Five Reasons Why Club Med is the Answer for Pandemic Parents and Everyone Else
I don’t consider myself an “all inclusive resort person”.
In fact I find the idea of an all inclusive resort sort of off putting. Like I’ll be a captive of bad buffets and terrible entertainment. And if you’re going to the trouble to go somewhere different, why be captured in the same place, repeating each day?
And yet…I needed a vacation. I am just a full time working mom who has had a rough couple years and needed a vacation. I didn’t want a family trip, or a sightseeing excursion. I needed a break, preferably with (not from) my husband and children. I wanted us to have fun.
1. No Worries
So with an all inclusive, there isn’t much to worry about. Club Med is constantly organizing activities, so if you feel like doing something, you can, and if you don’t, put your nose back in the book. I spent a good amount of time floating in salt water. Not your neighborhood salt float, actual salt water. With fishies and sand and stuff. That was the worry free environment I was looking for.
2. Free Range Everyone
Wondering where my kids were while I spent hours floating in the ocean? Playing volleyball or water polo or drinking Shirley Temples. Making friends, chasing iguanas. My daughter spent a lot of time on the trapeze. My kids are 8, 9, 9 and they’re at the age where it’s good to wander. But wander culture isn’t really part of the suburb we live in — it’s more about playdates, planned activities. And at Club Med, not an arcade in sight. In fact, I rarely saw iPhones — not at meals, not on the beach. But there was plenty of analog activity everywhere.
3. Unexpected Joy
Club Med has a Belgian-French history. While it started as more of an austere tent vacation destination, it’s decidedly upscale today. It caters to Europeans, Canadians, and Americans in that order. This is NOT an American resort.
And they like to entertain. We were there for the Fourth of July and I was already ducking my head, feeling embarrassed to be American in such a multicultural venue. We’ve been a mess. But as it turns out, so has Europe and Canada. Club Med loved on America like it was a long lost bestie. There was a parade, an Elvis impersonator, a “cookout” buffet with ribs and corn and apple pie, and red white and blue everywhere. They’re constantly delighting, entertaining and having fun. All day long. Some of these things are on the daily calendar, some just happen — like the mechanical bull that showed up at 4PM that day because, America.
Remember please and thank you? Those days of yore when a cashier would look you in the eye, make human contact? I love that stuff. The small engagements of “have a nice day” are an important layer of civility. “I see you and we’re people.” The GOs (gentil organisateur, en francais — nice organizer) are trained in the magical art of hospitality and it shows. They greet you warmly as you walk to the dining room, and wish you well throughout the day. This goes far beyond “Buenos Dias”, and becomes a full bodied pause, an incredibly warm exchange. Problem solving (ie. a lost cell phone) became a fun puzzle to figure out. Everything was playful, joyful and happy. I marveled at the genuine professional hospitality of the place, something that seems harder to find in a world of increasing digital narcissism. I soaked it in.
As it turns out, you can leave the resort. It’s not cheap, but you can. And while on the Yucatan, we hoped to see Coba, swim in a cenote, and snorkel with whale sharks. It was organized, pre-arranged and just. So. Well. Done. Tours were given in multiple languages, and the guides were incredibly knowledgeable. Nothing was difficult. We paid a premium for the ease, and at this point in our collective trauma history, that expense was well worth the experience.
This is not a paid advertisement for Club Med. I just found ease and joy where I didn’t expect it and wanted to share. Sometimes, it’s OK when life hands you a simple solution. Oh, and did I mention that traveling off-season was half the price? We did the whole trip (and airfare) for the less than half of normal prices. It turned out to actually be reasonable.
Living the dream, folks. As Club Med’s new tagline promises: Amazing You.