Hotel Review: Club Med Punta Cana

Why Go: While many have several preconceived ideas of how a Club Med resort should be – opulent and luxurious, for example – the brand’s 4 Trident family-friendly resort, situated on the Atlantic shores of the Dominican Republic, slightly deviates from such ideas to match the island’s laid-back but active lifestyle. And it’s perfection.

Not to say that it falls short of being luxurious, of course. After all, it boasts a beautiful 5 Trident space, fittingly christened Tiara, which features a private infinity pool with sweeping views of the ocean, a dedicated concierge service, nightly turndown service, and beautiful, beachside family suites that offer ample deluxe living space for a family of four. Club Med Punta Cana, however, is more than just indulging in expensive accommodations and amenities.

With an ideal location – right next to the famed shallow reefs of Punta Cana and minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport, Club Med Punta Cana (the resort that introduced Punta Cana to the world) goes beyond the usual all-inclusive escape that mostly involve taking dips in the pool, sunning on the beach and indulging at the buffet table. With the help of its Gentil Organisateurs (GOs), the resort encourages an active and fun tropical vacation where guests partake in the many activity offerings, immerse in the local culture, make lasting friendships, and at times, push past their comfort zone, no matter their age and predilection.

Getting There: A mere 10-minute (or less) drive from the Punta Cana International Airport, which receives inbound flights from many major cities in the US and in Europe daily, Club Med Punta Cana is one of the most easily accessible resorts in the Caribbean. Grab a cab at the airport, which will only set you back $30 (up to 4 people), or arrange for private transportation.

Getting Oriented: Sitting on the shores of DomRep’s longest natural reef in southern Punta Cana, the lush Caribbean resort is one of the biggest Club Med properties in the Americas. Yet, a relaxing walk around the property and about half a day there will quickly get you oriented with where most of the important spots are, like the restaurants, the main pool, the beach, the sports areas, and the new CREACTIVE play space.

Tiara, the 5 Trident space at Club Med Punta CanaTiara, the 5 Trident space at Club Med Punta Cana (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Room Options: Club Med Punta Cana has a total of 553 rooms divided into 3 types (Deluxe, Club, and 5 Trident Space Suites) of beach house-style bungalows with unassuming yet colorful exteriors. All rooms have the usual resort features and family-friendly amenities that include air-conditioning, an espresso machine, hair-dryer, safe, iron and ironing board, and flat screen cable TVs.

Deluxe rooms vary in size, as do Club rooms, and offer different options for couples as well as families – including a 2-bedroom with a living area. The 5 Trident Suites, on the other hand, are all 2-bedroom oceanfront suites with a full bathroom and a ¾ bath, a receiving area, a living area connected to the main bedroom, a balcony that opens up to the sea, and convenient water access. If you are looking for a more luxurious option, a 5 Trident Space Suite is definitely the way to go.

In December of 2015, the resort is set to open their adult-only Zen Oasis zone to provide a perfect hideaway for couples and, of course, parents who deserve a much-needed break. Zen Oasis rooms will feature modern accents, spa-like bathrooms with rainfall showers, a terrace or balcony, outdoor daybeds, and classy L’Occitane spa toiletries, not to mention access to a lagoon pool, a wellness bar, and an adult-only beach.

CREACTIVE is one of the newest family-friendly attractions in Club Med Punta Cana.CREACTIVE is one of the newest family-friendly attractions in Club Med Punta Cana. (Courtesy Club Med Punta Cana)

For the Whole Family: Perhaps Club Med Punta Cana’s best offering right now is the new Club Med CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil. CREACTIVE is an all-age, family-friendly outdoor play space where guests can seize a rare opportunity to be part of the circus and participate in more than 30 circus pursuits – from the swinging trapeze, tightrope and acrobatic bungee to mask making, make-up and dance. Since its launch in June 2015, it’s become a big hit with kids and adults alike!

From there, the list goes on. Water lovers have access to swimming, kayaking, sailing lessons, water polo, windsurfing lessons, snorkeling (additional cost), and kite surfing (additional cost), to name a few.

Prefer to stay dry? Beach volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis school, and fitness classes are among the many land-based activities available. Punta Cana is a golfer’s paradise, with two world-class courses featuring 12 seaside holes between them less then 10 minutes away from the resort, so if you have an avid golfer in the family, make sure to sign him or her up for coaching sessions with Happy Golf at the southwestern end of the resort.

End your day with an amazing L’Occitane Spa treatment on the beach at sunset. Is there anything more relaxing than getting a full-body massage while listening to the sounds of the waves?

Kids' pool at the kids' club.Kids’ pool at the kids’ club. (Courtesy Club Med Punta Cana)

Just for Kids: Much like the resort, the kids’ club and childcare at Club Med Punta Cana is centered on keeping kids occupied and entertained while parents enjoy some R&R. Daily schedules are curated to include not just indoor activities, pool time and afternoon snacks, but also stimulating activities such as the trapeze (kids ages 4 and up), archery, acrobatic bungee, kayaking, and sailing (6 and up). There are even special themed days, so there’s never a dull moment.

The club is divided into four categories based on the kids’ ages – Baby (4–23 months), Petite (2-3 years), Mini (4-10), and Passworld (11-17), enlists especially-trained GOs, and has special considerations in place like allergy lists and sign-in bracelets to ensure the kids’ health and safety.

Savor delicious international cuisine with the whole family at the resort.Savor delicious international cuisine with the whole family at the resort. (Courtesy Club Med Punta Cana)

Where to Eat: Delectable options, both buffet and a la carte, are offered at the resort. International cuisine is the theme of its two buffet restaurants – waterside Hispaniola, which offers lovely views of the reef, and Samana, located near the pool and bar Cielo that offers non-alcoholic drinks and snacks to kids – to cater to every taste.

For breakfast, a must-try is the White Chocolate Bread (Pain au Chocolat Blanc), a Club Med exclusive pastry that will keep you and the kids coming back for more.

If you’re staying at one of the 5 Trident Space suites, welcome the day with a terrific basket of mini pastries, a plate of fresh fruit from room service and freshly-prepared hot chocolate made from local cacao, enjoyed on your sea-facing, private balcony. The tropical ripe mangoes are unforgettable!

Grab a quick snack at the Celeste Snack Bar to refuel between activities.

Insider Tips:

  • Club Med Punta Cana now offers paddleboarding tour that takes participants along the reef to a lagoon teeming with wild stingrays. $50 per person.
  • CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil is a perfect multi-generational recreation; so make sure to take the whole family, including grandma and grandpa, to test their acrobatic and creative skills.Included with your stay.
  • Near Samana are some shopping options, especially for families who are not planning on leaving the resort. Make sure to purchase some local goods to enjoy at home or bring back to your friends and family. Coffee drinkers will love Café Santo Domingo, which offers a smooth and mildly sweet blend, and hot chocolate drinkers will truly appreciate Cacao JLC.
  • Make sure to check out some of their nighttime shows, specified on the Daily Activities sheet.
  • The resort usually has an evening dress code. It’s non-mandatory, but a lovely tradition to participate in. Check with the resort before your visit, so you know which outfits to pack!
  • Going in the summertime? Slather on plenty of sunscreen and re-apply as necessary. And don’t forget the bug spray.

(Originally published on MiniTime.)

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Taste the Flavors of the World with Try the World

Food is the flavor of travel, and one of the best things about visiting far-off lands whose culture differ from our own. But if truth be told, while grown-ups are more than happy – or at least more inclined – to sample a foreign cuisine that differ from our own, kids are the pickiest eaters and convincing them to try something new may not be easy. This means that traveling with kids to a foreign country can get tough.

A simple solution to get our little travelers to have a wider taste palette and to expose them to the different tastes of the world is to start at home.

That’s where Try the World comes in very handy. An ingenious way of enjoying different tastes of the world, the US-based company delivers gourmet food from all over the world right on your doorstep every 2 months with their chef-curated subscription boxes filled with goodies from wonderful destinations.

Whether you are looking to try some French cuisine, sample the more exotic tastes of Marrakech or savor the Mediterranean flavors of Italy, each Try the World curated box features a different destination and features authentic, carefully selected, USFDA approved snacks and cooking items from that destination. Additionally, each box comes with a card that talks about every item and how they’re traditionally prepared and eaten, as well as a beautiful culture guide that covers interesting things about the destination, including a recipe, a playlist and some movie recommendations.

Courtesy Try the World
Courtesy Try the World

Try the World’s subscription boxes are a terrific way to expose the kids to new cuisines and cultures, and for the whole family to enjoy a genuine food experience without putting in the miles. Well, at least not just yet.

It’s also great for an awesome culture night party with friends, a romantic date night without the kids, or just a special Friday night dinner with the whole family. And when you run out of your favorite items, Try the World has got you covered with their well-stocked online shop.

Every Try the World box is truly designed so you and your kids can have a complete cultural and gastronomical experience. Not only will it prepare the kids for unique culinary experiences, it will also give every member of your family something to look forward to on your next family adventure.

Current box, Buenos Aires, explores the meaty dishes and delicious creamy deserts of Argentina, featuring such treats as dulce de membrillo, chimichurri and Argentine teas. Visit their website now and get ready to taste the flavors of the world with Try the World.

(Originally published on

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Play Without Discrimination with Woozy Moo

As travelers, we know how tedious long flights or car rides can be for our kids. Toys are an integral part of our family vacations – to our kids, they are distractions from idle moments and for when the adults need some R&R. So why not choose toys that also function as effective learning tools, instruments that can help mold our kids’ young and impressionable minds and become free thinkers in the future?

Finding such toys is easier said than done, however, with big toy companies often dictating what our kids should and shouldn’t play with. And with so many prejudices in the world – whether it’s manufacturers marginalizing what our kids can play with or it’s magazines promoting unattainable so-called role models and TV shows and movies dictating our kids’ identities, we do what we can as parents to not just protect our children from them, but also to raise individuals who are not driven by such biases.

It’s a good thing there are companies out there who are helping parents to create a better future where our kids are free to be their individual selves without judgment. One such company is web-based toy store Woozy Moo, born out of founder Hai Tiet’s frustration with the big players in the toy industry “controlling the fun.” Woozy Moo prides itself in promoting “fun without discrimination,” working on the idea that kids should be able to play with toys that promote independent thinking and do not suppress their identities.

Woozy Moo handpicks every toy it carries on the site, making sure that every single one is eco-friendly, thought provoking, well-built, and, of course, non-discriminatory. On, girls can be superheroes, adventurers and builders, science and learning is cool and very much encouraged, and special needs kids need not be limited during playtime!

Courtesy Woozy Moo
Courtesy Woozy Moo

MiniTime chatted with Woozy Moo to find out more about what makes them better than their big league competitors.

MiniTime: What’s the idea behind Woozy Moo? How did it come about?

Woozy Moo: The idea of Woozy Moo really came about from our founder Hai Tiet (pronounced “Hi T-eat”) when he was working at the United Nations. Hai was working in the education sector of the UN, so he worked with a lot of kids, teachers, parents, and policymakers. He saw that children at a very young age are put into “boxes,” where they are supposed to think and act a certain way. In addition, he saw that for kids that don’t fit into these “boxes,” there were also very limited opportunities for them. He found out that the toy industry (which you would think should be an innocent industry) is quite marginalizing and reinforces these “boxes.” They make and sell only toys that they think will sell, and they are quite adamant about this. This include pink princess dolls for girls and blue armored trucks for boys. It is very rare that you find good-quality special needs toys out there let alone a toy store that carries eco-friendly toys or toys that empower girls to be leaders. Frustrated, Hai decided that although the UN does excellent work in the policy world, change had to occur during playtime, so Woozy Moo was born.

MiniTime: What makes Woozy Moo toys different from most toys out there and how can they help our kids in their development?

Woozy Moo: Since our mission is to provide kids playtime without bias or any limitation, we provide only toys that promote a bias-free playtime. You won’t find “girl” or “boy” toys at Woozy Moo. We believe there should be no designation. All Woozy Moo toys either teach kids amazing things, empower them to be fearless and leaders, and/or made of sustainable materials. In addition, we also categorize all toys on our website by themes to help parents pick out the best toys for their little ones. For example, in the “Smart Toys” theme, parents can rest assure that these toys help kids challenge themselves in unconventional ways where normal toys fall short. For example, our Q-Ba marble run toys and Keva brainteaser toys challenge kids to think outside the box to engineer contraptions and structures all while having fun.

MiniTime: How do you decide which toys to carry on your site? Do you have a careful selection process?

Woozy Moo: Here at Woozy Moo, most of us come from a humanitarian background. We all are either educators or social workers, so we all have a background in child development. In turn, we have a careful selection process when curating toys and use a four-step guideline in toy selection, which is listed below:

  1. Does the toy present any cultural or gender bias that would limit a child’s development?
  2. Does the toy challenge us to think or learn new things?
  3. What is the philosophy of the manufacturer? Safe and eco-friendly? Believe in gender equality and equal opportunity for all?
  4. Is it fun?

MiniTime: What’s next for Woozy Moo?

Woozy Moo: We really believe that kids should be able to grow up in a safe environment that is free from any bias, and our first mission is to tackle down the toy industry and break the boxes that they put kids into. We know we are not alone in this fight as many parents have been really supportive of Woozy Moo and thanking us for taking on this mission. We want to continue the fight in making the world a better place for kids. First toys, but perhaps maybe bias-free books and clothes next!

So go on. Inspire your little girls to take the on adventures in your family travels with fun and fearless toys like Goldie Blox’s fun Zipline Action Figure, encourage them to accept and love their unique personalities with body-positive dolls like Arklu’s Lottie, the Robot Girl, and stimulate their creativity and intellect with easy and fun to assemble science kits like Green Science’s Tin Can Robot. Woozy Moo offers a world of possibilities for your kids and moves them to be greater than society’s expectations of them. There’s no better place to find the perfect toys, whether to take on your family vacations or to play with in the comfort of your own home.

(Originally published on

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Inspire Mini Adventurers with Little Passports

As ardent travelers, we realize the importance of exposing our little ones to the wonders the world has to offer as early as possible. But that doesn’t mean they’ll feel the same way. After all, the shortest flights can get very uncomfortable; driving on long, empty stretches of road tend to be dull; and our definitions of fun and awesome may not always be the same.

Lucky for us there are a number of ways to get them as excited about family vacations as we are – from reading them children’s books about travel to getting them involved in the research to letting plan at least part of the itinerary. And with subscription boxes gaining popularity, parents have another arsenal in their hands.

While their monthly subscription boxes, reminiscent of those days when snail mail pen pals from far off places were a thing, come in neat and adorable packages that even adults will love, Bay Area-based company Little Passports certainly has a knack for thinking outside the box.

USA Edition Kit by Little Passports (Photo: Michelle Rae)
USA Edition Kit by Little Passports (Photo: Michelle Rae)

Each Little Passport subscription – there are three: Early Explorers for ages 3-5, World Edition for kids ages 6-10, and USA Edition for ages 7-12 – is designed to inspire kids to take a passionate interest in seeing, exploring and experiencing the world and the many cultures in it. (Don’t let that age guide deter you if you have teens; my 13-year-old loves them too!)

USA Edition Kit - California (Photo: Michelle Rae)
USA Edition Kit – California (Photo: Michelle Rae)

Inside each monthly kit contains a letter from pen pals Sam & Sofia, an activity booklet (with puzzles, word searches, DIY tutorials, scavenger hunts, must-stop attractions and landmarks, and even simple recipes), cool knickknacks, stickers, postcards and more, all based around a chosen theme.

The Discovery Kit comes with a camera! (Photo: Michelle Rae)
The Discovery Kit comes with a camera! (Photo: Michelle Rae)

Intended to open young minds to different cultures, instill land and wildlife conservation, encourage the love of adventure and the great outdoors, and get them excited about visit different destinations, Little Passports is just the perfect spark to ignite the wanderlust in our future adventurers!

Best of all, the subscriptions initially come with wall-sized maps that the kids can use to mark the places they’ve been, and in fun, colorful suitcases – keeping with the jet setting theme – so the kids can carry their kits around during your travels!

Sometimes, it takes a bit of convincing (and bribing) to get the kids on the traveling bandwagon. With these travel kits, it just might take a little less effort on your part.

Visit their website to learn more about Little Passports.

(Originally published on

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