It all started with one innovative idea

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 April, 2010, 12:00am

Club Med was pioneered by G?rard Blitz, a water polo champion and the son of a Belgian diamond merchant, and a French businessman Gilbert Trigano. In 1949, while staying in the Olympic Club's tented village in Corsica, Blitz came up with the idea of a new holiday concept dedicated to developing a taste for living outdoors and doing physical training and sport. Within a year, he ordered 200 tents from Trigano, selected a team of organisers to offer sports tuition and welcomed his first 300 guests. The holidays quickly became popular.

Five years later, Blitz built bungalows in Tahiti, giving Europeans access to this exotic paradise. Tahitian visits, however, at that time required months - one for the journey by boat, two there and another for the return journey. In 1959, the first Snow Village opened in Leysin, Switzerland. In 1961, Club Med opened its first village in Israel at Arziv, with an emphasis on sightseeing and sailing, and in 1965 in Agadir, Morocco, offering guests vacations in the company's first year-round accessible village.

By 1967, when the first guests at Club Med were married with children, Club Med opened its first Mini Club Med dedicated to keeping children entertained.

From 1968 to the late 1980s, Club Med opened more villages around the world, including Guadeloupe, the Ivory Coast, Bora Bora, Malaysia, Brazil, Mexico, the Bahamas, New Caledonia, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives and Japan.

In 1989, the company launched its first village on water, housed in a 187-metre-long ship that can accommodate 450 people and is the largest passenger ship with sails ever built.

In the past decade, the company has rebranded to become more upscale, with many properties being renovated and some expanded to include luxury accommodation. Club Med's first mainland village, the Yabuli ski resort near Harbin, will open later this year.