Travel

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

Shocking as it may be to anyone who ever went on spring break, I’ve never actually been to a Club Med before. But my husband, who has been to various CM’s from his childhood through college, assured me that the Punta Cana Club Med in the Dominican Republic would be the perfect destination for our first official family vacation with our 15-month-old son, Jake. The four-hour direct flight was terrific (Jake thankfully slept most of the way) and we arrived at Club Med after a short, comfortable ride from the airport. Our room was conveniently set up with a living room area complete with Pack-n-Play and blackout curtains and separated by sliding doors from the bedroom and bathroom. All of the rooms have this type of floor plan so there’s no need to spend extra money on adjoining rooms or spend your nights whispering with the TV off to ensure your little one’s rest. Club Med also provides each child with a pretty decent stroller to use with tons of storage, a nice sun-shade and a reclining feature (so Jake could nap while my husband and I lounged by the pool).

As with all Club Meds, the resort is all-inclusive and at this particular one, all restaurants are buffet style and have a “Baby Corner” equipped with baby food jars, baby food maker, bottle warmer and high chairs. And if all that wasn’t baby-friendly enough, the Punta Cana Club Med has the largest Baby Club facility, which accommodates children aged 4 months to 18 years. Though truth be told, this full-time mom wasn’t ready to leave her precious angel there, the facility (which included an elaborate water park, playgrounds and more age-appropriate toys than I could count) was available to all guests for their children to use all day long. Needless to say, it was a great place to bring Jake for a change of scenery and some space to run around and play.

The kids who did spend their entire day there (or some part of the day) were all very well cared for and they all looked like they were having an absolute blast (while also giving their parents a much needed break). Though my husband and I honestly had a fantastic time spending our days with Jake, I couldn’t help but be a tad jealous of the parents who took advantage of the amazing Baby Club. Groups are divided by age, and once the child is walking, the day is made up of a schedule of activities from “nature walks” (a.k.a. buggy rides) to “beach time” (a.k.a. playtime in a shaded sandbox on the beach) to naptime and snack time. The older kids can participate in an array of fun activities (including the flying trapeze) and they perform for the adults in evening shows. Babysitting services are also available day and/or night for parents who want to enjoy a few hours on their own.

When you go on vacation, you expect to relax and be completely pampered by the resort’s staff (and your husband too). So, I indulged in a luxurious beach-front massage at the Club Med Spa by Comfort Zone. This newly renovated spa, complete with its own pool, rivals the nicest spas in New York City. The décor is absolutely gorgeous and provides a tranquil setting far away from the busy activity surrounding the pool and beach. Speaking of which, many water sports, flying trapeze, entertainment, and dance and fitness classes are included in your stay. (There’s also a new business and conference center on the premises so talk your boss into taking you and your office buddies on vacation!)

I’ll admit to some pre-vacation worrying about earthquakes, food poisoning, bug bites and rain (we traveled in February and I was 3.5 months pregnant, by the way), but the second I got there, the friendly staff and guests made all that anxiety go away (and rightfully so – none of these things even came close to happening). My husband, Jake and I all got some much-needed fun and relaxation (not to mention gorgeous weather), and we’re all looking forward to our next Club Med vacation!

For more information visit http://www.clubmed.com

Originally published May 2010
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