Ixatapa, April 2009

I remember the first time I went to a Club Med. It was the sixties. There were no locks on the doors, no TV, nor radio, nor safe, no computers obviously, not even a hair dryer in the rooms. Only the bare essentials: hard little single cots, a chair, a table and a lamp, that was pretty much IT. We wore bead necklaces that we used to pay for our drinks. In those days of sexual revolution, "cruising" was the main activity. The GOs were known the world over. Those letters stood, and still stand, for Gentil Organisateur (meaning "nice organizer") but they were unofficially taken to mean Generateur d'Orgasme (meaning "orgasm generators")... back then.
Things have changed a lot since. Because their concept of all inclusive vacations has been copied all over the Caribbean, they had to do something to stand out. They were always renowned for their food and their sports programs and still are. But they decided to go "up" a notch...or two: up in prices and up in accommodations. Gone are the days of tent villages, they now boast luxurious rooms, extravagant public areas and luxuriant grounds.

I have gone back several times, as a swinging single, then as a young mother and finally as a slightly more mature single. The food has always been fabulous and the sports activities top notch. As a matter of fact, I know scuba divers who will only vacation in Club Meds because they trust the equipment and the diving staff. For gregarious people who appreciate those things it is a great place to vacation. Each village usually has the best spot in its area so it is always a good bet. Plus their evening entertainment is very professional. They also have top of the line children programs. I do not know of any resort that offers more or better. In some of their villages they have programs for babies starting at 4 months up to 14 year olds.

So it is not surprising that I went back when the opportunity arose. This time I chose Ixtapa Pacific, on the west coast of Mexico.

The village has been recently revamped so the decor is modern, with a few excentric touches.
The hall in the reception and main restaurant building is red and gray and boasts waterfalls...it is refreshing and soothing and I have always suspected they put something in the water as the smell around there was always so nice.

The dining room is divided into sections each with a different color scheme and theme, one of them has octopusses as lamps...

But my favorite place to eat was always the terrace overlooking the ocean. It reminded me of a "Gone With the Wind" style veranda. This spot was ideal for drinks and sunsets.

Although I did not use the pool, the set up was very pretty and popular as it had a kiddie section as well as a section for water sports and activities.

The bedrooms were ok, this may have been my only disappointment. I found them to be dark. Mine did not have a balcony which I missed especially to dry bathing suits, but I visited some suites that not only had lovely balconies directly on the beach and concierge service but also had bathtubs with ocean views...how nice is that!!?? They also have family suites with a separate room for the kids.

I think what impressed me the most was the vegetation and the birds on the property. Every time i walked out of my room I felt like I was stepping into a jungle for all the bird songs I heard. The palm trees were numerous, tall and healthy...

The rooms were grouped in low buildings that were stuccoed in warm terra cotta colours.

I soon found out why our building was called Iguana. There were dozens of them all around! But you had to be alert to catch a glimpse of them as they seemed to fade into whatever background they were standing against, like chameleons.

But obviously the reason a Canadian goes south in the winter is THE BEACH! This one was not very long but it was private and pretty and it was big enough that we never felt crowded.

Again here the birds were an attraction on their own

This one had funny yellow feet like rain boots that matched its eyes

The water was refreshing and the waves fun but manageable.

Back on the grounds, each tree, shrub, or bush was identified...I could not help but shoot a few colorful specimens

I mentioned sports and food earlier. Apart from the usual beach and pool games, there were several tennis courts, a mini golf, a roller track, a circus school, kayaks and small sailboats, a soccer field (that get a LOT of use), a basketball court and a Petanque (bocce ball) court... to name a few.

Now can we talk??? talk about the food! The main restaurant is buffet style, but not just any buffet. It always had fresh fish, raw, marinated, smoked, grilled or baked...and plenty of shellfish too. They even had a whole marlin one night! served maki style!!!!

It had a permanent Mexican station with fresh tortillas and assorted specialties. It always had a pasta bar, as well as the usual pizzas, burgers and fries...it also always had large pieces of meat like a leg of lamb or beef or ham. It also has a selection of slow cooked dishes, both vegetarian and meat....and of course a salad bar, a cheese table, a fresh fruit table, great ice cream selection and pastries galore. One of the most famous food in all Club Meds is their bread. They make chocolate bread that is to die for...

Every night there would be a special dish prepared in front of you...like foie gras with toast and caviar.... There are also 2 à la carte restaurants that were a very nice change of pace.

People often wonder about the seating policy. It used to be that a hostess would seat you at large tables where you had to mingle with other guests. This is no more. There is a variety of table sizes now and you can sit where you want. If there is an empty spot at your table a GO might ask to join you. I really enjoyed this as it allowed us the opportunity of learning a lot about the club and about the individuals who make it work. They are an interesting bunch as they come from all over the world and have a lot of stories to tell. For some unexplained reason we got to know a couple of the barmen. They were very nice and creative, surprising us with new cocktails every night. Besides the usual Margarita and Tequila Sunrise, the Tequila and Salsita was especially nice. One night they made this display of non alcoholic drinks for the kids after their big show.

Speaking of kids, this being a family village I checked out the installations for the little ones. This is the room for the babies:

While these are the pool and play ground for the older kids

and this is their very own restaurant

I was impressed by the variety of age appropriate activities they offered the children. The ratio counselor per children seemed very good. Even if the majority of guests were families with kids, you hardly noticed them as they were mostly busy somewhere and when they were not they were well behaved and appeared content...not a lot of crying for such a large number of children.

I mentioned sipping cocktails as the sun went down...every night was different and an awesome spectacle.

This is a very nice village, perfectly suited for families.
It is a long trip from the East coast, but if one is to visit that area, I would recommend it without reservations.
It will be interesting to see what happens to all the resorts with the Human Swine Influenza epidemic...