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Travel & Holiday

Guilin's club scene

Experience a tea ceremony during a stay at resort chain Club Med's new China getaway in Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Park.
The Straits Times - October 20, 2012
By: Huang Huifen
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Guilin's club scene -- PHOTO: CLUB MED

French resort Club Med, known for its family-friendly beach and ski holidays, will open its first resort set in a sculpture park in May next year.

The 46ha Club Med Guilin in southern China will be situated within the 600ha Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Park. The park, which was founded by Taiwanese entrepreneur Tsao Rhy-chang and opened in 2006, houses more than 100 sculptures by local and international artists.

The 329-room property, one of the largest Club Med resorts, is also a stone's throw from the city's scenic karst mountains, tranquil rice terraces and the River Li.

While Club Med staple activities such as trapeze flying and rock climbing will be available, guests can also take part in cultural activities such as a traditional tea ceremony and going on excursions to nearby attractions.

Club Med is touting Club Med Guilin as its first "culture-centric" resort in Asia.

Mr Henri Giscard d'Estaing, Club Med's Paris-based chairman and chief executive officer, tells Life! in a recent interview here: "This unique combination of a natural environment which offers space for Club Med activities and the possibility of discovering a historical and cultural environment is perfectly in line with our aim of making Club Med Guilin the first international, premium all-inclusive resort in Guilin."

At Club Med resorts, accommodation, meals and most activities are included in a bundle rate.

The brand, which started in 1950 with its first resort in the Balearics, has more than 80 resorts worldwide.

There are eight in the region in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Maldives and China.

Over the years, the brand has changed its strategy of being a singles and couples getaway to a destination for families looking for upmarket and fuss-free holidays.

It now has its sights set on the China market. It opened its first resort in the country, ski resort Club Med Yabuli in Heilongjiang, in 2010. There are plans to have five resorts in China by 2015 in locations such as Hainan.

The brand also hopes to double the number of Chinese customers to 200,000 by 2015. This will make China the brand's second-largest market after France. China is currently the fifth market after France, Belgium, Brazil and the United States.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing, 56, says: "The Asian holiday market is growing and the specific factor is China.

"The Chinese are no longer just travelling from one place to another within China to take photos and shop, and staying for one night at each location."

Surveys done by Club Med show that Club Med's Chinese guests are staying an average of 41/2 days in Yabuli and 31/2 days in other Club Med resorts in Asia.

"There is every indication that this trend among the affluent Chinese will grow," he adds.

Rates at Club Med Guilin start from $295 for an adult a night and includes all meals and most activities.

Comparatively, the rates at Club Med Yabuli are from $275 for an adult a night, which is similar to other Club Med resorts in Asia.

Besides the Chinese market, he says other countries in the Asia-Pacific region including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and South Korea are experiencing single- and double-digit growth.

There are plans to open more beach resorts in places such as Lombok, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, and a second ski resort in Hokkaido. A second resort in Maldives will open by 2015.

While niche and customised holidays are the trend these days, Mr Giscard d'Estaing is confident that the brand's concept of offering a wide range of activities for couples, families and children will always be in demand.

"Our customers want choice and ease. The choice of doing nothing or choosing from many activities, and the ease of doing so without worrying about logistics and payment," he says.

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