ixtapa_viewDespite my initial concerns about Club Med’s group mentality, my family liked that there was never any pressure to join. You could hang on the beach (we were in love with the cushioned canopied beds that line the beach), lie at the pool or lounge with a book in a hammock and never feel the intrusion of anyone else. You can’t bottle tropical paradise, but this vacation sure came close.

Know Before You Go:
The resort is located on the Pacific Coast, l6l miles north of Acapulco. It lies past the area’s hotel congestion, in its own little cove making you feel truly away from it all. Traveling from the West Coast is an easy couple hour hop; the East Coast requires a plane change. You fly into Zihautenajo, then take a 30-minute bus ride. The weather is pretty much ideal year round.

ixtapaclubmedroomKid Kudos: Club Med calls this location “family paradise reinvented” in its brochure and it’s true: for young families, you can’t beat the wealth of well-run activities, which cater to the 4-month-old-and-up set. The area housing the Baby and Petit Club Meds are clean and airy and look like a gorgeous seaside daycare center, with daily handouts (in three languages!) outlining the kids’ various activities including dramatic play, arts and crafts, blocks and more. The group is broken down into Peanuts (4 months to walking independently); Rascals (walking to 2) and Tigers (2 to 3 years). Each has its own area for outdoor play including a pool and kitchen area.

The resort clearly loves children and does pretty much anything and everything to make them happy, including offering a vast selection of both kid-only and family-oriented activities meant for bonding (they, in fact, recently partnered with Crayola to incorporate a Club Med Crayola Creativity program which features age-appropriate arts and crafts for all guests (My kids loved the tie-dying!).

As for the “clubs,” kids are broken down into tight age groups of 4 to 5 (Geckos); 6 to 7 (Iguanas); 8 to l0 (Kid’s Club); ll to l3 (Juniors) and Teens, but like anything, how large each group is depends on when you visit (and how the group dynamics play out). Sometimes, they blend the groups, which, depending on the age of your kid either works or doesn’t (if she’s on the north or south end, it can be problematic). The day’s events are creative and varied, often with a theme (Jungle Day, Family Day, Circus Day) and the G.O.s have fun with kids of all ages. Our only complaint? There wasn’t a big l3+ contingency for my girls (now l2 and l5), giving them little choice but to hang with us. In theory, the teens meet every morning at the Teens Only palapa on the beach for volleyball, and then follow the adults sports program, deciding as a group what they want to do. There’s also an air-conditioned lounge with books, foosball, and a pool table as well as another area with ping pong, though (for better or worse) no video games. (All I can say is thank God for Internet access!).

ixtapa_canopyGetting Oriented: Most of the action takes place around the main pool and beach area. The sofa beds are the most sought after spaces (and, yes, you need to get there early to put your stuff down!). We spent most of our time on the beach where lounge chairs are plentiful and waiters often appear to offer beverages. Water sports also kept us occupied (think sailing and kayaking including Catsy’s – smaller sized catamarans for children to learn to sail). There are also plenty of land activities including Club Med’s famous climbing wall and Circus School trapeze. At night, everyone gravitates toward the shows, which showcase the GO’s talents and include kids of all ages. They’re homespun and original and remind me of my kids’ school plays (meaning some were more enjoyable than others).

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