There’s a certain je ne sais quoi that makes a vacation to Club Med special, and Club Med La Caravelle in Guadeloupe, the butterfly-shaped island’s only all-inclusive resort, is no exception. Staff await your arrival and eagerly wave you into the open-air reception space with a cold drink and a warm welcome. In fact, all the common areas are open-air, offering views of the beautiful shoreline and distant mountains. This creates a feeling of spaciousness at a resort whose acreage is actually very manageable on foot.
At the heart of the resort village is one massive awning that houses the main pool with daily activities; Mango Bar hosting evening cocktail receptions and late night dance parties; a theatre that boasts nightly entertainment, beginning at 9:30 p.m., of skilled performances incorporating contemporary choreography, modern dance, and impressive acrobatics; La Cave for celebrating special occasions with a bottle of bubbly; and the resort’s main buffet restaurant, Hibiscus. Specializing in seafood and rich sauces, a nod to the French influence, every meal at Hibiscus offers diners an excellent selection of cheeses, fresh breads, a kids menu, Creole-inspired dishes, a variety of daily specials, and authentic French desserts like macarons, financiers, and Paris-Brest. But every day the live cooking station wows guests with different offerings – Caprese salad with hand-pulled mozzarella for lunch or a grilled fish station with a selection of spicy fruit salsas at dinner.
Bookings are never required at either restaurant, or at sporting activities for that matter. Guests are encouraged to do what they want, when they want. It’s all part of the Club Med experience. The resort is set up to encourage togetherness. Guests happily interact with other vacationers and your friendly G.O. (short for the French title Gentil Organisateur) is always available to help procure food, snacks, or drinks, participate in sports and activities, they’ll even join you for dinner. The G.O. is a pillar of the Club Med brand and helps create that ineffable ambiance that makes guests return to Club Med again and again.
With 60% of Canadian guests at La Caravelle coming from Quebec, Air Canada and Transat service to Guadeloupe direct only from Montreal, but connections from other Canadian cities are widely available. In early 2020, JetBlue will also be flying direct from NYC which could be a more convenient connection for some travellers.
This month, Club Med La Caravelle completes a €47 million renovation which creates the all-new Family Zone and Zen Zone and increases the resort’s capacity by 122 rooms for a total of 380. “We’re excited to relaunch one of our jewels in the Caribbean,” says Amélie Brouhard, VP Canada & Mexico, Club Med. “Our objective was to match the standards that our international clientele expect and to create a different approach on the property with the different zones – the Family Zone and Zen Zone.”
The Family Zone includes 58 superior family rooms and 12 game-changing family suites with a separate bedroom and washroom for the kids, spacious family living room and master bed and bath for the adults. The adults-only Zen Zone includes a quiet beach away from the crowds and kids; seaside à la carte restaurant, Allamanda, great for all-day snacking; and new Oasis spa featuring French beauty brand, Sothys, sensory showers, hammam, and signature body scrub treatments like Hanakasumi. Request your treatment in the waterfront hut for a truly relaxing experience. Stay in one of the Zen Zone’s 30 deluxe rooms or 12 suites overlooking a multi-tiered deck, serene infinity pool, and the ocean. In addition to these brand new facilities, all common areas and existing rooms received a facelift with new furnishings, a fresh coat of paint, and updated design elements inspired by the beach and rainforest.
Expect to hear much more about Club Med in the coming months, as the brand opens the all new Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda in the Dominican Republic next January, their first resort built from scratch in the Caribbean in 25 years. Plus, Club Med looks to introduce a whole new concept in all-inclusive family holidays with Club Med Québec Charlevoix. Slated to open December 2021, Charlevoix will be Club Med’s first North American property and the first all-inclusive resort to follow the seasons.
AN AGENT’S PERSPECTIVE
JOSÉ LEROUX, PARTNER, CINQUIEME SAISON
This is the first time José, a veteran travel agent from Montreal, has visited Club Med La Caravelle in Guadeloupe. Here are his first impressions of the newly renovated resort…
“We sell a lot of family or multi-generational trips,” says José, who estimates that 70–75% of his agency’s sales are from family or multigenerational vacations. “The resort’s sports and activities cover everybody, it’s all set up for kids of all ages. Plus, the new family suites are really perfect. Everyone’s got their own bedroom, TV, and washroom, so there’s enough privacy, but with a separate living space everyone can still be together.”
Getting to personally meet and mingle with some of the guests at the resort, it was notable how many people were return clients. “What’s particular about the Club Med customer is that they’re very loyal to the brand, so we tend to see them every year or two to book a vacation,” José explains. “For these regular Club Med customers, they want to see what’s new, and each time a new Club opens, they want to visit. We’ve already sold a lot of Miches. Travellers believe in the brand and so they go with confidence.”
Most of the 12 agents on José’s team have visited this property pre-renovation. “I’m going back to the office with many photos and information on just how much rooms have improved and the new Zen section,” he says feeling confident this reconnaissance mission will pay off. “I’m sure they will all come and visit themselves in the coming months.”
FIND A HIDDEN TALENT
Don’t feel like laying on the beach? Like every other Club Med, the Guadeloupe property features a variety of unique sports and activities for athletes at every level. Archery, trapeze, kayak, wind surfing, tennis, paddle board, pickle ball… There’s no need to sign up in advance, just head over to the activity station and give it a try. Who knows, you may just find you have a hidden talent!
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
La Caravelle is cashless! When you make a purchase at the gift shop, sign up for excursions, or book a spa appointment, all you need to do is tap your wristband and extras will be posted to your room at checkout.
Most Caribbean islands accept American money, so it’s easy to forget Guadeloupe is a French territory and only accepts the euro; you’ll need a few for tips, at the airport, and to bring along should you visit the spice market in nearby Sainte Anne.
With that European sensibility in mind, prudish North Americans shouldn’t be surprised by smoking throughout the resort and semi-nude sunbathing.