Giving your delegates an island experience can go a long way to a rewarding event.

And the good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to do so. The Pacific region has plenty of options for meetings and events, with five-star venues, many of which have quality conference facilities, just a short flight away.

One of the real movers and shakers in the meeting and incentive travel reward sector at the present time is New Caledonia – the third largest island in the Pacific after Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

Located just 1500 kilometres off the east coast of Australia, or about three hours by air, it offers a mix of stunning accommodation, quality food, and a great dollop of things to see and do “beyond the ballroom”.

From one side to the other, New Caledonia is just 500 kilometres, making it the perfect destination to explore. And explore delegates can, with a wealth of options.

Noumea is blessed with some stunning bays that stretch along the peninsula. L’Anse Vata and the Baie des Citrons on the coastline are said to be the busiest places, especially on the weekend where nature-loving locals enjoy activities such as kitesurfing and windsurfing, cycling and jogging.At its heart is the capital Noumea which seamlessly blends French style – cafes, boutiques and quality accommodation offerings – with a relaxed Pacific feel – crystal clear water, palm trees and bright sunshine.

One must do is a visit to the Tjibaou Cultural Center located on the nearby bays of Tina. The work of architect Renzo Piano, it is both a symbol of reconciliation and openness. This is described as “a unique place where Melanesian culture is seen, is created, is lived and above all, is shared”.

As well an abundance of watersport options, Noumea is tailor-made for hosting progressive dinners. And, with more than 100 restaurants, finding a venue to suit your group’s tastes is certainly not difficult.

There are numerous resorts located in and around Noumea that are well suited to the conference and incentive travel market. One of the newer properties is the Royal Tera Resort which opened its doors in early 2011. The property is located on one of the best spots in New Caledonia on Anse Vata Bay next to Le Méridien, and was previously Club Med.

Royal Tera Resort has 108 suites, 89 one-bedroom suites, and 19 two-bedroom suites, each with a balcony and the majority offering lagoon views. The one-bedroom suites can accommodate up to three adults or two adults and two children, while the two bedroom suites can comfortably accommodate up to four adults or two adults and two children.

With a 24 hour hotel reception, swimming pool and beach, a shop, fitness centre, tour desk, spa, restaurant and bar, a 350 square metre conference room with a terrace overlooking the lagoon (seating up to a maximum of 200 people) and additional break-out rooms, this is one property well worth a closer inspection. Visit www.tera.nc to learn more.

The adjacent Le Meridien, also overlooking the Anse Vata Bay has been a popular choice for conference groups for many years. It has 245 guest rooms including 12 junior suites, two diplomatic suites, and one presidential suite, each adorned in a modern, colonial style, and each with a balcony with views of the lagoon or the New Caledonian Gardens.

With five meeting rooms, including the La Perouse which can comfortably accommodated up to 260 delegates, this is one venue well worth further inspection.
The property also offers an extensive health club including a fitness centre, sauna, steam room and beauty and massage centre.

In July this year a Hilton property opened following a major refurbishment of the 154-suite and apartment GLP Hotels Residence La Promenade. The Hilton Noumea La Promenade

Residences is described as an idyllic home away from home, just metres from Anse Vata Beach. The Residences are close to the city’s largest conference centre and the boat departure point offering trips to the nearby islands.

And, in other news, Starwood Hotels & Resorts is strengthening its offering with the opening of the Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Golf Resort and Spa. With its sustained development approach, the resort’s 120 rooms and suites will look out over the UNESCO World Heritage lagoon and reef.

Expected to open in July 2014, it will also offer 60 bungalows and an 18-hole signature golf course.

Isle of Pines

One of the most beautiful islands in the world is undoubtedly the Isle of Pines. Just a 20 minute flight from Noumea, the Isle of Pines is home to untouched and breathtakingly beautiful beaches, many lined by banyan trees and columnar pines.

The island is dominated by the Nga Peak which is 262 metres above sea level and Oro Bay, a World Heritage Listed site. The island is hugely popular for snorkeling and diving, and simply for relaxation.

For those who want to extend their stay – many suggest three days here to really get a grasp of its beauty and return to the mainland refreshed and invigorated – Le Méridien Ile des Pins is perfectly position on the island, nestled on Oro Bay.

The property is in close proximity to the stunning Kuto and Kanumera beaches, which have stunning white sand and are perfect for snorkelling.
Another highlight is Hortense Queen Cave and its limestone formations.

Getting there
Aircalin is the international airline of New Caledonia with a fleet equipped with modern Airbus A330 and A320 jet aircraft.

To learn more visit www.visitnewcaledonia.com.

Samoa for small to medium groups

If your group is small to medium in size, you’ve been there, done that, and are seeking somewhere a little bit different, then the stunning South Pacific Polynesian islands of Samoa may be just the answer.

Considered the cradle of Polynesian culture, Samoa boasts a 3000-year-old tradition found nowhere else in the South Pacific called Fa’a Samoa – The Samoan Way. It’s a tradition that stems back thousands of years and is Polynesian culture at its most authentic. It’s a way of living that celebrates and upholds traditional values and means family comes first, respect is important and Sunday is a day of rest.

Make your way around the islands and you’ll discover spectacular waterfalls, dramatic blowholes, stunning coral reefs and crystal clear lagoons where you can even swim with turtles. These charming sea creatures are regular visitors to Samoa’s warm waters and an amazing experience can be had by swimming with them on one of the turtle sanctuaries.

In Samoa, the smiles are infectious and come from within – a sense of security that stems from a nation that is both politically and economically stable. Life ambles at its own measured pace in Samoa and it’s not just because of the balmy tropical weather. With the average temperature at 30 degrees C, no wonder there is a smile on every face that greets you.

Samoa is an archipelago in the South Pacific consisting of 10 islands, fringed by magnificent coral reefs and lagoons and overlooked by volcanic peaks. Inland, the rugged interior hides lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, steep gorges and crystal clear cave pools.

Upolu is the most populated of Samoa’s two main islands and home to the capital of Apia, which sits on the north coast overlooking the harbour. Must see sites that are in easy reach of Apia include Robert Louis Stevenson’s Museum, Palolo Deep National Marine Reserve, Piula Cave Pools and the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks.

The famous author Robert Louis Stevenson, known as ‘Tusitala’ (Samoan for ‘teller of tales’) spent his final years in Samoa where he wrote most of his books, including Treasure Island. His beautiful mansion Vailima is surrounded by beautifully manicured tropical gardens and has been converted into a museum which is open to the public.

Also situated on Upolu is the village of Lotofaga where you will find To Sua trench, a 30 metre deep crater filled with sea water accessible down a steep ladder. The trench is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is a popular picnic spot among Samoans.

Samoa offers a range of hotels well suited to the conference and incentive travel markets. Starwood is soon to make a major announcement on the opening of a new property in Samoa, updates of which will be included in the next edition of micenet AUSTRALIA magazine. m

To learn more visit www.samoa.travel

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