The word "exclusive" is not one usually associated with Club Med, the French company that introduced to the world the concept of the all-inclusive package holiday. But in a bid to grow in new markets, that is where Club Med is heading with the opening of its first five-star property, La Plantation d'Albion, on 21 hectares in Mauritius.
The resort was designed by French architect Marc Hertrich, a man whose considerable reputation was made in the luxury end of the market. The retreat has 266 rooms, all with terraces or balconies, and there are 30 suites with their own lounge, garden and outdoor rain shower. There is also a 16-room spa.
"La Plantation d'Albion is our new jewel," says Heidi Kunkel, the general manager for the Australian and New Zealand market. "It underlines Club Med's commitment to redefining all-inclusive luxury living."
In the Asia-Pacific region, Club Med Sahoro in Japan will reopen next week after a refurbishment. In Mexico, Club Med Ixtapa has been transformed after eight months of renovations into a more upmarket family facility.
Club Med was started in 1950 by Belgian water polo champion Gerard Blitz, who invited a couple of hundred people to join him for a month on Majorca. At its peak there were 120 Club Med resorts. Today there are 80, which has partially prompted the focus towards the top of the market and a more individual approach. Now, in certain resorts, the local culture is being touted as an attraction. Local cuisine is intrinsic to each of the resorts.
Despite the reduction in numbers, Club Med is still the world's 10th-largest hotel chain, with more than 1.6 million guests annually.
At present no one is talking about refurbishing Club Med Lindeman, which still attracts large numbers despite needing a facelift.
- The Age