Surprise Weekend in Monaco

8-Nov IAD-LHR BA 224 (777 first class)
9-Nov LHR-NCE BA 342 (A320 club
9-Nov NCE-Monaco
via helicopter (Heli Air Monaco)

11-Nov Monaco-NCE via helicopter
11-Nov NCE-LHR BA 343 (A319 club
11-Nov LHR-IAD BA 225 (777 first class)

I try to do a mystery trip each year for my wife and me.  This year, I decided to surprise her with something completely different.  We go to Vegas a couple times each year, and we usually end up staying at the Monte Carlo due to our comp status.  Well, I felt we needed to get away for a long weekend, so I had the wife put in for a couple days of leave and told her we would be going on a mystery trip.  My hint was that we’re going somewhere we are familiar with but with a high roller twist.  She was convinced that we were going to Las Vegas on one of our semi-annual trips.

Anyway, we get to Dulles and start toward the American First Class check-in (we have been on the morning non-stop to LAX several times, so this was almost expected by the Mrs.) But instead of stopping at American, we keep walking one counter down to British Airways First Class check-in.  Now she’s really confused.  The first thing she says is that she didn’t pack for London.  The cat is out of the bag now.  She starts to put 2 and 2 together and figures out that we’re going to the real Monte Carlo.

The British Airways club at Dulles is nothing special.  There are separate sections for Club and First class, but they are often ignored.  This is our first time on the morning flight, so everything is a little different.  The club is nearly empty.  There are a few morning munchies available, but we just hold tight until we board.

On to the flight. 
We had Seats 4 E&F on the 777.  The load on this flight is extremely light.  First Class has a total of 4 people.  Club has maybe a dozen or so.  The whole plane probably had fewer than 100 people.  The service was excellent.  The seats are great.  The food was very good.  Our CSD came by a few times and chatted with us about our trip.  I cannot say enough about how great we were treated on this flight.  Everyone seemed to have a great fun attitude. 

Wine list is same on both flights:

Champagne: Krug Brut, Grand Cuvee
Whites: Sancerre Cuvee Megalithe, 2000, Domaine de la Perriere
          Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chenevottes, 1999, Joseph Drouhin
          Geyser Peak Russian River Valley Chardeonnay, 2000
Reds: Chateau Desmirail, 1996, Grand Cru Classe Margaux
          Buehler Napa Valley Zinfandel, 1998
          Cuvaison Carneros Pinot Noir, 2000


First Course:
-Selection of juices, Wake up energy drink smoothie
-Selection of pastries, yoghurt, and fresh fruit
-Loch Fynn smoked salmon with cream cheese
-Split Pea and ham soup
-Mixed salad served w/ balsamic & extra virgin olive oil or Caesar dressing

Brunch Main Courses:
-Braised veal chop, roasted root vegetables and potatoes.
-Baked lemon chicken, spring onion mash and marinated peppers
-Parma ham, Mozzarella cheese and vegetable salad
-Freshly cooked pasta with choice of puttanesca or creamy clam sauce served with freshly grated Grana Padano cheese

Always available:
-All day English Breakfast
-Hot bacon roll
-Selection of sandwiches
-Steak, mushroom, and ale pie

Cheese Dessert & Fruit:
-Chocolate caramel tart with crème fraiche
-Selection of fresh fruit


We get to Heathrow and head to the Heathrow Hilton for a nice overnight rest. 

The next morning, we head over to Terminal 1 for our flight to Nice, France.  It was an Airbus A320.  We were in seats 9 E&F (club Europe).  The flight was a quick 1.5 hours.  A generous hot breakfast was served (eggs, ham, and sausage, with a plate of fruit.)

After arriving in Nice, we head to the Heli Air Monaco desk.  We have a 12:35 reservation for the 6 minute flight over to Monaco.   The flight was a lot of fun.  It didn’t actually save any time on our commute.  By the time you head out to the heli pads, take off for the 6 minute flight, collect luggage, and take the shuttle to the hotel, you are looking at about 30-40 minutes. 

After landing we were whisked away to our hotel, the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel.  The people in front of us checking in were on our flight and took a taxi, so we did not save any time at all on the helicopter flight.

The hotel was nice.  We had a 5th floor room overlooking the Mediterranean.  A bottle of champagne and a bowl of fruit were waiting for us.  We had a wonderful time in Monaco.  We were successful at our gambling ventures which helped pay for some of our meals and activities.  2 days in Monaco was enough to get a good sampling of what the principality has to offer.

The helicopter company came and picked us up at our hotel Monday morning, and the return trip was on. 

British Airways uses a shared club at Nice which was fine.  There were plenty of breads, cereals, Champagne, wine, and other drinks available. 

The flight to Heathrow was another quick uneventful trip.  A lunch salad was served.  On time arrival.  We transfer over to Terminal 4 for our 4.5 hour layover.  The Concorde Room was nice.  The only celeb sighting was the golfer, Colin Montgomery.

Our return flight was rather late.  It felt more like an overnight flight.  It departed at 18:40 on time.  The loads were a little better on this flight.  There were 6 of us in First class, Club looked a little over half full, and the back was probably 70% full.  Sleep Suits, kits, and menus were handed out.  The service once again was superb.  We slept most of this flight, so we didn’t get to interact as much with the crew.


First Course:
-Richard Corrigan’s foie gras terrine with fig compote and toasted brioche slice
-Tomato and Gruyere cheese soufflé
-Parsnip soup with stem ginger
-Mixed salad

Main Course:
-Rosemary crusted best end of lamb, potatoes fondants, haricot vert, baby carrots and natural lamb jus.
-Shaun Hill’s seared and roasted haddock with brown lentil sauce.
-Roasted quail, blackcurrant and citrus stuffing, whipped mash potatoes, seasonal vegetables and natural jus.
-Freshly cooked pasta w/ your choice of tomato and basil or creamy mushroom sauce with freshly grated Grana Padano cheese.

Always available:
-English breakfast
-Selection of sandwiches
-Warm scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserve
-Chicken Tikka Masala
-Hot bacon Roll

Cheese, Dessert & Fruit:
-Stilton, Fountains Gold, Hereford Red, Taleggio and French Brie cheese.
-Bitter chocolate cheesecake with white chocolate sauce
-Apple tarte Tatin served with clotted cream ice cream
-Fresh fruit


Overall, we had a great time.  The flights, the hotel, and Monaco were a great way to spend a weekend. 

This is my first big trip report, so if I’m missing something, feel free to ask and I’ll try to fill in any gaps.