At least one company knows there is something medicinal about a beach vacation. Club Méditerranée, popularly known as Club Med, owns leisure operations in some 40 countries in Europe, North and South America, and the Asia/Pacific region. Its holdings include about 75 all-inclusive resort villages and a cruise ship operation. Club Med locations offer different resort styles that focus on areas such as sports, culture, the family, and spas. All total, the company hosts more than 1 million visitors annually. Club Méditerranée was founded in 1949 by Olympic medalist Gérard Blitz (a former Belgian water polo champion) and French businessman Gilbert Trigano.
Hobbled by a reputation that had become passé, Club Med has spent the last two decades revamping its 1970s "sea, sex, and sun" image to become more upscale and family-oriented. The company spent more than $500 million through 2008 to renovate and upgrade its villages and resorts. It also introduced new childcare facilities and sports offerings in order to better cater to families. The strategy appears to be working: In 2010, Club Med hosted 565,000 families, some 13,000 more than in 2009. Despite this achievement, revenue declined slightly and it posted a loss for 2010, thanks to a weak global economy that has yet to fully recover.
In addition to courting families, Club Med is also looking toward China for growth. It has adopted a development strategy of launching one village a year in China between 2010 and 2014 through partnerships. In late 2010 it opened its first resort in China, Club Med Yabuli. The mountain resort is located in China's Yabuli national park, and it joins Club Med's more than 20 ski resorts. The company is planning for China to become its second-largest market (behind France) by 2015.
Wanting to focus solely on its chain of holiday resorts, in late 2008 Club Med sold its Jet Tours operations to Thomas Cook Group, a leading travel services conglomerate, for $110 million. Jet Tours served about 270,000 clients each year and operated under the Jet Tours, Club Eldorado, and Austral Lagons brand names. At the same time, it also sold a majority stake in its Club Med Gym operations to private equity fund 21 Central Partners. – less