Inclusives editor Cathy Carroll visited Club Med in Playa
Blanca, Mexico. Her report follows:
PLAYA BLANCA, Mexico -- Placing my toes over the edge of the
2-by-4-foot plank suspended more than two stories high, I reached
out to grab the trapeze bar.
The Club Med instructor holding my safety belt from behind
calmly dictated that I lean my hips forward, and when he gave the
command, I was to lift the bar, grab it with my other hand and step
off the plank. I knew that the net below and the safety ropes
attached to my belt made it virtually impossible for me to get
hurt, but nevertheless, my heart raced and my palms became moist.
"Hup!" he shouted, and I was off, flooded with the rush of arcing
out into the still, warm, afternoon air.
It was this -- along with horseback riding, rock climbing,
kayaking and plenty of parties on the picturesque cove here -- that
enables this village, one of 120 Club Meds on five continents, to
uphold its reputation as one of the most active places for young
singles and couples. "It is a place where people can live their
dreams amid good times and friendship," said village director
Judging by the week here, Club Med seems to have found a
successful formula under a recently announced reorganization. The
plan is aimed at rejuvenating its reputation and becoming
profitable by the turn of the millennium, when the club will mark
its 50th anniversary. The company said it will achieve its goals
mainly by renovating and expanding its properties, launching an
advertising campaign emphasizing its inclusive features and
lowering the prices at some villages.
What does not need much change, however, is the program and
ambience, which seem to be satisfying guests. Club Med reports that
each visitor, on the average, returns to a Club Med village four
The expertise of the GOs (gracious organizers), who are the
hosts and hostesses, sports instructors and tour guides, is an
essential aspect of the club's atmosphere. For instance, in the
intensive English riding program here (at an additional charge of
$330 per person), the instructors' deft guidance enabled me, a
beginner, to feel far more confident and skilled by week's end than
I thought I would.
In true Club Med tradition, however, it was not all hard work.
Thanks to what I learned in the ring, my instructor placed me in
the intermediate group for an afternoon trail ride. We cantered
through the woods to a crescent-shaped beach, where we joined other
guests who had walked or kayaked to the spot to body surf and sip
Buffets at breakfast, lunch and dinner offered a wide array of
fresh and interesting choices, such as dozens of types of freshly
baked breads and pastries; homemade tortillas fresh off the
griddle; homemade pasta made to order, and wine and beer. Evenings
were dedicated to the enjoyment of comedy, dance and circus shows
performed by the GOs.
Agents should prepare clients for accommodations that are
comfortable but not luxurious. For instance, guests are required to
carry their luggage to their rooms, which can be atop several
flights of winding brick stairways here.
The resort's season runs from November to April. Club Med said
it has not established rates yet for the coming season. Pricing for
seven-night stays here last season, with Sunday departures from New
York, was $1,099, including air.
Club Med, Phone: (800) 258-2633, Web: http://www.clubmed.com
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Club Med's "savings season" -- through mid-June and starting
again Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, offers 11% to 24% off regular prices
at most Club Med villages in the North American zone -- the
Bahamas, Mexico, the Caribbean and the U.S.
Combined land-air packages are available from six major
gateways: Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and
Some examples of the per-person, one-week land/ air package
prices during the savings season are:Huatulco, Mexico, from Boston, New York and Washington, $1,099,
a 13% discount, and $999 from Chicago, a 19% savings.For Ixtapa, Mexico, the price is $1,199 from all six gateways,
which represents a savings of up to 19%.New York to Eleuthera, in the Bahamas, at $1,299, carries a 13%
savings.Boston to Turkoise, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, at $1,399,
is a savings of 16%.Sonora Bay, Mexico, from Los Angeles and San Francisco is
priced at $899, a 17% savings. Boston, New York and Washington to
Sonora Bay is $999, a 24% savings.
New rates appeared in a summer-fall brochure, released in March.
Club Med also offers a program to discount 50% off the land cost of
the second week of two-week stays at any North American village.
This can amount to savings of more than $500 per person, according
to the company.