Throughout the pandemic, all-inclusive pioneer Club Med has continued to push forward on the expansion front, announcing plans to debut the brand's first Canadian outpost, the Club Med Quebec Charlevoix, in December 2021. Located just outside Quebec City in Canada's Le Massif de Charlevoix region, the all-inclusive ski resort will also be Club Med's first four-season mountain property. Hotels editor Christina Jelski recently spoke with Carolyne Doyon, CEO of Club Med's North America and Caribbean division, to get an update on the brand's latest project as well as the current recovery outlook for Club Med's Caribbean and Florida all-inclusives.
Q: What makes the Club Med Quebec Charlevoix well positioned to serve as a year-round resort, and why is it important for the property to look beyond the ski component?
A: In terms of the location itself, the region of Quebec is already a very attractive and international destination. Our resort is strategically located 90 minutes from Quebec Airport, and we can attract guests from all over Canada but also from the U.S. and other countries. What we've realized through our customer studies is that the skiers of today have evolved. And we're a very international brand. For instance, we've noticed that when Brazilians come and visit one of our ski resorts, they'll ski for a couple of hours a day, but they do want more out of their vacation. They want to be able to have a gourmet dining experience, and they want to have other activities available. They want a true vacation that's not just a ski vacation. And this is what we plan to offer our clients in Le Massif de Charlevoix.
Additionally, we're very much about the three-generation, or 3G, vacation. And often when you have that 3G family, some members won't ski for different reasons. So, we're very focused on truly having something for everyone, and even though a person might not ski, there will be plenty of activities and options available.
Q: What types of clientele are you expecting to attract to the Club Med Quebec Charlevoix?
A: Our projection is to host around 50,000 guests a year, and we know that our loyal Club Med clients will provide a good base for us. But we also anticipate seeing many first-timers, who will be potentially introduced to the brand. And we're also expecting skiers who are looking for the one-stop-shop, all-inclusive experience. We do believe that we'll convert some of the U.S. skiers who traditionally will go to some big ski destinations like Colorado in the U.S., because from a price perspective, we'll offer very good value for the money. However, we're making the projection that 50% of our clientele, more or less, will be Canadian.
Q: Looking at Club Med's existing North America and Caribbean presence, can you talk a bit about what you're seeing in terms of demand and recovery?
A: Though the pandemic has shifted the timeline for many of our travelers, we are already seeing a high interest in U.S. travel as well as travel to our Caribbean and Mexico properties. The data that we have from our recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales show that our most popular resort bookings have been for Sandpiper Bay in Florida, Cancun, Turkoise [in Turks and Caicos] and Punta Cana, with 29% of the sales' total bookings being made for Sandpiper Bay. We also saw a lot of last-minute booking activity for November to December. But many guests are also planning ahead, with 71% of recent bookings being made for January through June. So, it's clear that people do want to travel.
We do believe, with the arrival of the vaccine, that things will improve. Of course, it'll still take some time, and people will still need to be careful. But we anticipate that they'll continue to seek out resorts or vacations where they can safely social distance, and while there will still be caution, we predict that there'll definitely be a pick-up in 2021.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the distance of the resort from Quebec's airport: It is 90 minutes, not 45 minutes.