My wife and I visited the Club Med, Columbus Isle
(San Salvador, Bahamas) the week of Sept 8 - 15, 2001.
We took the Club Med (American Eagle) charter from Miami; arrangements were made by Le Beach Club and everything worked fine. I arranged transportation from Atlanta to Miami via Delta airlines, taking advantage of good fares and some "Delta Dollars" from a previous overbooked flight. All flights were on time with no problems. (Well, more or less... more about this later.)
Let's take a quick at how Columbus Isle is laid out.
This was our third visit to Columbus Isle, our 9th Club Med visit overall and in general it was a very good trip. Compared to previous trips, especially the last trip to CI (Columbus Isle), both the local staff and GOs seemed to have a very high "esprite de corps". Whether this is because of the Chief of the village (Youssef) or Chief of Animations (and acting Chief of the Village) Abdel or some other reason, I don't know, but something has been effective. The local staff were cheerful and universally helpful and pleasant.
It may well be significant that the village was almost empty this week. Of the about 600 capacity, I'd guess that there was, at most, 150 people (GMs) at the village. There was no waiting for any activity and either the main restaurant or the annex restaurants were open for a meal, but not both. This certainly made for a relaxed, easygoing, and fun vacation.
A number of previous reports have described the Columbus Isle village, so I won't spend much time on the basics, but will point out some of the unique or different aspects of this visit.
Columbus Isle is one of Club Med's "finest" and it deserves that rating. The rooms are very nice and about as luxurious as a beach resort could be.
Dining and Meals
Meals were very good, with a noticeable attempt to provide extra "cooked or served to order" stations in addition to the normal food serving lines. The normal impressive salad, bread, fruit, and cheese areas are still there, but additional hot food serving lines have been added. In light of the few GMs, this was somewhat of an overkill, but certainly very nice. If anything, the bread selections were better than before, which is difficult to imagine.
It appeared to us, and was verified by some GOs,
that there had been a definite attempt to upgrade the evening
entertainment. While some of the same shows were used, they had
upgraded the performances and eliminated the more childish parts
of the activities.
We go to Club Med for the sports, mostly sailing, windsurfing
and snorkeling. The specialty of Columbus Isle is really SCUBA, and
they offer an excellent program (so the divers told us). The tennis
facilities are also very good, and the current tennis GO, Petri, is
both knowledgeable and friendly. (We've run into Petri on at least
two other CM trips.) Water skiing is also available during the
warmer water months, although it was cancelled the last couple of
days due to winds and rough water (kicked up by a distant
Now, the 'catch' in the trip. If you review the dates of the trip, you'll notice that it included the infamous Sept 11 terrorist attacks. In general, I thought Club Med handled this very well. Certainly, some people were inconvenienced because they could not leave on schedule. Some people scheduled to leave on Wed. were still there Sat. morning, but the Club tried to make alternate arrangements and assist however possible. On the night of the attack, the acting C.V., Abdel (from Morocco) said a few words and had a minute of silence and prayer. On Wed. night he read a letter from the Club Med president to all GOs and GMs that was very appropriate. On Friday night (the day of remembrance) they passed out candles at dinner and we had a candle-lit three minutes of silent remembrance. Our younger son had just moved to New York City one week previously and we had some anxious moments before getting word that he was fine, so the actions of CM and Abdel were appreciated. As might be expected, the trip back was messed up, but we arrived in Miami about 3 hours late; not too bad, everything considered. (Our Delta flight from Miami to Atlanta was running 4 hours late, so everything worked out surprisingly well.)
Here's a few more photos that I thought were somewhat representative of Columbis Isle...
The Sea Center had two restauants, the dive center, a bar and the disco. The diving center has a recompression center, the only one in this part of the Bahamas. The bar is an excellent place from which to watch the sunsets.
This view of the beach is looking from the Sailing Shack and toward the main buildings. There is about another 1/4 mile of undeveloped beach on Club property, and another mile of beach beyond.
This is the bread table (forground) and desert table (background) at lunch. There were somewhat more elaborate layouts at supper. Club Med is, of course, a French company, and the food at Columbus Isle reflects that heritage.