Friday, September 25, 2009

Feeding Your Kids

The following posts cover some of the convenient features of Club Med Punta Cana (Baby Bottle Room, Baby Corner) and logistics related to feeding your kids (Buffet with Baby, Food in Between Meals) during your stay.

Babies and Toddlers

Kids All Ages

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Keeping Kids Happy: Food Between Meals

If you child participates in the Baby Club, Petit Club, or Mini Club, you will take them to breakfast, and then they will have AM/PM snacks, and lunch as part of their day program. Older children who do the Pyjama Club can have dinner with their GOs, too. However, regardless of age, dinner does not start until fairly late by US standards, and certainly late by little kid standards, particularly when those kids have had a full day outside and not vegetating in front of a TV, etc. We found that we needed to provide a beverage and snack between kids' programs pick-up and dinner time for our 15 month and (later) 2 yr old, and I've read other parents' comments that older kids are hungry before dinner, too. If your child does not participate in any programs, you'll have them for an "AM" snack, afternoon snack, and the pre-dinner witching hour when everyone seems to have low blood sugar. So what to do?

Tips to Keep Kids' Hunger at Bay Between Meals:

(Note that these are not in a particular order - select an approach that fits your needs/style.)

__Bring wrapped snacks from home (such as snack bars, or large resealable bag of favorite dry snack/cereal and small bags to dispense into)
__Take 'contained' (wrapped) snacks from the breakfast buffet that will not attract bugs in your bag or room, such as bananas and boxed cereals
__Go to the all-day Celeste beach-side cafe and order something simple, like a quesedilla (note that the limited cafe menu is not particularly geared toward children - no 'kiddie meals' but there are a few things on it that children will most likely eat)

__Ask the bartender for juice or milk for bottle/sippy. In 2009, the bartender actually went back behind the bar and dug up an apple juice drink box!
__Check out the Baby Bottle Room - you should be able to get milk here (bring your own cup/bottle), and possibly snacks (but don't count on snacks)

After everyone was cleaned up and ready for the evening after a day playing or at the beach, we usually went to the main bar and hung out until dinner. We got our daughter juice or milk from the bar for her bottle or sippy, and gave her some boxed cereal to munch on while she hung out with us. Since she was younger, we just didn't want to get her set up to eat at the Celeste cafe, and go through the motions of a meal, only to drag her off to yet *another* sit down meal when the restaurants opened.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mealtime: Buffet with Baby

We really enjoyed the food during our stays!! There are many comments on Club Med food on other sites, so I won't replicate them. This post is more about logistics.

Eating buffet with a very small child means that most likely one parent stays and supervises while the other parent gets food. If you are alone, and find a GO present in the Baby Corner, ask him/her to watch your child while you navigate the buffet. (This isn't something that I would normally do in a restaurant at home, of course, but I would have no problem doing it provided that the GO was 'on duty' in the Baby Corner and the child wouldn't flip out if you step away to the buffet for 3 minutes.)


Milk: The milk provided at Punta Cana in the Baby Corner and in the Baby Bottle Room (Biberonnerie) is UHT. This type of milk is common in Europe, and in the US is becoming more common for drink box milk (usually flavored), as it does not require refrigeration until opened. Different types of UHT milk (whole, reduced fat, etc.) may be available. In 2008, I noticed more types of milk, and even soy milk, whereas in 2009, I found mostly whole milk, although the buffet cheese sections did have some reduced fat milk.

Food: The buffets are huge and you should always be able to find something that you children will eat, regardless of their age. Bland, familiar staples such as pasta, bread (many delicious kinds), rice, yogurt, and bananas are available every day, and pizza and "kid friendly" chicken are also 'regulars.' Of course, if your children are more venturesome, there's a very **wide** range of things to choose from at each meal that you all will enjoy.

Comment on Samana: Since Samana was renovated in 2008, the table surfaces on the main floor (as opposed to Baby Corner - don't recall what those are) are a kind of marble-type material. This probably isn't the best kind of tabletop for very small kids who still want to bang silverware, plates, etc. -- very loud, and also somewhat slippery if there is any liquid at all on the table. So I would definitely consider the Baby Corner if your child is at a specific stage when eating in Samana. The tables at Hispaniola are a more kid-friendly surface. Post-renovation, Hispaniola is also more low-key, while Samana is slightly more formal.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mealtime at Baby Corner

Baby Corner is a section in each of the two restaurants, Hispaniola and Samana, for GMs (guests) with young children. In addition to regular table seating, a number of high chairs are readily available, and parents have access right there to a small refrigerator filled with a variety of jarred baby foods and milk; a blender; a microwave; a bottle warmer; and plastic bowls and plates, as well as standard utensils and lots of napkins. Note that GMs with children are by no means required to sit in Baby Corner; rather, the Baby Corner sections are provided as a convenience for families, and also as a courtesy to other diners if your little one is really fussy. High chairs are boosters are also available for other parts of the restaurants if you choose not to sit in the Baby Corner section.

A GO is often present in the Baby Corner - he/she can answer questions you may have about the facilities, generally assist or find things you need, and they can help watch and/or distract your child if necessary. (Rose was a wonderful Baby Corner 'animateur' in '08 -- it's great when someone else can bring out a smile in your child!)

We ate some meals in the Baby Corner in the Samana restaurant when our child was 15 months. We found it a relaxing option, and would definitely recommend, particularly if you know your child is tired, or going through a messy eating stage.

Assuming our 15 month old was up to it, we did try to eat at least one meal a day in the main parts of Hispaniola - she enjoyed meeting other GMs as well, and frankly did a better job eating when others were present. Amazingly, other GMs actually did come and sit with us even though we had a small child!

Things you may want to bring if your child is still in the high chair stage:
__Disposable bibs or a plastic/rubber bib that rinses easily (avoid work on vacation washing bibs - and you won't want a regular bib with food particles on it in your room, as it may attract bugs)
__Child-size utensils for baby/toddler (did not find these in '08 or '09)
__1-2 small, child-size plastic bowls (the plastic bowls provided are more like adult size cereal bowls)
__Handiwipes
__Disinfectant wipes for high chairs (the high chairs were often sticky)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

GOs: Language & Badges

The staff, or G.O.s, at Punta Cana - as with most G.O.s at other Club Meds - are multilingual: at Punta Cana, the GOs predominantly speak English, French, Spanish, and even some Portuguese and Italian (and possibly other languages). GMs (Club Med guests) who only speak one language should not feel intimidated. GOs are accustomed to interacting with guests from all over the world. For example, it's possible to take a completely bilingual windsurfing lesson, where the instructor casually moves between two languages while keeping everyone engaged.

How can you tell who speaks which languages? Look at the GO's name badge/nametag. Each badge features a name, as well as the flags of the countries for the languages that that GO speaks. Here's an example, courtesy of Tito, who livens up the main bar. Be sure to say hi if you see him!

From this badge, you can tell that Tito speaks French, Spanish, and English. The GOs you'll meet at the Mini Club, Petit Club, and Baby Club will all have badges like this, so keep your eyes open when you introduce yourself at drop-off. If you have questions, it's also helpful to look at the badge to gauge if you have the right audience for your concern.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Travel with Kids

Worried about just getting to Punta Cana with your kids? The good thing is that, once you get there, the ground transfer from the airport is fast - only 10 minutes on local roads.

Don't forget to review
TSA guidelines for travel prior to your departure to be up to date on any changes in procedures or restrictions that you should be aware of in relation to your family flight planning (things can change quite quickly, as we all know). TSA also maintains a blog, which sometimes features useful information if you are planning an upcoming trip.

To cope with flying with children, I highly recommend the following Delicious Baby posts on
- Flying with babies, toddlers, and kids
- 10 tips for keeping a child busy on a plane
- Travel toys (recommendations by age range)

Thanks, Debbie!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Paid Bloggers

In response to a recent New York Times article on paid bloggers, visitors to this site should be aware that I am not affiliated in any way with Club Med or any of the products that I have mentioned on occasion, nor have I received compensation for any comments posted here.

This site is intended as a reference to prospective visitors to Club Med Punta Cana, particularly families with young children. The information featured here is based primarily on my experience and observations as a regular paying guest at Club Med.


Kudos to all the moms who run their own commercial or quasi-commercial blogs, and especially to the ones who acknowledge their product affialition.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Know Yourself and Your Child(ren)

We may not all be the uber-worry free and well-maintained "mom" pictured with her child on the beach in the Club Med brochures, but we sure want to enjoy a great beach vacation with our whole family, and the child care model provided by Club Med at Punta Cana (as well as Ixtapa and Sandpiper) even allows moms of very small children to have a break, too! Many resorts have kids camps, but few have organized, systematic care for babies and toddlers.

Think carefully about you and your children, and your "goals" and expectations for vacation before you depart on this trip. Club Med Punta Cana provides a very good care setting for children, and the staff work very hard to care for and engage children of all ages. That said, parents should have realistic expectations - it would great if everyone adjust automatically and have a great time and parents could "be off duty" for a while themselves, but some kids either don't want to be left by parents (baby, toddler) or maybe just don't want to hang out with a group (older children).

Parent:
__Are you personally comfortable leaving your baby in group care or with a babysitter?
__Are you personally comfortable having your toddler in group care?
__Are you comfortable having your older children enroll in day camp?

Child/ren:
__Is your baby or toddler accustomed to being away from you at a stretch of time?
__Is your baby or toddler already in daycare at home?
__Does your child adjust well to new situations? (kids all ages)
__Does your child enjoy meeting new kids his/her age and trying new things?

My baby experience: Babysitter
When we first went in 2008, I was hopeful to enroll our 15-mo old in the Baby Club. However, Baby Club slots are quite limited, and our trip planning a bit last minute, so we did not have a slot. When we arrived, I saw that many in this age group seemed unhappy in spite of the many attentions of the GOs, and my husband and I realized that our child, who was not yet in daycare at home, probably would not have done well herself. In the end, we retained a resort babysitter for afternoons when she took naps and to stroll her around the grounds, feed her, and visit the Baby Club play area when she woke up. We arranged to have the same (Spanish-only speaking) sitter each day, and this worked very well - we had time to be "off duty", and our child could rest and have individual attention.

My toddler experience: Petit Club
This year, we enrolled our toddler in the Petit Club. At two, she is already in daycare in the US, and had already gone through the initial week-long "shock" transition (read: crying every day) of being left at daycare in the US. Once she got over it, she quickly warmed to her new teachers, classmates, and new activities. Before we left home and on the plane, we told her that she would go to school at the beach, and that she would have new teachers on our vacation. Generally, our child seems to be pretty out-going and jumps right into things, which turned out to be a good thing.

On Day One of drop-off at the Petit Club, many 2-3 year olds were crying or asking mom/dad not to go. The GOs told us that they could tell which little ones are already in daycare, as these kids went about their business checking out the toys and drawing activity; even I could see these kids already knew the drop-off routine, having "hardened" to it at home. Other children were very apprehensive about being left by their parents, and if this was their first time in a group care setting, I can certainly understand this. Some parents did not come back the next day, while other parents tried to leave their children again and hoped that they would adjust; in the end, I think this latter part depends on the child.

Drop-off transition is awful for parents trying to go to work, never mind on vacation, so I can understand why some parents chose not to try drop-off again. The GOs know what to expect and are very caring, but it doesn't really matter if you're in Punta Cana or Hometown, USA - transitioning toddlers will still cry!

Conclusion
Know yourself, and know your child. The child care/kid camp programming is really wonderful, but in spite of this your toddler, for example, may still not want to stay by him/herself, particularly if unaccustomed to being left with others. Don't be disappointed if your child/ren does not participate in the camps when you had thought they would. Be flexible to the situation and maintain an open mind - our daughter attended the Petit Club every day along with others, and she and her classmates seemed VERY happy (you can see the children on the grounds during the day), but if she had not enjoyed the experience, we were prepared to care for her exclusively ourselves and perhaps to have an occasional babysitter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Car Seats

According to the State Department's country profile for the Dominican Republic (dated June 22, 2009), there are no child car seat laws in the Dominican Republic - and hence Punta Cana. This does not mean that you should not bring a car seat on your trip, but it does mean that you may encounter a few more surprises in terms of some local driver experiences and habits if you do bring one.

Suggestions
1) Contact Club Med Punta Cana (or your resort, if you stumbled on this site and are going somewhere else) directly to ask what they normally recommend that parents do when traveling to Punta Cana, and if they can recommend a known transportation solution that *will* work with a car seat. Note that you may need to contact Club Med Punta Cana reception directly rather than calling sales/customer service in the US to find the answer to this very local question.

2) Find contact information for taxi companies prior to your trip (there are #s online, some even have websites), email them, and ask about using a car seat. Siutratural Tax Bavaro Punta Cana and Beron Taxi come up quickly in searches - note that I have *not* used these companies. Ask if their cars have LATCH. Confirm what make/model/year of vehicles their drivers usually use - if they don't address the LATCH question, the info about make/model/year may inform you more as to whether your car seat(s) will fit and if the car will have a LATCH system for familiar installation. You may pay more for a taxi if arranged this way (rather than getting one randomly on arrival at the airport - although the Siutratural rate to Club Med as "Hotel Club Med / Los Corales Punta Cana" listed on their site seemed fair, at $12, as we've paid $10 - but at least you'll be more informed and hopefully have a good outcome.

3) For random selection of a cab at the airport (there are plenty waiting), one parent could walk with the driver out to the parking area to check out the vehicle and see if the car seat would fit and are seat belts readily available, and then walk back quickly (it's not far) to get the parent/kid(s)/gear. No point in both parents and kid(s) going through hot parking lot with all the gear if you may not go with that driver/vehicle - you'll feel under more pressure to say "yes" to the driver if you've got everyone/thing assembled there.

4) Review your car seat instructions for non-LATCH installation to figure out how to install without using LATCH, in the event that the vehicle you get has seat belts but no LATCH system. In 2001, US law required car seats and most vehicle to begin featuring LATCH, but not all vehicles you'll encounter overseas were made in or made for export to the US. (If you can find your original instructions, try the manufacturer's web site.)

5) Bring your own car seat rather than relying on one provided (if you can find one) by a taxi or car rental company. If you don't want to lug your car seat on the plane and through the airport, you can check it and use the 1-lb CARES flight restraint system instead.

Additional things to consider
Type of vehicle you'll take from airport to village and back to airport
If you don't arrange for private transport ahead of time --

  • Tour-style bus/coach: You'd most likely take this type of bus (or coach) if you travel with a group, via air transport arranged by Club Med. I don't know how a car seat would work with this type of bus. Not to say that it wouldn't, but even in the States, car seats are not required in buses and suitable accomodations (such as provision of seat belts) are not required.

  • Taxi: Some taxis at the airport are not sedans - they are like a compact van. We took this type of taxis to/from the resort in both '08 and '09. In '08, I don't think the vehicle had seat belts readily accessible. In '09, it was a nicer vehicle that did have seat belts (so somewhat easier to install a car seat).

Type of car seat
Many infant car seats require a base, and parents are accustomed to installing the seat rear-facing. This type of installation may be more difficult in one of the compact van-type taxis (not sure about tour style bus). It's possible that some front-facing styles might work more easily (particularly booster seasts).

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Please post and let others know your solution!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Complete Packing List

I'm posting my complete Punta Cana packing list for March 2009. This list is geared toward travel with a toddler, but many aspects will apply to children of other ages. The list covers most aspects of the trip, including plane travel, time at the resort, and time in the Mini Club. Please feel free to adapt this list to your own needs.
If you're in a rush, review Trip Essentials for a quick packing list of stuff you *must* bring (things that are more unique to this trip).
Please share your packing list/tips!

Packing List



Planning your family's trip to Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trip Essentials

What items do you *really* need to bring from home for your child? This is the quick list - I've also uploaded a complete packing list.

For All Kids:
__Bug spray/wipes (for evening use - see earlier post on this topic)
__Bathing suit

__Hat (bring two)
__Sandals kids can run safely in
__Shower shoes (shower tile floor is **very** slippery)
__Sunscreen (leave one at Petit/Mini Club with child's affairs)
__Thermometer

__OTC meds (Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl), any RX meds

For Very Little Kids:
__Regular Diapers - bring more than you think you'll need
__Swim diapers - 2 per day

__Diaper disposal bags for room (no contained diaper trash can)
__Wipes (some for your room, separate container for Petit Club)
__Fold-up potty seat for use on plane, in room
__Formula, bottles, preferred feeding utensils, etc.

Optional But Good to Have:
__Bucket & shovel, water gun, etc.
__Extra bathing suit

__Hand sanitizer or wipes (for parent bag)
__Inflatable water toys (don't take much room, pump on site)
__Kid sunglasses
__Outfits change into for dinner (post play, beach, bath, etc.)

__White t-shirt for end-of-week Mini Club party, where kids can tie-dye a shirt

In theory, many of these items can be purchased at the resort. However, the resort store is really a boutique/gift shop, and these items are all sold at a premium, brands and sizes limited, and items can sell out.


Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:


What did you *absolutely* need and would bring next time?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Airport Departure Tips

You may also want to review Resort Departure Tips.

Please check out photos of Punta Cana Airport courtesy of puntacana-vacation.com. These are some of the best centralized airport photos that I've found, and they and really depict what you will see, particularly on arrival. However, departure is also "open air" - you will walk to your plane on the tarmac and board your flight by walking up stairs, not through a gate connector (as is common in cold climates and at many airports).

1) Plan to arrive at the airport a full two hours prior to your flight. Even though you want to spend more time at the beach, leave ample time for the airport process. If you should have lots of extra time at the airport, once you are through security, the waiting area features some fast food, other snacks such as decent pastries and ice cream, souvenir shops (a bit cheesy, but there if you need something), and an outdoor children's play area. You can also stop to review the "arrival" photo taken of your group when you first arrived at the Punta Cana airport (no obligation to buy, but they're kind of funny).

2) If you take private transport (taxi), expect that an airport porter will immediately descend upon you to take your bags. The porter will take you to a counter to have your baggage inspected (you get "stickers" on your bags) and will then get you to the right ticket line. (It's probably easier to allow the porter to take your bags -- follow closely, they move fast -- and to give him a small tip than to try to prevent the process from taking place.)

3) Expect a long and crowded wait to get to the ticket counter, as large groups traveling together create instant long lines

4) Ticket counter lines can be fluid. Depending on the size of the crowd, the line may move to another counter or converge with lines from other airlines, so be alert.

5) Security screening lines may be long as at home. They are attempting to replicate the TSA screening process (already the security screening infrastructure has evolved since our first visit in 2008) and they have "3-1-1" signs displayed.
Special Note to Parents with Strollers and Little Kids in Tow: The conveyor belt set-up to place your carry-on items, shoes, etc. in bins for security screening is very short (much shorter than in US airports, for example) -- there is basically a conveyor belt and very little preceding table space, which means that when you approach, you need to be ready to throw everything into a bin almost directly on the belt, and move through the metal detector/security checkpoint quickly. (In contrast, in most US airports there's a lot of counter space preceding the belt where, as they approach, travelers set bins, deposit their bags and other items, and then push their belongings forward *toward* the conveyor belt.) Ditto when you emerge from the human checkpoint -- the conveyor belt ends quickly, and the bags, bins, and strollers have little space to move, and pile up fast. Fast parent teamwork will help to collect belongings and get everyone and everything resituated quickly. (We encountered a number of friendly/sympathetic travelers who asked to help, which was very heartening.)

6) Gate information and flight departure status posted on waiting area screens may conflict actual gate activity. Be aware of your departure time, and don't stray too far from the gate. For example, once you are through security and in the waiting area, the screen may say your flight is boarding/go-to-gate, but the gate may not have any representatives from your airline. Or, your ticket may say that your flight should be boarding (departing in 20 minutes), while the screen may still list the flight status as "Checking in" -- but suddenly, airline personnel are at your gate, and it's boarding! (We saw both situations, and encountered a fair number of befuddled travelers staring at screens and checking actual gate activity.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Resort Departure: General Tips

Your Last Day at Club Med Punta Cana

Please also review my Airport Departure Tips.
Parents may also want to read Check-Out Tips for Parents.

Many guests will have afternoon or evening flights out of Punta Cana. Club Med realizes this and makes arrangements to enable guests to continue to enjoy their last day while still checking out of their rooms. Read the following to help maximize your last day!

1) Check-out guidelines are provided to guests the night prior to departure. These guidelines mention that it might be possible to extend your check-out time (for a fee). If you are interested in a "late check out," you should speak in person with the Reception ahead of time - preferably well ahead of your last day - to determine if this is really an option (it may not be). If you cannot extend your check-out time, you will check out in the morning, according to the guidelines provided (most likely at 11AM).


2) Call the Reception prior to check-out time to have your large check-through bags taken to the "luggage depot" at the entry to the resort (enclosed area in the center of the circular driveway). Communicate to the porter where you are going (country) and what time. If you are concerned about your bags, you can actually visit them in the luggage depot area at the entry to the resort. (We did this because our child was sad to see our suitcases leave, so we took her to "see" them. We booked our airfare separately from our stay at Club Med, and would not leave on a bus with a group, so our bags were set aside by themselves.)

3) Store your carry-on items in a secure locker-room-with-shower-area called the "Comfort Area." There are men's and women's locker areas. You will be given locker key(s) for your belongings. If your roll-on bag is too bulky for a locker, the locker attendant (the same stern looking but actually very friendly woman in both 2008 and 2009) will keep your bag behind her counter, put a number on it, and have you sign by that number. You may feel nervous about leaving your belongings in this manner, but everyone is in the same boat, and we left with everything we brought on both trips.

4) Go back to the beach or pool, have lunch, etc.! When the time approaches, you can come back to the Comfort Area locker rooms, shower and change, and head off to the airport. This means that you should pack your travel clothes into your carry-on so you can change into them after your day at the beach.

5) If traveling independently (non-charter flight), arrange for a taxi to the airport through the Reception. It doesn't seem as though much advance notice is required for a taxi (say, 15 minutes). If you are leaving on a Saturday, there will likely already be many taxis waiting to take guests to the airport, but it doesn't hurt to check with the Reception about this ahead of time.

Resort Check-Out: Tips for Parents

Plan to combine your regular suitcase packing with packing for extra time at the beach/pool on your last day. For parents, this may take a little more logistical forethought to determine what you need (a) for fun/comfort at the resort and (b) for the flight home, and how that all fits into your carry-on, but it's definitely worth the advance planning!

A few reminders:

  • Last minute cold milk or juice for bottles/sippys is available from the restaurants (or from the bars, if lunch is over)

  • Refrigeration is available in the 24-hour access Baby Bottle Room connected to the Mini Club if necessary (label items that go in the fridge).

  • If you need kids' snacks for traveling, snag a few extras boxes of kids' cereal from the Baby Bottle Room or at breakfast for your carry-on.

Do Your Kids Nap? In 2008, we left on a Saturday (typical of many guests), and we were unable to extend our check-out time and the Mini Club was not open, so we had our 15-month old daughter nap in her stroller at naptime. In 2009, however, the Mini Club staff actually offered that the Mini Club would be open on Saturday from 1PM-3PM for naptime so "parents can pack." Our flight was at 4PM, so we couldn't take them up on this and didn't inquire as to any (nominal) fee, but if your children need to nap and you have a later flight, it would definitely be worth asking the Mini Club staff about this arrangement early on in your stay.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Club Med Photo Contest!

All-Travel.com is sponsoring a photo contest to win a Club Med vacation! Submit your photo(s) by May 31, 2009 to be eligible to win a trip.
Prize Details:
Grand Prize: The winner and an adult guest will receive 5 nights for 2 (land only) to a Club Med® Resort in the North American Zone (excluding Bora Bora and Brazil).
Runner up will receive a 15% discount on their next Club Med booking excluding air.

Learn more at
http://www.cmphotocontest.com/

Punta Cana Mom is not affiliated with All-Travel.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

General Personal Safety

Will you and your family be safe during your stay at Club Med Punta Cana? My vote is "yes." This post is based on observations made within the resort; we did not go on any of the excurisions outside the resort during either of our stays.

Anything can happen anywhere, anytime, of course - plenty of headlines at home remind us of this every day. However, I felt very comfortable during both of our stays, and I'm the type of person who looks for lights to park under in mall parking lots if it will be dark when I come out. From a personal safety standpoint, I would feel very comfortable traveling back to Club Med Punta Cana with just my child if schedules didn't work out to travel as a family.

Would I be careful with my personal belongings? Yes. Did I feel as though the people on the beach with me were going through my bag containing a phone and camera while I was in the water? No. We brought a camera, memory cards, laptop, and cell phones on our 2008 and 2009 trips, and we returned home with those and all of our other belongings both times.

Your children

  • Children are "checked-in" and "checked-out" of their respective programs each day. Each receive a bracelet indicating they are program participants as part of the process. Even though you will most likely only be there a week, the G.O.s (staff) are very good about quickly learning which parent goes with which child as well.
  • Children are effectively cared for in the public eye. You will encounter groups of children -- including your own -- going on walks, playing games, eating lunch, and singing songs throughout the grounds all day.
  • Check that you personally feel comfortable dropping your kids off for the day. Our experience was that the G.O.s are very attentive, but make sure that you feel comfortable with the idea of having Club Med G.O.s (employees) looking after your children during their participation in the Baby/Petit/Mini Club - otherwise, this type of vacation may not be for you, no matter how caring and engaging the staff are.

Your stuff (use common sense)

  • Label ALL your kids' stuff, including baby wipes container, hat, swimsuit, clothes, favorite toy/blankie, sunscreen, etc. Our only "losses" at Club Med Punta Cana were our child's favorite stuffed animal/lovey (2008) and hat (2009). Both items showed up in the Mini Club Lost & Found (Objets retrouvĂ©s).
  • Don't bring your wallet and electronics (camera, phone, iPod, Kindle) around the resort with you unless you plan to use and be around them.
  • You won't need to wear valuable jewelry, so leave it at home - this is a beach resort.
  • Store passports, etc. in the room safe.

The resort

  • The resort is sort of an "island." As with many Punta Cana resorts, you are not really visiting the true Dominican Republic - you're visiting a vacation destination purposely designed for foreign visitors. It's very much in the resort's express interest to make your vacation pleasant and safe to maintain its reputation so others will visit after you.
  • Club Med employs security guards who make continous rounds of the grounds. (I'm not sure what they find, to be honest, but they are there if there appears to be a problem.)
  • Vehicle access to the coastal resort area and to the resort itself is controlled. The 10-minute route to the resort area from the airport has a vehicle control checkpoint. The resort also itself has a entry checkpoint for vehicles arriving to identify their purpose. These are not high-security checkpoints (didn't see any armed guards, for example), but they are general deterrents.

Learn more about the overall safety environment (particularly outside the resort) prior to your trip

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Children's Health (Pre-Departure)

What vaccinations should you have prior to your stay in Punta Cana? Does Club Med have any health requirements? Read on.

Pre-Departure Check-Ups
Talk with your pediatrician and make sure that your children are up to date on vaccinations for your upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic. Depending on the age and health of your child[ren], you may even want to consult with your pediatrician prior to booking any trip involving air travel and or travel overseas.
Club Med recommends vaccinations, including polio, tetanus, and Hep A and Hep B, prior to your Punta Cana visit. Note that certain vaccinations are given in a series involving multiple office visits, and should be started well prior to your departure. This is also a good time to discuss malaria with your pediatrician. You should also review your own vaccination history to make sure you are up to date as a parent (tetanus, for example, should be readministered periodically).

Club Med strongly advises that parents with children participating in resort childcare programs provide children's health documents (scroll to the section on "Children's Health Formalities"). Note that parents of infants and toddlers enrolled in Baby Club Med and Petit Club Med must be able to show proof of up-to-date vaccinations.


For access to the Baby Club Med™*, Petit Club Med™* and Mini Club Med™, parents are strongly advised to obtain a medical certificate that demonstrates that the child or children are in a fit state of health deemed appropriate for participation in children’s group activities, including vaccination updates. This certificate should be issued by your GP (it may be subject to a charge) prior to departure, no more than 48 hrs before arrival at your resort. Club Med reserves the right to request such a document and to refuse acceptance of any child into the children’s club concerned should it be deemed necessary....


At all Baby Club Med™* and Petit Club Med™* Resorts, the person accompanying the child must be able to show proof that all required childhood vaccinations are up to date (medical certificate or medical record). For Baby Club Med™* this includes at least the first dose of vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and polio.


I did obtain health documentation stating that my child was fit to participate along with vaccination history as stated above prior to both of our trips to Club Med Punta Cana, just in case, but I was not asked to provide it in 2008 or in 2009. I wasn't sure what type of form I should bring, so I had our pediatrician fill out the State of Connecticut Department of Education Health Assessment Record form. I suppose that this type of health documentation requirement is not surprising to parents of school-age children, or if your children already attend daycare or pre-school, but it might be out-of-the norm for parents whose children are not yet involved in any form of group childcare.

It's also not a bad idea for very young children to have a pre-departure check-up (the week you leave home) to make sure they are free of sneaky, troublesome things like ear infections.

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why Club Med Punta Cana?

OK, so it has a beach and a pool - who doesn't?! There are many reasons to go with Club Med, but key selling points for Club Med Punta Cana for us in 2008 when we first visited with our 15-month old – and that remained very important to us for our family trip back this year – included:

Children’s programming that was clearly defined by age ranges, with baby care included. Some resorts we looked at offered childcare, kids camps, or nannies but it wasn’t always clear from the resort materials how the very small children would be cared for and if the programming was specifically designed for their needs, or if the kids would just be all lumped together with those of different ages and abilities.

No jet lag: I didn't want a key portion of trip to be devoted to getting my family on the local time zone, and struggling with the time difference upon our return home. The time difference is one hour or none, depending on when daylight savings time occurs and the time of your trip. Calculate your own time difference.

Proximity to the airport. We did not want a long ground transfer once we landed with our little one. The resort is literally 10 minutes away by taxi bus (see tourist map of Punta Cana area - note that I am not endorsing the real estate firm that posted this map; there are many similar maps out there, but this one seemed to be higher resolution and easier to view than some). In fact, it's about as close as you can get! It’s very important to note that although Club Med is close to the airport, you do NOT hear any airplanes (although you might see one occasionally).

Child friendly atmosphere at a nice resort. We didn’t want to go to a really upscale resort where we would be pariahs with our small child. What we encountered were many families and also couples without children on vacation in an environment that welcomes children. On the other hand, the resort is large enough that you never feel that you are at a kiddie park. Nor is the general programming child-centric: the environment is accepting of children but not dominated by them. The parents and other adult G.M.s (guests) are very definitely enjoying “adult” vacations, complete with adult sports, drinks, entertainment, and dancing.

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

What have been your primary considerations in researching family getaway destinations?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Safe Air Travel with Young Children

Rather than take a car seat onboard our flight to Punta Cana, we took the CARES flight harness system for our two-year old. This FAA-approved flight harness is easy to use, light-weight (just one pound), takes up little room in your carry-on, and was worth every penny! It also arrived promptly following my online order.

I "practiced" with CARES with my daughter at home prior to our departure so that she would have an idea of what to expect on an airplane. Kids this age are accustomed to be securely buckled into many things (car seats, strollers, grocery store carts), and she has no idea that all the adults on the plane just use a lap belt, but I wanted her to be familiar with the buckle-in procedure for when we boarded.

To practice at home, I used one of my husband's belts as the "airplane seat belt" and I set our daughter up in a dining room chair. She only sat with it on briefly, but it gave her the idea of how it worked (she tried buckling herself, too), and it convinced me how easy it is to install this once you are on the plane. (To round out our dining room inflight simulation, I also set up her with earphones and a video on a computer.)

Once on the plane, we installed CARES and got her buckled in. She was thrilled to be on the plane with her now-familiar seat belt, and even told other boarding passengers who passed to "buckle up!" We used CARES in a total of four flights without a glitch.

CARES is designed to provide your small child with additional safety during a flight, since lap belts are insufficient restraints for small children. As an added plus for parents who are relieved once their kids are strapped in a car seat and can no longer "get out," the harness also just kept our child more securely in place than a simple lap belt; she could move somewhat but couldn't wriggle away.

I would highly recommend the CARES flight harness system to my friends and to all parents traveling with young children (22-44 lbs, up to 40 inches tall) who want their child to safe inflight and who do not want to lug a car seat onboard each flight and through the airport. We will be using it on our next flights!


Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Travel Insurance through Club Med

When you sign up for your trip, you'll be offered Club Med's Total Peace of Mind travel insurance, also referred to as Optional Upgraded Insurance.

While the pros and cons of travel insurance can be debated, you should note that if you receive medical care during your trip, it *may* be reimbursable under Club Med’s insurance. A trip to the resort doctor, for example, might be eligible once you submit a claim to your primary insurance carrier. Read the actual the coverage plan document to learn more and to decide if this is something that your family would benefit from.

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:
Check Out Kids' Programming
Health: Pre-Departure Tips
Request a Room Location
My Review of Kids' Programs

Have you purchased Club Med's Total Peace of Mind travel insurance and filed a claim? What was your experience?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Malaria in Punta Cana

Yes, there have been cases of malaria among tourists returning from the Dominican province of La Altagracia, where Punta Cana is located. You should consult with your physician and inform yourself about malaria, its prevalence, prevention, and risks prior to your trip to determine the best route to take to ensure your family's health.

The CDC provides information on all health risks associated with the Dominican Republic -- including malaria -- and Club Med openly discloses some information on health risks on the Punta Cana portion of its website. The Public Health Agency of Canada also updated its travel health notice on this topic in 2008.

The CDC Traveler's Health site features a compilation of information about malaria, including fact sheets on preventing malaria in pregnant women and in children/infants, including a useful discussion of the different types of treatments (drugs vary by malaria strain/region of travel). MDtravelhealth.com also features an article on the various types of preventative treatments for malaria (as well as links to other sites addressing instances of malaria worldwide, and the CDC, WHO, and Canadian and UK health authorities postings on malaria) that might be useful if your physician recommends preventative measures. Web MD highlights symptoms and incubation periods by strain of malaria.

I have not found media reports regarding tourists visiting 2009 who contracted malaria during a visit to Punta Cana -- you'll more readily google-up reports regarding cases in the 2004-2005 time frame, but I did read a report of at least one tourist case in February 2008.

Here is my actual experience at Club Med Punta Cana:

March 2008: I was very worried about the prospect of malaria prior to our departure, and of course I only realized that it was an issue after we had booked our stay. Our pediatrician did not want to prescribe anything for our 15-month old (although after more reading, I don't think that is really "correct" advice). We took OFF! bug spray (3oz non-aerosol size fits in carry on, in case luggage was lost) and OFF! individually-wrapped wipes. The spray is great for adults but I was leery of spraying my 15-month old (never mind that we would be applying DEET, ugh), so the wipes seemed like a good solution, as you can precisely apply without getting it in eyes, etc. We took the wipes in a bag while on the grounds, and we did notice just a *few* mosquitos in the evening in places that were more protected, such as the reception and the main bar, both when we were seated. So in the end we did apply, just as a precaution. We did not have any issues with mosquitoes (or other bugs) in our room; note that we always ran our AC and did not leave the doors/windows open. We stayed on the resort and did not take any side trips "off campus." We did not get any bites.

March 2009: We took the same DEET-based products (spray and wipes), but although we took the wipes around in my bag in the evenings, we only applied twice the entire week, and we never saw any mosquitos anyway. My understanding is that the club does spray for mosquitos. In addition, there were **very** high winds during this trip, both during the day and evening, and that may have helped. We did not have any issues with mosquitoes (or other bugs) in our room; note that we always ran our AC and did not leave the doors/windows open. We stayed on the resort and did not take any side trips "off campus." We did not get any bites. However, when we were in line at the airport to fly home, we saw many people around us with bites on their legs. I don't know where these folks stayed, of course, and I can't be certain that those were mosquito bites, but it appeared at a minimum that they did not apply bug spray. We also encountered one Canadian mother at the beach whose children (who sounded like teenagers) were taking the pill regimen, but she herself was not.


It is possible to buy bug spray in the resort boutique, but products there are overpriced and there is very limited choice in terms of brands and inventory.

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Convenient Rooms for Families at Club Med Punta Cana

The most convenient rooms at the resort for families with young children include:

  • Colon
  • Ovando
  • Estrella
  • Mariposa

These buildings and a few others are close to

  • the Mini Club/Petit Club/Baby Club
  • Hispaniola Restaurant
  • the reception

Please refer to the map of the entire club for further reference.

Even families with babies or toddlers who do not plan to participate in the children's programs will benefit from these locations, as they are also close to the restaurant, 24-hour access Baby Bottle Room (with milk and dry snacks for children) connected to the Mini Club, and the Mini Club play grounds and pools, which are open to parents supervising children who are not part of formal Club Med children's programs.

Prior to your trip, contact Room Planning via fax or email to request a room and provide specifics about your family - for example, you have an infant, or you have twin toddlers, etc. Note that the type of room you have and its location may depend on the 'class' of room that you booked. If you use a stroller, you may want a first floor room (although many people just park their strollers on the ground floor near stairwells - the strollers are fine there). Your bags will be carried to your room so that is not a consideration. Some of the rooms will have ocean views as well. This is also a good time to clarify anything else that you anticipate you will need in your room (such as a plastic baby bath tub and high chair -- these things may be in place when you arrive as part of the Baby Welcome package, but nonetheless good to specify in your note to Room Planning).

Some guests have complained in reviews that their rooms were very far away (from restaurants, etc.). During our first visit we had a room that I initially thought was very far away in Costa (formerly Caravelle). The distance is magnified upon arrival when you are tired and want to get settled in. We ultimately really enjoyed our room, and did not mind the walk back and forth, as the weather is gorgeous and you are rarely in a hurry as at home!

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mini Club Impressions, March 7-14

Just back from a fabulous stay at Club Med Punta Cana. Already wishing that everything at home was as close as the beach there and as beautiful... I would go back tomorrow if I could!!!

This post will have many child-centric comments for visitors with young children. (Read my Trip Impressions if you aren’t interested in kiddie stuff.)


We visited Punta Cana in March 2008 with our 15-month old, and really looked forward to returning this year now that she is just over two. In 2008, we did not use the organized childcare facilities provided by Club Med, as we signed up too late to get into the limited-space infant care group. This turned out to be a good thing, as our child was not yet in daycare at home, and would have had a difficult adjustment. Once there, we did reserve for the babysitting service each afternoon (see pricing for babysitting). The same babysitter joined us just prior to naptime, and who stayed with our child through her nap and took her around the grounds and to play at the Mini Club during the afternoon. The babysitters only speak Spanish, but we asked another G.O. to help translate specifics for us (care at 15 months is not terribly complicated after all). Our child seemed very happy with the babysitter, and other guests and G.O.s told us where they had seen her being strolled on the grounds.

We speak French (although our child does not really – this trip helped her pick some up), so Punta Cana is really not a trip to the Dominican in the true sense for us, but most of the G.O.s we met also spoke English (and often Spanish as well).

Please note that you do NOT need to speak French or Spanish to enjoy a stay at this resort. It helps if you remain alert to the name tag pins worn by each G.O. displaying country flags that correspond to the language that particular employee speaks, and of course it always helps if you make a small effort to say thank you or a greeting in Spanish or French.

This year we enrolled our now two-year old in the Petit Club program for two and three-year olds at the time we made our reservations. The Petit Club program has an additional fee, but the spaces are not really limited as they are with the infant program.

Petit Club Impressions

Background: Our two-year old is in daycare in the U.S. and is accustomed to being away from her parents and to playing in groups. Other very young children who are not in daycare or who have not yet started nursery school may find the initial separation from mom and dad difficult (it took our own child two weeks to fully settle into the daycare routine in the US). Some parents of these children left their children only part of the day, or did not send them every day. We sent our daughter to the program from Sunday through Friday, and she had an amazing time. She is still asking for some of the G.O.s now that we are home!!!

OK, now that the disclaimer is out the way -- the Petit Club is AWESOME!!!!!!!! The G.O.s are terrific. They are caring, tolerant, and enthusiastic, and they will do their very best to help your young one take advantage of his or her vacation. Some of the awesome Petit Club G.O.s we met in connection with the two-year olds include Diana, Virginie, Emmanuella, Sophie, Gerline, Lilli, Alina, Blanchard, Wilson, Fausto, and Alex. Some of the Baby Club G.O.s we met include Mirlande (who we had met during our 2008 trip), Louise, and Kate. I can’t say enough positive things about these folks who are really dedicated to making your child’s stay enjoyable.

Unlike regular daycare pre-school, where children do go outside, but more for "recess", young children in the Petit Club are able to spend a good deal of time in the fresh air and in different parts of the club grounds. Many of the Mini Club play areas are covered in a circus tent-like fashion to block the sun, and the enclosed grounds are fairly extensive. The Mini Club has a variety of pools so that even two-year olds can have a pool experience, and there is also a large covered and gated hut on the beach so super-mobile little ones can play in the sand in a secure manner and avoid the sun. (For older children, the Mini Club includes even better pools, covered small-scale tennis court, and basketball court. Full-size stuff for teens is available in other areas of the resort.) The main parts of the day that resemble standard cold weather climate daycare are snacks, lunch, and nap!

I scanned in the Mini Club programming brochure so you can get an idea of how days are planned by age.

The Petit Club G.O.s engaged parents by inviting parents to pick-up time events such as a Parent Cocktail/Pool Party, Baby Olympics, a Petit Club “Show” (featuring your child on-stage in costume), and an end-of-week all-Mini Club celebration that was a little like a large birthday party (with snacks instead of cake) featuring games, tie-dye, lots of music, and lots of fun. Parents are not obligated to attend any of these, but the events are by no means burdensome, and provide you the opportunity to see the kids in action with their caregivers and for you to get some great photos, too.

The Mini Club G.O.s are very good about applying sunscreen for young ones and making sure that kids wear hats when outside. Our child is just as pale as before we left (and she is the most fair in all our photos!).

The evening can be an added high point for your child if they can stay up. We are very structured at home, but on vacation we were “bad” parents and let our daughter stay up to see two shows that went well past her normal 7:30 bedtime (we figured she is on vacation, too). Parents can drop their children off with the Mini Club G.O.s to watch these shows or can stay to watch themselves. Our daughter was absolutely enthralled with the Pirates & Princess Show and the Magic Show, post-show dancing and crazy signs, and I think the last evening Mini Club Disco made her stay. We’re home now, and she went right back to her regular schedule without any issues, as there are no “shows” at home!

Some parents complain, quite understandably, that the evening meal is served too late (starting at 7PM) for very young ones. We usually took an extra boxed cereal from the buffet for a late-day snack, and you can always get (cows) milk or juice at the bars, or milk from the 24-hour-access Baby Bottle Room connected to the Mini Club.

We did try the Pajama Club (group babysitting in the evening - see pricing for the Pajama Club) one evening. This was a success for us, and I would try it again in the future. (The really young children go to sleep right away.)

Even though some kids (2-3 year olds) cry at drop-off because camp/daycare is new to them, when we saw the little ones on the grounds going for walks, singing songs, playing at the covered and enclosed beach hut, etc., they seemed engaged and happy!

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:

Trip Impressions, March 7-14

Just back from a fabulous stay at Club Med Punta Cana. Already wishing that everything at home was as close as the beach there and as beautiful... I would go back tomorrow if I could!!!

This post focuses on the renovations and general trip impressions. Read my MiniClub Impressions if you are interested in information regarding childcare and programs at Punta Cana.

"Renovation" Impressions:
After reading many reviews that lamented the current renovations, we were bracing ourselves for a greatly changed Club Med Punta Cana. Overall, the renovations are a plus. Specific comments below.

Lobby: Some cosmetic changes, but overall attractive, and additional seating is great. You wouldn't notice anything "weird" if you hadn't been here before.

Main bar: This shows up as rather stark and mod in some online photos, but in person it didn't
give that vibe. We were pleased to see Tito again; he is now on during days at the main bar.

Hispaniola Restaurant: Great addition of outdoor seating (some covered, some open with umbrellas)

Samana Restaurant: Mixed. This is one where the online photos really make it look stark and mod, but in person it's not quite that bad. Navigation of the buffet was mentioned as one downside by some, but to me it seemed about equally confusing as before. The table sizes and style are definitely not as conducive to sitting with other GMs. We had dinner here twice, and actually found the food choices/presentation nicer than at Hispaniola. However, we ate at Hispaniola more because we prefer the water view, do enjoy meeting other guests, and found it more low-key with our young child (Samana has marble-type table tops, which aren't great with really young kids). The food at Hispaniola was still very, very good!!!

Celeste Restaurant/Bar: Great! More seating, better food options (kids can have wraps and quesedillas), overall much better than before. See photos here:
http://puntacanamom.blogspot.com/2009/03/few-site-photos.html

Beach: New beach furniture. Much better -- no rubber sticking to you, and easy to bounce off sand.

Public Restrooms: Auto on/off water and auto-flush toilets. I think this is new, anyway. Definitely a good thing given the # of guests.

Room decor: Fine/good. We had a renovated room in '08 so new color scheme was not a big surprise.

In-room TV:
More channels in French/Spanish/English, so you can see English news (if really necessary?) but don't plan to watch your favs from home.

Music:
We heard lots of 'local' music in a variety of places, and actually didn't hear lots of 80s music (except during the aquagym/water aerobics class and the miniclub end-of-week party for parents and kids).


Other Comments:

The club was at about 1400 guests when we were there – I think up from our stay in 2008.

Socialization with GMs and GOs: We had pleasant meal time interaction with some GOs and with some GMs. The GMs did not have children in tow, and seemed to be French retirees. We did not eat with any families with children (I suspect they have enough to handle!).

General Atmosphere: We are probably the “new” generation of clueless GMs, as we didn’t know much about Club Med when we first went last year, but we really enjoy the collective seating and opportunity to meet others. At the same time, this is a HUGE resort, so just based on sheer numbers you could equally get away with sitting alone at all meals if that’s your style. We like some interaction, and some time to ourselves, so I think we struck a good balance.

Photo Service: GROSSLY over-priced but you may find a few that you like, and at a minimum it’s entertaining to see the candid photos taken by the roving photographer all over the club. The prices are 500 DOP (at 33DOP/1$US) for one photo, 4000 DOP for 10 photos, and 7200 for unlimited photos. Photos can be printed or burned to a CD. The photo viewing and retrieval system is a little clunky at first, but you can figure it out, and once you do, it works ok. Photos are posted for each day of the week, usually shortly after they are taken.

Bedrooms ("Deluxe") in Ovando:
Master bedroom room separated from "children's" room by small hallway and foyer/sitting area, and three sets of doors. Master bedroom includes flat panel tv, as previously noted. Children's room included two twin beds, writing desk/chair, and flat screen TV (and in our case a Pack 'n' Play/crib for our small child). LOTS of closet space. The closets were a little bizarre/overwhelming but we got everything stowed away promptly so we could keep all the doors shut. Sheets/duvet are new/high thread count, and bedroom towels are also new. Rooms are air-conditioned (you don't necessarily need AC, but you should run it as opposed to opening doors and inviting in mosquitos.) Porch access with two deck chairs and small table off of master bedroom.
Our room in '08 was partially renovated but still had the old blue bedspread. This was fine, and we could see how it tied into the old room color. The new room color scheme is fine and anyone who hadn't been there before won't be offended/will find it normal.

Bathroom:
Bathroom toiletries include bar hand soap, shampoo, shower gel, shower cap. A wall-installed hair dryer is provided, and bath towels are ample. Two bathrobes and sets of slippers were included in our room (these were not included in our standard room in '08.) Toilet is separate from main bath in typical European style. Shower gel is ok but shampoo isn’t great (ladies, take note).

Bath included a shower stall and a regular bath tub. Our non-deluxe room included only a shower. As noted in a review that I read prior to our '08 trip, the shower stall floors are slippery, particularly for young children. For smaller children (including those who can stand fine but who don't grasp the concept of slippery), the tub in this room is a good bet, or you can request a plastic "baby" tub from the reception. (I would make the request prior to your arrival.) Recommend "shower shoes" (flipflops, other plastic shoes) for safety in shower even for older children and perhaps older adults as well.

Electricity (same as home):
Electricity and outlets are in synch with the US. Note that if you have very small but ambulatory children, ALL hotel rooms -- not just Club Med -- are full of hazards, of which electricity is just one. If you are particularly worried about a curious youngster, you can bring U.S. safety covers for the outlets. There are not many free outlets, as one reviewer noted, and these aren’t always in great locations to charge lots of stuff, so you might want to bring a powerstrip if you and yours have many things to recharge. This was not really an issue for us with one each of laptop, camera, and phone, but I think sometimes we recharged stuff in the bathroom, so if you have more stuff to charge, it's just something to consider.

Mosquitos (none/few):
Due to concerns about malaria, we came with DEET bugspray wipes (can be carried on in carry-on). In '08 we did notice a few mosquitos in "still" air places such as during the evening in the lobby and main bar, and on occasion in other places. We did apply a couple of times this year but did not notice any/many at all. Winds were VERY high during this trip, so that may be part of the reason. However, during our wait in airport security lines, we saw MANY people with bites on their legs. Not 100% sure if these were mosquitos bites, but it may be that other resorts are not as good about spraying, or these folks were in areas with less wind.

Weather (great sun, windy):
Weather was great. Main "thing" was very high winds. For example, wind surfing was great for the experienced but not possible for beginners. It was windy in '08, but not like this!! Evenings were cool. A couple who we met last year was there again this year and they also thought it was cooler in the evening. Still, great sun.

Sports:
Between the two of us, we tried kayaking, windsurfing, AM stretch/yoga, off-site golf next door, and noontime water aerobics followed by crazy signs. Windsurfing instruction was very good in spite of limited opportunity due to high winds. Water aerobics is fun to see whether you are in the water or not, and the workout is as strenuous as you want to make it!!! Water aerobics is a good way to “connect” with a lot of GMs who you’ll run into later and have something funny in common to talk about. Golf is next door; tee times can be reserved at the reception. 18 holes is about $150. A taxi ride was $15 each way, which seemed steep but maybe that is the fee they think they can get for that segment. If you decide to play on impulse, you can rent clubs as well. You can see the course layout and proximity to the ocean using Google Earth and other satellite map programs or at
http://www.puntacana.com/resort-map .

Airport:
Transit to/from the airport was smooth and super speedy – one of the key selling points when we first came in ’08 with our very small child. Departure can be chaotic at check-in and there are long security lines, so allow plenty of time prior to your flight. The security area has very short tables on which to set items, and short conveyor belts, so be on your toes to quickly dump everything onto the conveyor belt and to grab it all really fast as it comes out and piles up. Some flight status on the electronic screens may conflict with what is happening at the gate – for example, a screen may say your flight is “Boarding” but there will be no staff at the gate and no info for your flight at that gate. This is a little frustrating but might be less annoying if you know in advance.


Trip Insurance:
We did purchase the Peace of Mind insurance offered by Club Med. I'm in the process of submitting a small medical claim, and I will update this review when the 'experience' is complete.

Planning your family's stay at Club Med Punta Cana? More info here:
Check Out Kids' Programming
Health: Pre-Departure Tips
Request a Room Location
My Review of Kids' Programs