What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions Club Med? A resort for party-hardy singletons? A place for mums and dads to do their thing while the kids play?
Those are the two extreme answers I got when I told friends I was heading to the recently spruced up Club Med resort at Phuket’s Kata Beach.
The newly revamped Club Med Phuket
Admittedly, neither seemed like it would be my kind of place to holiday ‒ I’m more of the kind to stay in my hotel room to watch TV, prefers not to have a strict itinerary and only ventures out to relax somewhere or do some shopping.
But after spending four activity-filled days at the resort, I’d have to say the strange and wonderful thing is that Club Med Phuket is actually perfect for both demographics, and for everyone in between.
Even though the resort chain has made a move towards catering to families with their kid-friendly facilities, there’s space for all, even a woman in her mid-twenties who prefers to chill than say, do some flying on a trapeze (I’ll get to that later).
So if you’re anything like me, I’ve got a list of things which I loved about Club Med Phuket that you might enjoy too.
1. Get pampered with massages and facials at the Club Med Spa by Payot
This is first on the list because well, who doesn’t love a good and relaxing rubdown? The newly opened spa only uses products from French luxury brand Payot and it is tucked away in a quiet part of the resort so you literally feel like you’re the only guest around when having your facial or massage.
Club Med Spa by Payot
And since this is Thailand I was in, the massage I got ‒ the Anti-Toxin Attitude Body Massage (1,800THB for 60mins, around $72) ‒ was A-plus.
I didn’t have to worry about being exposed because my therapist deftly moved and tucked the sheet as she concentrated on different parts. Plus, her strokes were neither too hard nor soft, making it a pleasurable experience.
2. Fly on a trapeze, get handy with a bow and arrow, do yoga or water aerobics or take a cooking class
I think you get the idea: there are tons of things to do here. That’s why as Lily Aubry, Club Med’s Assistant Marketing Manager says, the rooms, though good by any standards, aren’t as swankily decked out as you’d expect from a typical beach resort because they want to encourage guests to venture out of their rooms.
Activities aplenty at Club Med Phuket
And venture out I did ‒ I hardly spent time in my room because I was busy exploring my options. I know I admitted to being a lazy traveller but there seemed to be something to do at any hour of the day.
You can catch up on exercise with power walks or aerobics, shoot a few rounds of golf, learn how to make simple Thai dishes like a delicious green papaya salad at a cooking class and more.
Out of all those I tried, archery and yoga were my favourites. Mainly because they didn’t involve heights or much dexterity on my part like the trapeze or bungy bounce would have. Also, it was my first time ever holding and shooting a proper bow and arrow ‒ it was a Legolas moment for me.
Tip: Be sure to get the latest schedule of activities from the front desk so you can plan all the stuff you want to squeeze in on your trip.
3. Dine with a different view every day
One of the best parts of the holiday was never worrying about where to eat. Unlike other hotels or resorts where usually only breakfast is taken care of, there was always a large international buffet to greet us at all three mealtimes.
Themed pavillions at Club Med Phuket’s main restaurant
And the renovated Main Restaurant isn’t just one location but five pavillions with different themes. It’s an idea executed by design firm Studio Hertrich & Adnet, responsible for the resort’s recent facelift. This meant that I could choose to eat breakfast at the outdoor area with a great view of Kata Beach, or have dinner in a room dripping in opulent gold decor, amongst other options.
And a bonus for the budget-conscious: You don’t have to worry about costs of meals and activities because everything’s already included in what you paid upfront. “When you book here, you will know the cost of your holiday,” as Club Med Chairman, Henri Giscard d’Estaing puts it. So there’s little chance of going over budget unless you blow some serious cash shopping outside of the resort.
4. Swim in a private pool
A new addition to Club Med Phuket is the Zen pool, located just in front of the also new Chu Da Restaurant.
The new Zen pool at Club Med Phuket
With a more grown-up and sophisticated vibe, both were specifically included to appeal to couples who wanted time to themselves.
The new Chu Da Restaurant at Club Med Phuket
The restaurant’s interior is to-die-for too ‒ I was bowled over by the ceiling decorated with lights which looked like Thai paper lanterns, a nice nod to the country’s tradition. Guests are required to call ahead for reservations.
5. Hang out with the hot G.O.s
Pretty much the first thing you’ll notice (besides the plush Thai-inspired lobby) is how fit, energetic and darned good-looking the staff are. Called G.O.s, which stands for Gentile Organisateurs or Gracious Organisers (guests are called G.M.s, Gracious Members), they are friendly, approachable and well, cute ‒ women and men included.
The friendly, fun-loving Club Med Phuket G.O.s
The staff are also a cosmopolitan mix ‒ we met South Korean, Taiwanese, French, Brazillian, Filipino, Indonesian, South African, Mauritian and Mongolian G.O.s in one day. They’re a multi-lingual bunch too ‒ just look at his or her name tag which carries the flags representing the languages they can speak.
Since they’re so friendly, don’t be surprised if they sit down to lunch with you or join you in having a drink at the bar ‒ unlike a lot of the customer service we encounter in Singapore, the G.O.s actually like interacting and having fun with the guests.
6. Then, watch them do some amazing acrobatic tricks
Another tip: Don’t be surprised if you see the same G.O. you were chatting with in the day performing some death-defying stunts at the nightly circus show. Another journalist I was on the trip with remarked at how difficult it must be to get a job at Club Med ‒ you’ve got to have so many talents.
Club Med Phuket’s nightly acrobatic shows
These shows take place every night and are always different. On the first night, we witnessed a majestic show by the pool with in-the-air acrobatics, while the third night was a show at the theatre involved a forbidden love story ‒ we were spellbound by the G.O.s gracefully manoeuvring long strips of cloth hung from the high ceiling and performing technically difficult jumps and leaps in front of us.
7. Do the shuffle every night
I was able to avoid the “shuffle” craze, sparked off by LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” mainly because I don’t listen to the radio but there’s no escaping it here. Whether or not you like it, you’re going to learn how to shuffle because the song is played every night.
But don’t worry, you’ll have lots of fun doing it. After the nightly circus show is when the kids go to sleep and the grown-ups party away as the bar area turns into a mini-club complete with DJ and flashing lights.
With the appearance of “Lady Gaga” and her bodyguards (played by the G.O.s of course) and stilt-walkers on the first night, thumping music and the Chairman of Club Med setting off a domino Jaegerbomb drink mix around the bar, I really couldn’t help but let loose. You might just find yourself turning into a party animal at the resort, especially as the G.O.s will lead everyone into doing some very fun dance moves.
Luckily, following the fun beach party on the second night complete with fire-dancers and the setting off of paper lanterns, the third night was a more subdued affair with a live band.
A fire-dancer performs at the Club Med Phuket beach party
8. Head out to the beach
The beach is literally just a zebra crossing away, all you need to do is cross the road to get to it. I missed out on the beautiful sunsets to see here, but you shouldn’t.
Of course, expect plenty of tourists lying out in the sun but it’s nowhere as crowded as other beaches in Phuket. Fitness buffs can consider a morning run around the area, too.
9. Chill out at the cool new bar
Sure, you could chill out at a bar anywhere but it’ll be hard to find one like this.
As Mark Hertrich, one half of Studio Hertrich & Adnet, told us, the elegant bird-like shapes on both ends echo traditional Thai roofs while the purple colour fits into the overall colour theme of the revamped resort.
It’s a very spacious place, with pool table and reading area at one end. Oh, and the view of the nearby beach is pretty awesome too.
After the partying and activities, all I could do was sit there on my last morning, enjoying a latte and feeling satisfied I had made the most out of my four-day trip.
Club Med Phuket is at 3 Kata Road Karon, A.Muang, 83100 Phuket, Thailand. Non-promotional room rates start from $600 per adult per night for a low-season superior room. Log on www.clubmed.com.sg/resort-phuket-thailand for more information.
Stay tuned for part two of this series where you’ll discover the “must-see” destinations outside the resort.
Vanessa is a freelance writer and can be found at thesewingwriter.tumblr.com.
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