“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Kurt Solomon.

Club Med boasts over 60 resorts around the world where you can choose sun or snow options and be spoilt for choice by its all-inclusive packages and activities.

I have been lucky enough to visit four Club Med resorts, namely, Club Med Val Thorens in the French Alps, Club Med Phuket in Thailand, Club Med La Plantation d’Albion in Mauritius, and Club Med Bintan Island in Indonesia.

I often get asked which resort was my best, and I honestly cannot say as each trip was special and unique. I decided to touch on a few points at each resort – I hope this helps you choose the right resort for you. Also, Club Med is currently having a special on a few of their sun resorts, click here to learn more.

Club Med Val Thorens Sensations

My first ever trip was to Club Med Val Thorens Sensations in the French Alps; we were a big group of around 20 people made up of mates, colleagues and some of the team from EasyEquities, a CN&CO client. This was my first ski/ snowboard trip so I decided to try snowboarding with one other first-timer in the group, Tristan Finnemore from EasyEquities. On Club Med snow holidays the ski pass and ski lessons are included. Club Med Val Thorens Sensations is a “ski in, ski out” resort which made things a lot easier.

Our days looked something like this:

7am – Wake up to views of snow and mountains

8am – Breakfast (eat as much as you like with an unbelievable selection)

9am – Go to your private locker and get kitted out and ready for the morning session. A live DJ to “psyche you up” and a super warm and friendly team called GOs (Club Med staff) greet you and send you off for the day. The atmosphere is electric.

12pm – Morning session ends. We head back for lunch at the resort

2pm – Those that want to chill at the resort can while others head out for the afternoon session

4pm – Back to the resort for some beers, hot chocolate or whatever your tastebuds desire. It is also afternoon snack time. Every day a different selection of snacks is prepared and served by the chefs.

7pm – Dinner (either at the a la carte restaurant or the massive buffet)

9pm – The evening show. Every night the GO team performs a different show for the GMs (guests at the resorts). Thereafter, a live DJ plays music while GMs and GOs dance and party.

12am – More snacks are served and the die-hard party animals continue until the early hours of the morning while others retire for a good night’s rest

There are also a bunch of activities you could do in-between your ski /snowboard session like sledding, getting a massage at the spa, sipping French champagne in the jacuzzi overlooking the Alps or heading up the mountain to La Folie Douce – a day club up in the mountains with live music,  flowing drinks, and breathtaking views. It is also helluva entertaining watching everyone trying get down the slope after a day of drinking and being merry.

My highlights:

  • Snowboarding for the first time
  • An epic group
  • The selection of food
  • The friendly staff
  • La Folie Douce
  • Sipping French champagne in the jacuzzi overlooking the Alps

Club Med Phuket, Thailand

The second resort I visited was Club Med Phuket, with my friend and business partner @carelnolte. Thailand is very different to Val Thorens, one obvious factor was swapping the snow for the sun and beach.

At the resort, we spent a lot of our time at the zen pool. The zen pool is the adults-only pool that overlooks the turquoise waters of Phuket. Also, the Chu-da, the a la carte restaurant, is right there. Another cool thing about Club Med is that they accommodate families with kids, as well as people traveling without kids who want some peace and quiet.

You can’t get bored at the resort with a bunch of activities on offer – choose from daily snorkelling excursions, golf, archery, a gym, and Mixed Martial Arts lessons from an ex-professional and much more.

Being the adventurous type, I wanted to explore Thailand a bit more and decided to hire a scooter from a nearby rental company (around R100 per day in 2017) to check out what Phuket has to offer.

The famous “Bangla road” was always exciting. It has hundreds of differently themed bars and clubs, ping pong show salespeople, tattoo joints and the Aussie bar where we watched the Springboks demolish England.

Carel introduced me to a local tailor whose shop was called James Fashion house, situated five minutes by scooter from the resort. This was my first tailored suit; with Carel there are many firsts and I ordered two suits, a navy blue one and a tuxedo. It was an epic experience. I was able to choose the fabric and other details like buttons and how many belt straps I wanted on my pants.

You can’t go to Thailand and not have a Thai massage. This was a daily routine as the massages were authentic and so affordable. They cost around R150 per hour for a full body in 2017 at nearby places. You can also have a massage, facial or get your nails done at the resort spa.

The food at the resort was delicious, I love Thai and spicy food so I was often in a food coma. The variety and quality is astonishing!

It makes holidays more enjoyable when you can eat and drink whatever you like and as much as you like without worrying about a massive bill at the end of the holiday. Enjoying exotic cocktails and ice-cold beers by the gallon while relaxing or reading a book at the pool is my kind of holiday.

My highlights:

  • Relaxing to the max with drinks or food at the call of a waiter
  • Getting my first tailored suit
  • Learning MMA from an ex pro
  • Adventuring Phuket by scooter
  • The excitement of Bangla road

Club Med  La Plantation d’Albion, Mauritius

This was an influencer trip that CN&CO was hosting with Club Med SA and Mauritius Tourism.

Mauritius was always a bucket list destination for me and its close proximity to South Africa – it’s only a 4-hour flight away – makes it a popular destination for South Africans.

This was my first 5-trident resort and it didn’t disappoint. The room was very spacious and luxurious – one of the big perks of Club Med resorts.

I loved the private beach at the resort where you can swim, chill, read a book or take one of the sailing boats or SUP boards out. Snorkelling at a nearby reef happens every day at 10am and 2pm. It was epic! It is a quick boat ride with all equipment on it and it is included in the package price.

As it was a “work trip”, it was not all play but I couldn’t complain with my office and backdrop. Mauritius has a lot to offer, and high up on the list is its golf courses, most of which are a fairly quick taxi ride away from the Club Med resort. For all golf bookings, you can chat to the excursions team at the excursions office at the resort. I did a separate write up on golfing in Mauritius which you can read here.

All Club Med resorts have an excursions office where you can book a specific outing, whether you are looking for something to get the blood flowing like paragliding or a cultural trip relevant to the local area like visiting the spice market in Port Louis. Just visit the excursions office and the team will arrange it all for you at an extra fee.

One of the influencer excursions was riding an underwater scooter or a submarine experience, where we got to explore the world beneath the surface level of the sea. I do not recommend this for the claustrophobic.

I spent a lot of time at the zen pool catching up on emails and sun rays. The rim flow pool is a stone’s throw way from the sea and sunsets here are a must if your are staying at Club Med La Plantation d’Albion. Each Club Med hosts themed nights and these themes are determined by the resort. Each resort has a “white party” which is usually set up around the pool area and everyone is required to wear white. This was my best white party as it included delicious seafood – think oysters, braai’d lobster, prawns, and a first for me, sea urchins. However, after tasting them for the first time I’m not a fan of sea urchins. The trapeze and entertainment over the pool was quite a sight and the fireworks display put a big smile on my face.

My highlights

  • Golf at Tamarina Golf Club
  • Meeting awesome people (the influencers and GOs)
  • The zen pool
  • The private beach
  • The white party around the pool

Club Med Bintan Island, Indonesia

Ale Ale, Ale Bintan Ale! (Something the team shouted at each evening party)

We took our CN&CO team to Club Med Bintan Island which is a short ferry ride from Singapore. Club Med Bintan Island really has everything to offer and was a special trip.  

We were welcomed by fellow South African and chef du village (French for chief of the village), Jono Hegarty and his very friendly team of GOs. I’m not sure if they knew what was in store for them with us being there but they soon found out.

We took part in as many activities as we could. Daily volleyball games which got very competitive, morning snorkelling, learning to trapeze and seeing how many cocktails we could drink all added to the memories we made.

I was lucky enough to play golf at Ria Bintan Golf Club which was next to the resort and one of the top 100 courses in the world. It truly was spectacular: the lush and tropical greenery and colours, the views of the turquoise ocean and the company that I got to experience this all with will always be an incredible memory. Although my golf was not on par, it was such a rad day and a must-visit if you are a golf enthusiast visiting Club Med Bintan Island! Read Gianluca’s article on our golf experience here.

CN&CO team members Allan and Mike tried to out eat each other and I am sure Club Med felt the pinch and were stressed about the depleted supplies of food during our week there!

One of the extra’s at the excursion office was chartering a yacht for the day. Carel, chief señor of CN&CO, arranged this surprise for the team and what a surprise it was. Our own skipper and crew, roaming the Indonesian waters and stopping to snorkel or SUP board whenever we felt like it. Lunch was at one of the local restaurants on stilts in the mangroves where we had an absolute feast – a seafood braai on steroids and they just kept bringing more until even Allan and Mike were defeated. Read Lethabo-Thabo’s article on it here.

The evening entertainment and shows at Club Med Bintan Island were brilliant – some of the best I have seen. One of my highlights was exploring the resort and island, snorkelling most mornings on a fish-filled reef and learning to sail the Kobi cats with Mike.

Each day was different and I spent it with different people in the team within different parts of the beautiful resort, whether it was catching up with Neo under the cabanas, going for a swim around the island with Rob, witnessing Josh learn trapeze and break . . . hearts, jet skiing with Rikus and Carel, packing midnight snacks with Mike and Allan, watching Blake win the Ironman event, having a late breakfast at The Terresse restaurant with Colin, Emi, and Thabs or catching up with my twin and roomie Gianluca. It really was special.

Club Med Bintan Island is ideal for the whole family with golf, trapeze, five-a-side soccer, archery, as well as water and beach activities you really can’t get bored. There is no zen pool for the adults, but there definitely is more than enough space at the ginormous pool or on the private beach under a cabana.

My highlights:

  • Being able to enjoy this trip with my work family
  • Learning to sail
  • Team volleyball
  • Golfing at Ria Bintan Golf Club

While I still cannot pick a favourite, as I am sure you can understand from reading the above, I can pretty much guarantee you an exceptional time at any of the Club Med resorts.

Check out the Club Med website to learn more about the latest specials, including the Sunny Days promotion where you can save up to R9600* per person on your next sun holiday if you travel between June and October this year.

The Club Med blog also has some great travel inspiration and shares awesome GM stories and experiences.