Why Club Med’s luxury outpost in Cefalù should be top of your list of places to visit
Some people are a bit sniffy about all-inclusive holidays. To those people I say two words: Club Med. Nobody who has ever been to Club Med would have any doubts about the sheer joy of its all-inclusive philosophy, and once you’ve experienced one you’re very likely to return. Those who know, know that a true holiday consists of a real break from all domestic responsibilities and almost all decision making. Other factors include never having to queue, never experiencing the slightest annoyance and definitely never having to carry any cash.
From the start, we’re well looked-after. Club Med’s Sicily outpost is in Cefalù, on the north western coast; we land at Palermo in the evening and are swept off in a taxi, arriving too late for dinner. Or so we thought. Our two rooms – well, not rooms, they’re self-contained small houses, cleverly and discreetly cut into the rock, all of them precisely angled for perfect sea views – are waiting for us with dinner laid out, plus a bottle of Prosecco and even pudding. It’s very Club Med to anticipate your needs so precisely, and that’s exactly how our week continues.
Cefalù is one of Club Med’s more luxurious resorts. While it’s great for families, it doesn’t cater to children under the age of eight – and because of its extra exclusivity there are more adults travelling without children than we’ve seen at other Club Meds. It’s a beautiful spot, a sprawling resort set
in cliffs along the coast with views over the bay to Cefalù and the Rocca, the impressive limestone cliff that dominates the town. There has been a resort on this site since the 1950s, when Village Magique consisted of much simpler wooden huts, and the new incarnation is just a few years old and feels fresh and contemporary. There’s a vast pool, but the best swimming is in the sea, where loungers are stylishly laid out on platforms set into the rocks and there are floating pontoons to swim to and dive from.
Our days settle into a routine punctuated by visits to the watersports centre which has a dreamy location in a small creek below the resort. Here there are lots of things on offer, including paddleboarding – regular style and the step pedal kind – plus kayaks and sailing dinghies, which require an introductory lesson and despite our bad luck with the wind (there is none most days) we manage to learn a few sailing skills. Between us we experiment with several activities, all of them easy to find on the Club Med app, including yoga, archery and circuit training (I manage one class). Luxury here involves never having to book ahead or worry that there won’t be a space. If you decide you want a kayak right now, there’ll be one waiting for you. Everything is seamless and ready at all times.
I had hoped to visit Etna, and we could have taken an excursion – but it’s not exactly close. “Would it mean missing lunch?” asked daughter number two. It certainly would, and that was the end of that. Because meal times are a huge highlight at Club Med, and at Cefalù especially. Breakfast includes everything you could imagine, and we learn to hold back a bit because unless you’re very early, there’s not all that much time before lunch. So it’s mostly fruit, yoghurt and pistachios for me, but the teenagers are all over waffles with pistachio paste, miniature cakes and chocolate pastries.
Lunch happens either at the main restaurant as a buffet – a breathtaking one with an extensive salad bar plus lots of pasta, fish and meat, plus daily pizzas and more – or (and this is our favourite) at the smaller beach restaurant, where chefs prepare simple dishes of grilled fish and vegetables in an impossibly dreamy shady spot. Dinner is back at the main restaurant, after pre-dinner drinks and snacks by the pool. In fact there are snacks by the pool seemingly at all times – one one memorable occasion it’s a tomato festival. Tomatoes are a highlight of every meal, in fact, as are pistachios, a Sicilian speciality and we will never forget the dessert pizzas with sweet, bright green pistachio paste. We’re also well entertained with a programme that includes live bands, dance performances, a light show and more, all thanks to the classic Club Med team of GOs, who have many skills: the afternoon sailing instructor is a dancer in the evening. On the last night there’s a prizegiving ceremony, where everyone proudly collects medals for outstanding achievements in yoga, archery and sailing. We’re fully committed Club Med people now, so where to next?