Pair of holidaymakers enjoy private beach at Club Med
My friend is enthusiastic at the prospect of a short break at Club Med. "There's no limit on anything," she tells me.
I remain unconvinced.
"There's a free flow bar," she insists.
I give in, pack my luggage and before I can change my mind, we're on the plane to Kuala Lumpur all set to experience four days of luxury at Cherating Beach.
We're greeted at the airport by a Club Med GO (Gentle Organiser) and taken by bus to the resort, an easy 40-minute drive away. During the journey, the GO explains the facilities and all the activities we can enjoy during our stay. It sounds exhausting.
Situated on the East Coast of Malaysia and nestled in 200 acres of lush parkland, the resort's wooden cottages face the beach and have enough space between them to give off some sense of privacy.
Club Med targets families rather than the individual tourist, so activities are designed to please every member, from the very young to the most mature.
Active moms and dads can enjoy a wide variety of outdoors sports - there's golf, shooting, wind surfing, artificialrock climbing, diving, water aerobics, kayaking, sailing, beach volleyball, archery and tennis. It's not even necessary to know how to do any of them before you go, as friendly trainers are on hand at every station to guide you.
Fans of more extreme sports should head for the outdoor "circus" station where free lessons on the flying trapeze and bungy bounce come as part of the package. The kids will be kept amused for hours at the free circus workshops that teach them a range of skills from juggling and balancing to clowning.
For the toddler set, there's a colourful nursery supervised by welltrained GOs, where they can paint their faces - and each others' - before heading back to their rooms at the end of the day with lots of souvenirs.
Teenagers have their very own section of Cherating Beach, which is off limits to anyone over the age of 15 and looked after by GOs with a passion for the job. Here, they can create their own music and short films on the equipment provided, watch movies or play pool.
International and ethnic Malay dishes, along with fresh seafood and delectable desserts, are served buffetstyle at poolside outlet Mutiara. Come evening, more romantic dining is available at the beachside restaurant The Lautan, which offers an interesting a la carte menu of fusion creations.
All the freeflow bars serve cocktails, mocktails, coffee, tea as well as beers and wines with snacks. Don't expect your cocktail to be mixed with flair though. Club Med only offers standard mixes.
The resort hosts a different theme party every night while at the mini theatre, the GOs double as mimes, acrobats and singers in surprisingly professional live shows.
Participation is at the core of any Club Med resort and after training with the GOs all day at the Kid Club, the youngsters are given the opportunity to showcase their talents at the show, much to the delight (perhaps) of their proud parents.
After the curtain falls, the GM and GOs host a party in the theatre lobby and while most of the audience enjoys dancing, my friend and I take advantage of the freeflow bar, knocking back margaritas until the wee hours.
"Europeans are our main targets. Not many Thai tourists are coming here as yet, so we hope our Thai guests will share their positive experiences," says a Chinese GO.
After four days in the tropical oasis, the GM and GOs say goodbye to us at the bus the next day as we depart for the airport.
If you plan to experience Club Med, don't forget your sneakers and plenty of colourful evening dresses - check out its theme before packing!
One word of warning! Know your limits and stick to them. I wish I had. Maybe then, I wouldn't have come back home with a bad hangover and badly stretched muscles.
If you go
Club Med excursions
Experience the reality of rural living with a halfday Kampong Life tour. Similar to rural southern Thailand, a Kampong village is lively, with the residents still fishing the old way, as well as growing orchids and producing handicrafts. We strolled through the market and were fascinated by the local vegetables, fruits and clothes.
Malaysians enjoy having breakfast in restaurants and both the local hot coffee and the iced tea are well worth trying. The Night Market is best for bargains.
Club Med Thailand in coordination with Malaysian Airlines and Malaysian Tourism Authority are offering a special 4day/3night package at Club Med Cherating Beach Malaysia starting at Bt19,990 until October 31.
For more information call (02) 253 0108 or visit www.ClubMed.co.th.