For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing the "New" Club Med, it is something that you should really consider as a vacation option for your family. Known for its active family vacations, Club Med has re-invented and re-invested to position itself as a leader for upscale family vacations, with the focus on creating a happy holiday experience for EVERYONE, no matter their age or interest.
To deliver on its promise, Club Med spent the last six years or so tinkering with its roster of resorts. It "closed and disposed" of about half of its properties. With the proceeds, the company netted $1.5-billion dollar to reinvent Club Med.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to Club Med’s grand re-opening of its Ixtapa Pacific Village in Mexico. Forget the sparse, camp-like Club Med of old. It was unbelievable! I hope the following provides you with a taste of what a Club Med vacation can offer your family.
Ok, so let’s talk about the location!
Club Med was the first to settle in Ixtapa over 30 years ago, and has the most beautiful spot imaginable, tucked between the waves of Mexico’s breathtaking Pacific coastline and the peaks of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
The Ixtapa village reopened in December, 2007 after a $20 million transformation. It’s styled after a Spanish hacienda with lots of open spaces, lounge areas and lovely local art everywhere. There are only 300 rooms over 30 acres of land, so that even when the village is full you never feel crowded. (It was full when I was there, but I never had a problem getting a good spot at the pool!) Similarly, Club Med’s other locations are designed with local architecture and a feeling of space.
A few of you have emailed me about options when you have large families, and Club Med has thought this through. There are many room styles, and a good portion of the Ixtapa village was dedicated to family suites, accommodating up to 4 children. I have some pictures below of the rooms and they are just stunning – fresh colours and spacious. In the two bedroom family suites the parents’ and children’s sleeping areas are separated by the bathroom and a door so that everyone can have privacy. The kids also have their own flat screen TV, sink and toilet. When it’s time to clean up for dinner you will ALL love the Rainforest Shower! For families with young babies up to 23 months there is a Club Med Baby Welcome package that offers parents a variety of amenities for toddlers like strollers, toys, cribs, changing tables, baby baths, and high chairs. You will also have access to a 24 hour convenience room equipped with sterilizers, blenders and bottle warmers.
Choice, choice and more choice! I am not a buffet person, but the buffet experience at Club Med is not typical. There are 5 unique dining rooms that surround their buffet, which is a masterpiece. Seven or eight chefs manage the buffet and Club Med is European-managed, so you can just imagine the breads and pastries which are baked fresh all day long. I had some "white chocolate" bread with every meal!! During the few days that I was there, I had marlin, tilapia, shrimps the size of a small hand, beef Wellington and the most amazing cold soups. One night I even tried fois gras on PB & Jelly, only because the chef was so proud of his creation (and cute) so I couldn’t refuse. The buffet was so amazing, if I was staying for a week I’m not sure that I would even bother with the a la carte restaurants (which of course are great). Drinks are included so you can order whatever you want, whenever you want.
Kids food – if your kids are not big on experimenting, all the regular stuff is available – yummy fries and pizza, roast chicken and tons of pasta choices. What’s really cool is that they actually stock kids’ yogurt, baby food and formula so that you do not have to worry about it.
Club Med is known for activities and there’s a great selection for everyone, from snorkeling, to archery, inline skating, flying trapeze to Yoga on the beach. The fitness team offers a good choice of classes, including water aerobics, or you can run on the treadmill or the beautiful beach. There’s also an excursion office on site offering pre-planned or customized trips. Alternatively, relax at the spa!
Ok this is huge and one of the biggest reasons that families take their kids to Club Med. Club Med Kids Clubs take care of and entertain children from 4 months to 17 years old at no extra charge, with an extensive range of programs designed for different age groups. The baby club is actually a sterile environment all on its own.
Your kids will have a riot and do things that they would not normally be able to do. There’s a circus school that is so much fun, and the kids might end up in a show where they will perform for everyone at the village. Your kids will fall in love with the staff as they are so dedicated to making sure they are happy! The club even has its own restaurant and chef where children can take cooking lessons as part of their day. I took my daughter to Club Med in Punta Cana almost 5 years ago (she was 4) and she still talks about it.
One little "extra": Parents can pay for the children to go to a "PJ" party, so that mom and dad can enjoy an evening to themselves.
When I visited the Mini Club in Ixtapa, I took some of the activity schedules. Here’s a sample of what they were doing that day:
9:45 Circus School
10:30 pool or playground
11:30 Hip hop or mini soccer
13:00 Chill time or yoga
13:45 Beach time
14:30 Pool or petit tennis
15:00 Arts & crafts
16:30 Family Event
Possibly, the best part of Club Med is the lovely atmosphere. Everyone seems so relaxed and happy. You will find dads and daughter dancing on stage at the beach parties, kids gaining confidence from the new experiences – it just makes you feel good.
Ok, so now you probably want to know the price. Club Med isn’t cheap and is rarely discounted because their villages do not have a lot of rooms and they are able to fill them all the time. However, for a special and memorable family vacation, you may want to treat yourselves. For the Ixtapa village you could book a family of 4 including flights in off peak (October/November) for about $7,000.
Also consider Club Med in Punta Cana, Cancun and Sandpiper Florida that will provide the same experience.
You can book any Club Med Vacation through the AIR MILES Reward Program. Lots of our travel specialists have experienced Club Med. Call one of our Package Vacation & Cruise experts at 1-888-AIR MILES (247-6453) or in Toronto 416-226-5171 (You do not need to be an AIR MILES Collector.)