|By Xie Yu, China Daily, Beijing / Asia
News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 19, 2011--Yabuli, Northeast China (China Daily/ANN) -- The world's leading high-end holiday operator Club Med is to open its second resort in China's prime tourist destination Guilin in August next year after achieving early success with its first ski resort in Northeast China.
Carrying an ambition to build China into the biggest market outside France, the company plans to open five locations in China by 2015.
"Rich Chinese people who have traveled internationally now want to come back We see a great potential for luxury consumption here," said Oliver Hoprs, chief executive officer of Club Med Greater China.
Hoprs said he is confident about the plan, although the company's expansion in China has just begun. He said the company separated the Chinese business from its Asia-Pacific division and set up a new business unit in China this year.
The resort company opened its first resort Club Med Yabuli in Heilongjiang province in December 2010. Providing a "breathtaking" ski experience, "beautiful" natural scenery, and "warm" service, the "all-inclusive" ski holiday attracted about 10,000 customers from home and abroad last year, making the Yabuli resort profitable from the first year.
The Club Med ski school is a collaboration with Ecole du Ski Francais (ESF), the French National Ski School. Introducing highly professional teaching methods, classes are catered to an international clientele and "offer a spirit of fun and adventure".
Apart from skiing, the all-inclusive package also includes unlimited food and wine at the resort's restaurants and bars, from regional Chinese specialities to authentic Italian food prepared by an Italian chef. Children can expect a line-up of activities, facilities and "affectionate" staff.
"Skiing is a very new business to China, but I can tell the trend is really good and that we are doing even better this year," said Hoprs, who expects a double-digit growth in business this year.
"In the past, rich people in China tended to mainly care about their face when spending money, but nowadays the wealthy people are becoming more smart and have learned what they really want. We provide them with an all-inclusive service so that they pay once and enjoy a high-class, carefree holiday," Hoprs said.
Talking about the new resort in Guilin, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Hoprs said it would offer a completely different experience from Yabuli. The new resort will be located in the unique mountainous scenery of Guilin and offer "great" entertainment inspired by local culture.
"We will arrange taiji training in front of the mountains, golf practice between the mountains, horse and bicycle riding in the mountains, and also great food, great fun," Hoprs said.
Set up in 1950 in France, Club Med now offers all-inclusive vacations in 80 resorts across the world, from beach holidays to ski holidays for families and couples, and brings in revenue of more than 11 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) annually.
According to statistics from McKinsey Insights China and the US Census Bureau, in less than 15 years, China's wealthy and upper-middle class combined will be twice the size of its US counterparts, which fosters a huge market for luxury consumption, including leisure travel.
"We are targeting only 0.5 percent of the whole population in China, but they will spend much more than others," said Hoprs, in the belief that this group will show their powerful spending capacity more and more in the future.
China's consumption of luxury goods totaled $9.4 billion by the end of 2009, accounting for 27.5 percent of global luxury goods sales, according to statistics from the World Luxury Association. China has surpassed the United States to become the world's second largest consumer of luxury goods and is poised to become the world's largest by 2015, according to a survey by Boston Consulting Group in 2010.
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