by Lissa Poirot
Club Med all-inclusive properties were launched by a French and Belgian partnership, so it is no wonder that on the French island of Guadeloupe, Club Med La Caravelle is one of the island’s most popular resorts. It is also one of the very few all-inclusive resorts. Built in the 1970s, unfortunately the resort does have a dated look about it, but that is easily ignored when guests see the wide expanse of palm tree-lined beach and a sea so clear you can see your toes, even when standing neck-deep in water.
Please note: As a French island and French resort, most of the guests who visit this Club Med are French-speaking, as is the staff. All programming is done in French, as well, and although there are some English-speaking staffers, Americans may find it difficult to converse while staying at this property.
Our Editor Loves
- Ample kids' programs
- Large stretch of beach
- Sainte Anne location
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Free Breakfast
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The resort features nearly 300 rooms, including Les Saintes bungalows that have been tucked back from the beach and the resort. The resort has been divided into four areas, the Hotel Marie Galante, the Hotel Basse Terre, the Hotel Desirade, and the Grande Terre. All but the Hotel Marie Galante have an elevator, so if staying with young children or if someone in your group uses a wheelchair, choose one of the areas with an elevator.
Rooms, known as Club Rooms, feature sea or garden views and are outfitted with two double beds.
Suites provide two rooms, with a bathroom, closet area, mini-fridge and living room near the entrance, connected by sliding doors to a bedroom and the full bathroom with stand-up shower. A balcony is connected to the sitting area, with a French balcony in the bedroom. The sitting area provides a chair and one sofa, which can be used as a bed for a child.
I am writing from the hotel room, this is our last night in this horrendous place Club Med La Caravelle. It is 01;17 in the morning and we are unable to sleep as the staff is having a never ending party... the 6th one this week .. at the reception they tell us that they will deal with our complaint tommorrow. When will they stop their music ? Soon, go back to your room. Here’s an exemple of what we’ve lived through this week ... besides the terrrible food, no selection, this club is not representative of the other club meds. We’ve been to sandpiper, cancun, Punta Cana.. this is nothing like the other club meds we’ve been to. The site is decrepid and old. Poor management.
I had a bad experience dealing with this Club Med. Their water sports guy, and everyone else and their published info, told me that if I purchased a day pass for 99 euro I could use their windsurfing boards and little sailboats. So I came back and gave them the $110 U.S. to do so. Then when I got to the boats they told me that actually, yesterday the manager changed their policy and now I could only use the kayaks. When I asked to speak with the manager the guy said, "I am the manager." I had to spend two hours there talking to people and getting a refund, and I left thoroughly miffed. They advertise one product but you get there and they say you can't have it after you pay--that's disrespectful
The piece de la resistance for this property is its beautiful stretch of beach. Palm trees provide shade and there are plenty of chairs for guests to grab. The resort provides complimentary non-motorized water sports, such as sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and windsurfing. For an additional fee, guests can rent jet skis and embark on a catamaran sailing.
The resort's pool is small and surrounded by a glass wall separating it from dining areas. It is not a very welcoming spot and doesn't provide many chairs, but that is because most guests are on the beach.
The kids' club is one of the biggest we've encountered in our travels to all-inclusive resorts. The large building housing the programming is divided into age groups, and the counselors are filled with energy and showing kids a great time. A fenced in playground, private dining area in the dining room, and resort activities are also part of the program. Special programs include Little Circus, for children 4 to 6, and Little Tennis, for kids 3 to 6.
Programs are divided by Petit Club Med for ages 2 to 3, Mini Club Med for ages 4 to 10, and Junior Club Med for ages 11 to 17. Children under 2 are not able to participate. Petit and Mini Clubs operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closing for dinner and then reopening from 7:30 to 9 p.m., six days per week. The Junior program will divide into ages 11 to 13 and 14 to 17 during peak travel periods, so pre-teens and teens are not forced to be together.
Club Med's claim to fame is its fun flying trapeze school, which is included with your stay. Group lessons are offered six days per week for guests 11 and up, with an adult. Children 4 and up may participate in the kids' program.
Also included with your stay is tennis and academy level tennis school. Group classes are offered six days a week for children 11 and older with an adult, and for kids 4 and up in the kids' program. There are six hard courts available for play.
Visit the resort's Discovery Desk for a wide array of excursions on the island (additional fees). You can explore the rainforests of Guadeloupe, hike the volcano, sail, and more.
The food and dining options were disappointing to us when we visited, especially considering this is a French resort. One buffet-style dining room, L'Hibiscus, is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, closing in between meals so you cannot dine whenever you would like.
The resort's upscale restaurant, La Biguine, is situated at the end of the resort overlooking the beach, but guests do not get to select their meals other than if they would prefer fish or beef as the main entrÃ©e. Reservations are required for dinner, but the restaurant also serves lunch.
Snack bars are available on the beach, providing sandwiches and French fries.
Note: Drinks not included in the all-inclusive price include canned drinks, bottled drinks, and champagne.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
All guests receive complimentary Wi-Fi for up to four devices, although service may be slow.
A small fitness center is available.
For infants, in-room babysitting is available, at a fee. Also provided are cribs, infant bathtubs, changing tables, bottle warmers, strollers and high chairs.
The Art of Smart Timing
As a European resort, the peak seasons differ slightly from the U.S. school vacation schedules, which may help lower costs. The winter holiday season is the resort's full peak, and prices during this time will be the highest. Early summer, before Europeans take their holidays, may be a good time to visit.
Guadeloupe's airport is Pointe a Pitre International Airport. Norwegian Airlines provides direct service to the island from JFK, and American Airlines and its partners provide connecting flights through San Juan and Miami. The resort doesn't provide complimentary shuttle service, instead allowing you to elect to pay for their shuttle or arrive by taxi on your own (approximately 50 euro.) The airport is about 40 minutes from the resort.
Once at the resort, guests can elect to join excursions that include transportation around the island, or rent a car from Hertz between 8 a.m. and noon. Note: Cars are manual and you will need to request in advance to locate an automatic.
The resort is a 10-minute walk from Sainte Anne, which features shops, street vendors, and restaurants that give you a true glimpse into Guadeloupe life. All beaches in France are public, so you can visit any beach you may life. (In return, Club Med beaches are public and vendors will stroll around and attempt to sell you swimsuits and wraps.)
For Mom and Dad
A small spa provides traditional treatments. Housed in a two-room, over-the-water bungalow with an open wall, it can be a relaxing spot for a massage. However, watch what time you book and compare it with the kids' programming. During our visit, the kids were playing water games with a counselor on a bullhorn; it was not as relaxing as we had hoped.