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Latest Visits - February 2011, March 2010, Christmas 2009 - Club Med Cancun

February 2011

This visit was 2/5 – 2/12/2011, my 19th visit to this village. This trip was booked at the absolute last minute because I really needed some good weather and sand between my toes – the Club Med 4-day sale at the end of January (for February travel only) saved me a bunch of dough.

Airport-to-village transportation and check in went smoothly – I used Club Med air and transfers. On arrival, I was not on the driver's list but it was no problem, he checked his master list and I was there. The reception team was efficient and responsive – no long waits for an agent.

We were on Club Med time, same as east coast time rather than central time (as in Cancun proper), and sunset was around 7 – 7:30 pm.

Current Daily Schedule - including dress codes

CDV

The CDV was Eduardo, from Mexico. Formerly CDV at Ixtapa. Before that he was assistant to CDV at Ixtapa, and prior to that was a Senior GO at Cancun from what I was able to gather. Eduardo is a truly genuine and nice person. Very personable and willing to listen to anything. Always a warm smile. His assistant is Nadia, who was great, too.

WEATHER

Mostly decent and warm, one day hot, despite long range predictions of cold nights. It was very comfortable. We had 2 episodes of serious rain lasting a half-day each. During this time, the GOs were great about organizing games and finding ways to keep people engaged. At Cancun there are always plenty of places to get lost and read, so it was fine with me.

SUPERBOWL

On Superbowl Sunday evening, they dedicated the entire Las Cazuelas restaurant to being a lounge for watching the Superbowl – and thankfully the Packers won ;-) (most of the crowd liked the Pack). There was a huge projection screen TV that could be seen clearly from anywhere in the place. Lots of good food, wings, burgers, chips and guacamole – Football watching food. PLUS, they had several different beers including my personal favorite, Cerveza Sol, which is normally only available to Jade guests. The event was packed and it was a nice crowd.

ROOM

I was in the Onice building with an oceanfront top floor room that was amazing. From the balcony was a clear unobstructed view of the ocean near snorkeling, and from the front entry door I could see all of the waterski lagoon to check conditions. There were always two liter-sized water bottles on top of the mini-fridge. The room was very clean and housekeeping caught on to my placing a towel next to the bed so I could wipe sand off my feet before retiring. They always had a shower mat-towel next to my bed. It was nice. No slippers or robes like at Turks. The bath products were standard CM products, not the new upgraded ones I found at Turks in December. The clock radios were the old CD playing variety, not able to handle iPod input. The AC worked great and there was plenty of hot water for showers, even during peak time before dinner (this is a BIG post-Wilma improvement here).

CROWD

The village was 100% full during my week – and many of the hotels on the strip were relatively empty. The country with the largest number of GMs was Argentina, followed by Italy, Canada (mostly French Canadian), France, US, and Mexico. There were a lot of pre-school kids, plus grade school kids from Argentina since this period is an Argentine holiday.

There were many couples and some singles. Average age was probably 40.

Even though the village was full, there was never a problem getting a dinner table, AND more importantly, there was never a problem finding a lounge on the beach. It always amazes me that this village can be full and still feel roomy, not crowded.

RESTAURANTS

I ate only at the main restaurant, and at Las Cazuelas once for the Superbowl.

La Pergola (formerly Tapas restaurant) is now a steakhouse and part time snack bar (where I had a snack one afternoon) – reservations needed for dinner. No reports on how good the dinners are here, but it is a beautiful space with smashing views. Oh, and the bar here is now closed, so if you want a drink you will have to ask a server to get you one from the main bar, or bring one with you. (this was a great bar when it was open)

Las Cazuelas (except for Superbowl night) is an a la carte Mexican specialty restaurant, by reservation only – again no reports as to quality, but from past experience it is excellent.

Overall, food was very good. The Chef de Cuisine has now been with this village since the major renovation after Wilma. The main restaurant had themes, but they were not usually labeled by country: Comfort & Simplicity, Energy, Specialty, new Mexico, Creativity, Gala and Adventure. One night was decidedly Asian, one night mainly French, and of course Mexican. There was less roasted chicken this time, opting for higher end meat selections, but I miss the great chicken (but they had it a couple times). There was plentiful grilled Talapia fish, which was excellent. Ever flowing guacamole. And hard ice cream. The chef specialty paired-selections were usually excellent.

Chocolate bread is alive and well - white and dark.

One of my favorite things to eat at this village is the huevos rancheros at breakfast. Some times the ones under the lamp are too old, so ask for 'dos huevos rancheros' and you will get fresh ones. The ranchero sauce is amazing. They don't have the huevos rancheros bar like Ixtapa, but still this is pretty special.

At the main restaurant there was one room reserved for adults only during dinner – what I refer to as the 'bordello room'.

Table service was excellent. GEs were always asking what you want to drink, and getting it. Also, they did a better-than-ever job of clearing plates.

Also new, it seemed that restaurant GEs were speaking some French, which delighted my Montreal and French friends.

TABLES

This time it was relatively easy to be seated at a 'mixed' or 'shared' table. I met some very nice people this way. Mostly couples, but some singles. You need to ask for such a table very explicitly and don't take no for an answer.

We talked with Eduardo about this, and how important it was even for couples to have the option of a mixed or shared table. He promised to make sure the hostesses always ask.

DRINK

Meal wines were all drinkable, mostly from Chile. A cabernet they had during a couple nights was pretty good, in fact (if you like dry wines, which I do). The house sparkling was a Spanish Cava and was good. Beers were draft Dos Equis, dark and light, and there was canned Tecate Light. We had a couple of wine list extra-cost wines, but I really don't think its worth paying the extra.

Also, according to several GOs, there is no corkage fee if you bring your own wine to this Club Med.

I saw no one buying extra cost booze at the bar. Plus, there were a selection of 'included' tequilas that were pretty good – especially on Tequila night where you got a shot, or two, or three, before going into the main restaurant.

COFFEE

Restaurant coffee was pretty good, and better than I remember at this village. Also available are multi-purpose self-serve espresso machines in the restaurants. All bars had Lavazza coffee for great espressos and cappucinos.

ENTERTAINMENT

The shows were fun and all held in the main theater – including the Circus show. There were also mini-Club shows.

Don't miss Flamenco Fusion, a band that I have seen 5 or 6 times at this village. They are great. Due to rain, they played in the main bar instead of outside under the stars, which took away some ambiance, but it was still excellent.

There were also a couple other live music acts before dinner – one little jazz trio was great. Plus, I think a guitar and keyboard duo. Good to see the live entertainment. Would love it if they brought back the Cuban jazz band from a few years ago, but it was still great variety.

Crazy signs were always after the shows, and there were always sundances at lunch.

No more disco at La Pergola (the best disco location in the world), because the Westin complained about the noise. All disco activity is at La Chispa near the sailing beach. Still a great venue, but there is something special about the outdoor area and bar at La Pergola.

GYM and FITNESS

The gym has not been changed – still a nice selection of machines, weights, elipticals, etc. There are daily Zumba and other fitness classes, and stretching.

Also, the morning powerwalk no longer cuts through the Westin to return on the beach to CM. The Westin apparently complained about this. However, the powerwalk is alive and well – led by either Carlos or Lucas. The walk goes out the main entry, and either to the right or left to the lagoon bridge, and then returns to the village (there is a lagoon bridge in either direction, but the one toward the airport is the prettiest).

SPA

I didn't go to the spa, and don't know anyone who did, but CM Cancun has a huge, full service spa.

SAILING

Good GO team here, and they were kept busy by a full village and by the fact that for most of the week two of the resort Hobies were out of commission (4 boats instead of the usual 6). They were fixed by regatta day, and that took some pressure off. Most days the sailing conditions were good. Other than the issue with 2 boats out of commission part of the week, equipment was in good condition – better than Turks in December.

WATERSKI

This is one of the main reasons I come to this village, because skiing is so good, and because of the excellent GO team. This time the chief of ski is Phillipe from France, with Rodrigo from Mexico, Marc from (I think) France or Canada, and Pauline from (France?). Sorry if I got the countries wrong here – I know my buddy Rodrigo was from Mexico.

Conditions were always better in the morning, and lines were light. Normally they only ran one boat until the crowd picked up, but often the entire morning was one boat and short lines. Not sure about afternoons because I did my skiing in the mornings so I could sail, drink beer, sunbathe, read, and nap in the afternoons.

EXCURSIONS

There are plenty of excursions available, and this time I did go off campus with a group of friends I met at dinner one night. We went to Playa del Carmen (my 3rd time there) and it was a nice break.

The excursion office is directly cross-corner from the main restaurant.

Available were various cruises, tours, snorkel trips, horseback riding, speed boats (Club Med now has a couple of these), etc.

Also, CM has their own Sea-Ray cruising boat, which they take to Isla Mujeres. One of our group took that excursion and had the time of her life!

Another person said the horseback riding excursion was great – a big improvement from the last time he was here.

SCUBA

Club Med no longer has a dedicated Scuba program at this village, BUT there is an office on site that will set up dives for you, plus they have initiation in the pool every day.

INTERNET

Club Med Cancun has Wi-Fi that can be purchased per week, per day, or $6 per hour. If you get weekly or daily, it runs continuous, you cannot stop and restart to preserve it. By the hour, you can stop and start. There is a small Internet room adjacent to the main restaurant in the middle of the 'mini-mall'. This room contains 4 computers but no printer (you can print at reception of needed). Speed varied – on rainy days it was pretty slow due to more people being on the network. There were only a few of people using their iPhones, iPads and laptops because the Wi-Fi was not everywhere. Jade has free in-room Wi-Fi, FYI.

Sidebar: unlike the last time I was here, this time I could access clubmedplanet.com no problem.

PHOTO CREW

There is now a much larger crew of photographers running around Cancun. You cannot miss being in a photo unless you stay in your room the whole time. This is run by an outside vendor, Showtime. Cost is expensive per-photo, about $22. But, you can get packages of 10 for 1500 pesos (around $120, or $12 per shot), plus an 'unlimited' package for 2250 pesos.

DRESS CODES (last but not least!)

  • Saturday: Red and White
  • Sunday: 45 shirt and jeans
  • Monday: Green and white
  • Tuesday: Jeans, white shirt, and cowboy hat
  • Wednesday: Elegant
  • Thursday: All white
  • Friday: Jeans and Black

Also on the subject of dress codes, Nadia agreed to email me when the codes change, so I can post to my site at www.cmcancunreview.com - more news on this as it becomes available.

Overall, it was a super week – due largely to the fun people I met from France, Montreal, England, San Diego, Chicago, etc. The French speakers in our little cadre were patient with me and spoke or translated to English – thank you!

The GO team was very good, I made many new GO friends. The rule was 2 GOs per meal table. Also, GOs had to buy their own drinks, but were definitely drinking moderate amounts. So don't forget to buy your favorite GO drinks while you are here (they wont ask you, you need to ask them).


March 2010

My 5th post-renovation visit, dates were March 14th - 21st 2010. The village was very full.

The waterski and sailing teams were awesome. Weather was pretty good. Reception team was great. My room was in Amatista, ground floor, as requested by my agent.

Waterski: Ossvi, chief of ski (Mexico), Pablo (Mexico), Victoria (Russia). The team was short handed and filled in with other watersports GOs. The Mastercraft had a lot of down time this week but the lines were generally light.

Sailing: Kyle (Texas), Diego (Mexico). Winds were good and boats were available with no or short wait times.

Remy was Chief of the Village, filling in for Olivier who was in Paris training for 3 weeks. Although Olivier was back on my last day. He is moving to the new Egypt village in September. Remy did a great job in his absence. Things ran smoothly.

It was spring break and the village was packed with kids. Community tables were non-existent unless you had your own "community". My first experience with waiting lines to be seated for dinner in the main restaurant. Especially for groups (we usually had 6-10).

Food was not as good as December, yet the same head chef was there. Overall it was good, but a bit disappointing. Some great dishes. Not as many Mexican goodies. Spotty quality overall. Ate at Las Cazuealas one night and it was nice. Service was great. Had lunch at Las Cazuealas every day except one. The grilled grouper was fantastic. The custom made salads were wonderful. Hard ice cream was not to be missed, especially pistachio, coconut and almond.

Wines were not as good as usual. White was inconsistent, and sometimes not at all drinkable. Bubbles were decent. Red was quite drinkable. Rose, definitely avoid it, or at least sample before trying.

Entertainment was really enjoyable. Many choices. Live bands and Dave entertained every night around the pool with his singing and guitar. Dont miss the Flamenco band. Crazy signs every night. Hands up was always on tap. Also some other favorites. Loved it. The shows were fun. There was a mini-club show. Always something fun going on.

Fitness classes all day. Pool aerobics were well attended.

The GO team was GREAT. All GOs were friendly and fun.

Disco was hopping after 12:30. Very fun. Good music, although many of my friends disagreed with me. (I like techo, and especially Latin techno)

Monica was still teaching Salsa classes but was hurting for attendance.

The bar team was great, especially Daniel and his wife Martha. (Martha makes the best bloodies at Club Med, but you will have to go to La Chispa for them)

All in all, a great visit! Thank you Remy for your hospitality during a demanding week. And thank's again to Waterski and Sailing!!!! And reception!!!


Christmas 2009

This is my 4th post-renovation visit, and my first ever Christmas at Club Med. Dates were 12/17 – 12/26.

New

The new second runway at Cancun airport is now in use, and airport lines were light.

The new entryway to the village is completed and in use, and the roadway has been revised accordingly. There is a new guard building and adjoining parking lot for taxicabs. See slide show. Club Med sold off a small piece of property including the previous entry gate, arch and guard shack, to make way for a new development adjoining the western boundary of Club Med. The good news is that this development has gone bankrupt, so there is no near-term fear of invasion along the sailing beach.

Jade

The ambitious Jade building renovation has been completed. This included re-routing the road so it isn’t so close to Jade – at the cost of one tennis court. Jade is now surrounded by its own grounds with palapas, hammocks, lawn, palm trees, fence, etc. You cannot get into the Jade compound unless you are a guest there. Jade has its own check-in area. I did not tour Jade, but was able to get some shots of the grounds, infinity pool area, etc. Jade is now a village within a village.

Christmas at Club Med

Club Med did a great job making Christmas Eve and day very special, especially for kids. Dinner on both days was very nice. Unlimited lobster on Christmas Eve, and it was pretty good, although no drawn butter (but a couple nice cocktail sauces).

The entry to the main restaurant was specially decorated on Christmas eve with all sorts of sets – manger, etc. Plus, they had a petting zoo for kids which included goats, baby chicks, rabbits, etc.

A lot of elaborate Christmas celebration by Club Med over the two days.

Christmas schedules are here (huge PDF file)

GOs were all dressed up in red with Santa hats. It was a very upbeat environment. See the slide show.

Crowd

I arrived on a Thursday. The first two days the village was approximately 40% full – making the week-before the week-before Christmas a good time to target for future visits to avoid crowds. Mostly French and Canadian. Not many Americans.

On Saturday, the village filled up completely. The crowd was now mostly American – by far. Primarily young families, as well as older families with 20-something’s in tow.

I was told that there were 250 kids during this week, half teens, in a full village. CM did a pretty good job keeping kids busy and out of the way, but the feel of the village compared to previous post-reno visits was very different. Very few singles, but the ones that were here were mostly 20-something’s here with parent(s), and a few 30-40-50-something’s alone.

Dining

Food was great during the entire visit, but I never had dinner anywhere but the main restaurant. Often had late lunch at Las Cazuelas, which now happens an hour earlier starting at 1 pm, which is nice – beautiful and relaxing. Had a great salad at the snack bar, La Pergola.

During past visits I complained about the lack of prepared salads – there were plenty this time. Unlimited guacamole at lunch and dinner. Delicious Huevos Rancheros at the egg bar every morning, with a very spicy rich sauce.

Sushi was more common than during past visits here, and the two nights they had a sushi station were was excellent.

More Mexican specialty dishes than normal, which I liked a lot. Some of the special entrιe selections were as good as you could expect in any high-class restaurant.

Several times there were salad tossing stations, and always at Las Cazuelas during lunch.

The head chef has now been at this village for 3 years and is doing a great job.

As always, there were Club Med skinny fries. Try ’em with loads of Tabasco sauce and a cold beer – you will never go back. Hard, hand-dipped ice cream is back, every lunch and dinner, and at both main restaurants, and my favorite, Pistachio was available twice! Also, try vanilla ice cream on a slice of chocolate bread. Yeah, really.

GO Team

Olivier Sanchez was Chef de Village. I believe he was from France, despite the Spanish sounding last name. He ran a tight but upbeat ship and was always on patrol to make sure everyone was happy. GOs were very friendly and out going, with rare exception. 80% of GOs were Mexican, and most spoke very good English. Remy was chief of leisure and village ambiance, a new position as far as I know. He was very good and seemed like second in command to Olivier. There were 2 American GOs (Chloe, boutique; Kyle, sailing). The reception team was the best ever. Super helpful and friendly (special thanks to Julie, Ger, Paola). Waterski team was run by Julian from France, with Victoria from Russia (an amazing athlete), Ossvi from Mexico, and Pablo from Mexico.

I don’t do Circus because it conflicts with Waterskiing muscles, but I want to say they had a very friendly team. Led by Mad Max, newly arrived from Punta Cana. Great guy. The reason I mention this is the fact that in the past, unless you are involved with Circus, I have found the GOs to be generally stuck-up and not very friendly. This team was very fun.

A new rule allows only one GO per dining table, regardless of the number of GMs. Formerly two were allowed. We had a group of 10 GMs one night and asked Olivier if we could have a second GO and we were told ‘no’.

Community Tables

There were none – unless you showed up with your own group. This lack of community is a major issue for many people. As you read this, if you agree about the need for community tables, please make your preference known to Club Med, and to Olivier if you visit Cancun. Dining room hostesses should ask all singles and couples if they are interested in a community table. It doesn’t have to be a singles hookup thing – were not talking Hedonism here. Couples enjoy meeting other people too. After all, this is one thing that has made Club Med great, the fact that you could meet people from all over the world. Lets bring back a community table option.

And if Club Med is listening, I understand you are targeting a family demographic with the ‘new’ Club Med (I’m a marketing guy, too). But I hear from a lot of couples and singles – we are still a significant component and want an environment where we can meet and make friends with people from all over the world. You can still accomplish this while promoting the "new" Club Med. Simply designate some community dining tables in each dining room, and have hostesses ask each childless couple or single if they would prefer a community table – it would make the Club Med experience much better for everyone. Thanks!

Disco

The disco didn’t really start going until 1 am. Each night was different. There were a lot of teens but they tended to thin out around 1:30. Music was good. GOs were there depending on their show rehearsals and other schedules. The disco now closes at 2 – where formerly it would run until the last guest departed. Every night the disco was at La Chispa – no more disco nights at La Pergola (my favorite disco place). This is due to noise complaints from the Westin Hotel - apparently they called the cops on CM. However, the Jade building certainly gets blasted with disco beat (which might be the reason for 2 am closing).

Great Salsa instruction from Monica. Twice a day, morning and afternoon. I was finally able to master the 3 basic steps, so I feel proud and accomplished.

Crazy Signs

Alive and well! Always began with Hand’s Up! Loved it. Still doing pool crazy signs at noon. Great participation – this isn’t going away soon.

Dress codes

Typical – just bring jeans, red, green, beige, black and white and you will be fine. Plus some nights were elegant and/or all black or all white. Fun!

Rooms

No changes here, except a new brand of bottled water. This shot is taken from my balcony. Guess which building I was in?

Gym

All new weight machines, but missing critical upper body machines such as chest press and weighted row, plus there is no longer a gravity assisted chin and dip station – although there is a full-weight chin and dip station. Good selection of free weights and leg machines.

Lots of fitness classes going all day. Yoga, stretch, water aerobics, strength training, etc.

Entertainment

Many of the stage shows were marginal and seemed repetitive and boring after 10 minutes or so. I heard a lot of comments about Club Med trying to be too ambitious with stage shows. The Circus show was simply outstanding and not to be missed under any circumstances. The other shows that succeeded were the campy, funny, or French humor type shows – the Club Med mainstay. The waterski show is now held at the dock, not the pool, and it was fun. No more barefoot displays, though.

There were 3 live performances. A Mexican band on Mexican night – very good, and walking from dining room to dining room performing. Another live band, which I missed. And, the Flamenco jazz band which was outstanding. I missed the Cuban band and hope they return. Slightly less entertainment options than my last 3 post-Wilma visits to this village.

Complaints

None to speak of, the main one being the lack of availability of community dining tables as previously mentioned. Overall, as a single, I would probably not choose a major holiday again, but then again I cant think of a better place to go!

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