For centuries, the mist-covered mountains of Guilin have fired the imagination of generations of artists and poets. Situated in the northeast of China’s Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the steep karst towers in the area continue to enchant people all over the world.
An account written by Tang Dynasty poet Han Yu (768–824AD) of a trip along Guilin’s famed Li River still resonates for those who have taken the same route today: boatmen pointing out “animal shapes they see in the surrounding landscape” as they float past “mountains like jade hairpins”.
In September, Club Med will soft-open its 162-room property (comprising a main building with 116 rooms and a chateau with 46 rooms) in the 47-hectare private grounds of the Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Park. Club Med Guilin will be the resort chain’s second property in Mainland China.
“Each Club Med is unique even in China,” says Veronica Chan, general manager of Club Med Hong Kong. “Every property aims to provide different experiences that are distinctive to the destination for both individual and corporate groups. So, we are confident that the customers will not be bored with our concept and they will come to visit more and more.”
The park, where the new resort stands, is considered to be Asia’s leading art centre, featuring some 100 contemporary Chinese sculptures by local and international artists. It is known for hosting the annual International Sculpture Symposia and International Sculpture Awards ceremony for new and upcoming artists.
Harmony with nature
According to Chan, the site for the Guilin property has been chosen for its beautiful, natural setting. “About 50 mountains encircle the Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Park. It is an unspoilt area where groups can hold various activities that blend harmoniously with the environment, such as tai chi, yoga, meditation, hiking and a cruise on the Li River, to name a few,” she says.
The wide, open space also offers opportunities for more active experiences, such as swinging on a trapeze, rock climbing, mountain biking, bungee jumping, a round of tennis and even an archery session.
For a taste of the local culture, groups can enjoy the city of Yangshuo and watch the famous “Liu Sanjie” show on the Li River.
All-inclusive meeting packages
Club Med is expected to bring its all-inclusive meeting packages to Guilin, with the aim of taking away the headaches involved with putting an event together. “With all the activities and facilities available within the resort, the organiser can save more time for other important matters,” Chan says. “This includes the generous provision of food and beverage – three meals daily, including free-flow of drinks from the open bar. Everything is professionally arranged and covered within one price for easy budget control.”
Inside the resort, there are conference areas measuring up to 700 sqm, including restaurants, bars and an outdoor terrace for private cocktails or dinner.
When it opens on September 14, Chan says Club Med Guilin will be able to take in groups between 10 and 600 people. A 600-person group will have the exclusive use of the whole resort, so they can enjoy the two swimming pools, the fitness centre and the spa all
By the official opening of the resort in April 2013, there will be an additional 300 guestrooms, making it possible for larger groups to come and visit. The property is accepting bookings for events now.
Eye on China
Guilin is not the only new destination for Club Med in China. The resort chain has announced plans to open three other resorts on the Mainland by 2015. The goal is to attract 5 to 10 per cent of the country’s potential premium customers, whose numbers are expected to quadruple over the next four years.
With this outlook, Club Med estimates that it can attract 200,000 Chinese clients in 2015, with China becoming the company’s second largest market worldwide in terms of client numbers.
Even as growing number of individual travellers and groups from China are flying overseas, there is still huge domestic potential as the locals begin to explore their own country. “We have quickly identified the need to propose closer destinations for upscale Chinese customers which are more accessible and located within their country,” Chan says.
Club Med Guilin has rosy prospects. Arrival figures in 2010 showed that the destination attracted more than 20 million local and 1.4 million international visitors. Stacking the odds in its favour is easy accessibility. The resort is only 45 minutes from the airport and an hour’s flight from Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
CONTACT Club Med
TEL +852 3111 9388