This blog isn’t a travelogue, but I thought I’d do a mini-review anyway.
My family and I spent the Thanksgiving Holiday at Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, Florida. We had a great time, and overall I’d recommend it (especially for people with a set budget), but with a few caveats.
This particular Club Med property is very family and sports-oriented, and it offers lots of activities for children and adults. For a single per-person rate you can stay, eat and drink to your heart’s content.
The rooms are spacious but outdated. The food was abundant and varied and mostly excellent (if you go you must check out their famous breads – the chocolate bread truly lives up to the hype!), though the flow at the buffets was odd. For example, in every other breakfast buffet I’ve been to there has been a chafing dish with scrambled eggs, and if you want an omelet or something made-to-order you had to stand in line. At Club Med Sandpiper you stand in line for any egg dish. Those were some very long lines, especially with only one person working the grill for the eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausage.
They advertise it as all-inclusive, and it nearly is, but not quite. I really hate that.
- Internet access isn’t included. It’s $3 per hour, $10 per day or $50 per week extra. It isn’t available in your room – only in the lobby, by one of the pools, in the conference rooms and one or two other places. I found this to be expensive and inconvenient -who wants to carry their laptop around a resort? This, my friends, is the reason for the five-day posting break. In-room access should be a priority for them – though my brother disagrees. “You’re on vacation,” he said to me. He just doesn’t understand.
- Top drawer drinks (like my father’s Glenfiddich) are an extra $12. What troubled my Dad the most about that is the fact that they don’t seem to give you “credit” for the lower quality drink you’re not having.
- Many of the activities are free, but many are not. Swimming, archery, the Circus School, putt-putt golf, ping-pong are all free. Regular golf, jet-skis and other watercraft, bicycles – all extra.
- They have special camps for the children. Parents can drop the kids off in the morning and leave them all day, or sign them in and out at will. There is no charge – unless your child is three or under. Then it’s $50 a day extra. We chose to keep our son with us, but not because of the extra money. I really enjoy my son’s company, and wanted to spend as much of our vacation together as possible. I’m not knocking those who put their kids in the camps – they’re lots of fun for the kids – it’s just not what we chose.
- Some of the nighttime entertainment wasn’t included in all-inclusive. There was a comedy club on-site, and you had to purchase tickets for most of the performers.
- Massages are extra, too.
Honestly, I’d rather you just charge everyone $25 a day more for the room and not nickel and dime me, folks.A few other tips/suggestions:
- It’s a much better deal if you’re a drinker than if you’re not.
- The staff is extremely friendly and solicitous. Almost creepily so.
- If they put heaters on more than one pool (which did not feel heated AT ALL, by the way), it would be a very good thing. Only those from the frozen northern tundras were able to swim for more than a few moments.
- The kids’ camps and activities geared to them were really, really good. All of the kids participated in the tye-dye shirt making and learning how to use the trapeze. The counselors were very attentive and friendly, though in my 8-year-old nephew’s group the accepted counselor-student ratio was 50:1. That was a bit troubling.
- Some of the kids’ activities were scheduled for much later at night than I was comfortable with. My son is in bed at 8, and many of the nighttime entertainment didn’t start until 8-9:30, even for the little ones.
- The bar was out of pina colada and strawberry flavored slushes. Call them in advance to make sure they’re stocked up. A tropical vacation without pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris is just…sad.
- When we travel we usually put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door for our entire stay, for several reasons. We don’t feel the need to have the bed made every day, and we can call for clean towels if we want some. Our son usually naps during prime room-cleaning hours, so we prevent a poorly-timed knock. There’s also a security issue – if they stay out they aren’t taking anything, are they? On Friday my husband was in the room with my sleeping son, when the phone rang. The housekeeping manager was on the phone – they had noticed the Do Not Disturb sign and wanted to see if we wanted anything. “Yes,” my husband answered. “To not be disturbed.”
A dry wit, he is.