Rebecca Bisset revisits Club Med at Cherating Beach on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and discovers old favourites and new features.
Years ago, when my children were under 10, we had a brilliant time at Club Med at Cherating Beach. The girls were on the trapeze, in a show, sailing on catamarans and in archery competitions – all in the space of two days! It was one of the first holidays where I could just sun tan or read a book. It was liberating for me and quite satisfying for them as they learnt new skills and had lots of enjoyable experiences.
Before my recent trip back to Club Med, I was looking forward to seeing what it might be like without children; I remembered the fantastic food but also the great sense of space – the resort is set in 80 hectares of natural forest and jungle; and if that’s not enough there are also two long, empty beaches.
Previously we had coached up from Singapore but this time I flew on Firefly straight from Changi to Kuantan – a lot easier and quicker. I was very impressed with the brand new planes and professionalism at Firefly. The only thing I was worried about was the landing as on the way to the airport in Singapore the taxi driver had told us that there were serious floods in this part of Malaysia. It was the rainy season so perhaps not perfect timing for a beach holiday..
However we managed to arrive at the resort in sunshine and the first thing I noticed was the addition of a cool Noodle Bar (a first for Club Med). The main dining area was new the last time we were here, a contemporary cool place that I thought might have aged was still looking good. Still offering a fantastic buffet of different cuisines at every mealtime. With children it works especially well as they can try a wide range of food without it costing you anything if they don’t like it.. You can have as little or as much as you like, too, including alcohol and all drinks at dinner and specified bar times, so it’s a hedonist’s heaven. Tip: try the margaritas at the bar!
If you’re expecting luxurious rooms, you will be disappointed. They’re quite basic and a bit rundown. With all the rain when we were there, we would have liked more of a sanctuary to run back to; we did have a room facing the sea but we could only see it from a very small balcony. The main wall facing the sea was solid.
Instead, we discovered the “Zen Space” at the far beach; this is a new child-free pool and bar area that has lovely open views to the bay where the sea activities are held. It’s nice to have this option if you don’t have children with you. At this end of the resort, which is about a 10-minute walk (there’s a regular open tram, too), there’s also a fine-dining restaurant, The Rembulan; note that you have to book in advance.
Club Med Cherating is definitely a place to go if you want to be outdoors and active (you need to burn up all the calories from the food and drink, too) and there’s so much to do that it does make up for the average rooms. The resort scores very highly on TripAdvisor; the staff – called “G.O.s” (from the French, gentils organisateurs, meaning “kind organisers”) – are very friendly and, as usual with a Club Med, you can choose to be as involved and social as you like as there are no compulsory events.
If you’re only going for a couple of nights, definitely go the Firefly way; if longer, consider the coach which can be part of an all-inclusive package – it departs at 5.30am from the Newton Circus car park.
Club Med Packages – most include the following:
Breakfast, lunch, tea-time, snacks and dinner
Open bar drinks and snacks served throughout the day and evening with a large choice of premium brands
Child supervision from 4 to 11 years with multicultural and specialised G.O.s
Juniors’ Club Med from 11 to 17 years
A wide choice of activities, concerts and shows, plus complimentary Wi-Fi.
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