Last month, our family took our fifth Club Med all-inclusive vacation. Over the years, we have vacationed at Club Med Cancun twice, Club Med Punta Cana once, and this year marks our second visit to Club Med Ixtapa Pacific in Mexico.
Reflecting on this allegiance, I thought perhaps it only fair to provide Club Med with some positive feedback. Selfishly, I hope this tome of praise might result in absolution from charges related to ten towels we pitched into a dumpster late one night after a certain kid (Bad Baby), exploded from drinking too many smoothies.
The first Club Med resort was founded shortly after World War II. Two men, one from France and the other from Belgium decided that the people of the world needed a place to gather and heal. Together they harvested abandoned U.S. military tents and built a small vacation spot in Spain. There are currently over 60 Club Med all-inclusive villages operating all over the world. According to Ixtapa’s Chef de Village/Resort Manager, Julien Lettraz, all Club Med resorts share values such as kindness, freedom, environmental responsibility, and multiculturalism. “We want to create little bubbles all over the planet where people can meet, regardless of politics or religion, and enjoy spending time together.”
Club Med feels a lot like the best type of summer camp, largely due to the amazing G.O.s (Gentil Organisateur) staffing each resort. This team of energetic young people from all over the world live onsite, teach activities, socialize with guests, and strive to ensure that everyone is having a first-rate experience. Easily recognizable in themed shirts of the day, this likeable crew is hired by Club Med for their expertise, positivity, sociability, and willingness to relocate. The regular rotation of G.O.s around the globe delivers a constant supply of new programming ideas to each site and provides fresh faces for returning guests. Club Med also hires local long-term employees called G.E.’s (Gentil Employee) to fill complimentary roles. Julien assured me that these kind, helpful people are fairly paid and treated very well.
Club Med Ixtapa is located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The price, cozy resort size, beach, food, and beautiful weather have made this village our top pick.
Although www.clubmed.ca is an easy way to book your trip, we have had great luck using Margarita Travel www.margaritatravel.ca. Owner Natalie has worked exclusively with Club Med for 25 years and always finds the best rates and perks. She is also extremely personable and full of knowledge.
We found the most cost-effective route from Ottawa to Ixtapa to be an early morning flight out of Montreal. Our family of five further reduced costs by sneaking Bad Baby into a four-person hotel room, neatly packed into a large breathable duffle. As guests arrive at the airport in Mexico, Club Med staff members greet and escort them, by air-conditioned bus, to the resort approximately thirty minutes away.
As a committed advocate for self-care, I highly recommend taking some time to plan your own wardrobe to look and feel your best. Pack as many light, flowy, elastic-waist items as possible. It is hot, everything is delicious, and nothing wrecks a family photo faster than a grimace induced by skintight Bermuda shorts
You might wish to consider buying a fun bathing suit or even a BIKINI. I always feel a bit shy the first day poolside, but by day two, the urge to lounge and frolic half-nude always kicks in. I recognize that the day drinking might play a role in this transition.
I realize that shopping for a bathing suit in winter, or any season, is a small slice of hell. Please feel free to borrow my opening line when entering the store. “I am going to need a good bikini top because the kids destroyed my breasts, and I need flip-flops supportive enough for bursitis.”
Even if you choose to avoid the gym and fitness classes, workout wear is ideal for daily comfort. Plus, it makes a light glistening sheen and somewhat wild bedhead look intentional…
Make sure to get the kids to try on their summer/vacation clothes well in advance, as it is likely that they have grown out of their entire warm weather wardrobes. There is paid laundry available onsite, but we have found that packing each child approximately two outfits per day usually covers it.
Confession: we completely burnt the kids on day two of our 2017 getaway. The Mexican sun is incredibly strong, especially during peak hours, and should not be trusted. Pack extra sunscreen, at least SPF 50, and reapply often. Sunglasses, hats and sun shirts really make a difference, especially in the ocean.
Small bills are great to have on hand for tipping G.E.s such as cleaning staff. Especially if you are a shameless fan of cheerful towel art.
There are several types of room configurations to choose from when planning your trip. This year, we chose adjoining rooms, allowing us to alternate between monitoring the children and locking them out. We have always found the tile-floored rooms to be spacious, cool and clean. The bathrooms are large and stocked with quality supplies and towels. Warning: unless you enjoy watching your loved ones wipeout nude, I do not recommend using the shower stall as a sunscreen application station.
Club Med Ixtapa features several delicious restaurants and bars. The main restaurant is buffet style with active culinary stations. Meal options are extremely fresh, incorporating local fish, seafood, cheese and fruit selections along with heaps of divine chips and guacamole.
Kid-friendly options like pasta, grilled meats, and simple vegetables are prepared daily along with a fully-stocked baby station.
Beverages - including wine, beer, cocktails, pop, freshly squeezed juices, milk and coffee - are available at the bar or served to table.
All-inclusive dining has really helped to make our kids more adventurous eaters by providing opportunities to try bites of new foods without having to commit to an entire meal. It has also been a great place for them to practice table manners and learn to build their own nutritionally-balanced plates. These vacation family dinners are my favourite type, since I don't have to cook, we are never in a rush, and everyone can choose what he or she feels like eating.
In addition, Club Med’s chefs are prepared to deal with food allergies, like my daughter’s nut allergy, and have always worked to ensure that she could safely enjoy as many choices as possible.
There are many activities and programs available at Club Med for both children and adults. Tennis, archery, sailing and trapeze have been favourites of our crew with many other options available. Evening shows are highly entertaining and provide a great place to park the kids when seeking a grown-up drink on the patio.
Club Med’s Kids Clubs are perhaps their best features. Providing incredibly kind, fun and competent childcare for children ages four months to 17, the clubs allow parents and kids to vacation both together and apart. Kids Clubs are carefully divided into age appropriate groups and give parents the option to use them as much or as little as they prefer.
Even if your kids aren’t into Kids Club, there is always some G.O. in an ill-fitting costume begging kids to follow them to a, “special party.” I recognize that in real life, this would be wrong. However, here it truly feels like a blessing.
Health concerns are always a priority when travelling with little ones. Club Med takes the health and safety of guests seriously, training staff members in both hygiene and first-aid. Water is purified professionally and tested regularly.
For further information, I also visited Club Med Ixtapa’s fully stocked infirmary, staffed with two nurses onsite (24 hours a day), for a tour. Although nurses run the clinic, a doctor is available for daily consults and more serious emergencies are treated at a private clinic nearby.
After my meeting with Nurse Lou, I felt completely assured and happily strode to tennis, desperately praying to sprain my ankle.
Wherever you go, may your travels be safe and happy. If you require any further Club Med inspiration, please make yourself a Mojito and sing along, “Hands up, baby hands up, gimme your heart, gimme your heart…”
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