Though it has its downsides—and I’ll get to those—Club Med is my favorite of the all–inclusives in Ixtapa. The reason is the same reason fans loved Audrey Hepburn: beauty and charm. On the first count, the hotel is very well-designed, a mélange of handsome art works, vibrant color schemes, and classic Mexican architectural details such as the breezy, handsome hacienda-style lobby. The beach is one of wide golden sands, and it's backed by shade-giving palm trees and green lawns. Its expansiveness is mirrored by the expansiveness of the buildings, which seem to go on and on.
Charm comes into play with the staff, which is made up of eager young pups from all corners of the globe. They bend over backward to make sure guests are having a good time, and that task is made easier by a mind-bogglingly rich activities calendar (“sand castle contest at 11”, “aqua aerobics at 2pm”, “trapeze classes at 4pm”, “archery competition at 5pm”…). Somehow, there's a feeling that both guests and staff arelucky to be in this place together that even when things go wrong, the warm vibe doesn’t dissipate.
Beyond the activities, the rooms are quite well done, with a jazzily tilted wall separating the bedroom from the bathing area. Beds are good and the purple, tan, and orange color scheme, bizarrely, works quite well.
So why not three stars? Because it’s time for this Club Med to up its game. Its gym is the only un-airconditioned one in town, making workouts torture in the tropical heat, and most guests never get to try the one specialty restaurant. There are two on site, but when we visited, the second hadn’t opened its doors in months and the other was only open a few days per week. As anyone who’s been to an all-inclusive knows, too many days in a row of buffet meals gets wearisome.
Still, there are few better places anywhere for families (the kids' clubs, divided by age, are superb), so the downsides, in context, are small quibbles.