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Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda

by Nora Zelevansky

Club med michès playa esmeralda

dominican republic

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A family-friendly visit to Club Med’s first 5-Star North American property

On the drive from the airport to Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda in the Dominican Republic, there are cows. So many cows. And horses and goats too, grazing on green pastures peppered with palm trees.

The ride is long and winding. The setting is verdant and remote.

For devotees of Club Med, which first pioneered all-inclusive hospitality in Spain’s Balearic Islands in 1950, this experience might feel like a departure. Their nearby Punta Cana property, for example—a fan-favorite since 1980, also located on the Coconut Coast—offers a much speedier transfer. 

But what even loyalists may not know is that Club Med helped build the Punta Cana airport themselves forty years ago, opening access to this once less-traveled corner of the world. And that has long been the company’s ethos: choosing destinations that have yet to be overrun. “We seek low-density areas that harmoniously integrate with the beauty of the surroundings,” says Amelie Brouhard, vice president of marketing North America and USA sales. “[Here], its the lush palm groves and tropical forest.” For that, there’s distance involved.

The original Club Med Punta Cana is special in its own right, claiming Julio Iglesias as a next-door neighbor and a recent multimillion-dollar facelift. But what does separate Michès (as it’s nicknamed by those in the know) from the brand’s other properties is in a word: luxury. Opened in 2019, this eco-resort—where they have eliminated all single-use plastics—is Club Med’s inaugural 5-star North American property. And its remoteness represents a slant toward exclusivity and sustainability, immersing guests in nature and a rarified experience.

So, while the ride is indeed longer (especially with small kids), the payoff is worth the wait.

That becomes clear immediately upon arrival. At the end of a driveway that cuts through lush jungle, guests are greeted with a money shot: a wide-open lofted archway—like an upside-down ship—that extends to a turquoise infinity pool, jutting toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Visitors are led to neon teal, yellow and pink chairs, adorned with tropical bird-themed cushions, and plied with passion fruit welcome drinks, as rubber bracelets (which serve as room keys and admission to all things) are slipped on their wrists. 

Overall, there is an unplugged, barefoot energy here, a less corporate vibe than one might associate with chains. The rooms—which are separated into four distinct villages with different luxury levels and layouts—are contemporary and airy, with indoor-outdoor flow, thatched roofs, and illustrations of maps on the walls. Adults-only areas like the Archipelago villas with private pools and the Emerald Jungle, with its naturally-filtered Zen Oasis pool, juice bar, and bubbling Koi pond, are undeniably dreamy. But the array of group- and family-friendly rooms in the Caribbean Paradise and Explorer’s Cove (including large La Perla suites) are also cushy.

Food options are plentiful and designed to please all palates, ranging from an upscale steakhouse to an enormous buffet serving up ever-changing offerings like Korean bibimbap, curry halibut, kid-friendly hamburgers, copious mango and papaya and, of course, the brand’s signature white chocolate bread—a major draw. 

If guests come for the baked goods, they stay for the kid’s club, a staple that accommodates children from ages 4 months to 17 years with activities like a flying trapeze, archery, gardening and a mini splash pool for little ones. Meanwhile, free-wheeling parents may sip smoothies at the Cinq Mondes spa before hydrotherapy plunges and massage treatments, attend yoga classes at the treetop palapa studio (yes, perched above ground!), take dance or electric surfing lessons or just grab piña coladas before a dip. And, whatever the day holds, a family-friendly musical production ends the night with a cheerful bang. 

At Michès, the aim is to eliminate stress by accommodating everyone. In the words of founder Gérard BlitzThe purpose of life is to be happy. The time to be happy is now. And the place to be happy is here.”

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