Shape up, reconnect at Florida's Club Med Sandpiper Bay

Guests can unwind at this heated adults-only pool overlooking the river at Club Med Sandpiper Bay...

Guests can unwind at this heated adults-only pool overlooking the river at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Sheena Goodyear/QMI Agency)

SHEENA GOODYEAR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Club Med Sandpiper Bay is no resort for layabouts.

If you want to spend your vacation lounging beachside and sipping margaritas, there are thousands of all-inclusives that will happily cater to your needs, including many of Club Med's 70 other worldwide locations.

But if you want to recharge and get fit, this lush-green riverside resort has your number.

While Sandpiper Bay comes equipped with all the Florida getaway essentials --drinks, food, spa, beach, pools and Jacuzzi -- its real raison d'etre is to woo "the active vacationer."

"It's a unique property for us. Very strong on the health and wellness. In the upscale market, it's a very strong trend," North America CEO Xavier Mufraggi says, sitting in the riverside dining room at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, just outside of West Palm Beach.

The idea, he says, is to cater to busy, modern families who don't always have time to stay healthy and spend quality time together.

"Mama and Papa are both working. There is massive pressure. They want to recharge. They want to re-cement their relationship with their spouse. They spend very little time with their kids. They need to recharge, come back in good shape."

When it was founded 64 years ago, Club Med was the only real player in the resort business. Nowadays, it has plenty of competition.

So like any successful business, it diversified.


FCWT 2013 Tour Championship winner Sachin Kumar, 15, practices his swing at Club Med Sandpiper Bay. He is one of hundreds of young athletes to train at the resort's sports academy. (Sheena Goodyear/QMI Agency)

Part of that process was transforming its 87.5-hectare Sandpiper Bay location into a first-of-its-kind all-inclusive sports and health resort that doubles as a training academy for the some of the best young athletes in the world.

Launched in 2010, the Sports Academy brings in revenue -- kids pay for private lessons or dole out $20,000 to live and train on site for six months -- and allows Club Med to have world-class facilities and top trainers at its disposal, which are available to guests as well as students.

"There's nowhere else in the world you can find this level of sports infrastructure and this level of coaching," Mufraggi says.

The resort boasts a fully equipped gymnasium, a fitness studio, four swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course and driving range, 21 tennis courts, a circus school, bicycles, running paths and a brand new beach volleyball court.

The all-inclusive vacation packages give you access to all of these, as well as daily group lessons in golf, tennis, volleyball, trapeze, triathalon and general fitness with the same professional trainers who work with the Academy's future Olympians -- all set against a gorgeous and energizing Florida backdrop.

Professional trapeze artists -- who double as evening entertainment -- will teach you death-defying superhero-esque tricks at the circus school.

Don Law, an award-winning golf instructor, is warm, approachable and employs a teaching system called "stack and tilt," which he says can help everyone -- from complete beginners to seasoned pros -- improve their game.

Martial artist Idrissa Diallo, a strength and conditioning specialist who designs the curriculum for the student athletes, teaches basic fitness to guests and offers an eye-opening course on nutrition.

"When they finish with the kids, then they spend time with our guests and there's nowhere else in the world you can get that," Mufraggi says. "These are pros."

A variety of classes are also available in the all-inclusive packages, including yoga, power walking, Zumba and Pilates, to name a few.

Kids can join in family training sessions or follow their own schedule of activities specially designed for different age groups. The resort offers on-site care for children from four-months to 17 years.

Family is very important to Club Med, says Muffragi, noting families comprise 70% of the company's guests.

"And at the end of the day, the family is back together."

R&R PART OF THE PACKAGE

Even Sandpiper Bay's more relaxing elements are considered a part of its health and wellness regimen.

You can unwind at the adults-only heated swimming pool and poolside Jacuzzi, both of which overlook the river.

The Club Med Spa by L'Occitane offers a full range of services, including deep-tissue intense relief and relaxing aromachology massages to work out the kinks after an activity-packed morning.

Afterwards, you're given berries and tea, and led to an idyllic zen garden until you're ready for your steam shower.

"After training, you have to regenerate. People don't think about going to the spa for regeneration. They think about schmooze and goos and what not," Greg Bruich, the Sports Academy's managing director says.

"This is the place to be at the end of the day. This is a part of our active program -- both for the standard and the intensive. We want you in here after you've trained for the day."

NEED TO KNOW

Depending on when you go, all-inclusive packages cost between $1,300 and $2,500 per person for seven days, which includes round-trip flights, transfers to and from the airport, food, drinks, rooms and activities. Kids under four stay free. For exact pricing, contact sandpiperbay.clubmed.ca.

GETTING THERE

The nearest airports are in West Palm Beach (72 km), Fort Lauderdale (95 km), Miami (178 km) and Orlando (193 km).


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