Club Med

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Club Med SAS
Founded27 April 1950; 71 years ago (1950-04-27)
HeadquartersParis, France
Key people
Henri Giscard d'Estaing, President
Michel Wolfovski, Deputy CEO and CFO
Xavier Mufraggi, Vice President North America
Patrick Calvet, Vice President Villages Europe-Africa
Revenue€1.4 billion (2014)
Number of employees
ParentFosun International

Club Med SAS, commonly known as Club Med and previously known as Club Méditerranée SA, is a French travel and tourism operator headquartered in Paris, specializing in all-inclusive holidays. Founded in 1950, the company is primarily owned by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group since 2013. Club Med either wholly owns or operates over seventy all-inclusive resort villages in holiday locations around the world.



The Club was started in 1950 by Belgian entrepreneur Gérard Blitz. Blitz had opened a low-priced summer colony of tents on the Spanish island of Majorca, then another one in the island of Djerba (Tunisia). Great entertainer, Blitz was however no businessman and he went bankrupt in 1953. The main creditor as the tents supplier, Gilbert Trigano, the French "King of Camping"; Trigano took control of the Club and slowly pushed Blitz aside. The first official Club Med was built the next year in Palinuro, Salerno, Italy. The original villages were simple: Members stayed in unlit straw huts on a beachfront, sharing communal washing facilities. Such villages have been replaced with modern blocks or huts with ensuite facilities.


Because of reckless spending, the Club was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1961. It was saved by the 35-year-old Baron Edmond de Rothschild after he had visited a resort and enjoyed his stay.[1][2] With Rothschild financing, the number of villages increased greatly under Trigano's leadership from 1963 to 1993. Winter villages, providing skiing and winter sports tuition, were introduced in 1956 at Leysin, Switzerland. In 1965, the first club outside the Mediterranean was opened in Tahiti. Club Med broadened its reach by opening villages in the Caribbean and Florida where English rather than French was the main language.

Originally attracting mainly singles and young couples, the Club later became primarily a destination for families, with the first Mini Club opening in 1967.

Club Méditerranée S.A. had a branch in the USA named Club Méditerranée Inc, with several partners including Crédit Lyonnais and American Express. It was so badly managed that it had no success in a country where that type of all-inclusive vacation was unknown and perfect for Americans. Then, in 1974 arrived a new President, Jean Lallemand, one of the first members of the Club and main responsible of the large presence of the Club in Italy. He hired as Marketing Manager the French HEC Jacques Bacon, who made the Club a huge success within 3 years through an aggressive and very efficient promotion ; it is he who suggested to call the Cluc Club med because Americans, who love abbreviations, called it so ; the new name was at that times reserved to the North American market, but then became the name of the Mother company as well. In spite of their magnificent performance, Jean Lallemand was brutally sacked by Gilbert Trigano, who was afraid that he takes over the reins of the organization, and Jacques Bacon was sacked as well by Serge Trigano, Gilbert's son, who wanted to put at his place a friend with no knowledge at all of the US market and of marketing.

Early 70s, the Club had bought from her owner Claude Lelouche the famous revolutionary three-mast sailing boat Vendredi 13, installed 4 berths and a bath-room, and based her at the Buccaneers Creek village in Martinique for one-day to several day cruises. Huge success among members, so, in 1976, it bought the huge sailing boat built by solo sailor Alain Colas, who had just lost the Solo Transatlantic Race Plymouth-Newport to his enemy Eric Tabarly. It renamed it Club Médiderranée and based it in Tahiti for Polynesian cruises. Another huge success, so, the Club built a second one, a monster named Club Med 2.

Club Med 2 is a 5-masted cruise ship owned by Club Med. The sails are automatically deployed by computer control. Club Med 2 was launched in 1992 in Le Havre, France. The ship, carrying up to 400 passengers with a crew of 200, cruises the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Atlantic.

The Club has also ceased to be a club in the legal sense, changing from a not-for-profit association to a for-profit public limited company (French SA) in 1995. However, each new customer is still charged a membership fee upon joining, and returning customers are charged an annual fee as well.


In the 1990s, the Club's fortunes declined because competitors copied its concepts and holidaymakers demanded more sophisticated offerings. Other reasons explain its demise: the arrogance of the Triganos, who were convinced that they could buy any property, even one with a lousy location, put on it the name "Club Med" and it would be a success; they multiplied the villages, so many so fast that they could not find enough good "chefs de village", who make the villages what they are: bad chef = bad village. In 1997, the shareholders finally understood and sacked the two Triganos and replaced them with Philippe Bourguignon, former CEO of Novotel USA. Bourguignon aimed to change the Club "from a holiday village company to a services company". The club took over a chain of French gyms, launched bar/restaurant complexes known as Club Med World in Paris and Montreal, and commenced a budget resort concept aimed at young adults. Oyyo was the first such resort, opened at Monastir in Tunisia. Thirteen new villages were planned for the new century.


The change in strategy was not successful, and the Club fell into a deep loss following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the U.S. In 2002, a new CEO, Henri Giscard d'Estaing, son of the President, was appointed. His strategy was to refocus on the holiday villages and attract upmarket vacationers. Oyyo, Club Med World Montreal and many villages, particularly those in North America or with more basic facilities, were closed. The Club returned to profitability in 2005.

In 2004, the hotel group Accor became the largest shareholder, but it sold most of its stake in 2006, announcing that it wished to refocus on its core businesses.[3] From 2001 onward, the resort company worked to rebrand itself as upscale and family-oriented.

In 2006 and 2007, Club Med and its partners dedicated a total of $530 million to renovate several resorts.


In February 2015, Fosun International Ltd.'s Gaillon Invest II and The Silverfern Group finalized a takeover deal of Club Méditerranée S.A.[4] The acquisition culminated a bidding war that began in May 2013, which was conducted by Gaillon, a special investment vehicle used by Fosun, to execute its bidding for Club Med.[5] The two-year-long war boosted the price of the company from the initial €541 million "friendly bid" in 2013 up to the final sale price of €939 million ($1.07 billion). Gaillon Invest's chairman, Jiannong Qian, believes that Chinese ownership of the company is crucial to tap into China's huge population of potential tourists.[6] Following the takeover, Chairman and President of Club Méditerranée SA, Henri Giscard d'Estaing, was named President of Club Med SAS.


Each resort provides a list of services and activities in one single package. This includes lodging, food, use of facilities, sports activities, games, and shows.


Club Med staff are called "GOs", or Gentils Organisateurs (Gracious/Nice Organizers). Clients are "GMs", or Gentils Membres (Gracious/Nice Guests/Members). The resort is known as a village. The resort manager is called the Chef de Village (Village Chief). Chefs de Villages are responsible for the ambiance of the resort, well-being of guests, coordinate with the corporate offices, and oversee the general day-to-day operations of the resorts. Chefs de Villages are often seen doing daily tours of the resort that involves checking in with guests. Resort managers are also responsible for announcing the evening program and leading a few 'crazy signs' (communal dances), before passing the microphone to the Assistant Chef de Village, Events Manager, or Sports Manager. Each village contains a team of managers, ranging from Events Manager, Sports Manager, Leisure Manager, Restaurant Manager, Bar Manager, Reception Manager, etc...

The special feature of Club Med is that the GOs and GMs play, dine, drink, and dance together every day and night. Daytime and evening sport-playing, and evening shows with audience participation, are often part of the holiday experience.

A particular institution is the communal dance or crazy signs led by the GOs at varying intervals during the day and evening (the frequency varies by village). The dance steps for each song are standard across the organization with some new ones introduced each year. The evening shows, often requiring detailed choreography, are also standardized and include both new and established routines.

"Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)" by Ottawan is regularly played to accompany the crazy signs during the evening shows.

GOs are moved between villages and many work both winter and summer seasons. All GOs, regardless of their area of specialty (a sport or administrative function), are expected to regularly participate in both the show and "crazy signs". Their work is supplemented by locally recruited support staff such as cleaners and cooks, known as "GEs" or Gentils Employés (Gracious/Nice Employees). Club Med offers GOs a six-month renewable contract, which includes competitive pay, and room and board included. In the summer season, villages like Club Med Columbus Isle will offer GOs a three-month renewable contract.

There are 15,000 GOs of 96 different nationalities working in the villages around the world and most of them reside in the village.


Most villages are designed for families, with villages providing daytime supervised facilities for children: the "Baby", "Petit", "Mini", "Junior" clubs and 12 Passworld facilities worldwide which offer a special hang out space for 11- to 17-year-olds.

The villages are now divided into three different types:

  • Resorts for families: villages with children's clubs and activities for teenagers, offering relaxation and leisure activities, and welcoming families, couples and friends.
  • Resorts for singles: adults-only villages, from 18 years, offering entertainment, relaxation, sports, and leisure time by the pool for the flexibility of independent travelers.
  • Resorts for couples only: adults-only villages, from 18 years, offering wedding and honeymoon packages, couples' massages, and romantic sunset dinners.

As of June 2018, the resort company either owns or operates over seventy villages in Europe, Africa and Middle East, North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Exclusive Collection[edit]

In 2007 Club Med launched its Exclusive Collection with the opening of its first 5 Trident resort, La Plantation d'Albion located in Mauritius.

In 2009 Club Med began construction on Les Villas d'Albion, a property adjacent to La Plantation d'Albion containing over 30 2, 3 or 4-bedroom villas. These villas can be purchased by guests and rented out by Club Med when the owner is not using the villa.

Club Med also has a residence property at its ski resort of Valmorel in France, consisting of a series of 2, 3 and 4-bedroom chalets.

The group has expanded its Exclusive Collection with the construction of '5 Trident Zones' at a number of its resorts; these areas contain facilities only available to guests staying in the top-tier accommodation at the resort.

In 2016 Club Med opened its second Exclusive Collection resort in the Maldives, the Finolhu Villas, located a short boat ride away from the other Maldives property, Kani.

On 3 June 2018, President Henri Giscard d'Estaing inaugurated the company's third Exclusive Collection and 5 Trident resort Club Med Cefalù, near Palermo, in Sicily, Italy; the first 5 Trident resort in the European zone.

In April 2018, CEO of Club Med North America Xavier Mufraggi along with the president of the Dominican Republic announced that Club Med would open the first 5 Trident resort in the American zone in Michès, Dominican Republic (sixty miles from the Punta Cana airport). Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda would be the first Club Med village opened in the American zone in nearly twenty years.

In popular culture[edit]

The phrase "Club Med- a cheap holiday in other people's misery" appeared as a Situationist slogan, written in graffiti in Paris, May 1968. The phrase was described as a commentary on alienation, domination, and "the false promises of modern life". The slogan was later given a nod to in the opening lyrics of the Sex Pistols song "Holidays in the Sun".[7]

The Club Med style of vacation was satirized in the 1978 film, Les Bronzés (released in English as French Fried Vacation) directed by Patrice Leconte. Sequels Les Bronzés font du ski and Les Bronzés – Amis pour la Vie were released in 1979 and 2006 respectively.

In Jean-luc Godard's 'La Chinoise' (1967), the character Guillaume (Jean-Pierre Léaud) talks about his father who had fought Germans in the war, now ran Club Med resort working along the lines of concentration camps. In regards with the Situationalist slogan, this scene establishes an image from Dal lake of Kashmir.

The 1983 film Copper Mountain: A Club Med Experience, starring Jim Carrey and Alan Thicke, is a quasi-commercial for the now-closed Club Med village in the U.S. ski resort at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

The 1986 ABC TV movie Club Med stars Jack Scalia and Linda Hamilton as a Club Med manager and guest, respectively, who fall in love.

In 2004, a Korean TV drama broadcast by MBC titled First Love of a Royal Prince was filmed in Club Med Bali, Sahoro, and Bora Bora. In the drama, the main actress, Sung Yu-ri, played Kim Yu Bin, a GO.

In Northern America minimum security prisons are often referred as Club Fed, another pun on the Club Med name.

In 2004, The American comedy team Broken Lizard, released a comedy slasher film named “Club Dread”, where a paradise resort for young people full of sex, drugs and rock and roll become targets of a deranged killer. The title is another pun on the Club Med name.


Current ships[edit]

Name Built Builder Club Med
Gross Tonnage Flag IMO Notes Image
Club Med 2 1991 Sociéte Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre 1996–present 14,983 tons  Wallis and Futuna 9007491 Nice fake sail cruiseship.JPG

Former ships[edit]

Name Built Builder Club Med
Gross Tonnage Flag IMO Notes Image
Club Med 1 1989 Sociéte Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre 1990–1998 14,983 tons  Wallis and Futuna 8700785 sold to Windstar Cruises & renamed Wind Surf in 1998 WIND SURF (7723406156).jpg


  1. ^ Faith, Nicholas (4 November 1997). "Obituary: Baron Edmond de Rothschild". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  2. ^ Gilbert Trigano, a Developer of Club Med, Is Dead at 80 By JOHN TAGLIABUE Published: February 6, 2001
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Silverfern Group invests in Club Méditerranée S.A., a leading global hotel and resort operator". The Silverfern Group. 13 February 2015. Archived from the original on 10 July 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  5. ^ "China's Fosun wins bidding for Club Med after two years". BBC News. BBC. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  6. ^ Kiernan, Kaitlyn (12 February 2015). "Fosun's Gaillon Seals Long-Fought Deal For Club Med". Law 360. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  7. ^ Marcus, Greil. Lipstick Traces. Picador.

External links[edit]