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Cancun Club Med: Trip Report



 
 
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Old May 31st, 2004, 02:41 AM
Mike H
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Default Cancun Club Med: Trip Report

This is a report from out recent trip to the Cancun Club Med.
You can read the same report, with pictures, at
www.hammocktree.org/mw/trips.html
================================================== ===================
Club Med: Cancun, April 2004

This is a report of out trip to Club Med, Cancun from April 18 - 25, 2004.
This was our fourth trip to this Club Med, but it's been a couple of years
since I did a complete report, so this one will be fairly comprehensive.

Getting there and back:
Arrangements were made by Hal Segal of LeBeach Club travel and, as
usual, everything was very much in order. It turns out that we selected a
very popular time of year to visit Cancun as the flights were full and the
village was completely full for part of the time we were there. Air travel
was on Delta, so we had non-stop flights from Atlanta. We had good
schedules, allowing us to get in some beach time on both the first day we
arrived and the day we departed. We were able to get upgrades to first class
on the return flight, making it more pleasant. Flights were on time (or
slightly early) both directions. We were on a Sunday - Sunday schedule,
hoping to avoid some of the Saturday rush at the Mexican Customs and
Immigration area, but it did not make much difference. Although there
may have been fewer incoming visitors, there were also fewer Customs
workers, so it still took about 20 minutes to get through the line. Once
through, we picked up our bags, got outside and quickly found the Club
Med representative. We were the only passengers on the van and we got to
the club in about 15 minutes. On departure, airport lines were rather long,
probably an hour or more for some airlines.

Check-in was very quick but since it was only about 10:15, our room was
not ready yet. We waited in the main bar area where we munched on the
"continental breakfast" and had some coffee while we killed 45 minutes,
when the room was ready. We had requested, in order of priority: 1: A
room with a king/large bed, 2: a room in the La Opera building (close to
sailing and windsurfing area), and 3: a room on the 2nd or 3rd floor. Our
room was on the 2nd floor of La Opera and had a king+ bed. (Actually, two
double beds put together with a strip between them, but it worked OK.)

Village Overview
The Cancun Club Med is on the southwestern end of the Cancun strip. The
side facing the strip has a nice, reasonably protected beach and the other
sides of the resort are bordered by the reef and then the Sailing/windsurfing
areas. The village must be one of the largest Cancun resorts in terms of
acreage; the entrance road winds in through about a half mile of native
vegetation and landscaping. The buildings are generally dispersed with
plenty of 'green space' throughout the village. There was no feeling of
being in a crowd, even with the village full. The windsurfing/sailing beach
is about a quarter mile long and lightly used. The village was about the
first resort in Cancun and has been renovated at least once. It is not a
luxurious facility at all, but is comfortable and all areas are kept clean.
Most people go to Club Med for the activities, not for the room, so a clean
and comfortable room is more important than luxury. There is a TV (about
15 channels in multiple languages) and a telephone. About the only fault
we found was that the drains sometimes gave out a definite 'sewer gas'
odor.

The Chef'de Village was Handel, a Canadian (although you would not
guess it from his appearance). We frequently saw him around the village
talking to the GOs, GMs, and making sure everyone was enjoying
themselves. We got to where he recognized us and greeted us when he saw
us and he seemed to enjoy talking to people like this. The Chef 'de Village
has many roles, but I think that getting out and talking to the GMs is a very
important part of their job, so I was glad to see that Handel made it all the
way to the sailing area at least once a day, although it is the most remote
part of the village. He had just gotten a new "right hand man" (sometimes
called the "Chief of Animations"), Lorenzo, whom we had met at Columbus
Isle last fall and he remembered us from that visit. As usual now, we ran
into a number of GOs who we had met at other clubs.

The evening entertainment was rather mixed; some evenings were fun,
others needed some work. One afternoon at 5:00 they had a "foam party" in
the disco and it got generally good marks. We noticed that they had moved
the foam party from late evening to afternoon, probably to reduce the
number of bruises and such that we heard about other years. There were
several late night "beach parties" at the La Palapa restaurant during the
week but we didn't attend, other than to hear some of the activities from our
room. There were all the normal dancing and other activities around the bar
and pool areas, with some dance instruction each evening before the
entertainment. I was a bit surprised that we never heard the classic "Hands
Up" during any of the Crazy Signs dancing, and several of the other classics
were missing.

The Food
We go to Club Med for the activities and the food (not necessarily in that
order). The last couple of visits to Cancun the food was good, but not quite
up to what we expect from Club Med (a French company). This time the
food had definitely improved. I don't know if Handel had a part in this or
there was some other reason, but the food did seem to be just a notch or two
better. However, the salad chef still likes green pepper a little too much; it
was sometimes difficult to find prepared salads without green pepper.
Although the popular soft-serve ice cream machine was gone, normal ice
cream was usually available in several flavors. As usual, the red wine was
too warm and coffee too cool, but there were almost always different and
interesting main courses and side dishes. There were numerous freshly
made-to-order pasta dishes and other made-to-order plates. They had the
usual great variety of breads and a good cheese board, although we tend to
avoid that most of the time. The fresh fruit, including plenty of papaya, was
good, but I miss the fresh pineapple that seems to be getting scarce at Club
Med these days.
One change this year was at La Palapa, the open-air restaurant at the end of
the resort close to the sailing area. The first time we were at the Cancun
Club Med, many years ago, La Palapa offered table service for most
courses, with only desert as a buffet. The last two visits, La Palapa has
been all buffet style. Although it offered tables for 2, 4 or 6, the food
offered was essentially the same as at the main restaurant, although with
less variety. This year La Palapa was full table service for all courses and
the food was different from the main restaurant, with a step up in quality.
In general, I thought it was well done and a overall improvement. With a
full club, reservations at La Palapa were in demand and a bit difficult to get;
the club needs to find a better way for GMs to make reservations but we did
enjoy our visit.
Drinks (All Inclusive)
For American GMs at American sector Clubs, drinks are now included in
the standard rates. This means that you can have as many drinks as you
care to consume, although at peak times, the wait at the bar might slow you
down a little. Although there were a lot of younger GMs there to "party", I
didn't see any serious over-indulgence, although we didn't participate in
some of the late-night parties. Drink quality and variety was reasonable and
the bartenders were willing to make about anything requested. We
probably didn't get our money's worth as we probably averaged less than
one drink a day (outside of wine at dinner), but I'm sure that others more
than made up for us.

Sailing and Windsurfing
When we got out of the airport we noticed the wind was blowing about 10-
15 miles per hour: good for sailing and reasonable for windsurfing (more
would be better). That was the lightest the wind blew all week! Everyone
at the club said they had never seen the wind blow so hard so long, every
day! It was great for sailing and windsurfing, although it kept the water
stirred up a bit so snorkeling was not at it's best. There was a change to the
windsurfing; all windsurfing activities had been moved down to the sailing
area. A sail storage area had been added adjacent to the sailing shack and
the old windsurfing buildings were used as a place to lie on beach lounges.
Although the GOs claimed otherwise, we are pretty sure the reason for the
change was to combine the sailing and windsurfing teams so as to be able to
reduce the GO staff by one or two. While the new arrangement was fine for
experienced windsurfers, the old layout was much better for beginners
because it offered more shallow water and a better protected (from strong
winds) area for getting started. We also witnessed one rather serious
sailboat vs. windsurfer collision which would have been almost impossible
under the old arrangement. I'd really suggest that the club reconsider this
change.
The sailing team was a good bunch, headed by Nacho (from Mexico City).
Once they realized we knew what we were doing, we were allowed to do
about anything we wanted, including taking out a Lazer with a big sail in
some of the strongest wind. ("Hey Nacho, OK if I grab a Lazer for a
while?"... "Su no worries.") There was a limited selection of mid-range
windsurfer boards and the sail rigs were rather heavy, but we got along just
fine. Tom, the windsurfing GO, was from Belgium and very pleasant and
helpful. We had dinner at La Palapa one evening with Nacho and Tom and
they had the normal interesting GO stories to tell. There were six Hobie
Wave catamarans and two Lazers and there was enough wind to make the
normally placid Waves rather interesting. Because of the strong wind,
beginner windsurfing classes were seldom possible, and even introductory
sailing sessions were sometimes curtailed. (Windsurfing lessons would still
have been possible at the old windsurfing beach.) Although the sailing
team was a good crew, they were a little lax on the regular boat
maintenance activities. But, perhaps we were just spoiled by Grek, chief of
sailing a couple of years ago who maintained (babied!) "his" boats like no
one else I've seen. As always, the streams of small boats ("personal water
craft") going to and from the snorkeling area cut through the sailing and
windsurfing area, sometimes making things more "interesting".

Snorkeling
The snorkeling in the Club Med area was somewhat restricted because of
the waves and chop driven up by the wind. A number of people did get in
and reported that, while reduced, the visibility was reasonable. We went in
the snorkeling area where the tours go, using the little beach between La
Opera and La Palapa. We found the visibility less than the last couple of
times we were there and the current was pretty strong; not a major problem,
but noticeable and possibly an issue for weak swimmers or those not used to
snorkeling. If you're not familiar with the Cancun reefs, the best snorkeling
area in Cancun is just off the club property and can be reached at several
entry points between La Palapa and the club snorkeling shack. Other
Cancun visitors have to take some form of boat trip to get to this area.

Other
There were the normal other activities, including tennis (appeared to be very
light participation), excursions (a lot of interest/participation), and laying on
the beach. The exercise room had frequent classes of various kinds and
seemed to get quite a bit of activity. The massage "tent" had been moved
from the pool deck to the grassy and tree shaded area close to the water
between La Opera and La Palapa: a nice improvement. While we were
there they were assembling the circus equipment. It will be across the road
from the La Opera building and should be operational by now. With the
"totally all inclusive" program there is some kind of food and drink
available just about anytime, including the late continental breakfast in the
bar and snacks in the afternoon. This is especially nice for arriving GMs
who get to the club hungry, but too late for one of the regular meal times.

The GMs this week were a pretty good mix. There were naturally quite a
few younger (20s and 30s) GMs, but also a lot of people more our age (40s
and 50s). Guys, take note, there seemed to be more unattached women than
men! Probably 60-70% were from USA, 20 - 25% from Canada, a few
from Mexico and other Central or South American areas, and a few from
Europe.

Overall, we thought the club had improved over the last couple of visits,
but perhaps we just liked Handel's "style" in running the village.
 




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