Having visited Club Med da Balaia in the Algarve and Club Med Val d’Isere in France, ITTN’s Sarah Slattery discusses Club Med’s key selling points, some of the highlights and why Club Med differs from other all-inclusive resorts.
When asked about Club Med, many people think of family resorts in the Mediterranean. There are, however, 70 Club Med resorts across five continents, including cruise ships and luxury adult-only resorts. Club Med’s exclusive collection offers honeymoon destinations, including a private island in the Maldives, as well as 23 ski resorts, some of which are open for six months of the year.
With more and more families looking for long-haul destinations, Club Med is an ideal solution. There are family resorts in Mauritius, Bali, Malaysia, Thailand and Brazil, as well as various islands in the Caribbean. For families looking for luxury and privacy, Club Med has three- or four-bedroom ski chalets in France and villas in Mauritius or the Maldives. However, it is not only the wide variety of destinations available that attracts so many repeat visitors to Club Med resorts each year: the luxury all-inclusive resorts have excellent facilities and dining options too.
Club Med Cuisine
The first thing that is apparent is the high standard of food available. Club Med attracts a high percentage of French clients, so perhaps this has a huge influence over the quality of dining offered, or maybe Club Med simply cares about standards over all.
I was really impressed by the buffet at Club Med da Balaia in the Algarve – indeed, ‘buffet’ is probably not the correct term to use. As well as numerous choices of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, there are speciality dishes each night – my personal favourite was the beef wellington. Delicacies such as fois gras, oysters, and beef tartare are readily available. There are also many cooking stations where your food is plated in front of you, so if you prefer individual courses to crowded plates, you can have that too.
You don’t have to be a gourmet lover, because Club Med also caters for those who like plain food. There are homemade pasta sauces, pizzas, burgers and steaks available each night.
Families with young children can enjoy the baby corner with food suitable for infants. There are also blenders for parents who prefer to make their own baby food. Good wine is served by the bottle at your table and is replenished regularly – which doesn’t happen at many all-inclusive resorts! Many Club Med resorts also have speciality restaurants, which vary from steak-houses to Asian fusion, although the buffet is hard to beat.
Club Med’s Facilities and Activities
The onsite facilities are excellent but, thankfully, they are not announced every half hour at the pool! Notice boards are prevalent showing activity timetables and children’s club facilities and there are also leaflets in your room, showing the daily schedule of events.
Expect tennis, sailing and golf lessons as well as numerous fitness classes each day. Some resorts have archery, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, football and even a flying trapeze school. All of these activities are included in the price of your holiday – whereas many all-inclusive resorts charge for some of these activities.
If you want to take your tennis game to the next level, Club Med Sandpiper in Florida offers intense courses with the tennis coach who taught Andre Agassi! This is subject to an additional charge. Club Med’s children’s clubs are superb and cater for children from four months to 17 years. There is a charge for the baby club but all other clubs are free of charge.
Another noticeable difference is the space: sun loungers are not crammed into tiny spaces and there are plenty of quiet places to relax and read a book. Many resorts have dedicated adult-only zen pools so parents can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Club Med for Couples
I was surprised to see how many couples and groups were in the Algarve and Val d’Isere. I, like many, assumed that Club Med was geared towards the family market, but I was wrong: many couples go regularly for the good food, activities and overall club atmosphere.
The repeat clients are evident throughout because many sport the Club Med-branded tee-shirts from previous resorts they have visited. This is actually a big deal! There are themed nights where guests are encouraged to wear their Club Med tee-shirt from their favourite resort. There are many themed nights, including a ‘white night’, where people dress only in white. It amazed me how many actually did this and how many got involved in the nightly entertainment. People line up on the dance floor and follow the dance routines from the Club Med staff during the disco. Although surprising, you can’t help but join in.
Club Med also caters for honeymoons. Many resorts have adult-only areas and Club Med also has resorts that only cater for couples.
Club Med for Ski
As well as the top-class food and excellent facilities, all Club Med ski holidays include lessons and lift passes in their cost – and commission is also paid on the total holiday cost. The company does not offer discounts to direct customers and is very supportive of travel agents. Almost all of the ski resorts are ski in – ski out, the benefits of which I only fully realised when I experienced it in Club Med Val d’Isere.
Children under four years stay free in all ski resorts and those under six stay free in sun resorts. For families travelling with young children, this is a massive bonus. Club Med will also guarantee interconnecting rooms for families, in both ski and sun resorts.
Sarah travelled with Sunway Club Med who offer Club Med offer 64 all-inclusive sun and ski resorts worldwide. Their ski resorts in France, Italy, Switzerland, China and Japan offer a full range of snow sports on the All-Inclusive Club Med formula which includes ski lift passes and skiing or snowboarding lessons for all ages and abilities. Enjoy an unforgettable experience for families traveling with babies, kids and teenagers, couples or solo travellers. Come and ski on the finest ski domains with highly qualified enthusiastic instructors and ski from the door in most resorts. Some Club Med Resorts also offer cross-country skiing and all Club Med Ski Resorts have a Ski Service® where you can rent your equipment quickly and easily. Save 15% on Club Med Winter 2017/18 holidays. Winter prices start from €978pp staying 7 nights all-inclusive in 3T Les Deux Alpes ski resort in France (Excluding flights and transfers) departing February 4th 2018 and from €833pp (excluding flights and transfers) for 7 nights all-inclusive in 4T Da Balaia, Portugal winter sun holiday departing 17th February 2018. Prices are in euro and children under 6 stay free on select dates. Short stay options available. Call 01-2366800 or visit www.sunway.ie.