Information about traveling to Club Med at their Sandpiper Bay Resort in Florida with kids.
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We were looking for a relaxing vacation this year to take our three kids… somewhere we could use their kids camp so we could have time together and also with our kids. Over the years, we’ve gone to quite a few different resorts with kids camps, such as Beaches Negril, Coconut Bay Resort, and FDR Resort. We’ve had some fabulous experiences and I wanted to take the time to share our experience at Club Med Sandpiper Bay.
Unfortunately, we have the stomach bug while we were there, as well as some chillier than normal weather, so I anticipate our experience may not have been as good as others’ experiences. From what I’ve heard from other guests, the weather may have hindered some of the typical outdoor activities planned for the kids within the daycare.
This is going to be a REAL review… the one with the good and bad, not the “yay I love traveling, buy this vacation” versions you get sometimes. I wasn’t paid to do this post and the resort didn’t even know I was a blogger or planning to write a post about our stay. If you decide to book a stay here and use my affiliate links to book, I will get a commission, but I won’t let that impact my review. I’d rather everyone know the good and bad so they can decide for themselves whether the vacation is right for them.
Club Med Florida
I’m going to try to address each aspect of our trip, but please leave a comment if you have any questions about anything else! I’ll try to add on if I forgot something important.
The accommodations were fabulous. I loved that the rooms were perfectly setup for our family. They provided a lot of necessities like the pack n play for the baby, a stroller, and two twin beds for the big guys. We had a balcony overlooking the boats which was fabulous and there was always a nice breeze in our room.
Rooms have a bottle warmer, bottles of water, and a small refrigerator. There’s a large closet area with plenty of room to keep your luggage out of the way.
For reference, we were in the Club Room- Family with the Bay View. The bay was really gorgeous, although the building was a bit further from the center of the resort. The photo at the top of the post is from our balcony.
There were three restaurants to choose from:
- Soleil Restaurant
- Riverside Restaurant
If you have kids, Soleil and the Marketplace are your two best bets, unless you plan to pay for babysitting. If I recall, Riverside wasn’t an option for us without paying for the extra cost of babysitting. We never made it there.
Soleil was a very small cafe with slow service and a short menu. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and if you were a vegetarian then I guess you could get the side of hummus with pita bread. It’s outdoors and there was a lot of wind when we were there… this was a problem because everything got blown around. It’s GORGEOUS to sit outside though. The hotel doesn’t really list it as a restaurant on their site, probably due to its small size. But this is your ONLY option for food if you want to grab a quick bite for dinner before 6:30pm.
The Marketplace opens for breakfast at 7, lunch at 12:15, and for dinner at 6:30. I am constantly surprised at the timing for food for these “kid friendly” resorts- it’s a problem I’ve seen at a couple of family friendly resorts. WHY is the earlier dinner so late? My kids’ normal bedtime is 6:30 and by that time, the kids are getting pretty hangry.
Friday lunch was my favorite because they had gyros. YUM! And they were allergy friendly for me so that was pretty exciting. They seemed to have different days where different foods from around the world popped up. Friday lunch was Food Truck Friday apparently, according to one of the trapeze instructors that we spoke with. And dinner on Friday was a lot of seafood which my husband loved. Friday was, by far, my favorite food day from the trip. Other days weren’t quite as good, but they seemed to have a lot of staples like fresh fruit, plain pasta, hamburgers, hot dogs, and a yogurt bar so the picky eater (and the kids) would have something to eat. Wish they’d regularly had plain boxed mac n cheese, but you can’t have everything in life! Haha.
Overall the food was pretty decent, but nobody was super excited about dinner either.
Suggestions for improvements:
- I wish they’d used washable tablecloths instead of the place mats that they wiped down after each family ate.
- They held the clean trays to each highchair with plastic wrap. I have no idea why they didn’t consider a reusable option (like a washable PUL cover that could slide on and off), but it was time consuming for staff to wrap them and not very ecofriendly. They seemed to be trying to be ecofriendly in other areas so this was a bit perplexing to me. It was, however, a good indication that the highchair had been cleaned off.
- Earlier start times for families with kids.
- Trays for families trying to get food for multiple kids.
- Take out/room service options, particularly for families who are sick.
- Single wine glass options for the buffet area.
Dining with Kids
There were highchairs available, although you want to get there pretty soon after it opens because there’s the expected rush of children at 6:30 dinners. You might get stuck without a highchair if you get caught in that in between time where they’re cleaning the trays from the initial rush.
Getting food for all of the kids was a bit of a challenge. We never got to eat at the same time. One of us got food for the kids, then for themselves, then the other person grabbed food. By that point, one of us sometimes had to take the wiggly baby out or take the kids to get dessert. It wasn’t quite the relaxing experience I’d hoped for. There weren’t trays available so you could really only carry two plates… we didn’t want the kids dropping things or running into people so it took quite a few trips to get drinks for everyone, food, and dessert.
I believe they have plastic silverware for the kids somewhere because occasionally a staff member would hand the baby some to play with… but I have no idea where it was. They use the plastic IKEA stuff. No kids cups with lids so bring your own.
For those who drink, there’s one beer on tap that you can grab quickly at The Marketplace or you can grab a bottle of wine from the fridge. I wish there had been single glass options for wine because I never wanted to waste a whole bottle and I wasn’t up to drinking more than one glass. There is, however, a nearby bar if you don’t mind grabbing your drink beforehand (but that’s hard to juggle if you have kids).
If you don’t have kids, the Marketplace has an area sectioned off for adults only. Keep an eye out because they had sections shut off for groups too and you want to make sure you’re sitting in the correct area.
NO Room Service Options
Guys, this is my BIGGEST beef with the resort. I RARELY use room service, even when it’s free at the resort, but not having room service ended up being a HUGE issue during our stay. The resort does not offer room service. There’s a small refrigerator and a bottle warmer, but no microwave. Normally, I wouldn’t have even noticed. I like to eat out.
Here’s where this got to be an issue. We had the stomach bug RIP through our family during our stay. As you can tell from my comments above, dinners at the Marketplace with kids were difficult to juggle with two adults and three kids. With ONE adult, it was even worse. When my kids were sick, I wanted to stay in the room with them so they could rest and bring back (or order) food for myself and a light food for them. I called the front desk and ask them if they had room service- no. I asked if I could take food out from the Marketplace. The Marketplace signs specifically say that you CANNOT take plates and glass etc out from the restaurant. I think they were pretty lax on the policy so it was still being done.
The front desk told me that I could definitely ask for a take out container for food, but I’d need to pick it out myself. No problem. I got to the restaurant and asked a staff member and was told that they didn’t have take out boxes. This meant I needed to fill glass plates and carry them across the resort, along with two cups of gingerale. That’s for just two people. My husband ended up just going out to eat with the non sick kids that night, instead of the family being able to eat together in the room, because I struggled so badly to get food for two people back to the room. There was no way to get food for 5. And this ended up being our life for half of the trip because the virus hit all the kids.
All of the hotel rooms were fairly far from the dining area so it would be a hike for most folks to bring food back.
The problem with this policy was that it pretty much forces you to go to the restaurant with sick children (or children who are soon to be sick because there things are never contained to one person in the family). Which means, at some point, you might have a kid vomit into their stroller on the way out of lunch. Yes, that happened.
It also means that any viruses are going to spread like wildfire across the resort. The stomach bug is a pretty awful virus because usually you’re contagious before you start seeing the symptoms- I would have loved to keep all of the kids back from dinner and fed them away from others.
Dining with Allergies
I wanted to take some time to address the options for dining with allergies. This is a struggle for me because I have a shellfish allergy, as well as an intolerance/allergy (we’re not sure which) to eggs. I have terrible stomach pain if I eat something with even the least amount of egg in it… for example, a salad with creamy mustard (with mayo as an ingredient in the mustard) can make me pretty sick. Because it’s easier to refer to as an ‘allergy’, I’m going to refer to it as such, just to make this section easier to write.
Eating out SUCKS now. I prefer to eat at small local restaurants and now the best bet is major chains who provide an allergy menu. But regardless, there’s a huge amount of trust involved in eating out or going on vacation when you have food allergies (etc). If you have allergies or an intolerance to food, you understand. You can ask the waiter if something has an allergen, but if it’s a ‘sneaky’ food like egg or milk then you’re trusting they have a REALLY good idea what’s in their food. And they likely don’t. It’s starting to get to the point where I’d rather cook from scratch at home so I know without a doubt what I’m eating. That’s it.
So in terms of the food at Club Med, we only tried two of the three dining options- the small cafe outside and the “Marketplace” which is a large buffet. If I recall, there’s no allergen information listed on the very short menu at the cafe. The menu is so small that it’s not really worth going there much in my opinion… and if you don’t eat meat, don’t bother. The main meals at the cafe all have meat, although there’s a side or two that might work (pitas with hummus).
The Marketplace is a huge buffet and the meals change daily. The good news is that they attempt to list allergies on the buffet, above each food. It was really convenient to see an item and right above it, on the glass, someone would write in dry erase marker: “Contains: Dairy, egg, nuts. Free of: Gluten” (or whatever). This is AWESOME and super helpful.
The PROBLEM is that they weren’t consistent about it… some days, no allergy information was listed. I’m guessing some staff were more diligent than others. And there were sections that were never labeled. For example, obviously the hard boiled eggs have egg in them. Labeling that wouldn’t be necessary. But there was an area with tons of amazing bread with no allergy labels. Now… the problem is that different breads can have vastly different ingredients in them. Egg can be an ingredient in bread, particularly if an egg wash is used, but many bread recipes don’t call for eggs. So I had no idea what was safe or not. I’m sure the same is true for milk and nuts in bread, although I’m not certain.
The other section that this was an issue was their “ice cream bar” which was really a more European style ice cream (gelato maybe?). Unfortunately, it also wasn’t labeled. The first night, we asked a staff member if the stuff had egg and we got an apathetic ‘yes.’ We weren’t really sure if they meant it actually had egg or if they just didn’t want to check… we asked another person later on and she pointed us to the ones that had egg vs. the ones that didn’t. There were three types without egg.
Overall, the dessert selection without eggs was small, but fortunately I was still able to find food that I liked and that was safe for my stomach most days. And when I got home, I had a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream (the cheap kind that doesn’t have eggs, haha).
The days that the foods weren’t labeled, I tended to stick with foods that I knew were safe because we were struggling with which staff would actually give us a real answer about allergens. We asked a few days and weren’t confident that the staff weren’t just telling us everything had eggs to keep from having to check. Like, the bowl of fruit with whipped cream probably didn’t have egg in it, even if they said it did (but hey, I could be wrong).
I’d say that this is about what I expect from any restaurant and that the Marketplace was probably more allergy friendly than most restaurants… but I think most restaurants and the Marketplace still need to up their game to be more allergy friendly. This experience just made me want to not bother traveling anymore. I felt nauseous most of the trip and I was never really clear if I had a mild, longer acting version of the kids’ stomach bug or if I was eating something that had a small amount of egg in it.
You have a few options for transportation. The resort is about an hour from PBI (Palm Beach Airport) and the resort offers free parking. There’s a gate and guard for the parking lot.
Club Med Transportation
To my understanding, the Club Med transportation has car seats available if you let them know in advance. It was, however, fairly expensive to use the service. For us, it would have cost more money to have them transport us than it cost to rent a car. But the convenience is nice- you won’t have to drive, buy gas, or haul car seats. It’s an hour drive so it’s nice to not worry about driving too.
Taxi Type Service
You can also use a taxi type service. With a family of 5, we’d still need to haul the car seats and it would still have been pretty expensive because we’d need one of the upgraded vehicles. It was comparable in pricing to the Club Med Transportation.
Renting a Car
Renting a car was approximately the same amount as getting the Club Med transportation, NOT INCLUDING any toll costs or gasoline. We also needed to bring our car seats, but we have two kids in boosters so that wasn’t a huge issue. You can avoid the toll road if you plan that out and the gasoline costs weren’t super bad.
That said, it was worth having a car. It ended up being colder than expected during our stay so we ran to the Walmart that’s 10 minutes down the street to pick up a light jacket and sweatpants once. We were also able to drive to the movie theater (15 minutes away at the mall) one day when it was raining.
We were also happy to have hauled the baby’s car seat on the airplane because the flight home wasn’t full… Southwest allows you to bring the car seat on board if they have room. It was FANTASTIC for when the baby puked on the way home… contained it to the car seat, thank goodness. And the baby wasn’t trying to wiggle out of my arms or go nuts playing with the tray the whole trip.
I wish the childcare had gone through dinner time, but it was nice to at least get lunch without the kids for a couple days. The childcare is a great way to spend time with your partner at the adults only area of the resort- there’s a bar next to the adult pool and hot tub too.
There’s free kids camp for the older kids and they do group activities, art, go swimming, take them to lunch, etc. During our stay, we used the service for three days and thought the staff was great.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great- it was cold and rained here and there. Our kids seemed like they were bored. I met someone who has been in the past and she said that the camp was much more active with the kids during her last stay- she felt that they probably didn’t have enough planned for bad weather days. They had quite a bit of time scheduled for swimming, for example, and I don’t think they brought the kids swimming during our stay because of the weather. They did bring the kids to try the trapeze if they wanted, but my kids sat and watched because they were nervous.
I was really hoping that they would do more sports with the kids, but I wonder if that’s something we needed to sign up for separately- or if it’s catered more to older children. I saw quite a few older kids engaged in what looked like more intense sessions for soccer.
During two colder afternoons, they took the kids into a big activity area and did ‘circus’ activities with them (tumbling and swinging in a sling)… there were a lot of kids though and everyone was waiting a turn. There was also an afternoon movie one day.
Every day they had an afternoon activity around 4pm which is worth going to. They did a treasure hunt one day (which is more of a skit by the staff) and cooking one day (they made pizzas at the Marketplace). We missed the other events but it looked like they put a lot of time and effort into this. It’s considered a “family activity”- some parents attended, others just sent their kids, and some kids who didn’t use the camp participated.
That said, I don’t feel like we were able to use the service enough to really give it a review due to everyone getting sick. We didn’t want to send our kids sick, naturally.
You can also pay for the camp for babies which we did. This is a great way to spend time with your spouse or your older kids… we know that the baby has taken up a lot of our time for the past year and a half, and sometimes the big kids miss out on mommy and daddy time as a result.
They charge by the half or full day for the baby camp and it runs 8:45-5. One thing to note is that the half day ends before nap (12-2) so if you want your baby to stay for nap time, do the afternoon camp. Alternatively, they will let your child nap earlier if your baby needs it. My son ended up napping there the three days we used the service (until the stomach bug hit us).
You can opt to pay for “Pyjama Club” for kids 4mos+ but it’s expensive ($35 for one kid from 7pm-10pm). I would have happily paid for the club if it was just an hour for dinner and much less expensive, but I couldn’t justify spending that much money, particularly not when the kids really need to be asleep earlier than 10pm. It would have cost us $105 for one night with three kids and that just sucks.
This is actually a big deal in my opinion and they need to find a better way to deal with this. I’ve seen other family resorts deal with this by offering hourly babysitting or keeping their kids camp open through dinner, or offering early dinners that are before the camp closes. I hope Club Med figures out a better option.
There are two large pools for families. One has a beach entrance and one is 3-8′ deep. The beach entrance pool did not appear to be heated while we were there so it was empty every day. There’s also a small beach on the river and a pool for adults-only.
I really preferred the beach entrance pool area because there were big double beds and the ambiance was nicer. But it was way too cold to swim in during our stay so we only went there to sit on the beds. NOBODY went in that pool during our stay because it was super cold.
The nice thing about the pools is that they have lots of supplies like life jackets for the kids and pool noodles.
Activities for Kids
Most of the activities at the resort are open to kids too. The kids were able to try the trapeze during certain times, and there’s kayaks, sail boats, and stand up paddle boards at the beach (the resort is on a river). The kids need to be 6+ and with an adult to use the beach sports items. It would be nice if they lowered the age on that because my 5 year old would have fit the life jackets and easily kayaked with us safely (double kayak). The ‘rentals’ were also closed from 12-2 which was too bad because the babies nap from 12-2. Fortunately the baby camp was able to ‘contain the beast’ earlier in the day too so we still got 1:1 time with the big boys here and there.
The area with activities near the kids camp is pretty fun. Outdoors there is a mini tennis and soccer area. There’s a playground. Under cover there are a few climb on toys. There’s also a baby pool and then the big splash pad pool. The splash pad area (kids 10 and under) has seating for the adults, two more little playhouse toys, and some sand. It’s also has a beach style entrance. Everything is fenced off separately.
There’s a mini golf area that could use some work, but the kids enjoyed it regardless.
Indoors at the kids club there’s a baby feeding room that’s open 24/7 that has snacks and other items for feeding baby. There’s also a baby gym with some mats laid out which was great.
Activities for Adults
If you love golf, I imagine you’d love this resort. I’m not a golfer but everyone looked pretty happy out there.
There’s a ton of sports clinics- tennis and soccer seem to be huge. Trapeze is also an activity you can try while you visit. There are also volleyball courts, although I never saw anyone playing. We went and played with the kids for a bit because the baby was happy playing on the sand court while we hit the ball with the older boys.
My husband is apparently quite good at trapeze…
There are 2-3 daily yoga classes that I was hoping to try, but never got around to doing due to everyone being sick.
At the far end of the resort, there’s an adult pool and hot tub. The area has a bar right outside of the fenced pool area. The spa and fitness center are at the same end of the resort.
There’s a bocceball area too.
For both adults and kids, but probably more focused on adults, there is a water sports rental area where you can pay extra to take a boat ride, rent jet skis, or try to flyboard. Like most resorts, there also are off site excursions that you can sign up for. A lot of the activities we were interested in were 1+ hrs away and we didn’t want to trek out to Disney or Cape Canaveral for just a day trip.
I wish I could tell you more about the indoor night activities, but we’ve got early bedtimes so we didn’t make it past dinner. The bar has disco lights on after dark and the kids from all over the resort enjoyed going there to dance on the stage while the adults enjoyed cocktails.
The front desk also has board games to borrow if you are bored and rained in.
The television in our room had an HDMI port and we wished we had brought a cable so we could hook up a device to play a movie while we were sick.
What to Bring
- Disposable swim diapers are required- NOT cloth.
- If you plan to use the daycare, bring a copy of your kiddos’ vaccines.
- Bring a small container of dish soap to wash your sippy cups if you bring some for baby. I struggled to wash ours without it and per usual, he threw it on the floor so many times.
- A small container of laundry detergent and a bunch of quarters will allow you to do a load or two of laundry. It’s $1 for washing machine, $1 for dryer. The main desk does have quarters if you need them. The F building had two washers and two dryers… I think I was the only one who used them. The older of the machines didn’t work well (pretty sure the dryer was broken), but the newer ones were great.
- Possibly an HDMI cable if you’re tech savvy and want the option of chilling to watch movies in the room at night.
There’s a small store on site that’s pretty expensive (we spent $28 for a pair of plastic sandals for my son) if you need anything or there’s a Walmart and Walgreens nearby if you have transportation.
Final Thoughts on Sandpiper Bay
I’d say that this place has a lot of potential to be a fun resort for families. In fact, it’s probably awesome during the warmer months (maybe February or March) and I’m sure the kids camp is more fun during those times too. The weather was a bit limiting.
It is really affordable, partially due to being in the United States. No messing around with passports, no international flights, no customs.
Like other ‘beach resort’ type places, they might do well to add some fun indoor activities for during inclement weather. I always hesitate to book these type of vacations during the potentially colder or wetter seasons because I’m afraid I’ll end up stuck indoors the whole time with nothing to do. Where Florida isn’t quite as balmy as St. Lucia year round, they might need it more than resorts located in more southern climates.
Most of the staff are fabulous and friendly. We had lots of folks saying hi to us all over the resort. God BLESS the woman who cleaned our room one day while I hung out with two sick kids in the room. She was so wonderful and friendly, despite the obviously horrible situation happening in the room. It was such a relief to have clean bedding and floors. I felt really bad because we just could not leave the room and I hate being a bother, but she was great.
The best thing about the resort is how many items are convenient and accessible for your use if you have kids. The stroller and baby bed, the pool noodles and floats at the pool, and I believe there was sand items at the beach too. These are all things that aren’t fun to haul with you on vacation so it’s great to know they’ll be there for you.
Well I think that’s it for now. Any questions? If so, leave a comment below!
Want to learn about other family friendly resorts? Read my reviews for Coconut Bay in St. Lucia, FDR Resort in Jamaica, and Beaches Resort in Negril. I also have some tips for air travel with children.
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