A Backpacker’s Epiphany: 5 Reasons to Try Out Club Med
I’m a bit of a travel snob. I don’t mean snob in the sense that I only stay at five star luxury hotels or only dine on nothing less than expensive champagne and caviar in Paris.
Actually the opposite- I’m the type of travel snob who believes the really interesting travel happens off the beaten track, unplanned, and without a tour guide. I’ve hitchhiked my way through Africa, dragged my backpack through train stations in Egypt, and spent the night with plenty of bedbugs through the years. Essentially, travel for me has always been more gratifying when there’s discovery, wacky surprises, and okay, a little bit work on my part. Can you relate?
However, recently due to some stressful personal life events, my husband and I were just not motivated for our usual kind of travel. We did not have the energy for the hustle bustle, scary taxi rides, or price haggling. We wanted to go easy for a change.
We opted instead for a stay at an all-inclusive Club Med. Now, I’ll admit I had reservations. Isn’t the fun part of travel wandering down hidden alleys for a tiny gem of a restaurant or stumbling on a secret beach? How could I possibly enjoy just walking up to the buffet line or sauntering out to the resort pool?
Well readers, enjoy it I did. I’ll even go so far as to say that I’m looking forward to planning my next Club Med vacation.
Now, I knew little about Club Med Resorts before this trip, and I had some strongly formed misconceptions about how stimulating the experience would be. In short, I didn’t expect it would be. However, I am here to tell you that I was wrong. In fact, there are so many interesting and fun benefits to staying at one that I want to share with you.
Club Med resorts offer a wide array of activities including tennis, archery, water and snow diversions, yoga, bike riding, exercise classes, excursions, and most fun of all, flying trapeze. When else do you get a chance to engage in all that? Most of the activities require no extra charge; hence, you can easily try out something new. Moreover, Club Med resorts around the world are often within easy reach of places of cultural or historical interest. We left the resort one day and visited a monkey enclave and mangrove forest. In no way does your time need be limited to the pool.
Club Med personnel is made up of people from all over the world, which gives the resort an international vibe reminding me of a youth hostel. The staff members themselves are roaming travelers, moving to a new resort every year or so. They freely conversed with us during the day, shared drinks at the bar and sat with us during meals. This interaction presented many opportunities for having lively discussions and making friends.
The resort is a perfect, if not a little strange, self-sustaining world. It’s the kind of place where the person who is the receptionist is also the bartender and the trapeze artist and the magician and head of the breakfast clean-up crew (and if you were getting married, would also be the officiate performing the ceremony). It was hilarious actually to see what new role that person would pop out as next. Moreover, each night, the staff put on a show for the guests– yes, cheesy and badly adapted from the Vegas strip, but all the more fun to watch when that’s your new pal from Indonesia on the stage. Essentially, Club Med was not the sterile environment we expected in the least. There were lots of surprises and laughs.
If you have children, child-care is included in the cost. Amazingly, the staff whisks the little ones away for hours. If I were a parent, I can imagine that would be heaven. I’m all for creating and sharing memorable travel experiences with your children, but that is exactly the benefit of this type of resort. You are not simply dropping them off in a small room so they can watch cartoons while you sip a cocktail at the bar. The childcare is educational and cultural. On our trip, we met kids who went on nature walks, learned local songs and games, made crafts, and became amateur trapeze artists.
Finally, the drinks and food are free flowing all day long. As much as I love discovering a fantastic hole in the wall restaurant, I have to admit, it was lovely to have all that sustenance at my fingertips for once. The food quality overall was very good and they served a range of dishes and drinks. We stayed at the resort on Ishigaki Island in Japan, and there was no shortage of sake, awamori, goya, and beni imo (purple sweet potatoes). To be honest, we could’ve eaten burgers and fries there too if we wanted, but we were pleased to see variety and local ingredients.
Club Med resorts are located in over 100 destinations all over the world, and they are not limited to Caribbean beaches or European ski villages; in fact, locations exist in countries such as Senegal, Morocco, Turkey, and even Brazil. If you’re feeling less than usual motivation for the uncertainty and hardship of adventure travel, I recommend breaking out of the typical pattern and giving Club Med a chance. You might experience your own epiphany.