If lying on a beach sipping umbrella drinks is too tame for your fit family, Florida’s Sandpiper Bay is as game as it gets. Set on the banks of the St. Lucie River, Club Med’s only North American property (so far) houses professional tennis, golf, fitness and beach volleyball (the National League trains here) academies so coaching and facilities are top notch. Here’s our guide to making the most of your team’s week of sun, sand, and sporty fun. —Marianne Wisenthal
do. Sandpiper Bay focuses on "active wellness," which means unlike most resorts you’ll rarely be horizontal. Kids and adults (from newbie to pro) can sign up for early a.m. tennis lessons on hard or clay courts, play afternoon rounds at the 18-hole PGA golf club or perfect their kill skill on one of the eight sand championship volleyball courts. For those in your clan who are a little less competitive there’s peaceful paddle boarding, sailing, Pilates and a flying trapeze run by circus pros (if your four-year-old can do a back flip, so can you, mom).
play. Club Med invented the whole kids’ club concept, and this is one of the best we’ve seen at any resort, ever. There’s a water park, circus program, full arts and crafts room and a generous staff-to-kid ratio (3:1 for the under-3 set). Littlies (from four months) have their own baby gym and a 24-hour bottle room with formula and toddler snacks. Tykes will love the scavenger hunts, sandcastle contests and end-of-the-week talent show in the giant theatre. Too-cool-for-school teens have their own clubhouse, and a Pyjama Club will put wee ones to sleep so you can enjoy a grownup cocktail (or two) after dark.
swim + spa. Yes, some sloth-like resting is occasionally allowed. Reward yourself at the end of an activity filled day with the Aromachologie Massage at the L’Occitane Spa (tweens can get their own). There’s also four fab pools depending on your mood: for laps, for babies, for families (with poolside games and synchronized dancing) and the glorious adults-only Calm Pool and Jacuzzi with swaying palms, river views and its very own bar. Score.
dance. Club Med takes a decidedly European approach to nightlife, meaning there is no kids’ curfew and the Slice Bar has plenty of virgin cocktails and funky beats. Crazy Signs are the resort’s very own choreographed dance routines. You may pooh-pooh it at first but it’s addictive, kids can join in and we guarantee you’ll all have your hands up before you’ve reached the bottom of your first bevvie.
more things you’ll love. The French staff (aka GOs) are a friendly bunch who’ll know your names by day 2. You’ll find them eating, drinking and dancing beside you every night giving the whole place a kind of summer camp feel. (Bonus: kids get to practice la langue française.) For food, there are loads of healthy options including fresh cold-pressed juices, generous salad bars and plenty of kid-approved picks like burgers, pizza and grilled cheese. And, finally, the deluxe family rooms have got a terrace, large-screen TV, fridge and separate bedroom (with door!) for les enfants terribles. Everything really is included (even tips) and doors can be unlocked with wristbands (so no lost key cards).