French Connection

For years, Club Med was known as a popular all-inclusive singles resort. Today, however, the brand caters to families, having reinvented itself to stay relevant for returning guests who have since had children. Offering a host of activities for all ages, Club Med Sandpiper Bay (Port St. Lucie, FL) features fun for the entire family. It is one of the few destinations where guests can take advantage of professional athletic coaching and world-class training facilities. The 215-acre sports resort specializes in golf, tennis, running, triathlon training, and overall fitness. The focus on helping guests to discover their potential and boost their performance is further enhanced by the new 6,000-square-foot Club Med Spa by L’Occitane. “We are the first and only L’Occitane spa in the United States,” says spa director Matthieu Fontix. According to him, that was just one of the many advantages of working with the well-known brand that was inspired by Provence, France. “There are more than 250 L’Occitane shops around the country, so Americans are definitely familiar with the French brand,” says Fontix. “We also liked that guests who experience treatments have the option to buy the products and continue their regimens at home.” The fact that Club Med and L’Occitane are both French companies made the partnership even more appealing.

The spa features seven treatment rooms: Amanda, Angelica, Immortelle, Karite, Lavende, Verdon, and Verveine. Each is named for a specific L’Occitane product line. Taking advantage of Florida’s warm weather, the spa’s Relax Zone, an outside area with loungers, has iPads loaded with various magazines for guests to enjoy before and after their services. According to Fontix, the main focus of the intimate spa is not on the facilities but rather on the quality of the treatments, particularly the massages. “What makes a treatment truly amazing is if a therapist connects with a client,” says Fontix. To help facilitate that, management makes it a priority to take care of the therapists’ needs. “It starts with managers having good energy and starting each day with a smile,” says Fontix. “Therapists meet with their group leader once a month to discuss issues, and every six months, a life coach comes in to do group work.” The key is to provide employees with a great place to work. This, in turn, helps them to deliver a memorable experience to guests.

While the treatment menu resembles what spa-goers would find in most L’Occitane spas around the world, there are several signature massages that were developed specifically for the Club Med market, such as the Aromatic Harmony Massage ($160, 90 minutes), which features the iconic fragrances of Provence using a set of herbal pouches, and the Club Med Signature Massage ($125, 60 minutes; $160, 90 minutes), which includes both deep tissue and relaxing techniques to relieve muscle tension related to sports activities. Both treatments were based on guest feedback. The spa also offers a variety of localized treatments that focus on specific areas of the body. For example, the Aromachologie Releasing Back Massage ($65, 30 minutes) melts away stress and tension in the back, the Leg Refresher with Essential Oils ($95, 45 minutes) helps relieve heavy legs, and the Almond Waist and Tummy Refiner ($95, 45 minutes) contours and firms the area around the abdomen.

Because the resort is family friendly, it was important that the spa also cater to youngsters. As a result, 30-minute facials and massages are available for children as young as eight. Wednesdays are designated Family Day, in which discounts are available and children are welcome. The spa can also be reserved for birthday parties, where young spa-goers don cute mini bathrobes.

According to Fontix, L’Occitane is a very active brand in that it introduces new products every month. The spa also benefits from the fact that at least two or three new treatments are launched each year. This is especially appealing to returning guests who may want to try something fresh. The spa is also introducing other relaxing activities and techniques, such as tai chi, breathing exercises, and yoga, in an effort to strengthen its offerings. Spa-goers will soon be able to work with an on-site life coach. 

Employing 20 staff members, the spa is able to handle approximately 50 guests in a typical day. To promote the spa, the staff is active throughout the resort, providing complimentary hand and foot massages at the pool and beach. The spa team also offers free facial workshops in which guests get to “play” with a number of products and learn about their various skincare benefits. “It’s a way to thank returning guests, as well as a great sales opportunity,” says Fontix. On occasion, guests have the opportunity to sign up for treatments outside of the resort’s restaurant. A spa employee will be on-hand near the entrance, informing guests of last-minute availability and the special of the day. “Our biggest challenge for the Sandpiper location is getting the outside community to visit the spa,” says Fontix. “We would like them to experience what Club Med and the spa have to offer, so this is our focus for the future.”

With another Club Med Spa by L’Occitane debuting later this year at Columbus Club Med (San Salvador), the hope is to continue opening additional L’Occitane spas at other Club Med locations. At the Sandpiper Bay location, however, the future looks bright, thanks to the satisfied clientele. “We get the best of people when they come to the spa,” says Fontix. “Some are tense the first few days of their stay, but once they visit the spa, they relax. It’s such a great feeling when you’re able to deliver that. It’s our mission to pamper the people and personalize the experience.”

Owner and spa director: Matthieu Fontix

Opened: February 2012



60% female

40% male



6,000 square feet; 7 treatment rooms



aromatherapy, body treatments, couples’ treatments, facials, hair and scalp treatments, massages, nailcare, prenatal services, salon services, waxing, yoga



Club Med Signature Massage ($125, 60 minutes; $160, 90 minutes); Shea Nurturing Massage ($160, 90 minutes); and Immortelle Divine Secret to Everlasting Youth ($160, 90 minutes), an anti-aging facial



Detox ($675, 5 hours 30 minutes), includes an Almond Scrub, Almond Wrap, two Detoxifying Balance Treatments, and two Almond Reshape Treatments



Berins, L’Occitane



BestMassage, SpaBooker



François  Champsaur (Paris)