I had never seen myself as a Club Med sort of person. The idea of sharing meal tables with strangers, mandatory participation in activities and general enforced jollity has never really appealed to me.
But somebody told me that none of this applies to Club Med Cherating so when we first relocated to Malaysia, after quite a stressful move, we decided to spend 5 days there to unwind and ease ourselves gently into our new lives in Malaysia.
It was a good decision. The resort occupies a prime spot at Cherating Beach on Malaysia's east coast with over 2 miles of golden beach and a sizeable chunk of rainforest all within the resort's boundaries.
The low-rise accommodation buildings are made from teak wood and inspired by traditional Malay architecture. This is not a new resort, 30 years old perhaps, so the buildings look very well established in the mature grounds.
The rooms, while not over-the-top luxurious, were very comfortable with all the amenities that you would expect from a hotel of this quality. Not that we spent a great deal of time in the rooms!
We managed to try out many of the all-inclusive activities that were on offer during our stay, including badminton, tennis, ocean kayaking, football, rainforest walking, archery, yoga, table tennis, batik painting and boules (or was it petanque? - I am never sure of the difference). And the Club Med concept of kids club for different age groups was available, but not compulsory, for those kids wanting supervised activities away from Mum and Dad.
There was only one swimming pool - perhaps surprising these days for a resort of this size - but it had different sections including a shallow part for young kids. There was always a vigilant life guard on duty.
The main beach was beautiful and almost deserted. The sea was quite rough and potentially dangerous but another beach where the kayaking and sailing took place was calmer and safer.
Club Med Cherating calls itself an eco-nature resort and it was clear that they try to leave their piece of rainforest in its natural state as far as possible. Indeed we encountered three snakes in the resort in just five days - one up a tree on the beach, one near the tennis courts and a bright green and no doubt venomous one sunbathing on a wooden bridge over a picturesque lotus pond. My son nearly placed his hand on this last one by accident. On hearing the commotion, one of the resort's staff (or G.O's as they are known) came over to investigate. This guy from Mauritius picked up a stick and tried to impress some female guests by showing off his snake handling skills. However the snake wriggled off, fell into the long grass and scattered us in all directions.
Apart from this minor incident we found the G.O.'s to be entertaining, helpful and friendly.
The highlight of the stay for me (and, I suspect, most of the other guests) was the food which, we all agreed, was probably among the best we have tasted anywhere.
Every eagerly awaited mealtime, the buffet tables were groaning under the weight of delicious dishes of every imaginable cuisine - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indian, Italian, International and more. The excellent freely-flowing house wines which, together with beer and soft drinks were all included in the package price, slipped down very nicely. It would have been easy to over-indulge but we managed to keep food and alcohol intake within reason.
The resort's Chef de Village (General Manager) who, with his long fair hair and bushy moustache, bore a striking resemblance to Obelix, was to be congratulated for running an excellent kitchen.
Our stay was expensive. It cost around RM16,000 for 2 adults and 3 children for 5 nights which is quite a lot by Malaysian standards but that rate included all the activities and entertainment and of course the excellent food and beverage. Overall I thought it was good value for money. They do offer special promotions from time to time and you can check out their website for more details and bookings.
This superb resort exceeded my expectations and changed my perceptions of Club Med. I would thoroughly recommend the experience.
Want to see what alternative hotels there are in the Cherating area? Take a look at Agoda's website for a wide range of hotels at heavily discounted rates.