Camille Olivere, the new senior vice president of sales for Club Med, visited with New York travel advisors recently to update them on the status of the 65-year-old all-inclusive company’s projects. Olivere joined Club Med in February after serving at Norwegian Cruise Line as senior vice president of sales; she had been with that company since 2009.
Olivere joins Club Med at a dynamic time in its history. Over the years, it has closed a number of properties in order to ensure it offers a consistent product. With a portfolio of 65 resorts, that number is ready to grow again under new ownership. The Chinese firm, Fosun, gained control of Club Med earlier this year in a hotly contested battle for the ownership of the French company.
Published reports indicate that existing Club Med management had long favored the investment by Fosun, which had expressed the desire to continue positioning it as a global upscale resort company. The losing bidder— Italian billionaire Andrea Bonomi— had indicated it wanted to make Club Med more of a mass-market brand, said published reports.
Indeed, Olivere’s comments to travel agents in New York reflected that upscale growth strategy, as she shared the very latest news from the company.
Of note is the fact that management is looking at properties all over the world to expand. In fact, the goal is to grow by three to five resorts per year.
“Now we're really in a position to execute all the greater plans that have been formulated over the years,” she said, noting that Costa Rica is on the scouting list, as is Cuba.
Not surprisingly, there will be additional resorts in China, but deals are close to closing for a U.S. ski resort, as well as one in Canada.
In the Caribbean, Club Med Punta Cana is undergoing an expansion and the two French West Indies resorts, Buccaneer’s Creek and La Caravelle, which currently draw primarily a French market, will now be positioned to appeal to U.S. travelers.
“We're going to be working to standardize our hospitality to what U.S. guest expects,” said Olivere.
|Guestroom at Club Med Punta Cana's upcoming adults-only Zen Oasis|
She reported that the three areas that Club Med will continue to focus on are sophisticated food-and-beverage offerings, sports and its children’s programs.
“There are seven to 10 different sports available at our properties. You can start to learn a sport with us, or you can excel at a sport that you already understand during your visit,” she said.
And Club Med’s sophisticated children’s programs will continue to thrive, said Olivere, who pointed out the unique fact that children as young as four months old can participate.
Club Med has for the past decade focused on going more upscale and, indeed, it’s evolved from being primarily a mass market offering to having a portfolio that is 70 percent comprised of four- and five-trident level resorts.
That percentage stands only to grow, based on the new ownership’s strategy. “As we build, properties will all be four- and five-trident. We are not adding any new three-trident resorts to the product,” Olivere said.
The message that Olivere and her sales team want to get out to travel advisors is that, “Club Med is upscale. We are luxury,” she said.
As for renovation of existing resorts, Club Med Punta Cana in December will open a “Zen Oasis,” an adults-only area with its own beach and pool, a wellness bar, and two-story accommodations.
In June, the resort will also debut Club Med CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil, where guests can learn how to do acrobatics. The resort also has a new chef and new shops, including a duty-free store.
|Club Med Val Thorens|
Club Med Val Thorens in France is the company’s newest ski resort; it opened in December. Olivere noted that it’s ideal for families because ski rental and ski lessons are included, and the property overall is easy to navigate.
“It's a really great family vacation as well, because of the international cultural experience,” she noted.
Going forward, Club Med will continue to keep a keen eye on guest scores, which have been improving steadily, said Olivere. “We're very focused on delivering consistent hospitality across the resorts; that's a huge project that we're all working on together as a management team.”
Travel agents will also be invited to join monthly webinars in which they’ll be updated on all things Club Med.
Lastly, Olivere acknowledged that Club Med is working on the challenges travel agents have voiced about its booking engine. “We hear you, and we’re working on it,” she said. “This is really high on my list of things to be super focused on and to accelerate, so I intend to have new options for agents to book with us within three to six months at the most.”
All told, Olivere’s message to travel agents is threefold: “We're upscale. We're growing. We want to be you partner. We're a partner that is strong and that is going to continue to grow. We really are very committed to travel agent and to supporting you.”