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

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:

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.

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 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.

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 .

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photo Fridays

Strolling mom at Club Med Punta Cana

Some MiniClub Photos


Koala (Age 2) Classroom

MiniClub Enclosed Play Areas for Small Children (not shown: tennis court, basketball court, playscape for older children, baby pool)

Club Med Punta Cana Map and New Building Names

The one thing that everyone seems to look for before heading to Club Med Punta Cana is a map. Some visitors consider contacting room planning to request a specific location or building type, while others are merely curious.

I took a few photos of the maps posted on site, as some are easier to read close-up, while others give a better overall impression of the size of the resort and its offerings. For those who visited in early 2008 or prior to 2008, the names of a few buildings have changed.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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

Daily Activities and Themes, March 7-14, 2009

You don't have to do anything while you're at Club Med Punta Cana except go to the beach or pool, but there are tons of activities to take advantage of. Just a few of these are featured in the daily activities photos below; there's a whole separate sports programming agenda that I didn't have time to photograph.

For those who like to plan ahead, the evening theme and suggested dress code is also featured. (Note that you don't have to comply with the 'dress code', it's for fun!)

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

Club Med Punta Cana Children's Programs, March 2009

The following is a compilation of children's programming brochures collected during our March 7-14, 2009 stay at Club Med Punta Cana.

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