Thursday 27 July 2017

Club class in spectacular Provence: The ultimate in all-inclusive holidays

Holidays in France

Soak up the cultural experience behind the fortified walls of the world-renowned art haven that is St Paul de Vence
Soak up the cultural experience behind the fortified walls of the world-renowned art haven that is St Paul de Vence
Luxury is a byword at Club Med Bio

Joe Corcoran

The poolside view at Club Med Opio en Provence is breathtaking. From high atop the mountainside, a sweeping panorama of earthy brown soil and exquisite green foliage, interrupted only by the occasional outcropping of limestone or cluster of old riviera architecture.

When I saw it first it was tempting to simply grab a mojito from the poolside bar, fall back on a sun bed and put everything out of my mind for hours on end.

You can do this quite easily as well. Even as a parent, so long as your child is older than four months. A kids' club is ready to provide them with a full day's care and entertainment, so you can have some alone time. But before you decide to indulge in the sunbathing for too long, you must ask yourself: if I lie down now, when am I going to find the time for a round of golf? What about a game of tennis? What about archery or pilates or volleyball or any of the other activities for which the resort comes fully equipped and even in some cases offers all-inclusive expert training?

Not a particularly sporty person? I still can't do without a stroll through the resort's vast sloping olive grove or a visit to its zen tea rooms, Roman baths or luxury Carita Paris spa and wellness centre. The tourist in me must also manage, if possible, to squeeze in visits to the nearby cultural hubs of Cannes (20km) and Nice (37km), not to mention the village of Opio (3km) with its ancient church, bishop's palace and oil mill, or the fortified walls of world renowned art haven that is St Paul de Vence (16km).

Luxury is a byword at Club Med Bio
Luxury is a byword at Club Med Bio

On top of this I'll need to ask for a map at reception so I can learn what it is I don't already know I'm missing out on. Who knew the carefree life would come with so many obligations!

This was roughly my thought process when I first arrived at the resort in June. To anyone familiar with the Club Med brand however, this enormous wealth of possibilities will come as no surprise. The French organisation pioneered the all-inclusive package holiday back in the 1950s, and today, though the model has been copied by countless others, there is nobody who takes it quite as far, both in terms of luxury and inclusiveness.

A booking with Club Med provides everything from flights and accommodation to all-you-can-eat gourmet cuisine, an extensive open bar menu and all of the above mentioned sports and wellness services.

They operate 65 award-winning resorts worldwide in such locations as Kamarina, Sicily; Cancun, Mexico; and Guilin, China. Many of their destinations are specifically tailored around popular activities available in the area, with the most famous example being their large selection of prime skiing resorts located throughout the French and Swiss Alps.

Their main clientele these days are three generation families and younger millennial couples eager for a more active kind of holiday.

One evening during my stay I spoke to a Swiss man in his seventies who had visited one of their skiing resorts with his father in the early 1960s and who was here again a lifetime later, on vacation with his wife, son and three grandchildren. For him the big draw every day were his hours on the golf course, but he also made time in the afternoons to swim with his wife and granddaughters, and to teach his grandson to play table tennis.

Such stories are legion among club residents. In recent years Club Med has doubled down on their efforts to create the best holidaying experience possible for each generation by streamlining their mobile booking experience with an official Club Med app, providing a new free wi-fi service, renovating a number of their resorts and adding to them a host of new activities and services.

At the Opio resort, two of these stand out in particular. Firstly, responding to the overwhelming demand of customers from less temperate climates like Ireland and the UK, for whom no holiday would be complete without a visit to the seaside, Club Med have begun offering premium day trips to Mandelieu private beach in the Gulf of Napoule, Cannes. Here visitors are treated to a two-course meal of down-home cooking at La Plage Mandelieu restaurant and a personal sun bed and towel just a few metres away from the warm Mediterranean sea.

The second new addition to the resort is a hard one to miss. Devised in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, Creactive is a giant circus-inspired playground teeming with colour and offering a range of more than 25 artistic and acrobatic activities for both adults and children including bungee jumping, trapeze flying, tightrope walking and trampolining, all of which are supervised by the Gentils Circassiens, Cirque du Soleil's own extensively trained circus staff.

Of course, as great as all of this sounds, it still may not be enough to tempt you away from the poolside in the same way it did me. The beauty of Club Med is that everybody can do as much or as little as they like, crafting their holiday precisely as they see fit. For larger families, this diversity in experience need not mean a lack of quality time together either.

Although there are a wealth of activities available during the day, by night almost everyone at the club is drawn back to the poolside once again, for whatever live entertainment is scheduled that evening at the resort's in-house theatre and concert hall.

On my first night's stay the evening started after dinner with a science fiction-themed musical that had everyone in the room glued to their seats, followed by an outside live pop concert that went on into the early hours of the morning. From beginning to end there wasn't a moment's dip in the energy of the crowd. There was singing and dancing, drinks and laughter. A perfect little coming together of people young and old, of all nationalities and from every walk of life imaginable, in the kind of wholesome, carefree environment you find only in the very best of holiday destinations.

Getting there

Joe travelled with Sunway to Club Med who offer all-inclusive sun and ski resorts worldwide,  including to Europe, Florida, Maldives, Cancun and more, for families, couples or solo travellers.

Holidays to the 4* Club Med Opio en Provence start from €1,319 per adult and €819 per child (under 10). Prices are based on two adults and two children and include flights from Dublin to Nice, airport transfers, club room accommodation on an all-inclusive basis departing on September 20.

More information: 01 2366800 or visit sunway.ie.

Sunday Indo Living

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Life