Cooling Off

Experiencing Club Med’s new upscale all-inclusive

By: Janeen Christoff

As the plane comes in for landing on the narrow island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, it looks as though it will touch down on the sandy beach below or maybe in the waves themselves. The site is enough to make anyone’s heart skip a beat and as we arrive at Club Med, Columbus Isle, I realize this will not be the last time.

Part of the Club Med collection since the early 1990s, Columbus Isle has been a favorite of scuba divers. It is also the first Club Med to debut as a new upscale boutique resort in the Americas. After a $5 million upgrade, the resort joins Le Riad in Marrakech, Morocco, and Cherating Beach in Malaysia, in Club Med’s new upscale group.

“Columbus Isle is truly our jewel in the Club Med crown and an important part of our new upmarket strategy,” said John Vanderslice, president and CEO of Club Med Americas.

Once off the plane, it’s a short five-minute ride to Club Med, Columbus Isle, and the same sandy beach we saw from the air. With the ocean at my fingertips, I was ready to find out what Club Med’s new Total All-Inclusive vacations were about.

We checked into a deluxe oceanfront room and happily devoured the fruit basket left for us as a welcome gift, part of the new enhanced amenities at the resort, and we quickly popped a complimentary music CD into the stereo. Other new features include a Rise and Shine amenity that includes a different gift everyday. We received a kite on a windy day and bottle of sunscreen on a particularly sunny day during our stay.

There is never a lack of activities at any Club Med resort. Our first day started with poolside water aerobics taught by a Crunch fitness instructor. Club Med has teamed with Crunch to offer fitness classes at several of their resorts. The energetic instructor got almost everyone sitting poolside to participate in the class.

In addition to the typical sailing, tennis and water skiing programs, a Jet Ski tour has been introduced at Columbus Isle. The tour, one of the highlights of my trip, takes guests to an offshore coral island where the only inhabitants are about 400 friendly iguanas. As you walk around and explore, iguanas peak out from behind the shrubs and sometimes walk right up to visitors. After about 20 minutes exploring the island, it’s back on your Jet Ski for a heart-pounding return.

Guests can also learn new skills with beginning classes for sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding and windsurfing. There’s even an archery range offering classes for beginners.

Columbus Isle is particularly well known for its diving programs with some of the best dive spots in the Caribbean. Indeed, I noticed that many of the people in our group were experienced divers and after one morning of diving, they couldn’t stop talking about their adventures. The resort also offers PADI training classes and certification for aspiring divers.

After a busy day of activities, it was time for a massage. Club Med massage therapists can help guests choose from several different options, including couple’s massage, Club Med detox, aromatherapy reflexology, hot stone, Swedish and anti-stress muscle relief. I chose to enjoy a massage outdoors in a private area overlooking the ocean.

To make dining at Columbus Isle a truly memorable experience, David Rockwell, the man behind many famous Manhattan restaurants, has provided his expertise to create two new dining experiences. During our stay, we dined at the Brazilian Churrascaria-style restaurant, Berimbau and Watlings Fresh Catch, a Bahamian-fusion restaurant with delicious monkfish and grouper delicacies. Christopher’s, the buffet-style restaurant next to the pool, was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and served a delicious range of food from pasta to seafood to burgers and fries.

After dining in all the restaurants, sailing, jet skiing and water skiing there was only one thing left to see, the green flash. According to Isle lore, as the sun sets over the ocean and the sky is clear and if you are really lucky, you may see the legendary green light. The myth says those fortunate enough to see the green flash will be blessed with the ability to see into their heart and the hearts of others. The best way to see the flash is at the Beacon Bar, located at the diving dock and with a drink, named after the event, in your hand.

Try as we might, we were never able to see the green flash. I guess that will have to be saved for our next trip to Columbus Isle.


Club Med, Columbus Isle
San Salvador, Bahamas

Seven-night Total All-Inclusive rates start at $1,260, based on double occupancy.
Airfare and annual membership fees of $55 per adult are additional.
Agents can book using Club Med’s new travel agent booking engine.