I learned early on that family vacations tend to be something you do for your children. [Ahem, fill in theme park of choice here.] Not so Club Med. In recent years the company has converted nearly all of their properties from places that singles went to be…very single, into incredible all-inclusive family friendly resorts. The kind that parents not only don’t mind going to, but you weep openly when you leave.

As a testament to their commitment to families, Club Med has got a super promotion now where kids stay free.  (I know!) So if you’re looking to get away this year, this would be the time to hit a Club Med.

Now let me backtrack and say I am definitely a more intrepid traveler than your average all-inclusive resort-goer, but after a recent trip to the brand new Club Med Punta Cana resort, consider me their new biggest fan. This is one trip where everyone has fun.

Club Med really offers an international vacation without all the hassle of currency conversion and shared toilets. Most of the visitors were French-speaking, and with staff from around the world, it’s definitely not some American enclave in the Dominican Republic.

The staff is beyond friendly, even the cheaper rooms are terrific, and the recent $40 million dollar renovation is evident in everything from the pristine beach to the eye-popping bar area. But what really makes it a perfect trip for families is the kids’ program of your dreams.

While you’re sacked out on the beach (or windsurfing or hula-hooping), kids from 4 months on up have the most caring, attentive, patient staff entertaining them to the nth degree.  At 4-ish when we were starting to feel guilty, we’d check back in at the Petite Club Med to find our 3.5 year old pretending she didn’t know us. The baby had even gotten in a nap which in itself was a miracle.

At night, various childcare options allowed us to suck down some fruity rum drinks in good conscience after a family dinner. Or just do as the Europeans do and take your kids to the bar with you until midnight.

You have to love that all the food and most of the booze is included. Good considering I ate my weight in white chocolate bread each morning. Even my snobby NYC foodie sigOth was duly impressed with the dozens of gourmet dining options each meal including caviar and blini appetizers, entrees up the whazoo, an elaborate cheese table, and dessert crepes made to order. And yeah, french fries for les enfants Americains.

Be careful Club Med. You’re giving buffets–and inclusive vacations–a good name. –Liz

Find more info at clubmed.us or call 1800CLUBMED. Thanks to Club Med for including us in their opening weekend press junket.

[photos: © liz gumbinner]