By Rahul Dass
KANI, Maldives- With growing numbers of Indians travelling abroad on vacations, French resorts major Club Mediterranean, better known worldwide as Club Med, is luring Indians to its two island resorts in the Maldives, the land of white sandy beaches and emerald sea.
“We are very keen that more Indians visit our resorts in Asia, particularly Maldives,” Club Med India head (sales) Manoj Kumar Upadhyay told IANS, hoping to see the number of such visitors double to all its Asian resorts in the Maldives, Phuket, Bali and Bintan.
“We now receive about 2,000-2,500 Indian visitors and we intend to see 5,000 Indians travelling to our Asian resorts by 2016,” Upadhyay said during a visit here.
India’s outbound tourism market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and is said to have grown by 12 percent over the last six to seven years. The World Tourism Organization says India will account for around 50 million outbound visitors by 2020.
The Indian market, thus, became the 8th largest market for the Maldives at the end of 2013. Till October this year, the Maldives received a total of 39,848 tourists from India, which was an increase of 10 percent over 2014.
Besides the island resort at Kani, Club Med also runs another, more exclusive one, at Finolhu. These are among some 1,200 islands, separated into a series of coral atolls, just north of the Equator in the Indian Ocean.
Club Med is a one of the pioneers in the concept of all inclusive holidays, which essentially means that you can practically leave your wallet at home during your visit to any of its over 80 exotic resorts.
Upadhyay said that besides food and beverages, including alcohol, the tab covers every aspect of vacation interests. Once paid for, this premium service provides for excursions, water sports and other activities, leaving guests completely at ease.
Average price for three nights and four days starts from $950 (Rs 63,000) per person.
This concept of an all-inclusive resort was envisioned by former Belgian water polo champion, Gérard Blitz, in 1950 when the first resort of its kind was opened on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
So, what’s the experience like? In one word: Awesome.
Gentle waves lap the sun kissed beaches at Kani island and its transparent turquoise water is quite inviting. The skies are endlessly blue and the glasses are never empty — not to forget endless parties, which make the place rock.
For Indians, Club Med is going to have a live station of Indian cuisine at its buffet restaurant. “Indians will find their stay quite comfortable at our resorts,” said Upadhyay.
Chokhri, who was in charge of Kani island during this correspondent’s visit, said that he looks forward to more Indians visiting the Maldives. “It will be great to host more Indians,” he said with a disarming smile.
“In fact, our Indian guests are delighted with our all-inclusive holidays,” he said, adding that if there are children coming with their parents, they would have nothing to worry about.”
“If you visit any of our Club Med resorts, the children will be very well taken care of.”
The Maldives is a tropical paradise with abundant sea life, natural beauty, pleasant temperatures and sandy beaches. The comforting climate is also great for tourists to engage in water sports such as swimming, fishing, water-skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kite boarding and windsurfing.
On the waterways of the Maldives, under the clean azure waters lie extraordinary scenery of colourful coral reefs and a thriving marine ecosystem. That’s sure to lure Indians, who are becoming major globe-trekkers, to this South Asian nation.
For Club Med, Upadhyay said, India was a key market, thanks to the robust economic growth that is raising per capita incomes, and the propensity to travel.
“Club Med fits in very well for a niche Indian outbound traveller segment. We look forward to the biggest traveller segment — families. They will enjoy all-inclusive, hassle-free holiday concept. We will ensure an easy access for Indians to this unique holiday concept.”
Club Med Kani is a private island resort set in an archipelago, about 20 km from the capital Male. One can reach there via a 30 minute boat ride form the capital.
Besides Kani, one can also visit Club Med’s exclusive Finolhu Villas. The new property, which opened on January 31 this year, is a collection of 52 exquisitely designed villas. These offer refined, luxury facilities — ideal for honeymooners or those on a romantic getaway.
The Finolhu Villa’s average price starts from $2,400 (Rs 1,60,000) per person for a three-night holiday.
The Maldives has a tropical climate where the year is separated into two main seasons by the monsoons. It is hottest in April and coolest in December. The best time to visit is between December and April: The weather is sunny, skies are clear, humidity is low and the water crystal clear.