- My family of four recently returned from a holiday at the Club Med Sandpiper Bay.
- It is the only all-inclusive family hotel in the US and was renovated 12 years ago.
- The resort felt run down but we would go back just for the childcare.
A week ago my wife and I came back from a holiday with our family. Not a trip, mind you, a vacation.
The difference is simple. Traveling is a wonderful experience: you take the children on an adventure and have fun times. We recently had a family trip through Virginia, which included beaches, zoos, aquariums, water parks and more. Every day was something new and fun. The kids had a blast and by the end of that trip my wife and I needed a vacation. We were exhausted. Aside from the normal dad ventures and energy of a stay-at-home parent, travel takes a tremendous amount of extra energy. And unfortunately hotel coffee is usually terrible. We came back from our trip, ready to sleep for a solid week. But our two alarm clocks – one 6 years, the other 3 years – had different ideas.
So my wife and I looked for vacations.
We found the only all-inclusive family in the US
We were looking for some kind of experience where we could all have fun, but that included childcare. We wanted to relax, but we also wanted the kids to have fun. We wanted the whole family to have fun: a childcare resort that was fun for everyone. Add to that the difficulty of needing vegan options and childcare for a 3 year old, and the list of options was small.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay was known as one of the “all inclusive family resorts only” in the United States, and the only Club Med. The resort has been renovated 12 years ago and has an excellent reputation in the field of childcare. We were excited.
Until we got there.
The resort felt run down?
The resort immediately felt like an upscale motel. The rooms overlook what can only be described as a landfill – an area of sand, weeds, some garbage and some pipes. The room itself felt like it had been left untouched since the 1980s. Peeling paint, cracked fixtures and a desk that looked like it was designed by a high school theater group.
The whole resort felt run down, or as one guest we met early called it ‘tired’. Broken golf clubs and a crumbling miniature golf course, nothing to do indoors, music blaring until midnight in a resort full of young children. The spa was downright rude and fully booked, despite telling our travel agent there was no need to book ahead. The reception was no better.
In the children’s craft area there was a giant wooden Connect Four game. It was the perfect metaphor for the place. It looked nice from a distance, but up close the game was broken and nails were sticking out the sides. All this led me to leave a 2 star rating on Tripadvisor.
Would we go again?
Still, we had a great time and would go back.
They offered great children’s programs: our two children were very happy when they were there. We gave them a choice for several days and they begged to go back with their new friends. They did crafts, spent time in the pool, danced, made pizza and even tried trapeze. Their leaders were phenomenal.
Despite the rest of the resort the food was great too.
We didn’t stay in luxury but it didn’t matter. We were on vacation. In fact, we were able to enjoy the tropical weather with great food and silence during lunch. We almost forgot what that sounds like.
We met a family from London who would travel alone between the 71 Club Med resorts. In the words of the father, “Sandpiper Bay is the worst Club Med, but the only one we return to annually.” An astonishing statement, but I get it.
Vacations are necessary and childcare makes all the difference.