Club Med

Club Méditerranée
Industry Tourism
Founded 1950
Headquarters Paris, France
Key people
Henri Giscard d'Estaing, Chairman of the Board
Michel Wolfovski, Executive Vice President and CFO
Products Travel
Revenue €1.36 billion (2009)
Number of employees
Parent Fosun International

Club Méditerranée SA, commonly known as Club Med, is a French public limited company specializing in the sale of all-in holidays at a number of "vacation villages" which it owns and operates in a number of (usually exotic) locations around the world.



The Club was started in 1950 by former Belgian water polo champion Gérard Blitz. Blitz, a Belgian, had opened a low-priced summer colony of tents on the island of Majorca. Gilbert Trigano supplied the tents, and in 1953 Blitz wooed him into a partnership. 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.


In 1961, the company was purchased 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 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. Serge Trigano took over from his father but was replaced in 1997 by Philippe Bourguignon, former CEO of EuroDisney.

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 September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA. In 2002, a new CEO, Henri Giscard d'Estaing, 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 onwards, 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.

Chinese acquisition

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]


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. Certain items such as premium alcoholic beverages previously required the use of beads or tickets as a form of payment; this is not required anymore.


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).

The special feature of Club Med is that the GOs and GMs play, dine, drink, and dance together every day and night. Outdoor buffet dining (usually on tables of eight, mixing GMs and GOs), daytime sport-playing, and evening shows with extensive audience participation, are 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 organisation with some new ones introduced each year. The evening shows, often requiring detailed choreography, are also standardised 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).

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's" 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:

As of November 2015 the resort company operates 65 villages in Europe, Africa and Middle East, North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Club Med Villas

Club Med is constructing and selling 40 Club Med Villas at La Plantation d'Albion on the island of Mauritius. Ranging from 2-4 bedrooms and priced between €992,000 and €1,590,000, each villa comes furnished, with air conditioning and features its own swimming pool. Owners can take part in the amenities and activities in the village. Additionally, owners can allow Club Med to rent out their villas when they are not occupied.

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.

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 the Pink Panther series, The Pink Panther makes a reference to Club Med in the episode "Momma's Boy".

In The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", one of Dr. Nick Riviera's diplomas reads "Club Med School". In the episode "Little Big Mom", Bart says that he and Homer, who have been sent to a leper colony in Hawaii due to a since-discovered trick played on them by Lisa, plan to "put our fake sores back on, then jump into Club Med and scare the normals". In the episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", Bart and some other kids have to clean an advertising billboard as a punishment for breaking a curfew and Chief Wiggum tells them: "Don't forget to clean under the jowls. That spot is Club Med for mildew!"

The song "Shake Your Rump" off the Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique features Mike D "chilling at the beach, down at Club Med".

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.

The 2004 comedy/horror movie Club Dread, set at a vacation resort, is a play on the Club Med name.

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


Club Med was criticised in graffiti during the May 1968 student uprising in Paris as "a cheap holiday in other people's misery".[7] That line was given a nod to in the opening lyrics of the Sex Pistols song "Holidays in the Sun".


Current ships

Name Built Builder Entered
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

Former ships

Name Built Builder Entered
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 Ship sold to Windstar Cruises and renamed to Wind Surf in 1998.


  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
  4. "The Silverfern Group invests in Club Méditerranée S.A., a leading global hotel and resort operator". The Silverfern Group. 13 February 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.
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