Our two week stay in an apartment at the Noumea Hilton was a wonderful way to play, relax and recharge.
We enjoyed very spacious rooms, a well equipped kitchen, and large decks with superb water views; all for a fair price, as we were there at the busiest time of year. Suites are available with 1 or 2 bedrooms; and for something smaller you can have a great value studio (considering the views).
We paid a little extra to ensure our apartment was above the 5th floor. It was worth every cent as we were even able to savor sensational views while preparing meals in the spacious, well-equipped kitchen.
On the 6th floor we looked right across the lagoon, past Duck and Mater Island, to where the water met the horizon. From sun-up the foreground came alive with entertainment. We were fascinated by the continuous to and fro of colorful windsurfing sails; water taxis dropping folk out to Duck and Mater islands; a boat taking tourists to Lighthouse island; and on some mornings, a larger vessel sailing off to the Isle of Pines.
Most evenings we lingered on our deck (dining room) to marvel at the gleaming, golden orb sinking into the sea, which announced dinner time. It was holiday season, so we saw a lit-up cruise ship leaving almost every night.
It was mid summer - and hot - but we never had to turn the air-conditioner on as the back side of our apartment had a porthole in the kitchen and another in the bathroom. Any time our rooms became too warm we could open the portholes and allow the island breeze to pass straight through .
We found that the quality washing machine - tucked into the alcove behind the kitchen - was very convenient. Because we're beach lovers we utilized the large drying rack that was provided, every day. In front of the Hilton there's an exotic park (edged by shops, including a fantastic baker), then it's across the road to the popular promenade. One direction leads to the beach in front of Le Meridien, and the other, around to Lemon Bay.
Staying at the Noumea Hilton, and hiring a car, enabled us to stop in at supermarkets and the Central Market - which sells fresh produce (including seafood and meat) every day but Tuesday. For many meals we prepared our own high quality food, including yummy French delicacies, which dramatically reduced our food spending. We found that no restaurant on the island had a view as grand as our deck dining-room.
We had to buy our own coffee as, although we had a maker in our kitchen, only "instant" was provided. Yes, even the best Noumea hotels supply instant! At first glance this seems horrifying but even guests at 5 star Le Meridien are given instant coffee and long-life milk. If you go to a Noumea supermarket, even the huge Carrefour, all the milk on the shelves is long-life: it's standard fare on French islands in the Pacific.
The location of the Noumea Hilton gave us walking access to most places we wanted to go. It was just down the lift and across the lawn to beaches, a variety of cafes, and excellent French bakeries. After trying several bakeries we knew that the best one was close below us: we could see if open from our room. Some evenings we strolled around the point to Lemon Bay to dine at a restaurant or treat ourselves to the best ice-cream on earth.
Our car came in handy to visit supermarkets and we found several, just a few minutes driving time away. It was 15 minutes to the Central market where we discovered that the locals pay no attention to the parking signs. We made a longer drive to the giant Carrefour (which stocks just about everything that money can buy, including specialty foods) because we are fond of the French Carrefours in Tahiti.
No hotel in Bora Bora provides the kind of conveniences we had at the Noumea Hilton: you would have to rent a privately owned bungalow to have them. The Bora Bora Conrad (Hilton) offers a completely different, “out of this world” experience. We love Conrad's beautiful bungalows; private white-sand beach and feet-in-the-sand all day restaurant. Bora Bora resorts are about pampering and romance.
The Noumea Hilton has a small outdoor wedding chapel which is located high enough to have vast lagoon views. A feature of the Bora Bora Conrad Hilton is it's hill-top chapel with awesome lagoon views.
We have so much experience at Polynesian island hotels that we were not surprised when the servicing of our Noumea Hilton rooms was random. Our tactic was to smile (we're on vacation), pick up the phone and politely ask the front desk to organize what was missing (toilet paper, towels, dishwasher cubes etc) and the issues were fixed in good time. Sometimes I had to point to show maids what we required. We discovered that we could not have input into what time our room was attended to. If we didn't allow the maid in the door the first time she arrived, nothing happened at all. Several times we were out all day and returned to find the maid had just started cleaning.
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