My girlfriend and I spent three nights at L'Escapade Resort in October 2013, and the place was pretty spectacular. We stayed in an overwater bungalow, and it was definitely worth it. Yes there are bungalows on the island, but for a few reasons they're just not the same (unless you have kids and are restricted to them).
Each evening the sunset over the water was truly spectacular. The bungalows all have a rear balcony that looks over the ocean and sunset, plus the steps into the water for easy access to the snorkelling is a bonus. Thankfully snorkel equipment is free for guests. All other activities are not, including kayak and paddle board. There's plenty to do if you're happy to pay, and the prices aren't that bad. Scuba, Kite Surfing, Jet Ski, Wake Boarding were all popular while we were there.
Snakes. Yes there are sea snakes on the island. If you're truly afraid of snakes, you'll be on edge from the moment you see one. Over the three days we were there we had 25 different sightings. Bear in mind these snakes are very very slow, have a head the size of your pinky finger, and apparently their mouths are too small and teeth too tiny to actually pierce skin. Keep an eye out, don't stand on them, and you'll be fine. Of our 25 sightings, 3 were in the water, and only on the beach and trying to get onto the land. There was one that climbed stairs onto our neighbours deck, but that was an anomaly.
Food. We had the buffet breakfast and dinner included for the three nights. Breakfast was great, plenty of fresh pastries and bread, cheese and cold meats, plus the hot stuff (bacon, hash browns, mushrooms, sausages etc) and the traditional cereal and toast. You can't go wrong. Dinner buffet alternates, and the three we had were all slightly different. There's enough there to keep you happy though, and even fussy eaters will be happy with the options. We didn't have lunch, but it looked reasonably priced for an island in the middle of the ocean, prepared by a hotel that has a monopoly on the place. It could have been worse. We just took a few pastries and breads from breakfast, plus had some snacks from the mainland, and that kept us going until dinner. Not a problem really.
There's no food in the mini bar, only two bottles of complimentary water. Don't rely on the mini bar to keep you going. The restaurant/bar is open most of the time, so you can grab drinks from there if you want, or something from the mainland.
The quality of the bungalows is pretty good. Rooms and bed and linen are all clean and tidy, albeit maybe dated by 10 years. The bathroom is great, and probably too big and a waste of space, but the water is hot and good pressure. If you're showering after dark though, you'll be casting a silhouette to anyone walking past on the walkway to the other bungalows. Just a design flaw. The fact that the sun sets at 6:00pm (Oct) means you have to get a shower in early, or just bear with it.
A quick note on the island bungalows (on land). There are sea birds that nest on the land, in burrows underground and under the paths. They make a unique noise, that sounds like a crying baby. We couldn't hear them in the overwater bungalows, but if you were on the land, they would be annoying. There are hundreds of them, everywhere, and they're not scared of people.
Other people have complained about having to walk everywhere - let me set this right: from where the boat docks to where the reception is is about 70m. From there to your room could be between 50 - 150m, with views that will distract you anyway, such as fish or wildlife or sunsets. It's all flat, it's all a path, and there's no reason to complain. Those people that did must have been looking for a really really lazy holiday, instead of just a lazy one.
The staff were great, at at some stages there looked to be more staff than necessary, but it meant you could always ask for help or drinks etc. They don't all speak fluent english, but they can help you with whatever you need or get someone who can. Just remember that you're going to a french speaking nation and you'll be fine. It's fun to use a bit of high school french, and it helps with the culture experience.
Getting there was easy. A cab or bus to Port Moselle is the best way to go, and it's the main port in the city so just saying "Port Moselle" will get you in the right direction. The boat left the mainland 5 times a day, so you can easily pick a time that works for you, and if you really want to come back into town it's very straight forward.
People from the mainland started to invade the pool as our week went on. They'd show up early (8:00am) and park on the sunlounges and spend the day there. If you really want to get a good seat, just throw a towel over a sunlounge on your way to breakfast. But really, you should pity these people when there's such a beautiful ocean on your doorstep. The snorkelling is good, and once you go out to the edge of the bay it gets deeper and the coral more impressive.
If I go back to Noumea, I'll be going back to this place for sure. It was clearly the highlight of our trip, and the perfect place for a holiday when you don't want to struggle to find culture, churches or museums - just sit back, enjoy the sun and the food, hit the water a few times and it'll be hard not to relax..
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Archetype of the dream of the Pacific, l'îlot Maître floats like a mirage on the turquoise lagoon. At the heart of a unique marine reserve of 200 hectares, only 20 minutes from Noumea.This hotel offers travelers the luxuries of the quiet tropical location. It offers sumptuous bungalows, built in perfect harmony with their environment.A chapel on the island is available for your unforgettable event.The hotel is located on an islet, you have to take a shuttle to join it. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- l`Escapade Island Hotel Noumea