A blast of icy wind greeted me as I stepped out of the vehicle. It was mid-morning and I had just arrived from the Changchun Longjia Airport after a two-hour drive. Despite having four layers of clothing on, including a thick winter jacket, I still felt cold. After all, it was -19°C!
However, our party of five journalists was warmly greeted when we stepped into Club Med Beidahu. A team of gentle organisers (GOs) clapped, danced and sang along to the latest hits, as guests or gentle members (GMs) entered the resort.
There was such an international atmosphere to the resort and, with the European-style buildings and wintry wonderland, it could have passed off as a snow resort in the French Alps. But we were actually in China for the grand opening of Club Med’s second ski resort in the country, strategically located in Beidahu, the site of the 2007 Winter Asian Games.
Club Med opened its first ski resort in the Swiss Alps 66 years ago, and is currently the world’s largest ski resort operator.
“We have 23 snow resorts around the world, 20 in the European Alps, and three in Asia – Yabuli and Beidahu in China and Sahoro in Hokkaido, Japan,” Club Med chairman and chief executive officer Henri Giscard D’Estaing, 60, said during the press conference.
Lunch was at The Lodge, which offers an extensive international buffet selection in a chic dining area. Whether you are health-conscious, vegan, or prefer hearty mains and sinfully decadent desserts, you will find something to suit your palate here.
The resort, nestled in the snowy mountains of Jilin province, offers 176 rooms, and comprises two connected structures. The Botanic Building houses the main reception, lobby and ski reception area; and a spa which features Italian spa brand Comfort Zone. There is also a fitness centre where you can take aerobics, yoga or pole-dancing classes. The Cinema Building houses the boutique; photo studio; and indoor entertainment such as table football, archery, ski simulator, air hockey, darts, table tennis, snooker, four mahjong rooms and four KTV rooms.
Three types of rooms are available: Club (for two people), Deluxe (for four) and Suite (for six). I stayed in a Club room with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. The room comes with a spacious en suite bathroom and fancy toiletries, a television, telephone, mini refrigerator, coffee- and tea-making facilities, security safe, hair-dryer, air-conditioning, WiFi and a faux fireplace.
“What makes Club Med unique is it offers a premium all-inclusive holiday concept,” Club Med chief executive officer – Greater China, Gino Andreetta, 51, said. This means that things like return airport transfers, accommodation, food and beverage (including alcohol), live entertainment and theme parties, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, as well as children’s facilities, are all conveniently included in the package price.
According to Andreetta, Club Med has a very family-oriented culture. This is evident in its Kids Club for different age groups: Baby Club Med (four to 23 months old), Petit Club Med (two to three years old); Mini Club Med (four to 10 years old); and Club Med Password, a teenager’s club with arts and games centres, video studio and disco (11-17 years old).
He added that the resort is suitable for families and couples who enjoy active experiential holidays.
On the first night, we had a taste of this Club Med experience. Starting off with exquisite cocktails and aperitifs at Password, we proceeded to a delicious hot pot dinner at Le Petit Bus Rouge, a unique French-style restaurant that serves Chinese cuisine. Then came an all-night dance party with live entertainment at Ula bar, which sports a stylish movies theme. On stage, a male pole-dancer skilfully manoeuvred himself around a pole to music. This was followed by other acrobatic, dance and musical acts by the talented team of GOs.
“Guests, even kids, can learn from professional instructors at our ski school, operated in partnership with Ecole du Ski Francais, the oldest and largest ski school in France,” Giscard D’Estaing said during an interview with the press.
We had the chance to experience this on the second day.
The day before, at the ski centre, we were fitted with skis, shoes and helmets which were placed in lockers conveniently secured with our room keycards.
Outfitted in ski suits, visors and gloves rented from the boutique, we headed to the beginner’s slope.
Our instructor, Christophe Bombenger, 49, gave us some basic skiing instructions, even teaching us how to walk in the snow. We then rode on the “magic carpet”, a conveyor ski-lift up the snowy mountain. Bombenger patiently accompanied each of us as we tried skiing down.
Snowboarding lessons are also available. On the way back, we saw guests building snowmen and making snow angels next to a snow machine which supplemented the natural snow. Skiing season is from November to April.
After the chilly adrenaline rush, we warmed up with hot chocolate at the Pine Lounge, a cafe bar that serves beverages as well as pastries during daytime, and wine, cocktails and beer in the evenings.
That night, the entire lobby was all decked out in blue and silver for the grand launch. Guests arrived, resplendent in black and blue, the dress code. After speeches by the VIPs, we were ushered outside to a heated giant transparent tent for a colourful laser light show, with luminescent dancing angels, laser torch-bearing GOs, and a grand fireworks display. The launch ended with a GO show and dance party, which takes place nightly.
On the third night, Ula Bar was transformed into an Oscars movie theme party, and the boutique into a wonderland of colourful cocktails and aperitifs. Kids dressed as Santa’s little helpers sang Christmas carols, followed by a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. Pocahontas, Maleficent, James Bond, Matrix’s Neo and Trinity, and other characters walked among us, while Cameron Diaz and Rachel Weisz lookalikes were spotted in the audience. Club Med chief of village (resort general manager) Jessie Chao, 34, and GO Theo Berenger – dressed as Harley Quinn and the Joker – were the hosts, and awards were presented to the best dressed “actor” or “actress”.
This media trip was sponsored by Club Med.
CLUB MED BEIDAHU
Jilin Beidahu Sports Tourism Economic Development Zone,
Jilin City, Jilin Province, 132224 China
Tel: +86 432 6420 1222
Email: askme.my@clubmedcustomer service.com