ONSITE: Club Med Unveils Latest Renovated Property Aimed at Families

OPIO, FRANCE-Club Med, the 57-year-old resort company making moves in the upscale family market, on Saturday announced a new European pricing plan at the inaugural of its revamped Club Med Opio resort in Provence.

As a way to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its Mini Club Med children's program, all resorts throughout Europe this winter will offer free transport and stays for children under the age of 2. Executives stressed that this is a change in pricing policy, not just a promotion. The new policy only applies to travel within Europe and not from the United States, mostly because flights within Europe are operated by more economical charter services. The decision is just one of several moves the company is making to shed its singles-travel image from the 1970s and focus more strongly on its offerings for families.

In fact, 85 percent of Club Med resorts are family friendly, offering childcare services for children ages 4 months to 18 years, said Paula S. Hayes, senior vice president of sales for Club Med. A more familial focus at Club Med resorts have been in place for the last four years and the plan is to have all resorts welcome children by the year 2009. Hayes added that she doesn't feel Club Med's philosophical change has been fully communicated to consumers, noting that she believes travel agents are the company's best conduits for communication.

With its official opening on Sunday, Club Med Opio in Provence marks the latest resort in Club Med's $530 million investment plan to be renovated to in the fashion of upscale family travel. With over $40 million in renovations, the 124-acre property features the Club Med Baby Welcome program, which offers full amenities for infants, children's clubs for visitors ages 4 months through 18 years and a Club Med circus school for children, as well as a separate pool and restaurant for younger travelers.

For adults, the resort has an onsite nine-hole golf course, 13 tennis courts with free instruction, a spa, excursions to surrounding perfumeries, wineries and medieval villages, guided hikes and three restaurants and four bars. Club Med Opio has 435 rooms, 26 of which are connecting and four that are suites. Seven-night, all-inclusive stays start at $1,068 per person for land only. Visit [www.clubmed.com] or call 800-CLUB-MED.


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