Hands Up for Club Med!
Title: Hands Up for Club Med; Lorie Bennett
The Mexican night is hot and laden with laziness. But not us! We six are
winding up the day with a vigorous rendition of "Hands Up, Baby!" the Club
Med theme song, before wending our way along the garden pathways to bed.
Club Med, with some 142 villages in over 30 countries, pioneered the
"all-inclusive" holiday concept and the combination of energy and magic has
been marketed successfully for years. This is, according to the brochure,
a "world where sports and activities blend with a unique atmosphere of
international conviviality, spontaneity, creativity, warmth, generosity and
kindness, not to mention the freedom of choice to do as much or as little
as you please."
Having come for a three generation holiday, we soon find out that the
grandchildren (ages 3 and 5) and their parents (30 something) are after the
"much" while we, the grandparents of indeterminate age, opt for the "little."
We've chosen the family village at Ixtapa because it offers Petit Club for
Andrew and Mini Club for his older sister Sarah. It is also an area of
Mexico we have visited often and we know its beautiful beaches and
predictably warm (27-30C) and sunny weather.
During our welcome orientation we learn that the village is peopled by GMs
and GOs. We, the Gentile Membres are tended by the Gentile Organizeurs -
all enthusiastic adherents of the Club Med philosophy and lifestyle. We're
given tags for pool towels, a key to the room safe, and a Club Med charge
card. We buy books of tickets for drinks - Club Med drink beads no longer
the bar currency.
The main restaurant offers three lush buffets a day and spaghetti, burgers,
excellent fries and an ice cream cart for the kids (or adults who enjoy
being kids again). We're seated at tables of eight, with GOs and other
guests keeping the conversation lively. For quieter dining, there's an
adult Bistro tucked away at the end of the village but its food selection
is limited. There's lots of free beer and Club Med wine from Baja
California, passable but not addictive.
The rooms are in three-storey buildings scattered throughout the extensive
grounds. Ramps everywhere except to the upper floors ease the way for young
parents pushing strollers, or older folks with stiff knees. We're told the
village can accommodate 1,200 people including staff, but we're just over
half full this week. Of these, more than 200 are children!
Inviting lounge chairs are scattered around the pool and under the trees,
but we long for Mexican hammocks. There's a large swimming pool, and child-
friendly pools at the Mini and Petit clubs. There are areas for aerobics,
circus workshops, soccer, archery, and water activities like kayaking or
sailing. An activity desk can book excursions to nearby towns for shopping,
snorkelling at nearby Isla Ixtapa, or on a sunset margarita cruise - but
who would want to leave this holiday paradise?
We venture off the property only once - walking 20 minutes to Playa Linda
to see a nature reserve for crocodillos that have been removed from areas
where their habitat has been built over by condominiums, hotels and golf
courses. It's spawning season and the river mouth is covered with small
ocean fish which provide easy pickings for the hundreds of storks, egrets
and rails waiting in the trees.
Boats taking people to Isla Ixtapa leave from the dock here and, in the
small mercado, Sarah and Andrew trade their pesos for Mexican souvenirs -
puppets like the one their mother got when she visited Tijuana as a little
This is a perfect holiday for active children and their life-stressed parents.
Petit and Mini Club staff are patient and upbeat, making every child feel
special and helping all experience new and challenging activities. Bread-
making at age three, scuba diving at five! And haven't you always wanted
to swing high on the flying trapeze? This was Sarah's favourite activity
and she's soon hanging by her knees from a small rig in the theatre,
securely harnessed and encouraged by circus staff. Later in the week, she
bravely "flew" from the high rig, grinning widely as she soared higher than
the palm trees.
One afternoon, four vats of hot dye were placed on the lawns and children
got to tie-dye t-shirts (which parents purchased). They created their own
designs, donning rubber gloves to dip shirts into the dyes, then took the
colourful results down to the ocean to set the dyes in the salt water.
It's show time every night at the Club Med theatre. The MC announces in
three languages - English, French & Spanish - and, apart from a Mexican
Fiesta night, the performers are the children or the GOs. One night Sarah
and friends performed a great "twist" on stage, though none of them were
born when that was the rage. Friday is the big "Circus Show." Andrew and
Sarah don costume and face paint to ROAR at the animal tamer, jump through
his hoops and open their mouths so he can put his head in. Scary stuff!
Stars of the show are several older children who look like real pros, only
a bit less confident. In one act, a bicycle rider circles while kids
dressed in brightly-coloured leotards hop on and off like Shanghai acrobats.
Two kids perform on the high trapeze, showing great trust in the circus
staff who support them in their poses. The trust is obviously earned, and
we never heard children bawled out or put down.
The week is winding down and I ask the family what they liked best about
their first Club Med holiday. Andrew - "I played games, went swimming and
got to be in a show." Sarah - "The big, big trapeze and swimming in the
ocean where the waves knock you down." Mom and Dad - "Time out, the hot
sun and winning the kayak race."
And us? Let's just say that, if you're planning a 50th wedding anniversary
or other special event and want to take the whole family somewhere, try a
family Club Med instead of a cruise. Your kids and their kids will thank
you for it.
Meanwhile, the sun is setting over the beautiful bay and we all watch for
the fabled green flash. But, before we go, let's try one more chorus of
"Hands Up, Baby..." For us, it's 12 hands up for Club Med Ixtapa. And
Andrew's parting Mexican refrain is "Good Night, Pinata!"
P.S. If you want to hear the Club Med theme, just call 1-800-465-6633 and
ask to be put on hold!
If you go: Club Med is booked through local travel agents - ask for a
colourful catalogue of their villages world-wide. Prices are per person
including airfare or as "land only". Discounts for seniors, early booking,
second week, etc. are available.
The Club Med website is where you can view enticing photos
of all the villages and get detailed information about rates, booking, etc.
HANDS UP FOR CLUB MED!
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