Noumea Le Meridien
Noumea, New Caledonia (France)
1 night cash + points redemption
Junior Suite Upgrade
We were at the hotel by about noon. We would be staying until 5:45AM the next morning when we would have to catch a taxi to the ferry terminal to take the Betico II ferry to Ile Des Pins.
Check-in was done in a mix of English and French. We were welcomed as Platinum members and offered a Platinum amenity of which we chose free breakfast for two. They informed us breakfast started at 6AM and sadly we had to leave at 5:45AM to catch our ferry the next morning. So the hotel graciously agreed to set us up with to-go box lunches and pre-arranged our taxi.
We were upgraded to a Junior Suite, rooms 549 and 551. Yes, that is right. Two rooms. Here the Junior Suite are two adjoining rooms, one of which has the bed and the other has the living room stuff. Two full bathrooms with showers and tubs too. And two balconies. How about that!?
This hotel was 4,000 SPG points per night plus $60 per night co-pay. Normal rates at this time are $300USD and up – so we found this to be the best value. We had also asked the hotel to pre-arrange tickets for us on the Betico II ferry which they did months in advance when I faxed in our credit card to them. Our ticket vouchers were presented to us at check-in.
The open-air lobby of the Le Meridien Noumea.
Another lobby shot. The hotel has multiple restaurants and frequently caters to a Japanese and Korean crowd. We saw an equal mix of Australians, Japanese/Koreans, and French tourists during our time here.
The hotel seemed to be aging a bit, but overall was comfortable. The physical plant was in pretty good shape.
Views of the beach and water from our table at lunch were excellent. Again, this is a very expensive place. A burger and fries goes for 23,000XPF (~$25). The cheapest bottle of wine, the “Le Meridien house brand” fro 37,000XPF ($40).
View just before arriving to our room, room 551.
Room 551 is a great room. The hotel is 6 stories tall and so this is on the 2nd to highest floor. It is an end unit with great views of the ocean and the mountains far in the distance.
The view of the room after coming through the front door. The room was comfortable enough but showing its age a good bit. It was not, however, in shabby condition.
The bathroom had a full tub and shower as well as single sink.
The bed was a comfortable king-sized bed.
The view from the balcony was outstanding. Noumea has 100,000 residents and actual kind of feels like you are in a moderate-to-small French city. Street signs in French with the standard French signage. French national chains, supermarkets, and other accoutrements that make you feel like you are in France. However, this hotel is on the very southern tip of the city and our view to the south was nothing but beautiful views and nature.
Here is a view of the adjoining room which made up the rest of our “Junior Suite”. What is hilarious at this hotel are the TVs. They are JVC 16″ cathode ray tube TVs running off fuzzy coaxil connections. There was a small TV like this in the main bedroom as well. We didn’t care at this point for such a short stay. But it is funny to see this at a luxury hotel.
We spent the day walking around town, enjoying the beach, and just relaxing. We went to a local wine store and picked up a bottle of French rose. Next door we went to the coffee shop and bought a $5 small bottle of Evian namely to get the two plastic cups it would be served with to drink our wine. We posted up along the water and relaxed in this South Pacific Francophone paradise.
For dinner we actually ordered in a pizza being we were both pretty tired and had a 5AMish wake-up the next day. Tartiflette de Savoie is one of my favorite foods in the world. It is sadly illegal in the USA because it uses unpasteurized Roblechon cheese. But we were in a far outpost of France and sure enough the pizza delivery place had Tartiflette Pizza with all the awesome toppings of Tartiflette on the pizza as well as a generous dose of Roblechon. It was delicious!
Beautiful sun-up views in Noumea taken from our room’s baclony. For spring, Noumea had awesome weather. Highs in the high 70s, Lows in the high 50’s. You can’t ask for more than that.
We checked out and were in the taxi headed to the ferry terminal by 5:45AM. We grabbed our breakfast boxes from the hotel on the way out.
Once on the Betico II ferry, we put our belongings down and munched on our breakfast box (pictured above). It was a nice spread, although a far cry from the awesomeness we were missing out on at the buffet back at the hotel. But beggars can’t be choosers.
The Betico II ride was about 2.5 hours. Mid-way through the seas started getting rough and many, many passengers began to fall ill including Lady Tocqueville and I. Multiple passengers couldn’t hold their vomit until they made it to the restroom and the boat cabin quickly began to stink. That stink set off other passengers, including Lady T. It was like the whirling carnival ride scene in Problem Child II where Trixy turns up the speed control lever to maximum and everyone spins at a nauseating rate. I did all I could to not vomit. Proudly, I did not. But it was about an hour of agony trying to fight it. I literally focused on nothing but my breathing. Every breath, feel it come into the lungs. Relax. Exhale the air and feel it leave your lungs and throat and go out your mouth. Breathe-in, relax, imagine calm steady breathing. This was my “Zen” strategy during this hour which seemed to work. I was even able to tune-out the awful smells from other people’s vomit just by putting myself in this nearly hypnotic state. It was actually kind of bizarre. I had Gary Jules’s dystopian dirge of a song Mad World stuck in my head, watching this madness unfold all around me. People were hustling for the bathroom but getting knocked over by the rocky ship. “The tears are filling up their glasses” French lady to my left vomiting all over the floor. “I feel the way that every child should sit and listen, sit and listen” Lady T losing her breakfast into a sick-bag on my right. “I went to school and I was very nervous, noone knew me” French Army cadets walking around in a disoriented fashion trying to find their way to the open-air sundeck before they got ill. It was a “Mad, mad world“. But I was in my chill zone fighting off the desire to turn over my stomach. Thank you breathing exercises and Mad World. Thankfully as soon as we arrived at the Ile des Pins wharf at around 9:30AM and got off the boat everything started getting back to normal. We both agreed to not talk about the experience until the afternoon in case we got nausea from recalling the madness.
When we arrived in Ile Des Pins we were officially in paradise. The place was sunny, beautiful, and verdant with amazing azure water staring at us in every direction. I realized that I had forgotten to contact the hotel to have them pick us up. And it was about 15km away on the other side of the island. We looked for a hotel shuttle bus, but none had arrived. After about 10 minutes we contracted with a private shuttle to take us (along with a few others who wanted to head to that side of the island) over there for a steep 30,000XPF ($32) a person. If Noumea was an expensive place, this even more remote paradise would be like shopping in Geneva in the banking district. We were undeterred, however, as we had 3 nights to spend in this amazing paradise. And we were ready to get to it.