More than six decades after its founding by Gerard Blitz in the Balearic Isles off Spain, the French-owned Club Mediterranee is treating its guests — especially families — better than ever. Catering first to athletes and the young, then to singles, honeymooners, couples and families over the years, Club Med's 80 innovative resort "villages" in 36 countries are today among the best vacation destinations for all travelers.
The flagship Club Med Sandpiper Bay (renovated and refreshed in 2011) reflects the company's evolution since introducing the all-inclusive resort concept to the world. The central Florida resort is a showcase for stylish decor, expanded recreation facilities and large family suites. The friendly, well trained, energetic and very international Club Med staff are still referred to as G.O.s (translated from the French as Gracious Organizers) and guests are still called G.M.s or Gracious Members. There's always a French entree and wine available at meal time, with fresh croissants and cafe au lait at breakfast. Most important to the family who pursues a healthy lifestyle, Sandpiper Bay has become the first Club Med Premier Sports resort for golf, tennis, circus and fitness programs.
Fitness & Wellness Emphasized at All Club Meds
In an interview at Sandpiper Bay's March 2011 opening, President and CEO Club Med North America, Xavier Mufraggi spoke of regaining the company's place in the resort market by focusing on its original mission: the promotion of sports, wellness and helping guests achieve an active, healthy lifestyle.
Club Med has always offered a plethora of sports, from archery to tennis to trapeze, waterskiing and rollerblading, as part of its all-inclusive activity programs. What's new is that enhanced facilities have allowed the Sandpiper to open the Club Med Golf Academy and Club Med Tennis Academy for young professionals. After the successful launch of the Premier Sport village concept at Sandpiper Bay, Club Med management are discussing expanding it to Opio in France, a village in China and possibly one in Brazil.
Club Med has Terrific Children's Programs for Babies through Teens
Club Med continues to stay on top of our list for favorite family brands with its all-inclusive packages, award-winning Kid's Clubs (and you should all know, family Travel Forum has given them plenty of awards), idyllic settings, wide range of activities, sports, fine dining, spas and entertainment. Childcare by G.O.s trained in infant CPR and First Aid begins at age 4 months and continues to the age of 17, with age-appropriate programming for each group at least six days per week.
The Club Med Baby Welcome initiative was implemented a few years back for families traveling with children ages 3 and under. It's all included in your one up-front price, unlike the supervised programs for the 4-months to 23-months group, and it really is a welcome amenity. Ask before arrival and your room will be stocked with a crib or baby bed, baby bath, changing table , high chair ( on request), a bottle warmer, some toys and your own stroller. There is a baby corner available in the main restaurant with tasty baby food, and all the equipment parents need to prepare meals. Most resorts have a playground and many have the new Baby Gym stocked with climbing gear and play toys designed to enhance baby's large motor skills. Babysitting services or Siesta breaks are available at an extra charge and run until approximately 1am depending on the resort.
Baby Club Med for ages 4-months to 23-months provides expert childcare for a fee for the tiniest travelers, in large and spotless playrooms, nurseries stocked with cribs, and new Baby Gyms that introduce infants and toddlers to active play.
Toddlers aged 2- to 4-years enjoy their very own vacation with Petit Club Med, for a fee. Open all day six days a week, this club is normally a paid-service for parents to relax with a little peace and quiet. A happy gym for playing, games, face-painting, puppet shows, arts & crafts, pajama parties, funscape, dollhouses, trains, slides and kid-only pools keeps children busy and happy.
At Club Med Sandpiper Bay, where a fuzzy blue mascot roams the grounds and poses for pictures, CEO Mufraggi talked about the thinking behind introducing characters from "Raggs" a PBS tv show, to the toddler G.M.s. Raguzzi acknowledged that Club Med properties were already very well known for their excellent children's programs; however, the colorful Raggs characters, including one in a wheelchair, gave the G.O.s new opportunities to teach their young wards. Petit Chef, another new program, shows toddlers how to make healthy sushi and pizza as part of an effort to give them skills to take back home, both to remember their experience and to grow from it.
Club Med knows kids are curious if not outright adventurous and villages have plenty of activities to satisfy their interests. Mini Club Med entertains 4- to10-year-olds with a flying trapeze, games, in-line skating, soccer, mini tennis, circus school, mini-scientist and more fun activities. Rehearsing for the regularly scheduled kids' evening shows is a highlight of the program, because some kids will sing and dance and some will focus on circus arts and gymnastics. As part of their new Fitness programs, this age group also has their own Zumba lessons (imagine a cross between line dancing and aerobics.) Kids love playing in their own kids' only pool and outdoor funscape with dolls, toys, trains, and slide. Hours vary depending on resort.
The Pyjamas Club (open nightly for an additional fee at most resorts) is open to ages 3- to 10-years and provides a Night Out for parents while kids dine together with their G.O.s, play and enjoy a movie.
Teenagers (guests age 11 and older) looking to get away from their parents, or younger siblings, can hang-out in their own Club Med Passworld or, in the case of Sandpiper Bay, the Latitude 27 Club. There's a crafts area, with a cool, aquatic style backdrop and opportunity for self-expression. Activities include hip hop and dance classes, video production, sound mixing, and movie watching. At resorts with a spa, there are often a variety of teen beauty treatments available for an additional fee. This Club encourages doing what teenagers love doing best: Whatever they want, whenever they want. Hours vary depending on resort.
Family Guestrooms & Family Values at Club Med Villages
Sandpiper Bay's new rooms are an enhancement of rooming blocks that have been redone in the past five years at most of Club Med's Caribbean and Mexico villages. The new room categories are a boon to larger families who have long asked for rooms at all-inclusive resorts that can accommodate three children. The smallest are Club Rooms, ideal for those with a young child or infant. Sizes range up to rooms that sleep four (with a private alcove with two bunk beds), and two-bedroom suites.
Enlarged rooms sleeping four with some privacy have been introduced in recent years to Club Med Ixtapa in Mexico, Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and the Club Med Cancun Yucatan. Since pricing at these all-inclusive resorts is per person, depending on age of guest, rather than on room type, there's no reason for families to be cramped on their vacation.
The variety of activiies is just priceless. Picture watching your kids playing outdoors, engaged in a new sport. Imagine bowls of apples and granola bars sitting on counters in the kids' clubs. Capture their smiles as kids do flips on the trapeze or laps in the pool.
Knowing that the price of all meals, activities, kids' clubs (except Baby and Petit Clubs), entertainment, watersports, drinks and more is included in an upfront payment makes the Club Med experience relaxing as well as rewarding.
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