Return To Club Med Cancun

May, 2013

Setting the Stage

The late winter and early spring had been cold and wet in the Atlanta area and things had been too quiet for the last month or two. We obviously needed to take a fun trip. We looked around at the possibilities and considered the Cancun Club Med. We had not been there since about 2004, shortly before a major hurricane had done major damage to the village. Club Med had subsequently done a major renovation and upgrading while also converting the village from "adults only" to a "Family" village. Although we generally prefer the villages with no children, we figured there would be few little ones around the first week of May because of school schedules. I contacted Steve at Mill Travel and, as usual, he had us lined up with the requested flights and rooms in just a couple of hours. Club Med was running a decent "last Minute" special and Delta had reasonable fares for the non-stop flights. We were all set.

Waiting to leave Atlanta airport

Arrival & Departure

On our last couple of trips to Cancun the airport was a madhouse on both arrival and departure, so we booked a Tue - Tue schedule; besides, the air fares were cheaper then. It turns out that the Cancun airport had been enlarged significantly since our last visit so both arrival and departure were quick and simple. We were the only guests (GMs) arriving at the time and a GO handled our welcome and registration in a very friendly manner. She showed us to our room that was in a building actually sitting out over the lagoon. It turned out to be a very good location, about midway between the sailing beach and the village center with the restaurants and such. We grabbed a quick, late lunch and by the time we got back our bags had been delivered so we unpacked, changed, and headed to the sailing beach.

The view from our room.

When the time came for our departure, the process was also very smooth. The only "problem" was that Club Med had allowed way too much time and we ended up sitting at the airport for almost 2 hours before time to board. The return flight was smooth and on time and US Customs in Atlanta was simple. However, we were again reminded of the poor planning and layout of the new, very expensive, International terminal in Atlanta. Arriving Atlanta bound international passengers have to walk about a mile from the old International terminal to the new one.

General Cancun Village Information

The Club Med was the first major resort in Cancun and definitely took the prime location at the very southern end of the main Cancun beach. The main beach along the front of the village is protected by a rocky point of land so the water is smooth and calm, even when the rest of Cancun beach is rough.

Looking up the main Cancun strip from Club Med.

Then one side of the property is bounded by a rocky beach with a coral reef. This is where the “official” club Med snorkeling area is located but in the past we generally walked down to the end of this side to where there is a somewhat protected reef area where the local snorkel tours come. The “back side” of the village is a beach that is mostly reef protected and somewhat shallow with a lot of sea grass. This is generally a quiet beach, except for the section where the sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking is housed. The fourth side of the village is really a lagoon mostly bounded by Club Med property, where the water skiing takes place. All of the buildings except Jade are situated around the edges of this lagoon. The Village Center with reception, two restaurants, the theater, pool, and main bar is centrally located close to the main beach.

Looking back at Club Med from up the beach.

The general outward appearance of the village had not changed that much from our previous visits, but the difference was in the details. There was a veritable army of landscaping and maintenance people continuously working around the village. Unlike many of the other Cancun resorts, Club Med has a lot of land and a lot of landscaping to take care of. The palapa style restaurant by the sailing area had been destroyed by the hurricane but it has been rebuilt in a larger, but similarly styled restaurant and bar called Las Cazuelas.

Looking past Las Cazuelas toward the Gulf.

We found the bar to be a good place to visit after a day of sailing. A former restaurant and sometimes nightclub on the point of land in front of reception had been rebuilt in a very nice “Steak House” restaurant called La Pergola. I’ll report on both restaurants later. Most of the rooms had been refreshed and modernized somewhat, but with no major changes. I understand that in some cases two rooms had been combined into one larger suite more suitable for families with children. In the past we had always stayed in the Opera building as it was the closest to the sailing/windsurfing beach but that building had been renamed "Jade" and converted to a "Luxury" facility with things like room service, a concierge, their own bar and own pool.

The Food

Everyone is interested in food, so I’ll cover that next. Overall, we thought the food was good, and somewhat better than on our previous visits. Breakfast was about the same each day with lots of breads, fresh fruit (the fresh mango was delicious), made to order omelet station, waffle station, line of hot foods with sausage, bacon, pancakes, crepes and such.

Susan at the fresh fruit table (the Mango was delicious!)

If you are trying to avoid eggs and fatty foods, the remaining options do start to get a little repetitious after a week. Lunch varied somewhat each day with multiple lines and chef stations of hot foods along with plenty of salads and breads and desserts.

The very nice salad area with lots of ingridents.

As usual at Club Med, the evening meal was on a different theme each day of the week and each was good. There were always a couple of Mexican specials available along with multiple cooking/serving stations where the chefs prepared and served the food as needed. The desserts were good and varied and some very good ice cream was available every evening. As usual, the famous, decadent, Club Med white chocolate bread was available at each meal. The annex restaurants were also used some during the day. A late/light breakfast was available each day at La Pergola and a late lunch was available at Los Cazuelas, which we made use of a couple of times to avoid the long walk back to the main restaurant. Although the menu here was more limited than the main restaurant, the pretty setting and ambiance more than made up for that.

Las Cazuelas from the sailing area.
We visited both of the annex restaurants for dinner, with mixed results. Los Cazuelas offered mostly seafood which we usually prefer, but our dishes were not always well prepared and the portions were really too small. My fish (Mai-Mai) was overcooked and a bit dry with no sauce to compensate. The lobster dish was just one small lobster tail and little else. On the other hand, the steak house, La Pergola, served portions that were almost too large to be eaten at a sitting. My New York Strip was nicely cooked and much more than I would normally eat at one meal. The accompanying appetizers, veggies, and dessert were all good. Both annex restaurants were full table service and the service at both was attentive and personable.

The hot food area at the main restaurant.
The main downside to the food was the wine, both the included wines and the "extra cost" bottles. I believe the included wine was Mexican wine and apparently they just don’t have the proper weather or growing conditions or winemaking knowledge, but all of the wines were barely drinkable. Obviously, not many French visitors come to this Club Med or they would have complained loudly enough to get better wine. If you don’t like the included wine, you can always purchase better, name brand, wine at meals, which we did a couple of times. However, this wine was well overpriced. I expect wine in a restaurant to cost about two - three times the normal retail price of the bottle, but at Club Med they had raised the price to five times or more. You definitely got the impression that they were using poor wine as the standard included wine so they could gouge you on the good wines.

The Sailing

Our main activity at Club Med is usually sailing and we certainly had the opportunity this trip.

The sailing & Windsurfing beach at the end of the day.

The wind was blowing almost all week, we only had to share the Hobie-16 with one other couple, who we became friends with, and the sailing GOs were a good group. We had met Casey, Chief of sailing, a couple of times in Turkoise so he knew we could sail. Mario was a local resident of Cancun who was also a GO and a remarkable sailor. He would sail a Hobie 16 way up on one hull, so far that you would swear that it was going on over, and keep it there for several hundred feet. He would take GMs for a "ride", which was quite entertaining.

Mario taking Susan for a ride on the Hobie 16.
Another member of the sailing team was Mao; relatively quiet but always helpful. They had 5 or 6 Hobie waves but only one Hobie 16 in usable condition, but there was only one other couple, Patricia and Michael, who sailed the 16 so we seldom had to wait. The wind was blowing and we had a great time sailing; as I told Susan one time, I think that is the fastest I have every sailed a Hobie 16.

Particia and Michael sailing the Hobie 16 back to the beach.

The sailing team organized a "sail-away" to a local beach side restaurant that specialized in ceviche. It was a relatively short but enjoyable sail and a nice afternoon snack.

Approaching the ceviche restaurant during the sail-away.

General Comments

Although Cancun is a Family village now, we visited during a time when there were very few children in the village. While the entertainment was toned down from adult villages and there was not as much mingling at mealtimes, there was little direct impact from the family component.

I will include a few addition photos below.

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Some additiional photos

Susan at the helm on the sail-away.

A new but almost deserted resort next to Club Med, on the sail-away.

Susan and our new friends around the dinner table.

There was a large and apparently very healthy Iguana population!

The Jade building, with extra cost luxury features was fenced off from the rest of the village.

The central part of the village between the restaurant (left), pool, and bar (right).

The Village plaza where there was frequently evening entertainment.

Crazy Signs were sometimes done in the plaza

Some of the local dancers in a show in the theater

This little guy would sun himself on a platform of our building.

The soup was cute one evening; tasted pretty good also!