Most of us Hong Kong’ers round up the same old list of places when we’re looking to head out of town: Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. If you’re like me, you spend a good portion of your time frantically checking Groupon Getaway deals or hopping on Cathay fanfare at 7:59am on Tuesday mornings for the best tickets out of town, but it’s easy to forget that you don’t necessarily need a plane ticket to head out of the ‘852. Our proximity to China means a handful of day trips or weekend getaways are just a hop, skip (and ferry ride!) away, and can be booked on a whim when you just need a break from it all.
We recently headed over to check out the beautiful Dong’ao Island in Zhuhai, China, where Club Med Dong’ao Island has recently opened its newest family-friendly resort. Covering 6.5 hectares, the resort encompasses two Club Med concepts: the Premium Resort Club Med (opening in July) with 267 rooms available and the more exclusive Le Luxe by Club Med, with a total of 72 rooms including pavilion suites with private pools, family suites, and deluxe sea-view suites. This was my first time staying at a Club Med resort, and I can say I came out of the experience a firm believer of their philosophy and approach to hospitality.
The journey to Club Med took us 4 hours in total, with two hour-long ferries, and a 2-hour wait in-between. From Hong Kong, you simply hop on any ferry to Zhuhai, and from there Club Med charters its own boats directly to Dong’ao Island. While it’s a little inconvenient to make the transfer for two ferries, it definitely beats jumping on a plane, and the resort is also working on arranging a direct ferry from HK to Dong’ao, making this an easy getaway destination!
It was pretty amazing to go from the hustle and bustle of the city to the breezy island feel of Dong’ao in less than 4 hours sans plane, and I immediately felt relaxed as we pulled up to the resort, to a ceremonious welcome from all the staff of the resort and a refreshing round of cocktails to go around.
Facilities and Accommodation
With the Premium Resort side still in pre-opening phase, we were lodged at Le Luxe by Club Med, which offers a more exclusive, private experience for the resort’s high-end guests (the 2 resorts are a 5-minute shuttle bus away). For families looking to just have fun and enjoy all the activities Club Med has to offer, I would actually recommend staying on the Premium Resort side, which is also where you’ll get the more affordable package deals. Nonetheless, Le Luxe by Club Med is a beautiful little hideaway, with each of the suites looking out to a stunning seaside view (who knew these types of places existed in China?!).
Le Luxe by Club Med is quite small, which makes it also feel a bit homier and more intimate than the larger resort down the road. I loved the relaxed seaside feel, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a sparkling pool, and outdoor terrace area for cocktails. (For some reason, it kept reminding me of being on a cruise ship, but more on that later!).
We spent most of our trip swimming lazily in the infinity pool, which offers stunning views of the ocean and beach, surrounded by lush tropical greenery and not a person in sight (at least while we were there).
The rooms were likewise very impressive, each offering private balconies with seaside views, as well as modern comforts and amenities such as flat-screen LCD TVs, WiFi, complimentary tea/coffee with room service breakfast and snacks, large baths outfitted with L’Occitane products and an adjoining living room for the Family Suite. The beds were comfortable, and the room spacious and airy – exactly what you’d want for a beachside getaway. The resort also offers an all-day spa for working those knots and kinks out from constant city life!
For dining options, the resort boasts 9 different F&B outlets, with the Waterside Restaurant and Starry Bar reserved exclusively for Le Luxe by Club Med guests. While I was thoroughly impressed by the accommodation, facilities and hospitality during our stay at Club Med, the one area I found a bit lacking was the quality of food on offer. We had breakfast and dinner at the main restaurant, and weren’t blown away by either.
That being said, the variety was great, with a mix of East and West dishes and something for everyone on offer, and I can see it definitely catering towards families who have to be able to cater to a wide variety of tastes.
The restaurants on the Premium Resort side were also in pre-opening phase, but we got a small sample of the food on offer, and the restaurants on this side seemed more promising, ranging from a sushi restaurant (pictured above) to a French patisserie to multiple cocktail bars and lounges. With a few tweaks and modifications, there’s definitely the potential to boost the F&B side and keep guests satisfactorily fed and watered once the resort is fully open this summer.
From the energy and excitement of the staff to the endless array of activities on offer, Club Med will definitely keep you entertained during your stay (if you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, it has that same happy-go-lucky, entertain yourself anytime/anywhere vibe!). Traveling with large families or little ones can be hard with everyone on a different agenda, and Club Med offers that perfect flexibility, whether you’re looking for a laid-back holiday or action-packed adventure. Through their sports schools programme, the resort offers lessons for sailing, biking, hiking, yoga, and even flying trapeze and aerial acrobats! There’s an archery ground, pole dancing and bungee bouncing right on the resort grounds, or if you’re looking to hit sand and surf, choose from paddle boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, swimming and beach volleyball.
For juniors, there are a number of kids’ clubs and programmes on offer, with children’s facilities including water games, kids’ pool, playground, mini climbing wall and mini Multi-sport. It’s one of the first resorts I’ve been to that has multiple kids’ clubs divided by age and interests on offer, so there are really endless options for your little ones to enjoy some holiday fun.
In the evenings, the Premium Resort comes alive with evening shows and entertainment, live music and cocktail hours for adults. We experienced the “Avant Premiere” show on our first night, which was definitely interesting, to say the least. I say “experienced” because the audience was actively invited to participate in the show – so make sure you come ready to boogie! Between the vivid rendition of “Y.M.C.A.”, Alice in Wonderland-esque magic show and dry ice / smoke explosions, I wasn’t sure where to look, but it was definitely a fun night for all, with kids 100% welcome!
Service & Hospitality
Beautiful tropical setting and kid-friendly entertainment options aside, the part of the Club Med experience that really stands out the most is their devotion to service and hospitality. The staff are 100% dedicated to making sure you have a blast, whether that means making sure your glass is filled to the brim, lending helpful suggestions on activities to do for the day, or simply greeting you by name and offering a personalised level of service. The energy of the staff never faltered throughout our entire stay there, and between the impromptu dances and friendly orientations, you really start to feel like a part of the ClubMed family after a few days.
I would definitely recommend Club Med Dong’ao for a quick retreat out of Hong Kong that is both convenient and kid-friendly. With an endless array of activities on offer, you’re guaranteed to have a fun and memorable holiday while getting the R&R you need before heading back into town.
Club Med is now offering a 3-Day, 2-Night Ferry Package with a daily departure from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal. The package includes round-trip ferry tickets, 3 meals daily, open bar and snacking, all sporting facilities, children’s club and evening entertainment. Prices starting from $3,920 for adults and $3,082 for kids. Book before 30 June, 2015 to enjoy a discounted rate at www.clubmed.com.hk.
Club Med Dong’ao Island, 1 Lvdao Road, Dong’ao Island, 51006, Guangdong Province, China, +86 (0)756 885 5888