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Jetsetting with Club Med’s president Henri Giscard d’Estaing

SINGAPORE — Club Med is on a roll. The all-inclusive resort company has just opened its first Chinese ski resort, Club Med Beihaidu, in the scenic region of Jilin. Up next is another ski resort in Hokkaido’s Tomamu region at the end of next year, and resorts in Lombok, Phuket and Vietnam are in the pipeline.

SINGAPORE — Club Med is on a roll. The all-inclusive resort company has just opened its first Chinese ski resort, Club Med Beihaidu, in the scenic region of Jilin. Up next is another ski resort in Hokkaido’s Tomamu region at the end of next year, and resorts in Lombok, Phuket and Vietnam are in the pipeline.

Its president, Henri Giscard d’Estaing, believes that the 66-year-old brand, which was established in 1950, can continue to dominate the all-inclusive market segment by picking the right locations — or what Club Med calls “the most beautiful parts of the world”. He tells us more about what travellers can expect.

Q: Club Med’s focus seems to be in Asia, with more resorts opening in the region. How does Club Med decide where to open a resort?

A: Club Med’s overarching goal is to be the global leader in upscale, all-inclusive vacations. Given the trends in the travel market for novel and exciting new experiences, we look at a diverse mix of exotic destinations, with a forecast of opening three to five properties a year. We are looking to expand further into the China market to meet the increasing demand for domestic travel. Club Med plans to open 15 more resorts in China in the next five years.

Q: How is Club Med coping with and catering to industry disruptors such as domestic travellers and millennial travellers? Will Club Med be changing anything in its formula to better suit these demands?

A: The key challenge is to address the need to innovate and create unique holiday experiences to sate consumers’ tastes and preferences, and to ensure our product remains relevant and attractive. For example, holidays will evolve to incorporate more unique experiences, and to create memories through bonding activities with family and friends. This is why Club Med has created its Must-try Experiences in Asia, with millennial travellers in mind, such as yoga by the sea in Bintan, Thai boxing lessons in Phuket and tree-top hiking in Cherating Beach. Other new developments include the newly constructed Happy Children’s Corner in Club Med Kani, as well as the opening of Finolhu Villas for guests who are 12 years old and above.

Q: Why the switch from having adults-only resorts to welcoming families?

A: Club Med always seeks to remain competitive in the travel industry with the brand’s differentiated “All-Inclusive” offering. Therefore, the change to welcome families into its resorts in the Maldives is mainly to respond to the rising demand for family-friendly services in the country. This move is also in line with the global positioning of the brand.

Q: But with so many resort brands also focusing on younger, savvier families, how will Club Med stand out?

A: We saw the need to expand the current product offering to counter the shift toward younger, savvier families with the introduction of the Club Med Exclusive Collection. We are shifting our marketing efforts to create more exciting digital content that will appeal to our target audience. For example, the #CLUBMED360 videos allow travellers to have a glimpse at the resorts prior to booking their trip. We were the first in the travel industry to introduce 360° videos globally. SERENE LIM

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