No room for couch potatoes
HAVING GONE THROUGH A major renovation earlier this year, Club Med Cherating Beach is attracting a lot of attention to this otherwise quiet village along the east coast of the Malaysian Peninsula.
About an hour from the airport in Kuantan, where visitors get connecting flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, this Club Med location is surrounded by nature, and feels like a paradise on Earth.
Guests will see monkeys dashing around every time they walk to their rooms on the elevated wood-panelled walkways that link all cabins housing the rooms and suites. Visitors who carry bags of fruit will soon get mobbed by the monkeys.
At night there are organised tours on the beach to watch sea turtles laying their eggs.
There is also a conservation centre where young turtles can be viewed.
They are released into the sea when they are strong enough and conditions are safe.
Most of the rooms do not have a television because the point of being there is to be active.
The best way to start a day is to get up early, have a light breakfast and do yoga by the seaside pavilions. After that, there is a range of activities.
Beginners are encouraged to practise golf (driving net, bunker practice and putting green), do a bit of yoga, sail, and do rock climbing or in-line skating. Also available are petanque, basketball, badminton, table tennis, weights room, squash, volleyball, kayaking and bungee jumping.
All are monitored and coached by professional staff, and the only risk is the embarrassment of poor performances.
The sea near the cabins is a bit too choppy to swim in, but a beach with calmer water is a short shuttle-train trip away.
This is also where kayaking and sailing are done. There is open-air barbecue restaurant at the beach.
Two things that set Club Med apart from other resorts are the food and personal service.
The staff are called GOs (gentle organisers), and they act as hosts, tour guides, sports coaches and performers.
The GOs line up at the door and welcome arriving guests with a round of applause, and they are always around to help in times of need.
Guests share dinner tables with them, chat with the GOs over drinks at the bar and at night they are the acrobats who do amazing stunts at the nightly shows.
Prices include breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all the meals come with an unlimited supply of soft drinks, beer and wine.
A cash bar by the pool serves drinks between meals, which is also where guests, called GMs (gentle members), mingle with GOs after dinner.
Also included in the package is live music played in the foyer and nightly shows at the outdoor mini theatre.
Dancing is encouraged during the live music and after shows.
Excursions are available and there are many options, including a half-day at Kampong, a night market, a day at Lake Chini and one day in Kuala Lumpur.
At Kampong, there are a wide variety of snacks to choose from at the outdoor market, while the Lake Chini tour includes a visit to an aboriginal village, where the inhabitants make blow darts and guns, as well as accessories, to sell as a source of income.
Club Med is organising a singles party - Rendezvous II - between October 16 and 24.
HOW IT RATES
Club Med Cherating Beach is happily affordable. The five-day, four-night package includes a round trip on Malaysia Airlines, all meals and sports activities. Reduced rates apply to children aged under 11.
Adult: HK$7,000-$8,220, depending on the season
Extension night: $800-$980
Deluxe Seaview Room
Extension night: $960-$1,180
No prices set for children
Extension night: $1,600-$1,960
Membership fee: $240 for adult and child over 12
Yearly renewal: $160
17/F Century Square
1-13 D'Aguilar Street
Tel: (852) 3111 9388