By Claudine Kurp
I recently took a trip to Club Med Sandpiper, which is located in Port St. Lucie, Florida. This is my 4th trip to a Club Med resort and I was really excited to be able to experience Club Med stateside. After going to the Dominican Republican on a previous trip with my family (read story here), I was ready to try something a little lighter in terms of travel. I wanted to avoid customs and I wanted a shorter flight. I also wanted the ease of an all-inclusive with childcare for my kids. I am happy to report that we had a wonderful time!
Here is my “fact sheet” on our trip to Club Med Sandpiper.
As is the case with most Club Med properties, the resort is a bit older. Sandpiper is roughly 40 years old, but it has been well maintained and updated. It has a classic Florida, weathered shingle vibe with palm tress at every turn. The venue sits on the St. Lucie River on the Atlantic coast. Despite not being directly on the ocean, an inviting sandy beach with chairs and palm trees has been created for guests. I enjoyed the calm of the St. Lucie River for water sports, serious sandcastle building and relaxation.
The resort also boasts three pools including a lap pool, a quiet pool for those ages 18+ and a large, family-friendly pool that plays hosts to most guests. I preferred the main pool that was loaded with chairs and plenty of shade shrouded spaces.
The resort also offers the L’Occitane Spa. Every time I walked by the spa the smell of lavender was divine. The club also has a very nice fitness center replete with spin classes, free weights and nautilus equipment. My husband is a gym rat and he gave the facility high marks. I either went to the gym or ran in the morning. For longer runs, I took advantage of the 3-mile loop around the property and surrounding area.
There is an absolute bounty of activities. The property offers a number of activities for those that want to get out and active. Guests can take advantage of free complimentary golf, tennis and trapeze lessons. Tee times can be arranged for a full round of golf and there are a number tennis courts if you wish to play.
Sandpiper also offers the signature Club Med trapeze for both young and adult. So fun!
There are a number of water sports that are offered including: paddle boarding, sailing and kayaking. You can jet ski, water ski, go tubing or rent a boat for an additional price.
With its central location in Florida, Sandpiper also offers a number of awesome excursions to the Orlando theme parks, Cape Canaveral, Miami Beach, airboat tours of the Everglades, fishing trips, and dolphin tours…just to name just a few.
Our rooms were spacious and well appointed. Club Med has recently been offering 2 rooms for the price of one on the website, with an additional charge to have adjoining rooms. I LOVED the 2 room set up. It allowed for the kids to have their own area. There was ample closet space and we were never fighting for the shower.
If you opt to go with one room, it is still very spacious. Rooms have a large king size bed and two large couches that double as twin beds.
We had an awesome bay view room that was lovely to wake up to everyday. Planning a trip for next summer? Book early for availability and great rates.
Food & Beverage:
All-inclusive, let me repeat…ALL-INCLUSIVE! To me this is one of the magical parts of the Club Med offering. There is an absolute bounty of food for breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. The food never stops. Guests are treated to a diverse offering at mealtime. There is something for the whole family along with delicious treats, like chocolate bread, self-serve ice cream, fruit smoothies and an abundance of French desserts.
I typically sampled small dishes from a few stations and enjoyed a glass of wine during my lunch and dinner. Wine refrigerators, filled with white, rosé and red wine, were plentiful throughout the dining hall. The Slice Bar, just off the main pool, serves up something for everyone. Kids routinely request strawberry smoothies and goldfish. I noticed many of the European visitors lined up for an afternoon espresso. Full disclosure, I opted for a late afternoon Mojito. It was not only nice to NOT have a bill at the end of the week, but we also didn’t have to deal with cafeteria style checkout lines or waiting for a server to run our credit card, etc. The freedom was lovely.
The resort had one main dining hall that was large enough for every guest. Seating was always available both inside and out. The resort also offered The Riverside Grill, which provided a full service dining experience. The Riverside Grill had a nicer selection of entrees and a quieter atmosphere. While the Riverside Grill was apart of the standard guest package and kids were welcome, it did require reservations and a wine bottle purchase.
Mini Club Med, Petit Club Med & Baby Club Med:
The kid’s clubs separates Club Med from its competition. Being able to check my children into a safe and fun camp while I had some much-needed downtime was heaven sent. My 9-year-old had a wonderful time at Mini Club Med and made loads of friends. My 3.5-year-old was genuinely excited to go to Petit Club Med everyday. The Petit Club had two shallow pools with slides and water games. Each child wore a life vest that the resort provided. I opted to bring my own Puddle Jumper vest for my daughter. The staff at Petit Club Med monitored the children at all times. My little one also did arts & crafts and participated in circus school. My older daughter spent her days sailing, swimming, playing volleyball, creating artwork, and playing ping pong or bocce ball. She also attended circus school everyday to help her get ready for the weekly Mini Club Med show.
While I adored the childcare options and kid’s clubs, I will tell you that this experience depends on the temperament of your child. You might need to get your toddler or preschooler acclimated to the Petit Club Med with a half-day experience before going from 9am until 4pm. One mother of a 10-month infant was very disappointed that her daughter just could not be consoled despite the efforts of the Baby Club Med staff. She was called everyday to pick up her baby after two hours. In truth, the baby had only ever spent time with her parents and a nanny and she could not easily adjust to the group setting at Baby Club Med. As I talked to the frazzled mother, she acknowledged that she would have been better served to have booked a second room and had a nanny in tow for daytime hours. She did say that the staff tried hard everyday to attend to the needs of her little one.
In addition to daytime childcare hours, Club Med also offers a PJ club where you can drop your child off in the evening. Most folks do some mix of the childcare offering. Children ages 4 and over are not charged for Mini Club Med childcare services, so you are essentially getting a supervised camp for free!
Sandpiper Club Med is approximately 45 minutes from the West Palm Beach Airport. The resort offers transfers to and from the property. We opted to rent a car as it was easier with a child seat and we simply wanted to be on our time. As a side note, it was cheaper to rent a car versus the resort provided transportation.
My motto is always get a direct flight when traveling with kids. There were a number of flight options into West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The other option is a long drive to Florida. If your family is up for the road trip, you will save big dollars on airfare!
Club Med delivered with a wonderful and energetic staff and outstanding all-inclusive offering. Next up is Club Med Cancun! Happy travels!
For more information, visit this http://www.clubmed.us/
Club Med extended a small discount for my stay in exchange for writing this article.
We always disclose whenever a product or service is offered for compensation and all opinions are our own.
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