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Club Med: Columbus Isle

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

I'd have to say the tiny, one-room airport in San Salvador was a pleasure compared to my previous flight, which originated from Chicago's O'Hare. I'll gladly take the one-room variety any day.

Does a few days of isolation sound appealing....a place where you feel as if you're on a deserted island? San Salvador is a spot on the globe where cell phones rarely work, (thank God!) and there's no traffic lights, no banks and no jail. The entire island has less than a dozen phone lines.

If a honeymoon of solitude and privacy are what you seek, Club Med Columbus Isle is the place. One guest quipped, "this really is a little slice of paradise, you can forget the outside world and the outside world can forget you."

Located in the Bahamas chain, San Salvador is reputed to be the site where Christopher Columbus first set foot in the new world. True or not, Club Med Columbus Isle is the quintessential tropical island of our fantasies.

Marlena and Chad Slager of St. Petersburg, Florida chose Club Med Columbus Isle for their week-long honeymoon. Marlena comments, "The resort has really exceeded our expectations. The beach is absolutely beautiful and we love the wide variety of food. We had a wonderful time horseback riding, and snorkeling. Chad will be scuba diving later this week. It's just been everything we hoped and more."

"If you want some place to chill-out and relax, plus enjoy the scenery, we would definitely recommend Columbus Isle," Chad added.

Club Med began in 1950, on an island off the coast of Spain. The concept and the "village" were a major success. During that summer, a total of 2,300 people took the lengthy journey through France and Spain. It required a train ride, a ship crossing and then a bus ride. Nevertheless, it was so popular, the founder, Gerard Blitz, had to turn away nearly 10,000 reservation requests!

A new kind of vacation was born, what we now call the all-inclusive. Vacationers were called members, made to feel part of a club, rather than just guests. Those first accommodations were in tents and the facilities were utilitarian instead of luxurious. Yet, the carefree days of sunshine and relaxation were just what war-weary Europeans needed. Beach volleyball, swimming, track and field games, basketball, were some of the activities of offered during those early days.

From the very first, Club Med focused on sports and active pursuits. It's been called the largest sports club in the world.

As years passed, other villages were organized. Club Med became not so much a destination, as an identity. Currently, they have 120 villages all over the world. More than beach resorts, villages can be found in snow ski areas such as Crested Butte and Copper Mountain. Others are found in such exotic locations as Bora Bora and Morocco. Club Med offers villages for families, adults and for everyone.

Customs from those early years continue at the village today. GO's or Gracious Organizers are at the heart of those long-standing traditions.

Chosen for their natural vivacity, and enthusiasm, the GO's could be called the facilitators at Club Med. Their duties are numerous, matching their talents. From organizing pool games in the afternoon to singing in the evening show, GO's keep the GM's (or Gracious Members) both happy and entertained. It's the GO's which set Club Med apart from other all-inclusive resorts.

Interaction with GO's at Club Med is on-going and that's vital to the Club Med formula. The usual division between staff and guests is blurred, as everyone becomes part of the group. Most GO's speak at least two languages and it's evident they love their jobs. They sit with members at mealtime and are hosts, guides, teachers, and friends. Again and again, members say it's the fun-loving, dedicated GO's which bring them back to Club Med.

Those who frequent the villages rate Columbus Isle high on the list. Great effort has been taken to keep the landscape consistent with our image of a tropical island. The decor of the village is complimented by an eclectic mix of artifacts and artwork from India, China, and Brazil, among others.

The long property follows the gentle curve of the water's edge. A number of the rooms have ocean views. Accommodations are in two-story Bahamian cottages, painted in cheery yellow, red and blue, accented with white gingerbread trim. Each has a patio area where you can appreciate the ocean breeze. Curious iguanas check out the new arrivals, leaving tell-tale signs as they drag their reptilian tails through the sand. The rooms are spacious, and exceptionally quiet.

Water and watersports activities are the highlight of Club Med Columbus Isle. Of all the sports available, scuba diving is the primary focus of this village. They utilize three state-of-the-art scuba boats for both diving and snorkeling. One member visiting from New Jersey commented, "this village really offers a buffet of sports. You can try windsurfing in the morning and water skiing in the afternoon. Then the next day it's on to sea kayaking and snorkeling."

Speaking of buffets, at meal time, members eat in the main restaurant, which consists of an extensive smorgasbord. Their white chocolate bread is addictive. Always a bread-lover, I was drawn to it like a cat to cream. It's so popular, members often request to take a loaf home in their luggage! For dining alternatives, two other restaurants are located on the property.

San Salvador is a one-hour flight from Nassau. Other flights depart from Miami. The website for Club Med is www.clubmed.com or you can contact your travel agent for more information.


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