What makes a great family vacation? The answer is complicated, to say the least. While Mom may want the beach, Dad may need a golf course. Then there are the kids. Although your planning certainly shouldn’t revolve around them, every parent knows happy kids are key to a successful vacation. In its 65-year history, Club Med has made a name with its all-inclusive, family-friendly destinations around the world. It would be easy for the resort to sit back and rest on past accolades, but instead Club Med Punta Cana is soaring to new heights.
Club Med and Cirque du Soleil have joined forces to create CREACTIVE, a circus playground for kids and kids at heart. (Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, I’m talking to you too.) Just steps from the surf and sand of the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana, vacation days now include options like flying through the air on the trapeze, somersaulting from a high, bouncy bungee and even walking up walls.
Although the chance to soar to new heights tends to steal the Cirque du Soleil show, the artistry of the circus is not forgotten. Face and mask painting, drums, juggling and dance make the program a fun vacation first for kids as young as four years old. CREACTIVE brings an assortment of circus arts together under a colorful big top.
All activities are supervised by trained employees called Gentils Circassiens. Patient and understanding, they seem to have a good handle on the balance of helping the young and old fly outside of their comfort zone, without pushing too hard and stopping the fun.
Joining the circus is just a part of what can be a busy day at Club Med Punta Cana. Along with tennis, archery and mini golf, families can take windsurfing and sailing lessons, or go kayaking or snorkeling. Along with pool games, there’s an assortment of organized daily sports tournaments and even dance lessons. Be sure to save some time to enjoy the 2,000-foot private beach.
A few of the reasons we love this island for family beach vacations >
Even new parents can look forward to some time off, thanks to Club Med’s extensive kids’ programming. Baby Club Med is for little ones four months to 23 months old. Petit Club Med is for the two- to three-year-old set. Mini Club Med plans activities for four- to 10-year-olds. Passworld has two locations, one for 11- to 13-year olds and a second for teenagers 14 to 17.
For an extra fee, parents of kids four months to 10 years old can use the Pyjamas Club from 8pm to 1am, or make babysitting reservations. There is a dedicated Bottle Room next to the Baby Club that is open 24 hours a day.
With the exception of a short stretch of the wee hours of the morning, you can always grab a bite to eat somewhere in the resort. Meals are served buffet style, but in many cases, chefs are preparing the food in real time directly behind where the selections are being displayed. There are so many options to choose from, even picky eaters should be happy here. (It’s also a great opportunity to introduce new foods.)
Along with expected breakfast fare like pancakes and eggs, a chef is always slicing fresh fruits and blending an assortment of fruit smoothies. At lunch you can create a salad with an assortment of greens and have it freshly tossed with all sorts of extras like avocados, hominy and beets. Fill your dinner plate with the likes of lobster, tempura vegetables or a burger and fries. Jarred baby food is also available.
When visiting a warm beachfront location like Punta Cana, spending time away from the sand in a spa doesn’t typically interest me. There are simply too many outdoor activities to keep me happily moving. But during my time at Spa L’Occitane, I never once felt like I had missed out on anything. The outdoor relaxation space has an infinity pool framed by swaying palms and gentle waves. After spending a few days twisting, turning and discovering muscles I’d forgotten I had, the massage was the perfect dose of pampering for the end of an active vacation.
A quick walk around the property makes it obvious the resort is a family destination. Kids of all ages are everywhere you look. But Club Med is getting ready to unveil a quiet spot for adults to call their own. Scheduled to open around the holidays, Zen Oasis will be for adults only.
Folks traveling without children can take advantage of the 78 adult-only guest rooms. Open areas, like the planned adults-only pool, will also be open to parents staying in other sections of the resort, the idea being that, after sending their own youngsters off to organized activities, parents might like to get away from it all, especially other folks’ children. An adults-only dinner spot is also part of the plan. Zen Oasis has the potential to be a particularly nice option for grandparents traveling with multiple generations.
After spending hours on a plane, a long drive to a resort property can push families to their travel limits. Club Med is only five minutes from the airport. You could call it perfect planning. Although Club Med doesn’t own it now, the resort actually built the airport in 1982, a year after the resort opened. Less then half an hour after stepping off the plane, I was standing on my balcony enjoying the view.
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Editor’s Note: Dana was a guest of Club Med Punta Cana, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by Dana Rebmann.
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