At the end of the 1920s, Gérard Blitz was 16 years old and left school to learn the art of diamond cutting. He was passionate about swimming. You might say he had something of a predisposition. His father and uncle were members of the Belgian National Water Polo Team and had won several championships. He followed in their footsteps by winning two medals in international competitions. When the Second World War broke out, he joined an elite regiment made up entirely of athletes.
Gérard Blitz: visionary, sportsman, and the force behind Club Med
Gérard Blitz founded Club Med in 1950 and was a pioneer of all-inclusive vacations. More than just an entrepreneur, the Belgian sports fan was a man of conviction and an advocate for freedom. Portrait of a self-proclaimed idealist.
Gérard Blitz was a fervent defender of freedom. He joined the Belgian Resistance and was decorated for his actions. In the spring of 1945, he was responsible for coordinating the convalescence of his compatriots returning from the Front. He converted two hotels in the Alps (Chamonix and Annecy), creating spaces devoted to their wellbeing. Sports were an important part of their recovery. Above all, Blitz wanted to revive a sense of shared happiness in the difficult post-war period.
Four years later, while staying at the Club Olympique de Calvi in Corsica, Gérard Blitz came up with the idea for Club Méditerranée. Accommodation, relaxation, sunshine, beaches, and sports...he sought to make his concept available to all.
On April 27, 1950, Club Méditerranée officially became a brand. Gérard Blitz set his sights on Alcúdia, a town with a small deserted beach lined by pine trees in the Balearic Islands of Spain. To accommodate future guests of Club Méditerranée, he selected the company “Trigano Père et Fils” from a list of camping tent manufacturers. It was then that he met Gilbert Trigano, who was initially a supplier to the Club before becoming Gérard's partner and the Club's treasurer four years later. The first Village owed much of its success to the recent introduction of paid vacations for all. More than 2,000 vacationers flocked to the site during the first year.
The founder of Club Med was the first to introduce the concept of the "all-inclusive" vacation. His idea was to do away with social barriers and make it easier for people to get together while on vacation, in particular by way of sports. For Gérard Blitz, “the aim of life is to be happy, the place to be happy is here, and the time to be happy is now."
In addition to swimming, Blitz became interested in yoga, an Indian discipline and philosophy that was not widely practiced in the West. He took several trips to Asia to learn from the masters. In 1963, he handed over the reins of Club Med to Gilbert Trigano - his long-time partner - and devoted himself entirely to his new passion, Zen Buddhism.
Gérard Blitz helped popularize yoga in Europe. He was convinced that "a vacation was for the mind, for achieving an inner state of freedom." In 1974, he was elected President of the European Union of Yoga and began to teach introductory classes at Club Méditerranée, a position he held until his death in 1990.
These days, meditation, breathing, and muscle relaxation activities are available at Club Med Resorts across the world, in particular in Asia with yoga classes* and at Resorts with a focus on wellbeing.
*Only at certain Resorts