Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dress Code, Daily Themes, and Activities, February 2010

Here are photos of the daily activities and dress code for the week we were there this year. I'm putting the dress code info directly below so you don't have to read the agenda for each day if that's all you're interested in!

Dress Code
Saturday: Jeans and white
Sunday: White and pink
Monday: Beige and white
Tuesday: Elegant blank
Wednesday: Casual elegant
Thursday: Blue and white (boys), red and white (girls)
Friday: Very elegant

Click on photos to launch/enlarge to see daily activities (type and time offered). Note that these activities are posted outside the two restaurants. Apologies for the funny image quality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby Proofing Update

This year we visited with our more mobile child, and after reading two reviews where young children locked themselves in the bathroom, I wrote in a pre-trip post that I would try to pay more attention to the layout with respect to hazards. Note that I'm not actively endorsing brands or products here; any links are intended as examples of what I mean.

Overall, I didn't find our room to be problematic, although I was glad to have been alerted to the potential for bathroom lockouts.

Electrical outlets: Probably lower risk than at home. There are few outlets generally, and most of them are in use or obscured by furniture. Some of the outlets are at the same height as a table. (These comments do not apply to the Suites, just to Club/Club Family/Deluxe rooms.) Due to the limited number of outlets, if you plan to bring lots of things that require frequent recharging (i.e. more than two things), I would bring a power strip. The outlets work with North American devices.

Drapes: No cords. The drapes are likely to be hung two on a rail, with one that is more transparent for privacy only, and one that is a light blocker. They move back and forth with plastic "sticks" that are at parent height only.

In-Room Door Locks: Most in-room doors have "push button" locks. This includes doors leading to the bathroom, lavatory (which may be separate from the bathroom in some cases), closet/luggage "room", and doors separating parent and child room in Deluxe and Club Family rooms. I tested the locks and they really do work - i.e. a parent cannot unlock the door if you are on the outside and a child is on the inside.
Potential solutions:
1) Door knob covers
2) Door stops
3) Finger pinch guard (foam "u-shaped" things)
4) Throwing bath towel over the doors in question

I have a plastic door knob cover at home that obscures the push button lock but frankly I found it hard to undo to actually get over a door knob, so did not bring those. I did bring door stops and finger pinch guard foam things that are u-shaped, since I wasn't sure which would work best. I used the door stops on doors that we always wanted open, and the finger pinch foam things on the bathroom door. Both worked well, although the finger pinch product would be least accessible to a curious little one, and still allows you to close the door almost all the way. I wasn't familiar with the finger pinch guard product prior to this trip, but will keep both it and the door stops on hand for future hotel stays. I think the bath towel solution would have also worked fine - you just have to remember to hang some over the top of all doors (such as lavatory, bathroom, luggage/closet room) - potentially 3 in a Club room or Club Family room, and more in a Deluxe - and to proactively replace them if they are removed by housekeeping. (You might also need to request more towels in order to successfully carry out this latter approach!)

Porch Door Lock(s): This year our room had two porch doors, one through the parents' room and one through the child's room. I had read about issues with children who figured out how to open the door on their own (it wouldn't be too hard) and who ventured out onto the porch. These door handles are lever style, and while I did look into safety items for lever style handles, few had good reviews (one even involved dismantling the door hardware?!), so I decided to skip it. When we got there, I explained firmly to our child that she was not to open the door by herself. We also positioned our balcony table against the porch door that was more accessible to our child to provide a limited physical deterrent in the event that she tried to open the door. Fortunately, we had no issues here, but it's something to be aware of.

Closets: We had a lot of closet space, but were careful to keep the closets closed when not in use, mainly to prevent curious hands from getting pinched. The doors were fairly large and were not super easy for me to open when both were shut, so I was not worried about a little one opening them.

Corners: There will be at least one in-room table with high corners, and two bedside tables with lower corners. In addition, the rectangular wooden bed frames also have corners when they are not obscured by bedding.

Shower: The shower floor did not seem as wildly slippery as in 2008, when we had a room that was recently redone. We all still used shower slippers as a precaution.

Bathroom sinks: These sinks are fairly high if you have a toddler who can wash his hands independently at home. I requested a stool ahead of time but did not get one. The counter supporting the sinks is about 32" off the ground. The sinks themselves start about four inches into the counter, so it's a good ways to lean in for a little one. We wound up using the stool that went with the desk for teeth brushing, but that required 100% parental support and supervision, as it was really quite high and unsafe if alone (I just couldn't hold my kid up the whole time for teeth brushing!).

Toilet: May be located in same room with sinks/shower or may be in a separate closet size lavatory. I brought a small inexpensive plastic stool along (and left it behind) that was great for the potty but only barely high enough for hand washing and did not provide enough height for teeth brushing. Note that potty seats (the type that fit over the adult seat) are not provided by Club Med, but you can find folding travel potty seats pretty easily if you think you need this type of thing.

Appliances: TV(s) are wall-mounted, so unlikely to be an issue. Each room should have a mini bar type fridge that will be toddler height, and also a coffee maker on the writing desk. The parent's room should also have a clock radio that includes an iPod dock.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baby Bottle Room

AKA Baby Feeding Room or Biberonnerie,this 24-hour code access room is part of the Mini Club complex, located on the Baby Club Med side. Parents should be given the code upon arrival/check-in, but if not, just ask.

The room is designed something like a small basic kitchen minus stove, and has lots of cabinets, a sink, paper towels, dish soap, dish drying racks (for bottles, etc.), bottle sterilizer, refrigerator, drinking water dispenser, and (I think) microwave. It's a good place to come to clean bottles and sippy cups with real dishwashing soap, as opposed to trying to clean in your hotel room with shower gel or shampoo!

In 2008: The fridge contained several types of UHT milk (whole, and others, and also soy milk), as well as small yogurts, and individually wrapped servings of hydroxide/Oreo type cookies (in fridge so cookie filling does not melt in heat, perhaps). The cabinets also contained lots of boxed dry cereals.

In 2009: The room was more sparsely stocked - the fridge had milk, but only one type, and no cookies or yogurt. There were only a few cereals (in varieties I suspect most kids would not like), and these were quickly gone.

In 2010: The village seemed to have a number of families with young children, but the baby bottle room seemed quite well-stocked - several varieties of milk (including soy) and yogurt in the fridge, some powdered baby formula, and a selection of jarred baby food and individual boxed cereals in the cupboards.

Bottom Line: This is a very good place to come for milk when restaurants and bars are not open (or if you are not in close proximity to those), and to wash your child's cups/bottles, etc. with real soap in a non-bathroom environment. You might also be able to find snacks here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Babyproofing Your Room

Now that we're going back to Club Med Punta Cana and our child is slightly older and able to reach more things, like door locks, I'm thinking more about room safety. Note that I don't think the rooms are significantly more "risky" than any other hotel room - they seem fairly typical to me in that regard.

Update: See additional post-trip babyproofing comments as well.

Deliciousbaby has some great tips on babyproofing your hotel room without packing the entire safety department of a baby products store. We'll definitely be bringing duct tape!

Club Family and Deluxe Room Info
We haven't tried the new family suites so not sure what issues these room may pose for curious little ones. The following relates to the Club Family and Deluxe Rooms, and is drawn from memory. I'll update this post after our next trip.

Layout: Room layout includes a lavatory that is in a separate room from the sinks and shower/tub. There is also a large luggage room. Room will most likely include a porch, and door leading to it, covered by long drapes. Several tables with pointy corners.

Locks: Two guests recently reported on Tripadvisor that their kids locked themselves in the bathroom (read more here and here), so while we will also just be vigilant and explain about the locks, we are also bringing duct tape (as recommended in the Deliciousbaby post). Bathroom door locks weren't a risk on our previous trips as we were still in the diaper stage and our child wasn't tall enough to reach the door knobs and turn them, but I can see this might pose an issue for this trip. The door knobs for the luggage/closet room, lavatory, and bathroom are all round with buttons that depress in; I've looked at various door knob covers (and own one type that I'm not happy with) so I'm bringing door stops and duct tape. The door to the porch is lever style. It does lock, but I'm pretty sure it could be undone. Some parents have complained about their small kids being able to open this lever door and get out on the porch.
Photo of door knobs - lavatory door knob to the right

Outlets: The electrical outlets are US-standard size, so you can bring outlet covers from the States or use duct tape. My primary impression is that outlets were actually rather limited and less of a risk than at home; we may bring a powerstrip to help on that front (for camera, phone, laptop).

Corners: Plenty of corners. There are bedside tables, a table for the coffee maker, and, depending on your room, a writing desk.
Table with coffee maker:

Floor Surfaces: Floors are tile -- so hard, but cool. The shower floor is a different type of tile or "wood" that we all found quite slippery. We take extra precaution with our child in the shower, and everyone wears flip flops/shower shoes.

Club Family Bathroom (with baby tub that we requested):

Overall, the layout for the Club Family room was simpler - the Deluxe room was more spacious, but had two separate bedrooms and many doors (including two doors that separated the master bedroom from the extra bedroom), all of which locked.

This post is not intended to make you panic - the rooms are no better or worse than most hotel rooms, but I'll try to take some pictures and post them for folks who have very active kids.