Well, what about it, folks, is a club Med vacation your style or isn't it?
Sun, sand, sea and sex are the lures that have worked well for nearly 30 years at Club Med villages from Israel to Italy, from Marrakech to Martinique.
Informality is the rule. A bikini and a smile worn from sunup till sundown will do - sometimes even till the dawn. The shy become bold, the bold even bolder.
Guests are swept away to exotic destinations for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Escape is the idea. Forget the world. At Club Med there are no newspapers, no radios, no TV. Instead of fretting over the stockmarket, members learn to snorke., sail, swim and play tennis.
The only qualification for membership: an open mind and a free spirit. No one eats alone, no one sleeps alone. It's two to a room - and formality be damned.
If that seems like a successful formula for attracting swining singles, well, it is Rather, it has been. The idea of hanging loose has worked, and worked well, since the beginning of Club Meiterranee on the island of Majorca, 29 years ago.
Millions of free souls have flocked to the clubs in Spain and Senegal, Tahiti, Mauritus, Egypt, Tunisia, Mexeco and Yugoslavia. The list goes on, a total of nearly 80 destinations and a couple of dozen countries.
Now Club Med executives are creating a whole new campaign; it's being aimed, not at the swinger, but at the solid citizen. They want families. Husband and wives. Youngsters, too. Consider this recent ad in Newsweek: Dead center is an attractive couple and above their picture a caption that reads, "At Club Med I met a lovely girl I'd almost forgotten - my wife."
Another smiling couple is pictured in another promotion reading: "At Club Med I met a man I'd fallen in love with eight years ago - my husband."
The text accompanying each ad carries the same message: "Many a fine relationship has been left behind in the rush to catch the tempting brass rings life dangles before all of us. That's why Club Med was created to bring you more closely in touch with the person you are, and the person you really want to be."
And then there is the father-daughter promotion picture aimed at the families with youngsters: "Should you bring your children on a Club Med vacation?" it asks.
Well, as far as Jacques Ganin is concerned, it's a marvellous idea. But then, he could be accused of being a bit prejudiced. Just a bit, because this man is president of Club Med Inc.
A dashing, handsom Frenchman, the 46-year-old Ganin is gearing a campaign at his New York headquarters to change the image so many of us have carried of Club Mediterranee. Rather than picturing jet setters at play, Gannin wants to portray Club Med as a family institution.
At the same time, club employes are being instructed to clean up their act. Ganin is seriously courting families and children and he wants the atmosphere to reflect a new wholesomeness.
Admittedly, he was turned off by a visit to Club Med on the island of Martinique. Indeed, he was shocked and appalled. After observing orgies on beaches and in the discotheque, Ganin ordered the club closed for two months last fall. It was simply to discourage the idea of swinging singles.
We don't want this sort of business," Ganin said.
After years of pursuing free spirits, Club Med is seeking a more mature crowd. Besides, a survey indicates a surprising number of older members. Sixty percent are 30 to 60 years of age; many are affluent, with incomes of $30,000 a year and up.
To meet the demands of new members, Club Med continues its phenomenal growth. Born originally as a tent village in the Mediterranean, it now encompasses prime properties throughout the world.
China could be next. "We've already been in contact," an executive conficed.
Two months ago Club Med opened its second Bahamian village. This time it staked out on Eleuthera, one of the most eastern of 700 Out Islands. The new club operates under a familiar system, a one-price vacation that includes room, meals, wine and activities. In Eleuthera the main thrust involves snorkeling and scuba diving.
Although Club Med began with a modest setting on Majorca, today fortunes are involved. The new village on Eleuthera cost a hefty $12 million. It rises beside a deserted, 3-mile stretch of beach-exactly the sort of picture that's portrayed by travel agents in dozens of folers. The idea is to forget one's cares. This is the hedonist's carefree world of clean air, warm ocean waters and good wine.
Sometime this year the club will open a second Egyptian village, this on the Red Sea at Hurgaba. Other '79 openings will include villages in New Caledonia, Malaysia and on the island of Itaparica off the coast of Salvador.
Club Med's network reaches around the world. Still, for Americans, Ganin strongly suggests they stick to villages in Mexico, the Caribbean or Tahiti, the reason being the language hangup. It is a particular problem in North African and European villages where little English is spoken.
Time staff writer Marlene Cimons did a two-week sting at Club Med in Agadir four years ago and wound up her vacation with this advice: "If you're going to Agidir (or any one of the other Moroccan villages), spend a week first at Berlitz."
Sid Cimons, "The hint came minutes after a couple of dozen Americans boarded the dusty old bus that had come to pick us upat the airport." A chp named Alex told the group, "I guarantee you will have a ball. Just don't let the French upset you. They may not be too friendly. But remember - they aren't nice to each other, either."
Said Cimons when the vacation ended, "We should have listened. We might have savored the last rare words of English we were to hear for two weeks."
Neverthless, she confessed that the food was sumptuous, the beaches lovely and the marketplaces lively. It was just that practically no one - other than the Americans - spoke English.
This is why Jacques Ganin encourages Americans to stick close to their homes. Of the villages, the Mexican resort at Cancun in the Caribbean is by far the most popular among Americans. Opened in 1976, it was an instant success. Cancun isn't the old stereotyped picture of the seedy grass shack. The village is posh. Tiers of bungalows rise over a lovely lagoon. They are air conditioned, each with a private bath and balconly. Sitll Cancun's attraction isn't the village but the miles of powder sand beach and spectacularly clear water.
Even before the new campaign was launched, Cancun was pitched to families. The togetherness act involves snorkeling, tennis, sailing and other Club Med activities; and to make the heart grow fonder, a recorded classical concert is presented each afternoon exactly at sundown. It's a grabber. Then later, after the youngsters are tucked away, mamas and papas get with the beat in the disco.
For those who find life a bit too confining at Cancun, excursions are offered to the Mayan cities of Tulum, Uxmal and Chichen Itza. And a new twist with Club Med involves the operation of five "archaeological villas" vear various ruins in Mexico. At these, unlike other Club Med properties, togetherness isn't necessarily the act. At the archeological digs, single rooms are available as well as doubles. And to back up the serious student, films and books spotlighting the Aztec, Toltec and Mayan civilizations are available.
At Club Med's Ft. Royal Village in the Carribbean, the latest attraction is a "miniclub" dedicated to youngsters. While parents to their thing, the children go picnicking, hiking and shelling. It's all part of the package.
By Christmas 1980, Club Med will launch it first U.S. village at Copper Mountain, Colo. (an earlier lease arrangement at Bear Valley in the Sierra went sour). The Copper Mountain people will court the skier in winter, the ordinary vacationer in summer.
The big act, though, will be togetherness. CAPTION: Picture, Part of the Mayan ruins at Uxmal.