French Queen Marie Antoniette had a fake village built for her in the park of Versailles to enjoy the 'simple life' of the peasants. Club Med seems to follow that French tradition, with a simple three-star beach resort, calling it a club and is charging 5-star prices.
Location : Kariba Bay is 30 minutes away from the airport/main city, so unless transport is included, a rental car can make sense (abour Y 5,000/day)
Reception : Disappointing. They even asked 'Is it your first time at Club Med' which we confirmed. We were then hoping for a more detailled explanation, but we were just shown our room. The 'information package' in the room was only a A4 sheet and many things we could only find out by chance over the next days, e.g. that the 4 sodas in the fridge were free (but never refilled). We somewhat felt that the lack of explanation is to seperate the regular club customers from the newbies.
Food/Drink : Free Beer/Wine/Cocktails all day long. Food was non-spectacular buffet fare with once a roast, but usually more in the ranges of chicken and fish. Kids were happy but my wife had expected more. Excellent variety, maybe also due to the fact that the guests were a mix of Chinese/Japanese/French/Europeans/Australians. Seating was somewhat chaotic as there are a limited number of private tables and then you just get seated at larger tables where there is space. Even that was poorly organized, so it can happen that you go back to the buffet for seconds and find your place occupied by somebody else. Ishigaki Island is famous for its beef, but this would cost extra. Our most memorable food in Ishigaki was the beef BBQ lunch at Kinjo downtown, the restaurant recommended in Wikitravel.
Beach/Pool : Superb pristine private beach with some activities (snorkeling, etc.) at one end. But only one pool (1.1 m) with one part as a shallow kid's pool. Even we were here in October, almost all sunbeds were taken, but often only 'reserved' with towels. Staff should clean them up if not used and I'd see this as a problem during the high season.
Rooms : Clean but surprisingly basic and old. Room keys not programmed but with punched out holes which I had not seen in ages. Thus we were given an additional card for 'purchases' which we promptly managed to lose and were charged $ 10. Other hotels would charge purchases on the room card and let you keep it.
Staff : Dominique, the French manager was ever-present and even performed at some of the evening shows. I was surprised that most of the staff was from third world countries such as Brasil, Malaysia, China, Bali,...
Kid's Club : One of the highlights of the resort. You can drop off your kid any time and they even have lunch together. Many outdoor and indoor activities.
Sports : Ideal for snorkeling in the bay, but also many other sports, such a a gym, ping-pong tables, squash, tennis, etc.
Tours : As there is not much around the resort, tours are offered, such as to Taketomi, but even for two people it would be cheaper to rent a car and do it yourself.
Alternatives : We also had a look at the ANA Intercontinental, the other 'large hotel' on the Island. This is located close to the town and airport and is much newer, also with Kids club and a much larger pool area, even with a slide. It also has an indoor pool which the Club Med lacks. Drawback is the beach, which is not nearly as nice as the Club Med's.
Last thoughts : We met people who have gone there regularly for the last 10 years, so it has its repeat value. But we felt a bit as outsiders, even after a week we still don't know what terms like "G.O." mean. Overall, it is a nice place for families and sport-lovers. However, the resort is a bit dated and is run with a young team that is motivated but sometimes seems unprofessional/unexperienced. For the price (even kids pay full) we would have expected more, not just a place which would otherwise maybe get three stars.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.