It's a favorite with parents, kids 2 to 12-years and even hard-to-please teens, and one of Club Med's top family destinations.
Club Med began decades ago, when a vacation visionary, Gerard Blitz, living in post-war Paris, launched Club MediterranÃ©e as a non-profit sports club. He pitched a tent village on a Mediterranean beach using WWII army surplus tents and invited attractive young singles like himself. Who knew then what would evolve?
In 2006, there are 80 Club Med Villages catering to all types of vacation-seekers. And, some of Blitz’ basics have stayed the same: the staff are known as “GOs” (Gracious Organizers, in the English translation); the guests are called “GMs” (Gracious Members). Each vacation village is still staffed by GOs, the essence and most unique feature of Club Med, though today they are likely to be multi-lingual college graduates. And just as in the beginning, both groups socialize and eat meals together.
This makes for Club Med’s unique and friendly ambiance which works especially well with families: Kids love to see their Mini-Club leader at breakfast; they love to be greeted by name when they’re playing in the pool. Also part of the ambiance is an international flair: all GOs speak both English and French.
A Total All-Inclusive Vacation
No surprise, Club Med Punta Cana, with 75 acres on the eastern coast of the DR, has all the facilities and amenities that characterize today’s Caribbean vacation: beach and watersports, all-inclusive meals, snacks, drinks, kid’s clubs, nightly entertainment, plus fitness and pampering for grownups. Accommodations are spacious as all units are junior suites with two rooms, and, debuting in May of 2008, is Tiara, the new boutique resort within a resort. These additional 32 oceanfront family suites offer private pick-up from the airport, concierge and laundry service, and other amenities such as flat screen TVs, free internet service and private patios. With its own pool and bar and exclusive events, this new luxury resort concept adds an additional dimension to an already exceptional family getaway.
Of special note is the half-mile of white-sand beach, with Lounge Zone, Watersports Zone and quiet No-Kids Zone. The free-form pool’s surface area is as large as a football field and features a shallow kiddie play area. Grownup pleasures include fitness and yoga in an airy thatched pavilion right on the beach, merengue dance classes, air-conditioned gym and massages in beachfront cabaÃ±as (extra charge). Finally, each evening there are several simultaneous choices for entertainment.
Also upgraded in the spring of 2008 is the Spa which has been completely renovated and offers 10 air-conditioned treatment rooms, inlcluding one couple’s suite, individual and couple’s oceanfront Palapas, a Zen area for relaxation and a private swimming pool. Spa packages are available for booking in advance.
Extensive playground areas offer a swimming pool within the fenced Mini-Club zone and are available to families anytime except when in use by kids’ clubs. As part of the kid’s club, the Putamayo program teaches about many countries through their indigenous music, and other novel activities include trapeze, roller-blading and archery. Name-brand activities include Hip Hop Kidz dance classes and Crunch fitness.
As for the term “Total All-Inclusive:” for several years, this phrase has signaled that alcoholic beverages (in Blitz’ time, it was only beer and wine) are now free to guests. Parents should know, however, that there are extra charges for both Baby Club Med and Petit Club Med infant and toddler programs. Also, certain activities, such as scuba, are not included in the rates. But all the above activities are yours to enjoy (except of course the spa, which is always extra at any resort) with the bonus of instruction for tennis, archery, sailing, windsurfing, inline skating, and flying trapeze. (Grownups do it too!)
The Mighty, Mighty Kids Clubs
“Everywhere we go-oh! People want to know-oh
Where we come from. And we tell them:
We are the Meddies, the Mighty Mighty Meddies!”
With this chant, the 4 to 5-year-old “Meddies” follow their leader across the flowery grounds of Club Med Punta Cana to whatever kids’ club activity is up next: could be circus time on the trapeze; could be beach-time; could be rehearsing in the theater for the Mini show.
Club Med Punta Cana is the all-inclusive with a knockout kids programs. The Meddies are just one of the fun-bunches: A Baby Club Med (4 to 23-months) which debuted in the Spring of 2008 at this resort is a fabulous resource for sleep-deprived new parents, and it joins The Bambis and Dolphins (2- and 3-year-olds) as part of Petit Club Med. The complimentary Mini Club Med includes the Meddies, the 6- to 7-year-old Clubbers, and the 8- to 10-year-old Kids and so it goes, up to Junior Club Meds (11- 13 and 14- to 17-year-olds). Passworld is an additional offering for the pre-teens and teens which is designed to give them an independent, safe environment to meet and socialize in, with activities such as theatre, sound mixing classes, jewlery making and more, in their own facility. The younger campers also have their own room in the Petit Club or Mini Club building and each has their own set of activities including novelties like archery and Hip Hop dance.
All ages join in the weekly Mini show, held in a proper amphitheater with professional lighting, sound, and costumes. The little kids toddle around in Simba outfits, coached by off-stage GOs, and older kids put on some flashy dance performances. Parents and stage-stars are all thrilled.
Also for kids over 13 years old… The Ramp, is a unique two-story structure that’s a riding surface for rollerblading and skateboarding on one side; a fun place to hang-out (literally “hang-out” in a trampoline-style hammock); a Lounge with jukebox and customized sodas on the beachfront side; and over all, a nifty canopy where movies can be projected at night. Only kids age 14 to 17 get the red wristbands that mean they can use the Ramp and a private mailbox to hook up with friends while there. And by the way, the skateboarding/ blading only happens when a GO is in charge.
Venturing off property is always a great way to enrich a vacation. At Club Med Punta Cana, the staff will arrange boats that will take you to whale watch, scuba dive, or snorkel (for an additional charge). We were disappointed that the snorkeling boat trip, an outing to a nice coral reef, went only a few hundred yards offshore!
Whale watching is seasonal, of course, and sightings are never guaranteed; but at the right time of year, guests have a good chance of splendid viewing just an hour from shore. While we enjoyed our whale watching outing, it could have been much more informative.
Resort Report Card
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