When I first got a glimpse of Club Med’s stunning five-mast yacht as it sat anchored in the British Virgin Islands, the sun had just set, lending a silver hue to the dark waves that were lapping our small motorboat as we made our approach. As we embarked, we were greeted by a smiling crew sporting apropos sailor stripes and handing us glasses of champagne. Welcome aboard the Club Med 2.

Make no mistake—this is no cruise ship. It’s a 194-metre long legendary French sailing yacht. With capacity for only 368 passengers (184 cabins spread out over five decks) and rooms starting at almost 19 square metres (each with a king-size bed, plenty of storage space and porthole windows), the Club Med 2 is intimate, luxurious and stylish. It’s part of the French brand’s Exclusive Collection, the aim of which is to give vacationers a five-star all-inclusive experience unlike any other in some of the world’s most pristine destinations. If this yacht is any indication, the brand has certainly succeeded.

Yoga at Michès Playa Esmeralda

Yoga at Michès Playa Esmeralda Courtesy Of Club Med

To celebrate the vessel’s 30th anniversary, Club Med put more than $15 million into renovations—including overhauls of the lobby, bars and Monte-Carlo restaurant (the other dining option on board is the Saint-Tropez)—and added new itineraries and activities. With a Sothys spa, two freshwater plunge pools, saunas, a gym with 360-degree ocean views, plenty of chairs for lounging on the teak decks and a daily schedule that includes yoga, meditation, cooking and dance classes and water sports (not to mention stops at various islands), it truly has the best of a Club Med resort, only it’s on the water—and on the move. 

Thanks to the yacht’s magnificent sails—which helped propel us across the Caribbean Sea to our first stop, the Dominican Republic—wind power alone accounts for a savings of 20 percent in energy consumption, Captain Jean-Baptiste Coquinot informed me. Another bonus is that due to its smaller size and shallow draft, it can dock in places other ships can’t, like the Suez Canal and Venice. Over the winter, it makes its way around the Caribbean, but come spring, it heads to the Mediterranean. On our three-day trip, we dropped anchor near a private inlet on Catalina Island where the crew basically set up Club Med for us onshore, offering everything from aquafit and yoga to snorkelling and paddle-boarding, complete with a full buffet lunch and live DJ set.

This wouldn’t be a true Club Med experience without amazing food. The culinary team on board are all trained at the prestigious Ferrandi Paris cooking school, so guests can expect top-notch French-and Caribbean-inspired cuisine made with the best produce available as well as plenty of delicious French pastries and cheeses. And for those who want to dance into the night along with fellow passengers and staff—also known as “GOs,” which is short for gentils organisateurs—the Cannes bar at the back of the boat is well away from folks who would rather be gently rocked to sleep.

Emerald jungle room at Michès

Emerald jungle room at Michès Courtesy Of Club Med

One of the biggest advantages of sailing with Club Med is that your sea voyage can be combined with one of the brand’s onshore Caribbean resorts. After disembarking at the port of La Romana in the Dominican Republic, we made our way to Michès Playa Esmeralda, which is also part of Club Med’s Exclusive Collection. An eco-chic resort that opened in late 2019, Michès is a literal hidden paradise with no other hotels in sight and a stunning palm-tree-scattered coastline that will make you feel like you’ve just landed on a deserted beach.

Combining four uniquely upscale villages into one sprawling yet still walkable area, Michès caters to every type of traveller, from guests seeking wellness experiences to those interested in water sports or local excursions to those who simply want to sit on the beach and relax. And there’s no shortage of places to do all these things, including three pools, a kids zone with an impressive splash park, a spa by luxe French beauty brand Cinque Mondes and, of course, the dramatic shoreline.

Whether you’re at sea or on land, the staff ’s enthusiasm, the unparalleled service and the convivial atmosphere combined with the brand’s vision of personalized luxury are at the core of everything that Club Med stands for. “In the hospitality industry, you can’t decide to develop the ambience; the ambience comes from your DNA,” says Vincent Giraud, managing director of Club Med Canada and North America sales operations, noting that the brand’s particular joie de vivre dates all the way back to its beginnings in 1950 as a vacation brand that emphasized friendship and sports to weary postwar Europeans. “There is a Club Med spirit and a Club Med ambience that is totally unique.”

A swimming pool at Michès

A swimming pool at Michès Joanna Fox

On my last night, I stood off to the side of the crowded dance floor and watched everyone—young and old alike—waving neon streamers, dancing, smiling and laughing. A GO in the centre held out his hand to me. Normally, I would have shied away, but this time, I took it. As he spun me around and people cheered, something dawned on me: These kinds of moments are exactly what keeps guests coming back year after year. Club Med has been—and always will be—completely, uniquely its own. 

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