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Home > Destinations > Turks & Caicos Islands > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Turks & Caicos Islands - Trip Reports

Club Med, Provo

I recently returned from a 10 day stay at Club Med Turks (May 14 through 24).This was my first to a Club Med and did not really know what to expect. About eight years ago I considered going to a Club Med but put it off. I am sorry that I did because I had a great time and will surely return. The entire Club was very social and friendly. You could walk up to just about anyone and start a conversation. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute.

I am a 37 year old male and traveled to the resort by myself. I pick Turks for it's reputation of attracting singles and for Club Med's policy of enforcing a minimum age of 18. I was glad to see that this reputation was well deserved. My guess would be that about 50% of the GMs (guests) were couples and the other 50% were singles. The couples that were there were very social and participated in the activities. I did not see any honeymooners at all. The singles were split at about 60% women and 40% men. There seemed to be a lot groups of two or three girl friends that came down together. Overall, the mix of couple/singles/men/women made for a very enjoyable social setting. I also found it curious that most of the people I met had been to the club many time before. One couple told me that it was their 24th visit! Not to bad for a place that has only been open for about 15 years. Also, there seemed to be a lot of people who were staying for extended periods of time. Some as long as four and five weeks!

I enjoy scuba diving so I signed up for their week long package. For an extra $210 you get six days of diving plus one night diving. They had dive b oats that went out at 8:00, 10:00, and 2:00. The 8:00 boat gave you a two tank dive while the others were only a one tank dive. I was told that if you wanted to make two dives a day, you had to go out on the 8:00 boat. If you went out on the 10:00 and 2:00 boats, it counted as "two" of your six days. However, I don't think that this was enforced. You could also pay for single dives (I think they were $40). Club Med also offered various scuba certification courses. I don't remember the exact prices but I recall that they were about double the price being offered locally in my home town. If you want to dive, get certified beforehand. It will be cheaper, and you won't waste your whole vacation in class. The dive boats were in great shape. They were very clean and well equipped. I always went out on the 8:00 boat and it was usually pretty full. This would include four groups of five to seven people diving with instructors along with about 10 to16 people diving in buddy pairs - usually around 35 to 40 people total. The dive sites that they took us too were all very nice sites. Most of them were wall dives starting at about 50 to 70 feet. Unfortunately, the days that I was there the weather wasn't the greatest, and the rain stirred things up a bit make visibility not that great. However, we did see a lot of sea life - dolphins, lobsters, sting and eagle rays, reef sharks and so on. I did take a one day dive excursion to West Caicos. It ran $75 for two dives but was well worth it. The reef was more active and the visibility was much better.

Other activities included tennis, sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, water skiing, circus and so on. Most of these sports had at least one time during the day when instruction was available. I think I tried all of them at least once. All of the instruction was done by the GOs (Club Med Staff) in charge of that sport. Some of the GOs really knew their stuff while others just pointed and said the equipment is over there.

For those who have never been to a Club Med before, all of the instruction and organization of group activities is done by the GO staff. These are generally young men and women who work for Club Med in exchange for a room, meals, and a small salary. They run the activities during the day, socialize with you at lunch and dinner, and party with you in the evening. They generally stay at a village for six months before Club Med moves them somewhere else. The week that I was there, there were about 100 GOs working for the 525 GMs. I found this ratio to work well, but people have told me that in the past the ratio was much better.

The club had three restaurants on site. The main restaurant served a buffet, while a second smaller restaurant, called The Grill, served you at your table. The third restaurant was closed (and looked like it had been closed for some time). Within the main restaurant, there was a large central buffer area. Each night the food would center around a theme - Italian, Mexican, Island Cuisine, etc. No matter what the theme was, there were always some basic meat, fish, and pasta dishes available. Around the central buffet area were three dining rooms. Each room contained about 25 tables that would seat eight people. After getting your food, a hostess stationed at the entrance to the dining area would seat you at one of the tables. I was told that in the past you could tell the hostess what kind of table you wanted to sit at - singles, couples, older, younger, foreign speaking, whatever, and they would try to accommodate you. I really saw none of this taking place. They basically sat you at the next available seat. However, one of the dining rooms had a "singles" sign hanging over the entrance and most of the single people migrated there. Since you get free beer and wine with dinner (and lunch), the singles area would get pretty loud and fun. The Grill restaurant served a sit done meal that was more intimate. You could get a table for two if you wanted. However, you had to sign up for reservations at noon. I never made it there so I can't say any more.

As far as liquid refreshment goes, unlimited free beer and wine is served at lunch and dinner. The beer was a cheap American lite beer (I think Miller lite???) and the wine was a cheap "Club Med" label wine (red, blush, and white). The wine was served in bottles but it was interesting to note that none of the corks were stained. I think they just filled up empty bottles from a big vat in the back room. I guess what do you expect for free? I believe that The Grill restaurant offered other wine at dinner for an extra charge. At other times you had to pay for all of your drinks. Club Med has this silly policy of requiring you to pay for you drinks using bar coupons. The coupons come in books for $5, $10, and $20 dollars (plus tax). Each book contains coupons worth $0.20, $0.40, and $0.80. A soft drink sells for $2.00, a beer for $4.60, and mixed drinks for $4.80 to $6.00. Because of the steep prices, and the small value of the bar books, you were constantly buying books. To make matters worse, you generally could not buy bar books at the bar, but had to go to the Hostess Desk instead. It would be much easier if you could just charge the drinks to your room and do away the coupons altogether - or better yet, just include drinks in the cost of the resort. When I am on vacation at an all-inclusive resort I don't want to have deal with money once I'm there. Since Club Med does not allow tipping, you can forget about the bar tender ever giving you a drink "on-the-house", or a mixed drink that contains anything other than a straight shot. However, I did see a few people slipping dollar bills in with their bar books. They would then hand the books over the bar tender so that he could remove the proper amount of coupons (along with the $$$). And guess what? They were served faster and got stiffer drinks the next time they went up to the bar!

As far as the resort's accommodations, don't expect too much. Although the place is kept clean, its facilities are pretty shabby. My room had two double beds in it, two small dressers, two small closets, a small sink/shower area (with no privacy door - just a cheap vinyl shower curtain, and a separate toilet area. These is no bath tub or place to hang wet clothes. Most of the lights are fluorescent and twinkle for about 30 seconds before they turn fully on. The floor was made from tile, with several tiles cracked or partially missing. Since the room is really just a place to sleep, it was tolerable, but for the price paid I expected something better. Other buildings showed similar deterioration. There was a lot of broken and missing tile in the pool and around the pool stage. The "Hammer Head" pier used by the water skiers was partially destroyed making 2/3 of it unusable, while the "Scuba" pier was missing its last 100 feet or so making it impossible for the scuba boats to dock. You actually had to swim out to them to get onboard! But because the place is generally clean, you tend to overlook, or become used to these problems. One evening I shared dinner with a man who described himself as the "General Contractor" in charge of renovations. He said all of the bathrooms in the GM rooms were being renovated, the piers and pool were going to be repaired, Sharkey's Beach Bar was going to be expanded, and that "The Grill" and "Mona Lisa" (currently closed) restaurants were going to be remodeled and combined into a single dinning area. He said this was all going to be completed by this Christmas and that the entire resort would remain open during the renovation process. Personally, I am skeptical that all of this work is actually going to be done, but if you are planning a trip to the club before Christmas, I would make sure and find out what impact and renovations will have during your stay - Will the pool be closed? Will the main bar be closed? Will half of the rooms be closed? Will Club Med make and monetary compensation to you if certain facilities are not available. Bottom line, make sure you use a knowledgeable travel agent!

In the evenings, the GOs would organize some type of game around the pool area. These generally pitted men against women playing trivia or charade type games and lasted about 45 minutes before dinner started. After dinner, the GOs would but on some type of show. Sometimes these were comedy skits, other times they included musical numbers. As a first type visitor to Club Med, I enjoyed the shows. They were so amateurish that they were funny. However, during my second week, I started to see the same shows over again. I wish they would have come up with some new material. After the show, we all moved back around the pool area for about 30 minutes of choreographed line type dancing. This usually ended with a conga line leading everyone into the disco. By now its almost midnight. Finally, as the crowds wound down in the disco, the hardcore people would head over to Sharky's for Rock and Roll type music. By the way, the area around Sharky's gets LOUD at night (early morning). If you go to bed early, make sure you don't get a room in the E building.

One problem that I did find was that security at the Club was very lacking. There are no dead bolts on the doors so the maids just come right on in. While I was there a first floor room was broken into and about $600 worth of money and jewelry taken. Each room has two safes, so be sure to use them. Also, each GM is given a bracelet to wear. This allows the Club's security to monitor you as you enter the dining room and use the equipment. However, these bracelets are in demand by the locals who "acquire" them and then sell them to just about anyone to use! One group of women told me how they were approached when walking on the beach at night by a man who wanted their bracelets. Fortunately, nothing came of the matter. Bottom line, even in paradise it pays to be street smart.

Finally, one last thought. Club Med has a charter arriving from New York City every Saturday. I don't know if this happens year round or not. However, I found it unfortunate that such a large group of people from a single area would arrive all at the same time. New Yorkers are generally not shy people, and are fun to party with. But as a group, they have a very distinctive way of announcing their arrival! I don't want to stereotyping the behavior of the group, but sometimes they could be a little too much.

All in all, I had a great time and I am sure I will return. I think that Club Med has a good concept going with the resort. I hope that they follow through on their renovation plans and continue to improve the club.

Thanks to Don for this trip report ...
June 1999

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