Brazil’s Rio das Pedras Club Med Caters to Families

This exotic Club Med is tucked away in a corner of a rainforest, and it’s a hit with kids and parents, especially single parents.

Traveling solo with kids can wear on a parent. In addition to regular duties—making sure your offspring is fed, safe, clean and so forth—you are the main source of entertainment in a strange place. Club Med, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Mini Club Med program in 2008, is an attractive option for families, especially for traveling single parents.

I recently took my 9-year-old daughter, Sadie, to the Rio Das Pedras Club Med in Brazil, about 90 minutes south of Rio de Janeiro. The Club Med Web site for this property showed there would be plenty of programs for kids, and because the kid’s clubs are included in the resort’s all-inclusive pricing package I knew there wouldn’t be any surprise fees. What I couldn’t find, however, was information on the clubs’ hours, the ratio of caregivers to number of children and other details that would have been useful in planning.

On arriving in Rio, Club Med representatives picked us up at the airport and drove us to the resort, a perk that was part of our one-week package, which also included six nights accommodations, all meals, beverages and activities, and use of the kids’ clubs, cost about $3,000. A word to the wise: some, but not all, of the staff speak English. Usually someone can be found to translate, but it’s worth learning a few basic words of Portuguese before you go.

After settling into our our “central” room, which had two queen-size beds, a patio, and shower (no bathtub), we went exploring. Sadie was immediately ready to dive into the giant seaside pool.

Brazil’s Green Coast

The resort is located on what’s called Brazil’s “Green Coast,” a substantial stretch of sandy beaches and rainforest south of Rio de Janeiro in the Mangaratiba district that faces the islands of Angra dos Reis. It also borders the ecological reserve of Rio das Pedras, which Club Med helped to preserve. The resort offers guided two-hour treks for an additional fee of 11 euros, roughly $17. Club Med donates the full cost of the excursion to the Rio das Piedras Nature Reserve.

The tour started at 9:30 a.m. and lasted until 12:30 p.m., a little late for prime wildlife viewing (dawn and dusk tend to be the best times), which could explain why Sadie and I didn’t see any sloths on the day we ventured out, as we had hoped, or any other animals. Still, we did see plenty of giant jackfruit trees, and we loved taking a dip in a natural pool fed by the Rio Grande.

Club Med’s Kid’s Clubs

At the kid’s club center (which has its own pool), we discovered that there was to be a talent show during our stay, one of an itinerary of activities for the week. Sadie immediately signed up to sing in the show, and she was excited to see wakeboarding and archery as options for her schedule.

Kids can spend all day at the club (from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.) if they like, except for an afternoon break. To my surprise, children as young as 8 years old can come and go to the club as they please. (I forbade Sadie to do that, however.) February is a holiday month for Brazilians, so the resort was packed with families and dozens of kids roaming at will. Even when Sadie and I just chilled at the pool, she was never without a playmate.

Being an all-inclusive resort, all meals are covered, plus every Club Med has an enormous buffet with regional specialties and staples such as pasta and pizza. Even the fussiest eater can find something to enjoy. It turned out that Sadie’s staple was crepes, filled with everything from delicious fresh fruit to chocolate sauce.

As for our not speaking Portuguese, it turned out not to be as big an issue as I thought it would be. I nailed how to order a caipirinha—the national drink of Brazil. Sadie’s highlight of the trip was winning the talent show, singing “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by Burt Bacharach, in English.

Her medal is now proudly displayed at home.

Destinations: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Rio das Pedras

Themes: Family Travel, Single-Parent Family Travel

Activities: Hiking, Eat, Sightseeing, Sleep, Swimming