Club Med De Balaia welcomed us to its all-inclusive family resort in the Algarve, Portugal. We spent three days at the hotel finding out what sets Club Med apart from other family holiday destinations.
The quick overview
Club Med De Balaia is an all-inclusive family holiday destination with activities and facilities that cater to everyone from 4 months old. The sprawling resort comprises of 389 rooms, three pools, three bars, tennis and volleyball courts, and space for circus skills, archery and football. With a spa and adults-only fresh water ‘zen’ pool and kids’ clubs for up to 17 years old, Club Med promises to be a peaceful and relaxing retreat all-round.
Where is it?
The resort is located in Albufeira on the red sea cliffs of the Algarve region of Portugal. Club Med sits on the Atlantic coastline and has its own access route to a beautiful sandy beach minutes away from the hotel. The region is best known for its sandy beaches, golf courses and marina facilities. The closest airport is Faro which is about a 30-minute taxi ride from the Club Med resort.
What’s the resort like?
The resort is huge. Club Med refer to it as ‘a village’, which we started to understand when we were informed the place was almost fully booked yet it was never overcrowded by the pool or at dinner. That’s perhaps because there are so many activities around the site that it can cater for its 389 rooms full of guests without feeling packed out.
One thing we noticed was that there were always lots of staff around, which was very helpful if you ever needed anything or got lost. The staff are referred to as ‘GOs’ — the French abbreviation for Gentils Organisateurs (‘gracious organisers), while the hotel guests are referred to as ‘GMs’ — Gentils Membres (‘gracious guests’). Unlike other resorts, a quirk to Club Med is that the staff get involved in the holiday spirit in dining, drinking and dancing with the guests, and playing sports during the day.
How about the rooms?
We stayed in a double room with a wonderful sea view. It was very clean and modern with a balcony where we spent a lot of time relaxing and looking out across the resort.
You can choose between a Superior (like the double room we stayed in), a Deluxe, that has a few extra luxuries including towels and slippers, coffee and tea-making facilities, and heated towel rail; or a Suite with separate living room and a long list of other luxuries.
What’s in it for the kids?
With four kids clubs — Baby Club Med®, Petit Club Med®, Mini Club Med® and Juniors’ Club Med® — kids from 4 months-17 years old are kept entertained throughout the holiday. Each of the clubs, except for the baby club is included in the holiday package.
- In Baby Club Med®, for 4 month-2 year olds, children are taken care of by early years professionals in a specially designed stimulating environment.
- Petit Club Med®, for 2-3 year olds, is a good mix of indoor and outdoor play, including painting, musical games and sports. Mini Club Med.
- Mini Club Med® is best suited for 4-10 year olds and provides children with space to explore and express themselves.
- Juniors’ Club Med® gives your teens the most freedom, giving them the option to pursue their own interests and try their hand at golf, archery and the flying trapeze.
What’s in it for the adults?
A big thing for Club Med is sports. Choose between golf, tennis, fitness classes, archery and flying trapeze — or try them all! Whether you’re looking for an introduction to a sport, wanting to take part in the daily tournaments, or just after a casual game, you’ll be able to choose what’s right for you. We took part in a beginner’s tennis session, which I worried would be intimidating but turned out to be really fun.
The Zen Zone was by far my favourite part of the resort. This is an adult-only pool and relaxation area on the other side of the resort. It features a freshwater pool that’s free from chemicals and kept clean naturally by its ecological ecosystem. The plant life and pool joined but there aren’t any insects or toads in the swimming section. It’s brilliantly refreshing and after a dip, you’ll be able to grab a juice or smoothie and relax on the sun loungers.
The CINQ MONDES spa offers a long list of treatments, including massages, skin scrubs, beauty treatments and bespoke package options.
Nature, culture, adventure and bespoke excursions are available to add onto your holiday. I’d recommend choosing at least one of these since it’s a good chance for you to get out of the resort and explore the Algarve. We took a boat trip that led us to discover hidden beaches, take in breathtaking coastline vistas and spot some dolphins.
The resort turns into a celebration in the evenings with music and entertainment in the bar, theatre and club. We watched a fantastic performance in the theatre that got everybody up and dancing. It was busy with children early on and was filled with families and GOs until very late.
How’s the food?
Club Da Balaia has two restaurants. The main restaurant The Balaïa offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It offered a bit of everything from around the world with pasta dishes freshly prepared in front of you to gourmet steak-frites and Thai noodles and salads. Pizzas, chips and plainer options were also available with children enjoying stacking up their plates and building their own burgers. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by all-inclusive holiday buffet but Club Med really set a high standard when it comes to food quality. There’s also a baby corner where you can prepare and heat up food for babies.
The Vasco Gourmet Lounge, the upstairs restaurant, with its table service had a more formal feel. It was quieter, and despite being open to families, felt like more of a relaxing place for the adults to relax. We enjoyed some fantastic fish and grilled vegetables, as we dined terrace that looked out to sea. You can eat in this restaurant at any time of the day and it’s possible to make a reservation. Despite it being the more relaxed option, The Balaïa was the most popular choice for its huge variety and for the option of kids being able to get up and serve themselves.
All drinks, both soft and alcoholic ones, are included as part of the holiday package unless you’re after a premium spirit, but there was a really good range of drinks and cocktails to choose from. Wine is brought over to your table in bottles at lunch and dinner.
Would we go back?
To spend a peaceful few days playing tennis, enjoying delicious, fresh food and whiling away afternoons by the zen pool? Without a doubt! The resort provides a good environment for quality family time and ensures there is a sufficient range of activities for all ages to enjoy throughout the days and evenings, which makes for a succesful (and relaxing!) family break.
Visit ClubMed.co.uk to find out more and book your visit.