CANCUN — Club Med unveiled extensive renovations to its Cancun Yucatan property earlier this month, along with its sales growth numbers in Canada – and a plan to boost business in Ontario. Travelweek was on site at Club Med Cancun Yucatan to see all the upgrades and experience the resort.
Club Med was the first to open a resort in Cancun back in 1976, and even helped to build the airport in an effort to develop tourism, which was nonexistent at the time. A lot has changed since then.
Originally the Cancun property was a mid-range, adults-only resort. “In 2004 we started to reposition the Club Med brand,” said Julien Laurent, Marketing and Communications Project Manager for Club Med Canada. “We wanted to upscale the brand and to focus on family first and then on couples.”
Cancun has grown by leaps and bounds since then, but for many it’s known as a party town that attracts the Spring Break crowd. With renovations that add a touch of luxury and a focus on family-friendly amenities, Club Med is looking to attract a different kind of crowd.
“Even if Cancun is known for Spring Breakers, it’s far away from here … (since) we are the beginning of the hotel section,” said Laurent. “(The location) is more secluded and private compared to the other places in Cancun.”
While Club Med attracts a lot of repeat visitors, referred to by the company as GMs (for Gentil Membres, or Kind Members), it’s growing the number of overall visitors from Canada. And Laurent attributes that – at least in part – to travel agents.
This year Club Med has seen double-digit growth in Canada – more than 11% for the year, which translates to more than 40,000 Canadian clients. Its business in Ontario has grown by 10% this year, while ski resort business volume has doubled in the past two years and group business volume has tripled since 2011.
In Canada about 57% of bookings are made through a travel agency, said Laurent. “There’s the all-inclusive component, but we sell the experience … and travel agents say that’s what really makes the difference,” he said. “Also, that family-friendly atmosphere.”
Club Med Canada has two managers based in Quebec and is increasing its presence in Ontario from one to two managers. While Club Med is well known in Quebec, the company is making a concerted effort to target the English-language market in Canada — a presence that Laurent admits had dwindled over the years.
“We came back because we have seen growth in Ontario year after year,” he said. “That’s why we’re repositioning the brand in Ontario because we see a huge potential.”
Club Med Cancun Yucatan has undergone extensive renovations to meet that potential, including its Las Velas bar, outdoor theatre and main pool area. The redesigned Tacos Arte beach lounge restaurant offers Mexican culinary specialties in a trendy, open-concept space designed to make guests feel like they’re in a Mexican marketplace.
The Jade 5 Trident luxury space has also been renovated (Club Med’s Trident system is similar to the star-rating system for hotels), including its private lobby, pool and bar. All 58 rooms have been updated, including 15 suites and three family suites.
In total, the resort has 436 rooms; all existing rooms will be renovated by the end of 2017, and 60 additional Aguamarina family rooms are slated to open in July 2018, along with a new pool and bar available to all guests at the resort.
“We were the first hotel built here in the hotel zone,” said Claire Nicholls, meeting and events manager with Club Med Cancun Yucatan. “That’s given us the chance to have the best spot – we’re located at the gateway of the Riviera Maya … on a lagoon at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea.”
The resort is spread out over 22 acres, with three different beach areas, one facing the second-largest coral reef in the world where guests have access to a private snorkelling area. Activities are complimentary, from sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and windsurfing at the water sports centre, to water skiing, archery and even trapeze lessons (for the truly brave) on an island attached to the resort. Each night offers entertainment and themed parties, as well as Club Med’s signature ‘Crazy Signs’ dance numbers.
Excursions off the resort can be booked through Club Med, including tours of the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum, or the cenotes and caves of Coba Cenote and Kantun Chi.
Club Med is, ultimately, known for its focus on families, with a range of complimentary kids’ clubs for ages four to 17. The Petit Club Med, for two- to three-year-olds, comes at an additional charge, but kids under four stay at the resort for free. Other family-friendly perks include baby formula in its buffet restaurants and loaner cribs and strollers.
Club Med operates more than 70 all-inclusive sun and ski resorts worldwide. Earlier this month it announced the opening of its first resort in Canada, a four-season mountain resort in the renowned ski region of Le Massif, Charlevoix in Quebec. The company plans to open 15 new resorts worldwide through 2019, including one to two mountain resorts per year.