& CAICOS ISLANDS
Med: the antidote for exploration
on photos for enlargements
Think of it as summer camp for grown-ups. That’s the best
way to assess the situation at Club Med Turkoise, one of the few
remaining adults-only resorts in the Club Mediterranee family.
At the all-inclusive resort in the Turks & Caicos Islands, I
saw joyful men and women belly flopping on an outdoor trampoline.
They tumbled like human dominoes during the late-night limbo contest.
A couple of giggling forty-year-olds snuck away from the bar and
tiptoed toward the beach to make out.
For my part, I embarked upon a mission of consumption. The mission
was accomplished at the all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner
buffets, and at multiple venues for sports instruction. Taking full
advantage of the amenities (including a multi-alcohol cocktail called
the “Tropical Storm”) is a sure way to get the most bang
for your buck.
Consequently, I ignored a hangover and dragged myself to a trampoline
class early one morning. I hadn’t leapt on a trampoline since
high school. But after a briefing from the Club Med gymnastics instructor,
I climbed onto the elastic bed and bounced high enough to feel like
a sophomore again.
Despite a flawed technique, I executed the straight-jump, knee tuck,
and seat drop. When my wobbly legs gave way, I fell belly-first against
the trampoline bed and bounced like a discarded rubber ball.
I can’t remember when I had this much fun.
Fun, after all, is what Club Med is all about. Founded in 1950 as
non-profit organization devoted to the enjoyment of the great outdoors,
Club Mediterranee now operates more than 100 resorts in 40 countries.
The 1.4 million annual guests embrace an all-inclusive concept in
which drinks, meals, activities and accommodation are included in
Club Med guests wear plastic I.D. bracelets, which adds to the summer
camp atmosphere. A hard-working crew of young G.Os. (group organizers,
Club Med employees) teach guests how to juggle, scuba dive, and play
nearly a dozen sports in between. Some G.Os. work up to 14 hours
a day, and yet manage to keep smiling.
The knock on all-inclusive resorts, of course, is that guests rarely
leave the premises to explore their surroundings. Why patronize a
local restaurant when your plastic bracelet entitles you to drinks
and 3 meals a day at the resort? Why make the effort to visit a distant
beach when the best one on the island is often right outside your
Indeed, here at Club Med Turkoise the main bar snuggles up to an
outdoor dance floor, swimming pool and theater (where Club Med G.Os.
put on campy cabaret shows). Beyond the pool lies Grace Bay Beach—the
best on Providenciales Island, and arguably one of the most beautiful
in the world.
Unlike many destinations that boast fictitious “white” sand
beaches, Grace Bay Beach is white. Bone white. The sand maintains
a talcum powder softness that must be experienced to be believed.
The brilliant turquoise water, from which this Club Med village takes
its name, helps transform the beach into a vivid picture postcard.
Most Club Med villages are “family friendly.” Of these,
many offer extensive children’s programs to keep the little
people engaged. But Club Med Turkoise is reserved for the 18 and
older crowd. It’s a perfect place for big people to play.
At the elaborate lunch and dinner buffets, hostesses made sure to
seat single guests with strangers. On rare occasions, this sort of
forced camaraderie led to awkward conversations and a quick exit.
But more often than not, it was a terrific way for solo travelers
to make friends in a controlled environment.
Dinner conversations often spilled onto the alfresco dance floor.
Dancing occasionally created a connection, which led to … like
I said, this is summer camp for grown-ups.
My nights were spent snuggled up to the main bar. Among the many
people with whom I chatted, there was a school teacher from Montréal,
a divorcée from Toronto, and two eager guys from New York
who tried their best to “hook up” with them.
In the daytime, I participated in every available activity. There
were salsa classes and sailing lessons. Water polo matches and softball
games. Snorkeling and scuba diving excursions. I even flew through
the air on a flying trapeze. Literally. The intricate circus apparatus
is set up next to the trampoline.
Like many guests on their last night at an all-inclusive resort,
I sat at the bar feeling guilty. After all, I never left the premises
to explore the island. But a Club Med vacation isn’t necessarily
about exploration. It’s about having fun.