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14 Reasons Why Club Med: Punta Cana is the Perfect Family Getaway

This all-inclusive resort is equal parts relaxing and fun.


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PHOTO COURTESY CLUB MED PUNTA CANA

 

I recently got the chance to visit Club Med Punta Cana with my daughter, and the experience was like nothing I expected. I had this image of a Club Med resort circa-1980s filled with twenty-somethings doing trapeze and going out on yachts. My best friend thought the same and asked if there would be stuff for my tween daughter to do there. The website seemed awesome, but I wondered if my daughter would be bored out of her gourd.

Turned out the opposite was true. My tween loved it, and so did all the kids we met. I was all about the mix of R&R and resort adventures. So if you're looking for a family trip that keeps everyone active while also offering lots of relaxing QT, Club Med Punta Cana will be right up your alley. Here’s what you should know before you go:

Staff Photo

Get your camera ready, because this place is straight-up gorgeous. The beaches are pristine. There are palm trees everywhere. It's Instagram heaven, and you'll want to show off the kids (or you!) trying amazing feats like flying trapeze. Best part? Sharing pics is easy, since the wi-fi is included.

You’ll have a blast learning the Club Med lingo. Club Med is a French-owned company, but there are staffers and guests from around the world, meaning you'll hear dozens of languages. Don't worry, everyone speaks English, as well. You'll also pick up some lingo specific to Club Med. All resorts are called villages, the manager is the chief of a village, all guests are referred to as G.M.s (gracious members) and the staff are called G.O.s (gracious organizers). Oh, and you'll start hearing a lot about Crazy Signs when you walk in. It's the resort’s nightly dance party, and each location makes up its own choreographed routines (you can pick up on them during the day by the pool, or just let loose and do your own thing). They’re serious about their dancing!

PHOTO COURTESY CLUB MED PUNTA CANA

You can choose your own vacay adventure every day.  There’s no shortage of cabanas and chairs, so no need to reserve or get up at the crack of dawn to stake one out. The kids can play in the sand, swim in the ocean or play volleyball or bocce. Or drop ’em off at the kids club and head down to the adult-only section of the beach for some quiet R&R. If you’re the adventurous type, try your hand at kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing or snorkeling. These are all included with your stay, and the staff on hand will give you some how-to lessons. You can even learn to sail at the resort’s on-site sailing school. Or, opt to chill by the massive pool.

Staff Photo

There are tons of activities. You aren't the sit-on-the-beach-soak-up-the-sun type? No worries, neither am I. A few days in, I still hadn't done half of what was offered. On top of the watersports, you can play mini-golf, try your luck on the putting green, play tennis, basketball or give archery a whirl. There are daily pool-based classes, dance courses by the beach (we learned bachata, DR-style), zumba, spinning and fitness classes. If that's not enough, you can pay a bit extra to kite-surf or go on a scuba excursion or try one of DR's famed golf courses.

Photo Courtesy Club Med Punta Cana

Oh, and you can join the circus, too. Yes, really. The Punta Cana resort has partnered with Cirque du Soleil to offer daily lessons (part of your all-inclusive stay) at their CREACTIVE school. You can learn trampoline tricks, master aerial silks, try juggling, flip around on the high bungee or fly on the trapeze. It's quite a thrill and good for ages 4 and up.

PHOTO COURTESY CLUB MED PUNTA CANA

The kids club does all these activities…and more. Mini Club Med (kids ages 4-10) has the cutest little area with a kids’ pool and splash area that's enclosed and requires an adult to sign kiddos in and out for safety (older kids can leave if adults grant permission in advance). There are fun themes from princesses to pirates each day and the kids can do everything from archery and tennis to fun games, arts and crafts  pool activities. The G.O.s take the kids all over the property (including to a daily Cirque class), and you'll hear them all singing as they go along. One day we spotted a group of pint-sized pirates out scavenging for buried treasure. There's Pyjamas Club (an extra fee) available in the evenings, if the kids want to play while you get a night out. Passworld is geared for teens and tweens ages 11-18. They'll do a circus stint as well, plus try a host of sports. This club is more free-form,  so teens can pick and choose from more activities or hang with new pals. My tween rolled her eyes as I dropped her off so I could take a tour of the resort, but didn't want to leave when returned to pick her up.

And there's plenty for babies and toddlers, too. Kids from 4 months to 4 years can take advantage of the Club Med life, but you’ll have to pay extra for some services. Petit Club Med for 2- to 3-year-olds is a little taste of Mini Club Med, but with more nap time. Baby Club Med is perfect for tots 4 to 23 months, and offers trained baby whisperers to take care of your little one while you snag some time at the spa. The G.O.s will also arrange babysitting for you at night. And if you want to travel light, the resort has cribs, changing tables, strollers and bottle warmers all included with your stay. There are also baby food prep areas at all restaurants, and special baby rooms, if you want a quiet spot to breastfeed or pump. And the chef's will happily prep baby-friendly foods for you (at no charge) if you let them know what you want.

Staff Photo

Speaking of relaxing, can we talk about the spa? The L'Occitane spa is part of the resort (though it’s an extra charge). I got a massage in a palapa on the beach with the sound of the ocean waves lapping at the sand a few feet from me and it was pure heaven. Afterwards, relax in the lounge or cool off in the plunge pool. Teens can get in on the spa action too with customized mini-massages. And there's a Men's Lodge, complete with a retro barbershop where the guys can book a hot shave or haircut.

Photo courtesy Club Med Punta Cana

And if you want relaxing adult time without a spa treatment, there's the Zen Oasis. Even if you’re not staying in this adults-only section of the resort, you can still take advantage of a quiet kid-free pool, bar and beach while the kids are at their club. If you’re thinking about a kid-free getaway, this is where you’ll want to reserve a room with a private garden and palapa.

PHOTO COURTESY CLUB MED PUNTA CANA

But what about the food? There are three main restaurants that are open during the day: Samana, Hispaniola and Indigo, not to mention parties and cocktail hours that pop up, where you can also grab quick bites throughout the day. Samana is right next to the lobby of the resort, and Hispaniola is right on the water by the beach. They both feature epic buffets filled with every kind of cuisine from local faves to pizza and burgers. If you've got dietary requests, let a chef know and they'll meet your needs. What I really loved was the amount of beautifully-plated small bites that change regularly. You'll also want to try the signature White Chocolate Bread, created by a lovelorn bread baker who wanted to woo a woman with a sweet tooth. No reservations are needed at either of these spots, but you should make a rezzy for dinner at Indigo. It's right by the beach and features a daily small menu of seasonal fare. All restaurants are all-inclusive, so you can afford to indulge in dessert.

Staff Photo

No, you won't go broke paying for drinks. Wine, beer and most cocktails are included (as well as all your water, soda and non-alcoholic beverages). Get drinks from the bar at Indigo or Cielo. My kid discovered that she loved fruity mocktails, and kept the bartender busy.​

Your whole crew will be about the nightlife. The Club Med app will be a lifesaver since it allows you to keep track of the endless activities and classes. But it’ll also help you plan your evenings. Each night has a themed dress code (which is just for fun and not mandatory). There are floral nights, or white parties, and it’s more fun if you dress the part. After dinner there’s a nightly show put on by some of the traveling G.O.s. Some nights the CREACTIVE team puts on a mini-Cirque du Soleil show that’s absolutely incredible. After the show, the Chief of Village (or head G.O.) will lead everyone in the nightly dance party. Then it’s straight to a wild dance party that can last until the wee hours of the night. There are balloons flying and music pumping. Kids, teens and grown-ups are all welcome.  

The daytime parties are just as much fun. I’d go back to Club Med in a heartbeat just for the mid-afternoon pool parties. The pool party started with music and dancing, and before I knew it there were inflatables, balls, balloons and water splashing everywhere. There were also servers with inflatable cocktail (and mocktail) carts offering up beverages in the pool. These people know how to have a good time, and make sure their guests have fun, too.  

PHOTO COURTESY CLUB MED PUNTA CANA

How much does it cost? It varies depending on the season but reserving through the resort’s website will help you score the best flight/stay combo deal. Rates start at $135 per person, per night which usually includes paying for kids.

There's so much more. The activities are constantly changing (there are daily schedules for adults, kids, families). And if you want to explore the Dominican Republic, they can make that happen. They've got staff on hand who can book and plan safe outings for you.

Important Facts to Keep in Mind: From NJ, Punta Cana is about a four-hour direct flight from Newark. You’ll need a passport for everyone in the fam. DR charges $10 per person for a tourist card, which you can get in advance or at the airport. 

*For review purposes, accommodations were paid for, but opinions in the story are our own.

 

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