More than half a century ago, Club Med revolutionized vacationing by making all-inclusive travel famous the world over. Since that time, the allure of paying for your entire vacation up front—and, for agents, the allure of earning commissions on that price—has made the all-inclusive concept a massive success, especially in the Caribbean. In the islands today, Club Med is surrounded by competitors offering their own brand of all-inclusive packaging. Which is probably why it’s once again starting a revolution—an in-house revolution, that is. Renovations designed to make the old new again are touching every resort in the Club Med portfolio, and the latest resort to debut its new look, Club Med Punta Cana, has transformed into one of the most unique resorts in the Dominican Republic.
Easy and Energetic Anyone who’s ever flown into Punta Cana’s airport knows how hectic things can get just outside the baggage claim gates: taxi drivers, baggage handlers and packs of drivers holding signs for individual airport transfers, all crowded into the small arrival area and calling out for attention. Luckily for Club Med guests, the revolution starts here. Occupying its own booth in the arrival area, Club Med checks its guests into their rooms before they even arrive at the resort, giving them a room key, map of the property and information sheet with such helpful details as where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner; a schedule of the day’s activities; and opening times for the spa, fitness center and kids’ clubs. By the time they’ve arrived at the resort after the short transfer from the Punta Cana airport, guests will have a good idea of where everything’s situated.
But though checking in and transferring to the resort is easy, that doesn’t mean it’s boring. From the moment the transfer guide exclaims “Let’s start the party,” clients know they’re in for an active getaway. A day at the pool will be filled with invitations to join beach volleyball games and water aerobics sessions (though if you’re the type to lose yourself in a book under the sun, relaxing here is just as easy). Like most Caribbean all-inclusives, Club Med Punta Cana offers unlimited watersports like kayaking and windsurfing. The resort’s on-land activities, however, may surprise you. In addition to the typical tennis courts and golf course access, Club Med also offers archery and nighttime Guitar Hero tournaments. And both of those pale in comparison to one of the most unique amenities we’ve yet seen in the Caribbean, “circus lessons.” A permanent circus area is stationed at the east end of the property, with a trampoline, juggling pins, and even a flying trapeze (with safety net and tethers attached to let clients down gently and safely, of course) available to kids and adults for four hours each day. As they swing from bar to bar, clients might spot another unusual amenity sitting just next door: an in-line skating track, complete with obstacles like trick ramps where experienced skaters can show off their best moves.
For Kids Too Part of Club Med’s new company-wide strategy is targeting families, a goal it meets admirably with its revamped kids’ clubs. The resort’s original Mini Club Med, for children ages 4-10, has been expanded to include Baby Club Med, for little ones as young as 4 months, and Club Med Passworld, designed for kids ages 11 to 17. The kids’ club area itself is one of the biggest we’ve seen in the Caribbean, with gated, grassy areas for the younger kids to play on small playsets like the Happy Gym, as well as larger playgrounds for older children. The most spectacular element here is the water playground, with slides, fountains, water guns and more that just might instill a little jealousy in the teenage set. And kids here can take part in “mini tennis” and “mini basketball” lessons, letting them play the grownup games on courts sized for smaller players. Teens, for their part, can hang out at “The Lab @ The Ramp,” a hang-out space just for teens where they can enjoy their own drinks (non-alcoholic, of course), test their skills at the roller park, or just chill out in a big hammock for the day.