The world of fashion and taste seems to repeat itself in cycles of quasi-innovation. And apparently, society’s vacationing habits are also cyclical, judging from the recent relaunch of Club Med.
For European citizens of a certain age, Club Med was a household name at one time. The French holiday provider attracted a society that bathed in the solid and impermanent affluence kindled in the 1950s, a society seeking pristine nature with a hint of the savage without having to surrender security and creature comforts. People change, however. The all-inclusive resort concept began declining in the 90s, what was appealing in the 1950s and 1960s was now readily available thanks to cheap flights to formerly unattainable destinations. By the 2000s, the company was chalking up losses, having not yet answered the public demand for more sophisticated and tailor-made holiday offers. For the sanguine post-boomer generation, Club Med was just a vague memory.
In 2004, however, a new strategy was implemented, with focus back on the holiday villages that had made the company famous for upmarket vacationers. Club Med did not spare any expenses in the process, investing – along with its partners – a total of USD 530 million between 2006 and 2007 to renovate and revamp the group’s portfolio offerings. The company closed its more rudimentary resorts and upgraded many others, while at the same time dedicating massive sums to marketing and advertising. And it worked: following these actions Club Med returned to profit and is attracting clientele with the right income.
Nonetheless, and not letting these good news get in the way of some serious strategic thinking, the company is persisting with its reconfiguration work, determined to make people forget the 1980s clichés about resort vacation and rebrand the corporation as a possible choice for sophisticated holidays. Many projects are in progress, among them are some that epitomise the company’s new take on tailor-made holiday offerings. Its very own rating system, “5 Tridents” resorts and “5 Tridents” areas, offers eleven paradisiac places with highest-end accommodations and amenities. The “5 Tridents” resorts include: Le RiadMarrakech in Morocco, Les Villas d’Albion and La Plantation d’Albion in Mauritius, Club Med 2 – the sailing ship and the chalet-apartments of Valmorel in France. This freshly-opened resort exemplifies Club Med’s new ambitions.
Up and away
First and foremost, this 5-Trident facility is located in a grand natural setting. The menu of amenities, designed to meet the vacationer’s needs, consists of a savvy mix of what has made Club Med famous, including the tailor-made extras that the well-travelled are expecting nowadays. Youngsters from four months old to 18 years old are well catered for, with activities adapted to every age, from a baby gym to an ice rink and the whole range of mountain sports with lessons for everyone: ski, ski trekking, snowboard, VTT and so on. Spa treatments for teenagers and cooking classes are also available in this resort focused on the families’ wellbeing. Children, youngsters and adults alike will enjoy the swimming pools, indoor gym, restaurants and the traditional Club Med evening entertainment, which remains the trademark of the company’s resorts. Valmorel is set to become an all-year destination, with summer and winter activities, and which will cater for skiers and non-skiers alike come winter days, with hiking and snowshoeing circuits available for those who do not want to hit the slopes.
For this almost limitless offering of sports and activities is the signature style of the Club Med business and one that the company is eager to retain in its rebranding process. The all-inclusive package covers all activities including small group ski lessons, food, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, a winning formula that keeps grabbing the attention of travelling couples and families since it enables them to forget about any unforeseen holidays costs. This removal of the “bad surprise” factor from the equation seduces many, including affluent families who still like to keep their budget under control when holidaying. It also ensures that everyone, from toddler to teenager to parents, can get what they want and need from the holidays without worrying about the family finances.
Top of the heap
Sticking to what works best still does not deter Club Med to offer that little X factor that was crucially lacking from its traditional endeavours in the past. Today that X factor has taken the form of tailor-made services and offerings that make the well-heeled traveller feel special and unique – a feature that seemed at first difficult to implement within Club Med’s all-inclusive concept. Yet the company has managed to do just that, as the differentiated offer exemplifies at Valmorel: for those in need of the extra luxury and privacy, the resort has dedicated an entire floor to its 5 Tridents amenities and accommodations, with 26 suites, almost all of them for families.
This special area, which retains direct access to the whole resort, boasts a ski room and its own private lounge area where you can sip champagne from 6 p.m. onwards – it’s included in the price, of course. The same quiet luxury rules the chalet apartments, which offer 2-, 3-, or 4-bedroom apartments to rent or buy, with concierge service, spa treatments, and – you guessed it – champagne at 6 p.m. Again. You can still show your moves at the Club Med’s seasonal dance, have fun at the evening shows and mingle with strangers. But now, you do it with a glass of champagne in one hand and the key to your own secret hideaway in the other.
Good to know
- 2-bedroom apartment which accommodates 4 people can be rented for CHF 940 per night.
- 3-bedroom apartment which accommodates 6 people can be rented for CHF 1410 per night.
- 4-bedroom apartment which accommodates 8 people can be rented for CHF 1880 per night.
(prices for the week 24.6.–30.6) Butler service included.
Prices include baby, kids and youngsters’ care from 4 months to 18 year-old available at the Valmorel Club, as well as breakfast, snacks, champagne at the chalet, ski passes for the whole family and group lessons.
Article by Laurinae Zonco