Have you ever been to a Club Med? I hadn’t until recently when I was invited to come check one out, and oh lord was it an experience — both because of the gorgeous beaches and facilities, and also because of the franchise’s famous resort staff or “GOs” (which stands for “Gentil Organisateur”).
If you aren’t familiar with the franchise, Club Med is a French company that hosts resorts all over the world. They’re a bit of “a lifestyle,” Emma, a GO, put it to me. Which is a very diplomatic way of saying they’re kinda culty — but in an endearing way!
About five minutes after I arrived at the Bali resort, I was accosted by a very friendly, very drunk Aussie woman who proceeded to gush about how much she loves Club Med. She’d been going for decades. I honestly thought she was paid to promote the brand — but nope, she just loves it that much. It was intense.
The woman then grabbed a guy who seemed to be her friend, swung him toward me and said “this is Rio — he is AWESOME. He watched my kids grow up. I LOVE him.” To my surprise, he was resort staff. They’d never actually hung out outside of his work environment, but there was clearly attachment here. The cult is wholesome! And that’s how I was introduced to the unique relationship guests have with GOs.
GOs live on their designated Club Med resort for the duration of their contract. It’s essentially their job to “create ambience” and “have fun”, according to a newbie called Jonty who I befriended in Bali. On top of their other duties, of course.
They’ll chat you up at the bar, get to know you, have dinner with you — I’ve had men put less effort into romancing me than GOs put into a casual chat.
Was it intense and overwhelming? A little bit, yes. I can imagine an introvert loathing it. But I love attention and I’m constantly seeking people to victimise with my chronic oversharing, so it works for me.
A thing to know about Club Med though is that these GOs come off like rockstars at the resort. They’re the popular kids who make you feel special by inviting you to sit with them. Guests clamour for the attention of their favourite. It’s fascinating. So much so that I simply had to ask some what it’s like being, essentially, professional hype-men.
Emma, who joined Club Med when she was 22 and has now been there for two years, said it’s heaps of fun because you make long-lasting relationships with the people you meet. Like the friend version of speed-dating.
“You create bonds with these guests, you spend every night or day with them until they leave — and then you’re like ‘Oh, now I have to make friends again’. You’re like ‘Please don’t leave’.
“You get guests message staff like ‘Where are you in the world right now, I’ll come to that Club Med’ and you’ll hear staff say things like ‘My guest is coming back and I can’t wait to see them again’.
“I’ve now got so many contacts around the world. So many [guests], when they leave, they’re like ‘Take my number’, ‘Keep in touch on Facebook or Instagram’, ‘If you ever find yourself in this country message me and come stay with me’.
“It’s really nice when you do make friends with guests and then they end up coming back.”
So yeah, I wasn’t kidding about GOs being rockstars. But Emma also spoke about the intensities of having to be “on” all the time since its her full-time job to be a social butterfly.
“No matter what your role is, at the end of the day — 7 pm — you have to be at the bar interacting with guests,” she said.
“You do have your days, like everyone does, where you’re like ‘I’m really tired, I don’t feel like socialising’ — you have to be ‘on’ all the time. Even if you’re having a bad day, you have to present yourself like you’re happy and living the perfect life”.
That might sound intense — and it is — but Emma reckons the positive work environment makes it way easier.
“The team is very supportive,” she said.
“Everyone’s in the same position, we’re all living together and working the same job so everyone understands and we can really rely on each other.”
Amberlie, a 27-year-old Aussie who has been at Club Med for over three years and is now a recruiter, said the supportive team is honestly one of the best parts of the job.
“They go the length to make sure you are safe and comfortable and happy,” she said.
This comes in handy when you have to deal with a guest that, uh, isn’t your cup of tea. I mean, you can’t like everyone! Sometimes people are annoying! Especially at a place like Club Med, where GOs are often socialising at bars. You can imagine what type of behaviour that setting can invoke.
“We’re a big enough team that someone would get along with [an annoying guest],” Emma said.
“And because we work here, it’s pretty easy to be like ‘Oh, I’ve gotta go to the office for a bit’. It’s pretty easy to avoid someone.”
Of course, I asked the question that I’m sure every woman has on their mind when presented with this job: if there’s constant alcohol flowing and it’s your job to be friendly, then surely at some point there will be a creepy guy who tries to take advantage of that. What do you do in that scenario?
“It’s happened a few times,” Emma told me.
“If guests have had a lot to drink, they can be very in your space. And it’s like, yes, I’m here to socialise with you — but you’ve gotta be respectful.
“Club Med doesn’t disapprove of relations between guests and staff, just as long as you keep it discrete and tidy and don’t be sloppy with it. Especially if you know Club Med — the guests know that if you do enjoy each other’s company, then you can go back to whoever’s room or what not.
“It’s hard when guests have had a few drinks and you’re saying ‘No’ and they’ll just be like ‘Why’?
“And it’s like, I don’t need to give you a reason. So you’re like ‘I’m gonna go to the bathroom’ and you run away.
“If I’m really uncomfortable, and also depending on how much the guy has had to drink, I’ll ask whoever is closest to me: ‘This guy is really creepy, can you just help me buffer?’ and generally we’re pretty good at keeping each other’s backs.”
If all this sounds exhausting, it is. But the perks far outweigh any awkward moments.
For Jonty, who is working his first stint at Club Med, the late nights are so worth it.
“I’m 26,” he told me.
“I didn’t want to be working in an office. I wanted to make the most of being at this age — to travel, make a bit of money as well. I love being outdoors and I don’t want to be stuck.”
And so, he ditched his office job and ran off to join the circus (literally, Club Med has a circus show that GOs can perform in).
“We stay at the bar ’till 11 or 12 at night,” he said. And that’s on average — some nights are definitely wilder than others.
He has to wake up pretty early in the morning to run sporting activities and in case you’re wondering, yes: with epic partying does come epic handovers.
“You just have to put on a brave face and push through them,” he said ruefully. Honestly, braver than the marines.
The best part of the job for Emma, though, isn’t the partying or the friends she makes along the way — it’s the opportunities.
“What I love most about [this job] is that it provides a lot of opportunities because you are speaking to guests and meeting new people constantly — you never know who you’re going to interact with. I’ve had guests give me their business card and say, ‘If you ever leave the company, contact me’.
“And in the company there’s so many internal opportunities too.
“If I get bored of [my current role] or want a change, I can, which I find so great.
“If I want to change to sports, or reception — literally anything — they’ll cross-train you and within a month or two you can change.
“I’m someone who gets bored quite easily, so to have the opportunity to change my position and get different experiences is amazing.”
Well there ya have it folks. Turns out being a professional hypeman is hard, and people can sometimes be annoying — but it certainly seems like the perks are worth it.
NOTE: The writer travelled to Bali as a guest of Club Med.