Ilot de canard.

Due to the delay to our flights we were not going to be able to use either of these options so I enquired about a free room upgrade which was granted and confirmed by an alteration to my reservation on SPG.com immediately showing we were now booked into the Resort Suite.
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

The Resort Suite was formerly two standard rooms that had the wall knocked out to make one very large room.
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SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

This room had some good features and worked well for our short stay.

The bath was massive and comfortably fit two with plenty of room to spare, as was the shower. The luggage/dressing room included a seat and make up mirror with lighting around the edge. The TV could swivel 360 degrees to face either the bedroom, bath or lounge room. The bathroom could be closed off from the bedroom and accessed from the hall only with the frosted glass divider which even with the light on in the bathroom provided adequate privacy unlike many modern hotel rooms.

The desk had a work lamp and ipod dock but did not look like it would be particularly comfortable for a prolonged period of work.

Unfortunately the hotels signature fine dining restaurant was closed as it was Sunday however the main restaurant was adequate and had a similar menu to the Il des Pins at a slightly lower price point.

A word of warning the renovations did make some noise starting at 7:30am on the Monday, which didn't bother us but may not be ideal if you are staying for a few days and like a late start.
 

SponsorSFC

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

One final post and a quick review of the Hibiscus Lounge at NOU.

It looked like this was the only lounge in NOU and was run by Air Calin but shared by QF and NZ but it was pretty quiet. We were the first ones in there and there was a maximum of 10 people there at any one time.

There were plenty of comfortable seats a few couches and a bank of Macs.

Drinks were all self serve with 1 Champagne a few whites and a couple of reds with an assortment of spirits, beer, soft drinks and an automated coffee machine.

Food was a small assortment of cold savoury items and cakes, there also were some packaged biscuits and chips. Not a huge amount for breakfast but enough for a quick snack with your champagne.

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drross

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Re: The Last of the USDM Redemptions J All the Way: Noumea, Ilot Maitre & Ile des Pin

Loved reading your posts SponsorSFC. Brought back lots of great memories. The natural pool is fantastic. The locals consider it a sacred site and are trying to ban the cruise ships dumping 2000 snorkelleers at a time into the area..totally agree with them. Just around the corner from the Meridian is a local restaurant that you need to try when you go back. Lobster caught that morning..you have to let them know how many are coming for lunch so they catch just enough lobsters. Sitting with our feet in the sand, drinking a delightful Chablis and eating the freshest biggest lobsters ever, and for a quarter of the price of the Meridian. Shame the noumea restaurant was closed. Had a fantastic meal there with some of the best service in years. Highly recommend it.
 
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