Friday, 08 April 2016
Welcome to the club
If you’re a lover of far-flung all-inclusive family luxury, then Club Med’s new Mauritius resort could be for you, says Katie Nicholl
If you just want an exotic family getaway which is about as luxurious as it gets, then Club Med’s Plantation D’Albion in Mauritius could be the trip of your dreams. Overlooking the emerald green sea, the new resort is set in a tropical forest with gardens bursting with hibiscus blooms and mango and banana trees. Some of the all-inclusive packages even include your own private butler! All you have to do is show up.
It may be a long flight, but because of the four-hour time difference there’s no jet lag either. We went in February and had a few tropical showers and overcast days, but it was always lovely and warm, with temperatures hitting 27 degrees.
Absolutely. There’s fantastic childcare for little ones from two to kids up to 17. I put my three-year-old, Matilda, into the Petit Club most mornings where typical activities included necklace-making and face-painting followed by a treasure hunt around the resort or a game of mini golf or mini tennis. Children aged four and above can enjoy sessions with trained instructors on the flying trapeze at Little Circus. The trapeze is exclusive to Club Med’s Circus where the fearless can learn to juggle and trampoline too.
Matilda loved the daily midday water aerobics in the main pool and a little nap afterwards back at the Petit Club, where cot beds are set up in an air-conditioned room. Parents are encouraged to join in with the afternoon activities such as magic shows, mini Olympics and pool parties (all the kids’ clubs have fab facilities with shaded pools, water slides and playgrounds). And once a fortnight there’s The Big Picnic with bouncy castles, paddling pools, ball pits, popcorn stands, entertainers and even pony rides.
For the grown-ups?
The childcare programme means parents do actually get time to relax. My husband and I enjoyed lovely long lunches at Le Phare, the resort’s seafront restaurant, while Matilda was doing everything from collecting shells to identifying butterflies on a nature trail. And if that’s not enough the resort also has an adults-only Zen infinity pool and a gorgeous spa (book and pay for treatments with your holiday).
Fancy a fun workout?
There’s a massive range of things to keep you in shape, with hourly classes in a gorgeous pavilion overlooking the beach including yoga, Pilates, Zumba and abs and bums classes. You can even learn tai chi – perfect for stressed out mums and dads. And there’s a well-equipped gym too. The club also has its own boat and there are regular trips out to the nearby coral reef where you can enjoy snorkelling.
Time for a feast
There’s an impressive choice of local and international cuisine, and if your children are fussy eaters, fret not. One of the best things about Club Med is that food is served buffet-style and there are child-friendly options at every mealtime, including a fresh pasta bar, home-made pizzas and a sandwich-making station.
We enjoyed dinners with Matilda and loved the restaurant’s very relaxed family feel. But if you prefer you can put your children into the Petit and Mini Clubs from 7pm until 9pm, where they can watch a movie or make cookies while you enjoy dinner – if you fancy something smart there’s always waiter service in the à la carte restaurant.
At 9pm there’s an evening show in the main theatre which is great fun for all the family. If you want a private babysitter this can be arranged (for an extra fee) or there’s Pyjamas Club, the free babysitting service at the crèche from 8pm until midnight.
Where do we sleep?
When the range of rooms starts at Club and there’s only Deluxe and Suite after that, you have an idea of the luxury awaiting you, including a terrace or balcony overlooking gardens or sea for everyone. Or you could splash out on a sea-facing villa with its own private stretch of beach and a terrace.
Room service can be ordered throughout the day and there are luxurious touches including a huge bathtub and an outside shower. You’ll find all the usual gadgets, the mini bars are restocked daily (all included in the price), there’s plenty of useful storage space and travel cots or extra beds can be arranged.
Class baby facilities?
When it comes to kids, Club Med’s thought of everything: changing mats, baby baths, high chairs, cots, bottle warmers and pushchairs are all available. You’ll also find facilities for storing milk, sterilising bottles and disposing of nappies. At the restaurants, fridges are stocked with baby food and milk (including formula) and there are special ‘baby corners’ where you can prepare food.
Did someone say beach?
There are two stretches of sandy beach. The larger one is 300 metres from the resort, with a turquoise lagoon where you can relax on canopied beds and enjoy drinks from the Club Med beach bar. It’s a public beach so if you’re looking for something more private, walk to one of the tucked-away coves in the heart of the resort. The water is shallow and safe to swim in, but because of the coral reef it can be a bit rocky – perfect for catching crabs, but take jelly shoes.
So what’s the damage?
Club Med may be at the top end of the price bracket, but you get what you pay for and if you’re not restricted by school holidays there are great off-peak deals. To give you an idea, departing on 20 August from London Gatwick to La Plantation d’Albion, for seven nights all-inclusive, will cost from £1,625 per adult and £1,175 per child; clubmed.co.uk.