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30 · Expert | The Amazing 24-hour of the “Superwoman” Chef de Village

The fourth issue of “Expert” features Merlin Chelliah from Singapore, who is currently the Chef de Village at Club Med Kiroro Peak in Hokkaido, Japan. In the past 16 years, Merlin, as a G.O, served countless guests at Club Med Bintan, Club Med Beidahu, and Club Med Lijiang and witnessed Club Med’s development. Club Med is the world's leading brand of "luxury all-inclusive" holidays, and an important member of Fosun Tourism Group in Fosun’s Happiness segment. Merlin's story is a story about happiness. She welcomes guests to their “home” away from home with a sincere smile and warm greetings, bringing happiness to them.

At 7:00 in the morning, Merlin carefully inspects every detail of the restaurant including table setting, kitchen preparation, and dishes to make sure that everything is up to standard.

The snow season in Hokkaido is approaching, and the busiest time of the year is also around the corner. In order to maximize ski time, most guests leave their rooms around 8:00 in the morning, which is a good time for Merlin to interact with guests. Merlin asks guests if they are satisfied with their stay and if they have any dietary needs and handles feedback rapidly. “Superwoman” Chef de Village is officially on duty.

Club Med is the world's leading brand of "luxury all-inclusive" holidays, and an important member of Fosun Tourism Group in Fosun’s Happiness segment. It offers tourists a perfect homey holiday on five continents. The secrets and details lie in the 24-hour schedule of the Chef de Village.

From Chef de Village to G.O

The number of families taking ski holidays increases exponentially on weekends or during the holidays in the snow season. A large number of guests usually arrive at the resort with ski equipment and luggage in the afternoon. Some guests may be a little tired from the long journey and the lobby staff will undoubtedly get a bit busier. Merlin rushes to the lobby, temporarily opens the restaurant, prepares hot beverages, and quickly allocates additional staff to effectively manage the customer flow, ensure the comfort of the lobby, and ease guests’ travel stress. "From the moment guests enter the lobby, our G.O team greets them with an affiliative smile and a warm welcome beverage, offering guests a home-like experience to put them at ease as they begin their ski holiday at Club Med.”

However, there are always unexpected situations at the resort.

At noon, a guest who took the ski lift up the mountain encountered difficulties as he lost his ski pass accidently. The staff at the ski resort was in a dilemma. On the one hand, the staff had to follow the rules of the ski resort. On the other hand, the staff had to cope with the anxious guest. After learning about the situation, Merlin first comforted the guest, and then guided the guest to the ski area. She also asked the staff to record the guest's information, and re-issue ski pass after the guest finished skiing.

With years of experience at Club Med and countless interactions with guests, Merlin has long been accustomed to being ready to cope with any possible emergencies. "Compared to these issues, my biggest concern is how our guests feel about Club Med. It would be a shame if they are unhappy because of these issues, so I hope to avoid that as much as possible." Kind regards, simplified process, patient guidance and reminders, whether guests are novice skiers or professional skiers, she hopes that every guest at Club Med can comfortably enjoy their happy holiday in a safe and friendly environment.

By day, she is a super “Chef de Village”; by night, she is a “happy spirit” on stage.

The evening show with Merlin is often the liveliest show at the resort. For Merlin, the best part of the day is to perform musicals, sitcoms, magic shows, etc. with the G.O team. From backstage to onstage, Merlin is in charge of every detail of the stage, while immersing herself in the performance. "The evening show is one of the core activities of Club Med. We hope that adults as well as children can fully enjoy the show. You can see that the G.O team completely immersed in the performance, showing a sincere and happy smile on the stage. Bringing happiness is what our G.O team is all about!"

2500 Friends on WeChat

Club Med’s ski rental hall is still brightly lit after the evening show. At 10:30 in the evening, the G.O team finally served the last guest. "There is a lot things going on and a lot of pressure. We help guests to register, get ski boots fitted, and provide them with the most suitable snowboards." In the ski rental hall, G.Os’ schedule is jampacked and they rarely have a chance to rest. As the Chef de Village, Merlin took off her costumes after the show, brought drinks to the ski hall, and had drinks with G.Os to loosen up. In her view, the success of a resort is a matter for everyone. We must not only listen, we must also respect every employee. Work hard and rest well are the core of management. She also has a special talent: she can quickly memorize the names of all G.Os in the resort in a week.

From an ordinary G.O when she first joined Club Med, to the Chef de Village of different Club Med resorts in Indonesia, Japan, and China, Merlin has experienced many changes in tasks during her 16 years at Club Med, her mentality has also matured as well. When asked what is the biggest reward of working in different countries? Merlin’s answer was unexpected. The biggest reward, she said, is the different G.O teams. Adapting and accepting different cultures, respecting each country where the resort is located, interacting with different people and learning different languages are all very interesting and challenging things for Merlin. "Diversity" is one of the essence of Club Med and the reason that Merlin enjoys work and life here.

"Welcome Home" is Merlin's favorite line, and it's the first thing every guest hears from Merlin when they arrive the resort. In the past 16 years, Merlin has served countless guests from different countries and regions in various Club Med resorts. Among these guests, some of them have hiked, climbed, and even tried Sri Lankan food that Merlin prepared, and some guests have become close friends with Merlin. Although Merlin is always busy at work, she enjoys dancing, working out and hiking, which helps spark topics to build a good relationship with guests.

“I have 2500 friends on WeChat and all of them were guests at the resort. Two days ago, I received a call from a Chinese guest. She told me that her daughter graduated from university this year and shared that her daughter said the vacation at Club Med was one of the best experience of her graduation season.” It really made my day. Merlin said: "I hope to become friends with guests, to make every guest feel welcome and at ease as if they are at home. This is also the biggest charm of Club Med."

For Merlin, her 16 years of experience at Club Med is like a journey with multiple interchanges. Despite different sceneries, Merlin remains true to her original aspirations of freedom, friendliness and self-discipline and calmly embraces the next challenge with new goals and new vision. 

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