My husband and I stayed at Club Med Sandpiper Bay for one week around Memorial Day weekend. We consider ourselves to have high expectations for the resorts we stay in, but we’re also pretty flexible people and will not let little bumps get in the way of a good vacation.
We have a 4.5 month old baby and chose this resort just for its amenities for babies. Needing some vacation time together, we scoured the internet to find a resort that had special accommodations for babies (read: a baby care program for the daytime), and this is one of the few that exist in the U.S.
We have visited several all inclusive resorts in Mexico, and, if you’re expecting the same level of service and accommodations, this resort might disappoint you. But, if you’re a family with a baby or very young children, this just might be the resort for you. Here are some details below:
BABY CLUB AND BABY EQUIPMENT:
This is the single best thing about the resort. There is a Baby Club for babies 4 months plus (“Baby Club” is a fancy name for day care). We have only good things to say about the Baby Club. The G.O.s (Club Med speak for “staff”) who staffed it seemed well trained and happy to do their job. Our baby seemed to enjoy her time there and being around baby toys and baby activities is much more fun than being stuck on a hot sandy beach with the adults all day.
The Baby Club (and the club for the older children as well) is open from 8:45 am to 5 pm everyday but Wednesday (Wednesdays you’re on your own). There is an additional charge for the Baby Club and we paid for it when we booked the trip. You can also leave your child in the evenings with the “Pajama Club” from 7 pm to 1 am. This may be operated by different staff and there is an additional charge of $25 for each evening you use the service. I do not believe it is available every evening, but I’m not certain on that.
If you pay for the “Baby Welcome” package when you book, you get all the baby equipment you need for your stay in your room when you arrive: stroller, changing pad, baby bath, bottle warmer and a pack n’ play. There are also high chairs and baby food at the buffet restaurant. The equipment is all standard issue Graco and the baby food is Gerber (and there was’t usually a large selection, so take note if you have a picky eater or find a nice G.O. to help you locate more varieties in the back). Bring plenty of diapers, wipes, and formula, as those items are not included.
The main restaurant, Marketplace, is a buffet. There are also two “sit down” restaurants on the property - Soleil and Riverside - but there are some limitations. You must make reservations for Riverside (the nicer restaurant) 24 hours in advance and can do this only once during your stay, but they are lenient on this if they’re not too busy. Soleil has a comparatively limited menu and is mostly open during the off times for the buffet.
And for its part, the buffet restaurant was pretty good. I’d say the food was above average for an all inclusive buffet restaurant. As other reviewers have suggested, try the chocolate bread; it will not disappoint. They have hours during which the restaurant isn’t open, but they never locked the doors, just didn’t make new food. The hours are 8 to 10 for breakfast, 12 to 2 for lunch, and 4 to 9 for dinner. There is a kids corner in the restaurant that has kid friendly food and even baby food. There is not a bar in the buffet restaurant, but there are bottles of red, white, and rose wine available to take to your table. If you want higher quality wine, you can order and pay for it at the buffet as well.
A bit of a warning: The G.O.s are instructed to make friends with the guests and may occasionally ask to sit down with you for a meal (this happened twice to us). My husband found this charming, I found it annoying. But, they were interesting people and you could always politely say “no thank you” when they asked to joint you if you really didn’t want their company.
Oh, and one other helpful bit of information: There is no room service. So, if you’re one for midnight snacks in bed, bring your own snacks.
Alcoholic drinks are included in the all inclusive package. The drinks are usually on the weak side, but it depends on the bartender.
There is the main bar, Slice, which, in addition to serving liquor, has plenty of Shirley Temples and goldfish crackers for kids. This bar was full of kids both day and night, but the entire resort is, so you get used to it. They have a couple of board games there that you can take and play at the tables inside or out.
The other two bars are small (they’re literally a window like one of those snow cone stands) and are located by the adult “calm pool” and the “activity pool”. They seemed to have better service, but their hours were pretty limited.
ROOMS AND PROPERTY:
Other reviewers have noted that the buildings look like Soviet era bunkers. You know, they kind of did. But, despite their less-than-cheerful outward appearance, they are bright and cheery inside and look to have been recently redecorated. Our room had two sinks, a bath/shower, a big closet, a robe and slippers for the stay, a safe, a mini fridge (no microwave), and a balcony with chairs. There are laundry facilities available for $1 per load at the bottom of each (?) building, but about half of the machines didn’t work when we tried to use them. Nightly turndown service complete with chocolates on the pillow is a nice touch. The property is lovely with lots of beautiful tropical plants to enjoy.
POOLS AND BEACH:
As other reviewers have noted, this resort is located on a river, not the actual ocean. But, this didn’t bother us. They still have a sandy beach, albeit quite small. There are several pools. There is the main “activity pool” which seemed to be the busiest. There was the “lap pool” for all those crazy people who want to exercise on their vacation. There was the adult “calm pool” that overlooked the river and was only for guests 18+. Then there was the kiddy “splash pool” for the kiddos that has the shallow water, water guns, etc.
There is a notable lack of umbrellas on the beach and at some of the pool locations. We overheard a G.O. explain to another guest that they lost them this year due to heavy winds and that they’re on order. Until then, just be prepared with lots of sunscreen.
Oh, and this might be a fluke, but they completely ran out of pool towels one day. I mean completely out at all pools.
Club Med is known for their activities and they certainly seemed to have plenty. They have golf, tennis, volleyball, aerobics, and even trapeze. My husband and I prefer to expend only the float-in-the-pool level of effort on our vacations, so we barely used any of these services. I know that there are small fees associated with some of these activities (the 18 hole golf course, for example), but they seemed to be nominal, and there were plenty of associated activities that did not have a fee attached (the driving range or the 6 hole golf course, for example).
There are numerous activities that go on everyday, such as zumba, ping pong tournaments, etc. They are located on the schedule, which is posted near the front of the property. It would be nice if they would include it on a printed schedule to be left in the room.
STAFF (AKA “G.O.s”):
For the most part, the G.O.s were very friendly and more than willing to help you with a smile. The G.O.s live on the property in apartments so they tend to be a young bunch.
If you’ve read up on Club Med, you might have read about the “Crazy Signs” song ritual. A few times a day, the G.O.s break out in a song called “Crazy Signs” and try to get the guests to dance along with them. This seemed a little cult-like to me when I read about it, but I participated in “Crazy Signs” once and didn’t seem to be brainwashed, and maybe even had a little fun doing it.
We paid extra to have the airport transfer. The car service picked us up near baggage claim without any problem. The car service (which is contracted through Club Med) happened to have the limo out that day, so we were very pleased to be picked up and taken to the resort in a stretch limo! I believe the website said the West Palm Beach airport was about 30 minutes away, but it was more like an hour. We didn’t care, we were in a limo :). We had a nice SUV on the ride back to the airport with no problems.
BOTTOM LINE: If you are a young couple without kids looking for the best all inclusive resort, go to a Caribbean resort! We have had far better accommodations there. But, if you are looking for a place to take your baby/very small children and have fun with the whole family, then Club Med Sandpiper Bay may be a good option for you. We’ll be back for that very reason, unless we find better accommodations that cater to babies and small children.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover the Floridian charm in our renovated all-inclusive family resort of Sandpiper, nestled by the Saint Lucie River which provides fun and excitement on the beach or on sailboats. Travel to Club Med Sandpiper Bay with your family and enjoy a carefree all-inclusive vacation amidst a full-amenity resort where families can discover incomparable sports and children's programs. Make the most of your vacation to discover tennis, golf and fitness with our top coaches in the Club Med Academies. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Club Med Sandpiper Bay Hotel Port Saint Lucie
- Med Sandpiper Club
- Club Med Sandpiper Florida
- Club Med Port Saint Lucie
- Sandpiper Club Med
- Club Med Port St Lucie
- Port Saint Lucie Club Med
- Club Med Sandpiper Bay Florida/Port Saint Lucie