Club Med launches golf academy

Club Med, the all-inclusive operator of family-oriented resorts, is preparing to launch a new concept with a significantly heightened focus on golf, tennis and fitness instruction.

The Club Med Sandpiper Bay, scheduled to reopen Dec. 17 following a $25 million renovation, will be the company’s first “Premier Sports” property, with instruction and education programs designed to parallel what is offered at elite junior sports academies, such as those operated by IMG.

The upgrades to the property, located in Port St. Lucie, Fla., will allow the resort to cater both to its traditional resort customers and also talented juniors who aspire to play in college or even professionally.

“We’ve taken the best of what the academies do and the best of what Club Med does and combined them,” said Kevin Batt, managing director of Sandpiper Bay. “We were a good resort. Now we have a professional golf and fitness program. . . . We’ve become a real sports academy.”

Noted golf instructors Brad Brewer and Don Law have been recruited to run the Club Med Golf Academy. The staff also includes tutors and a sports psychologist.

As part of the renovations, Sandpiper Bay hired Tom Fazio II to design a six-acre short-game facility, and also built an 11,000-square-foot fitness facility.

Sandpiper Bay renovated all 334 rooms and created more lodging options, including 28 rooms reserved for juniors who live and train on-site. The resort also added six new tennis courts and two infinity pools, and put about $1 million into landscaping.

The resort’s golf course, an 18-hole layout that opened in 1962, was not included in the current renovations, though Batt said there have been discussions about possible changes to the course. For now, the resort has initiated a golf concierge service, providing guests access to 16 nearby courses.

Batt said Club Med has “been testing out the high-performance academy concept. It’s always been very strong with families, but we’ve never done anything like this with kids.”

He predicted that the resort’s all-inclusive payment program will make it an attractive option for parents who want to spend time on-site with their children who are training there. Batt added that advance bookings indicated Sandpiper Bay will “have a capacity issue” by next summer.

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