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CLUB MED PUNTA CANA

JANUARY 13-20, 2007

 

CLUB MED HISTORY/BACKGROUND
First of all, I would like to give a little bit if background on Club Med for those of you who are not very familiar with
Club Med.  Club Med is really the pioneer in “all-inclusive” resorts; although, their beginnings weren’t completely all-
inclusive-they used to have drink charges.  Over the years they grew into an all-inclusive resort to keep up with the
current trends.  There are two key points that can be made about Club Med when they first opened their doors:  
you would find three types of resorts:  adults only, family friendly and family villages.  To clarify, family friendly
means they don’t turn away families, but don’t have specific kid’s club activities for the children.  Secondly, Club
Med has always been the simple, “no frills” type of all-inclusive resort.   Both of these key points are undergoing a
few changes in the next few years.  Club Med has realized to stay current with what the travelling public is looking
for, they need to bring more luxury to their resorts and to the  Club Med experience and they need to focus on
families as that is the large part of the travelling public, especially to all-inclusive resorts.   Punta Cana is still the
“no-frills” type of resort and I’m not sure when this resort will undergo its’ facelift.  The first of the Club Med resorts
to display this new luxury experience is Cancun, which just re-opened in November and currently the village in
Ixtapa is going through its’ makeover.  I can only guess that Punta Cana might be in the near future after Ixtapa.  
Club Meds are located all around the world; although I can say that most of my clients visit the Club Meds located in
North America.  One other thing to note about Club Med is that the company itself is in France, so you will notably
see French influence at all the Clubs in one way or another.  A few other key points about Club Med:  G.O.’s is the
name of the staff members at Club Med- it stands for Gentile Organiziers (Gracious Hosts), then you the guest are
considered G.M.’s- which is Gentile Members.  The G.E.’s are the non-Club employees which tend to be
housekeeping and dining room staff (it is typical that these are locals that do not speak much more than their native
tongue).



MY CLUB MED EXPERIENCE
I have been to Club Med once before on a travel agent FAM trip to Cancun, this was the “old” Cancun club and it
was a trip that was more business than pleasure, so I cannot draw much from that experience and now that Cancun
is a completely new club and experience, I won’t even venture to give details on that until I can experience that first
hand.  
Club Med Punta Cana is located in the Dominican Republic, an island nation in the Caribbean bordering Haiti.  The
native language spoken in the D.R. is Spanish, although most people involved with visitors in the travel arena tend
to speak a decent amount of English also.    Club Med, with its’ French company roots does also have the French
influence.  Of all the North American clubs, Punta Cana does cater more to the French than any of the other clubs
because they tend to get about 60-70% of their guest from France and/or French Canada.  (Both areas have
charter air service to Punta Cana)  Walking around the resort it is not uncommon to pass one of the G.O.’s and be
greeted with a “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir”, but once you reply back in your language they then reply back in the
respective language.  
Our arrival to Punta Cana was smooth; we did our own air on United using mileage, so it was a long trip connecting
through Washington Dulles on the red-eye flight.  Arriving into Punta Cana, you see an airport that consists of
several grass covered shack type buildings that make up the airport terminal.  You are ushered off the plane and
directed to the “immigration” area, which isn’t much to speak of.  You are greeted by the locals who take your
picture in a rush (when do we ever get these pictures we wonder- maybe when we go home?), from there you have
to pay your $10 tourist fee.  All in all, this process is much unorganized, after you pay the $10 and receive you
tourist card, you then get into one of several lines to see the immigration official and get your passport stamped.  
Then to baggage claim and you present your tourist card to another official.  Being a small airport, luggage retrieval
was easy, but after that not much direction of where you needed to go to exit.  We found our way to the exit where
numerous porters are trying to sweep you and your bags up.  Once you exit the baggage area there are several
hotel counters with representatives- we were then directed to the Club Med desk where we were told that our taxi
ride would cost $10 – no more and no less than that.  If you were on a Club Med package that included air, that
desk would direct you to your transfers to the resort.  It seems as though the resorts really do take care of their
guests so that nobody gets “taken for a ride” by the locals.  Note:  when you do opt to take any taxis around the
island- always make sure to determine your cost before you get into the taxi.  Also, it is a good idea to ask the
resort concierge what a fare price would be for your taxi journey.  Coming out of the airport, it was a madhouse with
taxi drivers all trying to get your ride and then the parking lot that they usher you through to the actual taxi was also
a little crazy.  Finally, we were on our way- only a ten minute ride to Club Med from the airport.  All in all, we were off
the airplane at 210pm and were walking into Club Med’s reception area at 3pm.  
We were then taken to our room, which the property consists of several two story buildings that each house about
16 rooms, 8 on each floor.  All the buildings are painted bright yellows, pinks, oranges which really bring the resort
Caribbean life!  The grounds were beautifully manicured with grass areas, bougainvilleas, rock gardens and palm
trees all over the place.  The G.O. who took us to our room spoke English, French and Spanish.  Every G.O. that
we spoke to during our stay was more than happy to tell you a bit about themselves and the places they have been
or the places they come from.  In fact, the G.O.’s are encouraged to mingle with the G.M.s.    Our room was nicely
appointed with more bright colors and stenciled fish painted on the ceiling borders- our room was a blend of blues,
greens and yellows.  The room has tiled floors throughout, a large walk-in closet with a mini-fridge and a side room
with two twin beds, making this a very comfortable room for a family of 4.  The bathroom was a bit small but the
shower was large.  Each room has a balcony or patio with two chairs and a table.  We waited a short time for our
luggage to arrive, unpacked and then went looking for our friends who had arrived a day prior.



THE RESORT:
The resort has a beautiful beach; the Caribbean waters are a blend of turquoise and other shades of blue with
areas that you can see the reefs and other underwater life.  It is absolutely breath-taking the beauty of this beach
and ocean!  Something to note- because this resort does draw many European travelers, it is not uncommon to
have topless sunbathing on the beach and/or around the pool; although the majority tends to be at the beach.


DINING
There are two restaurants; both buffet style and I will say that we really did enjoy each and every meal that we had.  
For a picky eater like myself, I was never without choices and I’ll also add that the Roasted Chicken was Excellent- I
had it 3-4 nights (along with other things).  Breakfast was basic and really never changed- that was one thing we
would have liked to see a little more “specialty” items for breakfast.  My husband loves Eggs Benedict and that was
never offered.  But there were plenty of options to sustain life for another day.  We rarely had lunch because we
would eat a large enough breakfast and with the afternoon heat, I tend to not have much of an appetite.   The
snack shack at the beach bar was available late afternoon for fruits, croissants, hot dogs, pizza and a few other
things.  We usually had a snack late afternoon.  Dinner was always a particular theme:  Dominican, Tex Mex,
Chinese, Italian, Mediterranean, Seafood, etc.  Always yummy choices and for the younger travelers who might be
picky- you always had chicken nuggets, fries, hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza available.   It is very common for the
G.O.’s to come and dine with you; each night we had 1-2 of the G.O’s at our table-it adds another dimension to the
vacation to learn about the international staff.  I will say that we did have a great bartender named Gregg and he
really did take special care of us during our stay.  There are two bars- the main bar and the beach bar and one
disco, although a variety of cocktail hour entertainment happens around the main bar area each night.   


ACTIVITIES:
This resort has a variety of activities from several water based activities to archery, tennis, circus school (trapeze),
rollerblading, a complete fitness program, beach volleyball, water polo in a huge beautiful pool to keep you cool.  
The fitness center was basic with a few treadmills, elliptical trainers, free weights and nautilus machines.
I was completely impressed with the fitness program, being an instructor myself there were many things that
pleased me with their program.  They offered 2 yoga classes each day, 2 aqua fitness classes each day (one in the
pool and one in the ocean), 1 Step/Kick box combo, 1 Intermediate Step, 1 Katami Boot Camp and 1 sculpt class.  
You could participate in classes each day and get your workout covered.  Also, the earliest class as 930am, which
really makes sense when you are up late the night before dancing.  The quality of the instruction was wonderful.  I
realize that when teaching in these types of surroundings you always have to teach to the beginner, but they still
made each and every class enjoyable.  Something else that I found very enjoyable was the fact that because there
was a huge population of French speaking guests they taught the classes bilingually.  I took French in high school
some 20+ years ago and I will say that much of it came back to me during the course of this vacation.  I found
myself listening for the French cues/instruction instead of the English.  Also, the group classes were held on the
beach in an open air hut- it was wonderful to do yoga at 930am staring at the ocean—very meditative!  
Probably my biggest “con” to the overall activities/entertainment is that the disco doesn’t start up until 11pm and I
don’t think that overall the evening “shows” that they have around 9-930pm were all that entertaining.  The other
con is that Club Med has their own set of songs and dances that the G.O.’s are to perfume each night to get the
crowd “going” and after 2-3 nights of these songs it was getting very old.  In talking with several of the G.O.’s, we
did learn that Punta Cana does more of these “songs” than other Clubs because of the French influence (they
would do a few of the English song/dance routines and then a few of the French routines).  The disco was fun, we
got there 3 nights, but again because of the late hour that the disco comes alive, we were beat after a long day in
the sun.


EXCURSIONS:
The resort has an excursion desk with about 8 different tours that you can arrange for an additional charge.  My
husband the other two friends took the tour to the Indian River.  I opted out of this full day excursion because I just
didn’t want to be gone for a long day like that (8am until 7pm) and it also warned to bring mosquito repellent and
having already been bite 3 times at the Club Med resort, I didn’t want to put myself in an area that I would be
welcomed as “lunch”.  NOTE:  The Dominican Republic is a place that you should consult with your Doctor with
regard to anti-malarial drugs.  The CDC has warned of the potential to contract malaria from mosquitoes in the
region.  In speaking to Club Med staff and staff at the other two resorts that I visited, it seems normal that the
resorts treat their man-made ponds, etc. with a mosquito repellant of sorts and that they have exterminators that
treat the resorts on a regular basis, but the risk still exists and even more so if you plan to venture away from the
resorts.  You need to do what is right for you and consult with your physician.


MASSAGE:
The resort does offer a variety of massage treatments- all done in open air huts along the beach.  I had a fabulous
massage the day my husband took the excursion; in fact it was a very nice “me” day with the massage the perfect
day.  My two friends also had massages later in the week, one of them being a first timer and they both thoroughly
enjoyed themselves-well they both fell asleep, so that to me is the sign of a great massage.      


ATTIRE:
One thing that I think is notable is that they do have attire “themes” each night and this is something that I did not
expect.  I had asked my Club Med representative ahead of time to find out how dressy people got in the evenings,
but to my surprise each night had a theme:  black/white, all white, red/white, casual elegance, black elegance,
beige/white, jeans/black shirt, etc.  When speaking with G.O.’s at dinner one night I asked them if the themes
always stay the same week to week and generally they do, but every once in awhile they do switch things up a bit.  
Fortunately, their themes tend to go with the basics that people tend to pack for vacations.


OVERALL RECAP
We had an awesome time this past week!!!  Something else to note- we never felt as though the resort was
overcrowded.  We were always able to get pool chairs, never a hard time to find seating for dinner or at the shows.  
The resort was not at full occupancy, but even so you could tell there was plenty of space for more guests.


The highlights:

  Yoga on the beach
  Getting my husband to Yoga class
  My Karaoke Debut – along with my friend as we sang “We are Family” (after all we are like sisters)
  Chocolate fountain at dinner one night- you could dip various fruits or marshmallows in this fountain
  Beautiful weather- it was a lovely average of 80 each day, a few days we had a bit of wind which is not normal
    for this island and we had 2 scattered showers the whole week that lasted about 10 minutes in total time (the
forecast was scattered showers each day when we left CA for this trip)
  My personal drink concoction made by Gregg at the bar- we’ll call is a Chocolate Milkshake because I wanted
    something that tasted like a chocolate milkshake.  I’m not sure the measurements, but it was part Baileys,
part Kaihlua, part milk, part chocolate flavoring and ice blended!! It was so smooth and refreshing!
  My renewed love for the French language- I actually want to dig out my High School French books (if mom
    still has them) and try to relearn the basics!


The lowlights:

  Disco gets started too late.  
  Nightly entertainment is lacking, but again this is a “no-frills” type of place. It’s not Vegas by any stretch of the
    entertainment imagination.


Will I go again?
YES!  In fact, I have a few free nights that I won at a seminar a few months ago and I do plan on visiting the Club
Med Cancun in September.  Our friends that joined us on this trip are also very interested in going again.  


TO VIEW PICTURES OF THE CLUB MED PUNTA CANA CLICK HERE

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