Dispatch, Club Med Punta Cana: Taking the plunge

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Travel Weekly's Robert Silk was in the Dominican Republic for the opening of the Zen Oasis at the Club Med Punta Cana. His dispatch follows.

PUNTA CANA -- So fresh off an American Airlines flight from Miami to Punta Cana that I hadn't even seen my hotel room, I found myself standing at the entry point to the 108-foot-high trapeze, wondering what the hell I was doing up there.

Still dressed in my flight wear, which included a casual pair of slacks held up by a belt that was inappropriate for the occasion, I inhaled a deep breath, trying to forget my fear of heights, and then took the plunge.

Of course, there wasn't much real danger. I had been carefully strapped and hooked in by the well-trained staff at Club Med Punta Cana's first-of-its-kind Creactive by Cirque du Soleil Playscape. But don't tell that to an acrophobic on the verge of jumping.

Timidly, I leapt into the air, followed the wire 20 or 30 feet, and then managed to pull off a half-flip before failing to place my legs properly on the trapeze bar. When I got down, my instructor told me I had done fine, but had been trying too hard.

Trapezes are nothing new at Club Meds around the world. In fact, the resort chain introduced them in 1983. But Club Med Punta Cana was the rollout point earlier this year for the Creactive playscape, which features 30 artistic and acrobatic activities and requires two to three times as many staff members as other Club Med circus attractions. Among the offerings are juggling, mask-making and percussion courses, a tightrope and the other activity I took part in, acrobatic bungee.

For that one, my instructor Fabien cinched my seat harness so tight that I was surprised the next time I spoke to hear that my voice hadn't gone up an octave or two. We started with lessons on the mat about how to somersault forward and back flip. And though I think I pulled a right shoulder muscle before I'd even been lifted off the ground, I still pushed forward with the exercise.

The instructors lifted the bungee some 20 feet in the air, and there I was, exercising successful, if clumsy, flips and summersaults -- imagining for one brief moment like I was an aspiring Cirque du Soleil acrobat in training.

Club Med hasn't announced where it will put its next Creactive Playscape. But more are planned.

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