Located somewhere between the tranquil blue of the sea and the green of the jungle, Club Med Cherating offers the complete vacation, writes Shuib Taib
HAVING braved the horrendous traffic and an almost three-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to Cherating in Pahang, it feels nice to be sandwiched between a green forest and the blue sea.
This is the setting of Club Med Cherating, one of the oldest and most popular resorts in the country that sits on the shoreline of the South China Sea, fringed by Cherating's lush tropical forest.
Housed in a beautiful, traditional Malay-style building, the resort has everything to make a perfect, tropical holiday.
The pace here is noticeably slower than in the city. After all, it's a holiday resort. It’s huge and despite welcoming many guests each day, it doesn’t feel overly-crowded.
Club Med is also known as the pioneer in the all-inclusive family holiday concept with numerous activities for everyone. In the evening for example, you can do archery, beach volleyball, play badminton, tennis or a rare sport like petanque (lawn bowling). If you prefer more challenging activities, try adventure trekking, abseiling, kayaking or sailing. If you have the guts, rock climbing and flying trapeze may just be for you. If you like cooking or batik painting, you can do these too.
Indeed, quite unlike a holiday at any other resort, guests at Club Med only leave the premises when they check out. If they check in for three days, chances are they will be spending all their time at the resort. I did.
Besides the never-ending activities, here’s what I love the most about Club Med Cherating:
1 - Lazing at the bar
With several comfy sofas, flowing drapes and cool ambience, the bar is one of the guests’ favourite hangouts. Free-flowing drinks mean that you can sit out here all day and night. Great piped-in music and friendly staff ensure that you are well taken care of. In the evening, a band entertains with songs from the top 40s. It is the place to be.
2 - Kampung-style stilted chalets
Chalets on stilts are inter-connected with long wooden pathways. Walking along these pathways can leave you breathless as they are indeed long. The walk from one end to the other can take some 10 minutes or more.
Made from local timber, the chalet is a combination of wood and rattan from floor to ceiling, giving it a cosy ambience. Batik paintings adorn the wall. I love standing at the balcony of my chalet with its carved wood railing. Spread before me is the garden with well-tended lawn. There’s also another lush tropical garden at one corner — a favourite hangout for monkeys. In the evening, the monkeys seem to be more relaxed. Occasionally, I feel the wind blowing from the South China Sea.
3 - Take-A-Break-And-Dance session
Daily, before every lunch, tea and dinner, the GO (gentil organisateur or congenial host) goes around with a hand speaker, cajoling guests to gather around the pool for a fun dance session. At the pool, guests follow the dance moves of the leader, who is often the best dancer among the GOs. It is all about having fun while doing some good exercise. Those who can’t dance well can exploit this as a free dance lesson session.
4 - Great evening performances
So multi-talented are the GOs that they don’t need to hire professional performers for entertainment. Every night, the GOs put on a special show with different thematic performances (Brazilian Night, Haunted House, etc). They are done professionally and with elaborate costumes, props. They also get the audience to take part. Before the show begins, five emcees introduce the evening’s performance in five languages. What’s great is that all the GOs take part, including the chief executive officer. One evening, the GOs thrilled the audience with dances and skits during the Haunted House show. After the performance, which lasted for more than an hour, guests were ushered into a haunted house created by the GOs. Suffice to say that the screams from unsuspecting female guests were real!
5 - Fun family activities
Children and parents alike will appreciate the fact that Club Med has something for everyone. Whether it is batik painting or cooking classes, there’s something fun to do. Some classes are strictly for adults like making snails with garlic sauce or making cocktails and mocktails. Making sushi, on the other hand, is suitable for both parents and children. Assisted by the GOs, children and their parents have a gala time rolling sushi. I had a great time too just watching them doing it.
6 - The never-ending beach
The beach fronting Club Med is 4km long! While the pool area is always full of activities and people, the beach is perfect for anyone looking for some solitude. You can find an isolated spot and sunbathe or find a lazy chair under a tree to snooze, read or day dream.
7 - The international staff
If you talk to the GOs, you will soon realise that they come from many parts of the world. All Club Med GOs go through resort rotation every three to four months. For instance, those who work at Club Med Cherating for four months are likely to be sent to other branches for another four months. This ensures employees don’t get bored working in one place. Staying or working too long in one place can drive them crazy. Through rotating them, the club ensures that it gets the best out of its employees and vice versa. During my stay, I meet GOs from Indonesia, Australia, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Tunisia, Senegal, Brazil, United States and of course Malaysia.
8 - Time For Spa
You can never go wrong with a good massage. It is also a good way to end your short holiday after all the swimming, running, dancing, walking, partying, etc. The Club Med Spa by Mandara has three individual treatment rooms and three “duo” rooms for tandem treatment centred around different themes. My favourite has always been the Balinese massage. I like it because you can determine the pressure that you prefer and it always gives me a good sleep after.