|Couples spa suite at L’Occitane at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in St. Lucie, FL.|
Even in tough economic times, many Americans place a premium on travel for their health. It’s no surprise then that spa travel is thriving as clients continue to cite spa facilities as a prime consideration among services and amenities in influencing their choice for vacation accommodations.
More and more of these travelers are looking for a regimen that goes beyond pampering—and spas are responding with increasing emphasis on well-being and prevention. This trend jibes with Club Med’s “active wellness” philosophy, a total approach to fitness for which, at a great number of resorts, spas are a vital component, along with yoga, Pilates, Zumba and Aqua Zumba, stretching, cardio and weight training, and fitness classes, as well as an extensive array of sports facilities.
When all-inclusive resorts pioneer Club Med launched its first series of agent training programs (1999-2004) with Travel Agent University, wellness was not emphasized, relegated to a few mentions of “well-being menus” and onsite masseuses. In the new Club Med Expert Agent course launching this month, there is a section dedicated to “Active Wellness and Spas” as a target market.
It all goes back to 2005, when Club Med decided to reposition itself as an upscale product, leading to $530 million worth of major upgrades, including the addition or revamping of spas at several properties as a key component. The company’s website now identifies more than two dozen properties specifically as “Spa Resorts” (although they are much more than that), where your clients will find treatments and products by such prominent spa brands as Biotherme, Carita, Cinq Mondes, Comfort Zone, Decleor, L’Occitane, Mandara, Nuxe and Payot.
L’Occitane at Sandpiper Bay
Perhaps the most significant and high-profile spa development, not to mention the most accessible for North American travelers, was the opening earlier this year of the L’Occitane spa at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in St. Lucie, FL. “It marked the conclusion of a major $28 million renovation project for the resort,” says Xavier Mufraggi, CEO of Club Med North America. “The addition of the spa was a major component in the repositioning of Club Med Sandpiper Bay as the ultimate health and wellness retreat.
“Well-being is at the core of both the Club Med and L’Occitane philosophies, which aligns perfectly with what our customers are looking for—a way to balance their lives through enriching activities and relaxation,” Mufraggi adds. The original Club Med Spa by L’Occitane is situated at Club Med Opio-en-Provence, France, and additional ones can be found at Club Med resorts in La Palmyre, France and in Yabuli, China.
Sandpiper Bay is also home to one of the innovative Club Med Fitness Academies, led at the Florida resort by Idrissa Diallo, who has trained and worked with golf and tennis pros and Olympic athletes. Beginners and advanced students can take advantage of a variety of training options, from basic cardio and weightlifting programs to professional-caliber athlete training. These Fitness Academies are also available at Club Med resorts in Columbus Isle, Bahamas; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Turks and Caicos; Cancun, Mexico; and Otranto, Italy.