“Build it and they will come.” That’s what upscale resort operator, Club Med, which sells vacation experiences around the world, hopes will happen. The company is plowing money into its luxury ski resort in China with expectations that China’s wealthy will think of it as Asia’s Aspen or St. Moritz, a vacation spot to ski and be seen skiing.
The company is spending $3 million to spruce up its facilities, according to a BBC report. The posh spread includes 283 rooms complete with presidential suite, restaurants and an apres-ski infrastructure of spa, yoga, and sauna.
One day at the resort easily costs over $200, which would just about eat up the average urban income of $270 a month, but ClubMed looks to attract China’s wealthy.
Fast-growing population of wealthy spenders at a healthy, active age? Sounds like key ingredients for a robust market of resort-bound skiers. ClubMed is certainly upbeat.
Observers, however, think that China’s culture and ski culture are not quite there, at least for now.
There’s the time-off factor, for one. In China, the wealthy entrepreneur is work-focused and not about to go off for a week in the mountains. Interviewed by the BBC, wealthy respondents said they just didn’t have that kind of time. Even for those working for companies, time off is generally limited to national holidays.
Another question raised is whether luxury priced pleasures in one corner of the globe are equally desirable in all cultures. Namely, will Chinese skiers empty their pockets to sip a cocktail while soaking in a hot tub?
Still, ClubMed expects a robust market based on Chinese Ski Association’s forecast of an estimated growth spurt of Chinese skiers from 5 million in 2005 to 20 million by 2014.
In its first winter season, the hotel had 65 percent occupancy and general manager Christian Noret said he was confident of good numbers by the end of the ski season in April.
Club Med’s first Asian ski resort was built in Sahoro, Hokkaido in Japan.
Henri Giscard d’Estaing, Chairman and CEO of Club Med, expects China will be the second market of Club Med globally by 2015.