Our first Club Med experience is now behind us, and I've got say, overall, it was excellent. Here are a few specific areas of note:
- Accommodations: our room was quite livable, with a storage area to park the stroller, and a small side room that served as the temporary baby's room. It wasn't luxury, but it was more than sufficient. And, it was close by to the Baby Club, so getting access to the childcare facilities was amazingly easy.
- Food: I really liked the food. There was only one dining hall open, but it managed to walk the line between serving as convenient cafeteria and elegant dining experience. The selection of food was impressive, with always plenty of vegetarian or fish options. And the fresh fruit - yum! I'm not much of a foodie, so I can't really say the quality was amazing -- but I was certainly left satisfied after every meal.
- Child Care: This is truly where Club Med shines. The child care was outstanding. The amenities like having a stroller in our room, or 24hr access to kitchen facilities for cleaning bottles was super. But what really impressed me was the staff on hand to run the Baby Club (the name for the baby sitting service offered during the day). Each one of them treated our little guy with such love and care, it's like they had known him for months, not hours or minutes. Our little one truly had a fun time with them, and they made sure he always had plenty to do.
- Service: If there's one area where Club Med could use some work,
it's in their general responsiveness. I think the key issue here
was that of a language barrier. Apparently Club Med is a French
organization, and Punta Cana especially attracts the French
crowd. The result is that the natives speak Spanish, and the Club
Med'ers mostly speak French. We had to ask 3 times before our
request to have the Pack-n-Play exchanged for a new one actually
happened. The first time we made the request, we got a knock at the
door at 9pm (hours after we placed the request, and into sleeping
time, of course) to provide us with materials to make up the sofa
bed. Huh? Once the request was finally understood, it was taken care
of beyond our expectations.
Keep in mind, the language barrier isn't prohibitive. People still speak English, and at no time did we find ourselves truly limited. It was just odd to be in the dining hall and have to point and grunt to communicate with those serving the food.
- All Inclusiveness: Our past experience with an "all inclusive" vacation was that of a cruise. Sure, the cruise was labeled all inclusive, but in reality, it wasn't. Daily gratuity charges, soda and other drinks, fancier dining options and pretty much any other area they can get you on, they would. Not so with Club Med. The one fee really did cover everything you'd need to have a complete vacation - including drinks (alcoholic and non) and activities. We only opened an account when we realized we'd need to buy another batch of sun block. There's definitely opportunities to spend money, but unlike a cruise, you won't have to.
All in all, the vacation was an excellent one. I really can't recommend it enough if you've got kids and are looking for a trip that the whole family can enjoy. After last week, returning to the real world is going to be tough. I sure will miss my daily guava smoothie!