So for my last country in the Caribbean I decided to check out my first Club Med. The Club Med Turkoise had been highly recommended by several friends. In fact, I have two friends that actually met their future wives there. I certainly was not looking for wedded bliss or anything of the sort but I was really interested to see how the infamous Club Med would be on the gorgeous island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
Provo, as it affectionately known, is the most populated island in Turks and Caicos and is home to the most resorts and the best beach. This Club Med is one of four Club Med’s that are adult only and has a reputation going back to the 60’s that precedes itself for being a big party place. It was off season as I spent the past 4 days there and the club was only half full but there was plenty of fun to be had.
In order to go to a Club Med you have to obviously make a reservation and pay a $60 membership fee that is unavoidable. The nightly fee gets you unlimited food and drinks. However, this is a bit misleading as the drinks are limited to only second rate liquors and not top shelf as you may expect with the high prices they charge. The food on the other hand I found to be very good and the choices were even better.
As I wrote about the Melia in Punta Cana in my last post, the food at Club Med was very good and way better than I ever expected it to be. They had varieties of meats, salads, fruits, nightly themes and specials along with killer desserts. The highlight was easily their famous white chocolate bread. I cannot possibly overstate how good it was. I imagine the calorie count was through the roof but for a few days, it’s literally the best thing since sliced bread-which is really what it is.
The meals are set up so if you are alone or with five people you are seated randomly next to whoever is around so you get to meet a lot of people. At first I was a little iffy about this but it was actually really cool because you got to meet a lot more people and by the end of your time, you feel like you know everyone.
After meals and especially after dinner, everyone goes to the main bar to have some cocktails, local beer or espresso. You then chat and wait for some type of activity to occur. During the day, it’s usually some type of game or tournament or whatever and at night it’s a show of some sort with a warm up of dancing.
The gracious organizers (GO’s) run the Club Med. They are literally there to smile and make you have fun. They are literally like camp counselors which is ironic because Club Med is like camp for adults. The GO’s hang out with the guests and lead them in activities and the ones after dinner are usually to build energy before the long night at the bar ahead. These types of activities are weird dances that literally take people out onto a stage patio kind of thing and make them dance-although everyone does it willingly and looks like fools. However, everyone loves it and laughs and it’s the kind of thing that you would only consider doing while you were there and you wouldn’t want any of your friends at home to see you.
After the warm up there is a type of show that is actually pretty good. Some of them are funny skit type shows and others are acrobatics. I must say that for non professionals, the GO’s are very well trained and pretty good, especially at some of the difficult acrobatic moves. It was very impressive. Then after the show, everyone reconvenes at the bar and a DJ starts playing music and package tourism at its best/worst takes over until the wee hours of the morning.
The GO’s keep the energy up by getting everyone to dance and it is really pretty cool how they do it. I swear if I was 22-25, just out of college and no idea what I wanted to do, I would totally do that for a year. You would have so much fun. You would be in a permanent state of delusion for the year of your contract but it would probably be the best year of your life.
Most of the GO’s were very cool and had really funny and interesting perspectives on it as I chatted with them. One female GO said to me when I asked her how she liked it, “I love it because when tourists come here they’re always happy. Imagine everyone being constantly happy-it makes you happy too. If you can’t be happy at Club Med then you have problems”. Truer words have never been spoken I thought. Another male GO says “I meet tons of chicks dude”. Again, fair enough. Finally, another male GO says “I have no idea what reality is right now, I have no idea what is going on in the world, and I don’t even give a shit. I never leave the village man”. (The village is what they call the Club Med property in general) It’s true by the way, when you’re there you never leave the village unless it’s on an excursion with Club Med.
I had every intention of leaving and doing some excursions and dives at the nearby dive sites and neighboring islands but shockingly the weather was AWFUL each of the three full days I was there and nothing was going on. This was actually pretty annoying because there are only so many things to do besides drink all day when you’re at Club Med in bad weather. So people organized poker games and I played ping pong and there was pool but the reason people come to Turks and Caicos is for the sun. There is only so much bad volleyball that can be played before it gets lame. You can’t do anything about the weather but of all the time I’ve spent in the Caribbean, I have never seen 4 straight days of clouds and rain. However, it certainly didn’t ruin my trip.
I met some really cool people from all over. The majority of people at this Club Med were from New York, California and Montreal. There were also several Albanians, French and others. It was really fun and nice to chat with other people from other places. One woman had been at the Club Med since April which I find fairly appalling but funny and slightly cool at the same time. Another couple had been there like 25 times. Of course, I’m thinking to myself why don’t you try a new place out but to each their own I guess.
All in all, I had a blast at Club Med and 4 days, three nights was the maximum I think I could’ve handled of package tourism. Club Med is what it is. However, after hearing about all the other Club Med’s in the world I would consider doing it again at the right place and time and with the right friends, otherwise I’ll stick with independent travel. But I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it and as that one GO said “If you can’t be happy at Club Med then you’ve got problems”.
The pictures of Club Med are lame because of the bad weather as you can see. I will try to get Haiti and DR pictures up later this afternoon if I get a chance.