My first week at Club Med Turkoise

Working for Club Med is anything but boring. As a G.O, you’re placed in all kinds of situations that range from exhilaratingly fun to tiringly hard, and yes, sometimes you’re downright thrown out of your comfort zone. But opportunities to learn and grow are endless, and with every challenge comes experience… or at the very least something to tell the grandkids. 😉

Last Saturday, November 26th, was my fifth day at Club Med Turkoise. I was just settling into my job as eG.O, getting to know the resort and the people, remembering names and schedules and trying to adapt to my new environment.

Just before 7pm, I was in the fitness centre with choreographer Nicole, rehearsing for one of this week’s shows. The fire alarm went off, ringing through the resort. Our initial reaction was to think it was just a drill. Fire drills are so normal after all – I actually have fond memories of them happening at school in the middle of my dreaded math class, or just before that pop quiz I hadn’t studied for… Fire drills are a part of life, and I thought this was just another very normal procedure.

But when another G.O ran into the fitness centre to tell us we were needed, because yes, there actually was a fire, that’s when it all became very real.

The Grace Bay Restaurant, our main buffet restaurant, was on fire. We could see the flames behind the entrance, and the thick smoke through the windows. G.Os were running to get fire extinguishers and guests were watching from a distance. Luckily dinner hadn’t started yet and the restaurant was closed, so no one was near the building when the fire broke out.

Everything after that started happening very quickly. I’m still so impressed by how fast the whole team came together to handle the situation. Reception G.Os started making calls, working together to reach the emergency crews on the island. Other G.Os ran to find and bring back every fire extinguisher they could get their hands on, and some even tried to put the fire out. Others started rounding up the guests, leading them as far away from the fire as possible. Teams were formed and staff members combed through the resort, making sure every room was evacuated. Administration and HR brought out lists of all employees and all guests and organized a head count. Everyone came together and started helping each other out in a way that still leaves me in awe. Even guests were amazing, helping out where they could. I saw one guest comforting one of our kitchen employees, and another came to us saying he was a doctor and was offering to stick around in case we needed him (which, thank goodness, we didn’t).  Everyone was calm, everything was organized, and no guest was hurt.

Before we knew it the fire crew was there and the flames were under control, and our guests were able to head back to their rooms. At 9pm guests were eating dinner at our beach lounge, Sharkie’s, and at 10pm we were putting on a show in the theatre. All scheduled activities for that night went on as planned, even the traditional Crazy Signs. We all danced and partied the night away, the Club Med way.

The resort is still open, and all activities are going on as planned. The only challenge at first was finding a place to feed everyone, but we’ve set up a dining room in the theatre and the kitchen staff now cooks food and serves guests seamlessly every mealtime.

Although guests were given the choice to leave before their scheduled departure date, almost all of them have said they want to stay as long as they can. Besides the dining experience which is a little different, everything else is the same. Turkoise is still Turkoise. 🙂

But because this improvised dining area is only a temporary solution, and because we do need to clean up and rebuild, Club Med issued a statement (which you can read here) announcing we will close the resort this Sunday, December 4th, and will re-launch on December 17th with a grand opening. All of us staff members –  G.Os, G.Es and outsourced employees – will be staying here to help with the clean up so the village is ready in time for the Holidays.

As challenging as this event has been, it’s allowed me to see how awesome this Club Med Turkoise team really is; professional, strong, but also helpful and compassionate. I honestly don’t know when our Chef de Village, Francis, sleeps or eats because he’s everywhere all the time, talking to guests for hours and answering their questions until his voice is raw, while still leading our team and making sure we continue to provide the best service we can. I’m so proud to be a part of this team.

This season is going to be amazing. And it certainly won’t be boring.

 

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A new adventure in Turks and Caicos

I’m writing this blog post from my seat on a flight to Germany.

No, I have not been re-affected to a Club Med in Germany next season.

Actually, I’m not even sure there IS a Club Med in Germany… Is there? (I just checked. The answer is nein. There isn’t.)

So no, I’m not exactly going to Germany. It’s just a layover to get to Paris. So I can grab a train to Vittel, France.

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Vittel is that little red thing.

But I haven’t been re-assigned to Vittel either (although there actually is a Club Med in Vittel).

The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?

If you and I are Facebook friends (which I’m guessing there’s a 95% chance you are), you’re rolling your eyes right now. I already announced where I was going, like, almost one whole week ago. That’s what we call “old news” in the business. Plus, I pretty much gave it away in the title of this blog post.

OK, chances are, the suspense is not what’s killing you at all. My redundancy is.

But for that 5% (I’ve decided it’s 5%) of people reading this who are NOT following my Facebook page, or Twitter account, please let me have the pleasure of announcing (again)…

I am officially moving to CLUB MED TURKOISE!

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(“Whaaaaaat? But you mentioned Vittel…? Why Turkoise? I don’t get it.”

Relax, I’ll get to it.)

I’m excited for two reasons.

Reason 1:

I’m going back to a resort I’ve actually been to before – twice! Once in August 2014, and again in September 2015.

 

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View of the beach at Club Med Turkoise, August 2014
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Sunset, September 2015
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Fun on the flying trapeze
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Party time with G.O Jen Keays in Sept 2015. This season, she’s at Club Med Cancun doing water sports and performing circus tricks during the nightly shows. Tell her I say hi! 😉

Shaky montage of my countless afternoons spent on the flying trapeze.

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’nuff said.

This is actually where I discovered the Club Med brand, and how I came to realize being a G.O might be a good job for me… But that’s for another blog post. 😉

As for reason 2:

I got a promotion!

As of November 21st, I will officially be a Club Med eGO!

Watch here for last week’s official announcement:

An eGO is just like other GOs. I’ll take part in the animation, perform in the shows and mingle with GMs. But as eee-GO, my primary job changes. I’ll now be in charge of all the social media for my village. I’ll take pictures and edit videos, and use them to update the Club’s different social media platforms. (And I’ll keep posting on this blog, of course.) So you should definitely expect to hear more from me in the next few months.

If you haven’t done so already, you should go ahead and follow the Club Med Turkoise Facebook page. 😉 Oh, and feel free to like Jessica Laventure while you’re at it (I’m looking at YOU, 5 per centers…)

But just like any new job, I need to go through some training. So Club Med is sending me to France. (Listen up, this is where the Vittel thing comes in.) For the next 10 days, I’ll be spending time with new and existing eGOs from all around the world, taking classes and attending workshops given by professionals in their field in order to gain all the right tools to get started.  And all of that will happen in picturesque Club Med Vittel.

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Why not, right?

You gotta give it to Club Med for sending us halfway around the world like this just to train for a new job. I love it!

**By the way… You guys should all see me now. Sitting on a plane that is filled, I mean FILLED, with tanned German people heading back home from their Dominican vacation. Everyone speaks German. EVERYONE. From the captain welcoming us on the plane, to the passenger who thanked me for picking up her baby’s pacifier (Danke-what?) The flight attendants gave up on English translations hours ago. I’m the odd one out. I bet they can’t even begin to understand what this pale-skinned Canadian is doing on a flight from Punta Cana to Frankfurt!**

I’m actually pretty tired now. Not just from trying to understand all the German, but because it’s also midnight Punta Cana time, and I still have 6 more hours to go before the end of this flight. Then I have to get to Paris, then Vittel… zzzzzzz. Naptime.

I’ll be back with news from Vittel!

 

*********35 hours later********

OK, so there wasn’t any WI-FI on the flight and I couldn’t really post this after I wrote it. I’m doing it now, in the comfort of my hotel room, after my first day of training. I’ll write again in a few days when I’m not seriously jet-lagged, and when I can tell you more about this week which I think will be both very busy but very interesting.

 

My first season of G.O life at Club Med Punta Cana

My first season with Club Med is slowly coming to an end.

Yup, already four months!

It was a shortened season for me since I arrived here in Punta Cana in July, two months after the Summer 2016 season had already started. But it’s mind-blowing to think of everything I’ve accomplished!

July and August flew by, each day crazier than the last. Summer is a very busy season for Club Med in Punta Cana. This is the time when Europeans travel, and because it’s such a big trip for them (long flights, time difference, jet lag, etc) they all tend to stay way more than a week. Some families stayed with us for as long as three weeks! The village was at full capacity for most of August, which is a lot of people considering Punta Cana has the second biggest Club Med village in the world (after the Kamarina village in Italy, which is only open 6 months/year). Needless to say, we G.Os were kept very busy.

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This is my busy face.
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Guest Relations team after a late-night meeting: Élodie, Morgane, myself, Laurent and our manager Antonio.
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It was a busy time, but never too busy to have some fun.

In September, the season got quieter. A LOT. We went from full occupancy to maybe a quarter-full in less than a week! With school starting again, we started seeing less families, and more singles and couples. There was a nationality shift in our G.Ms too… We had less Europeans and more North Americans, who only tend to stay a week or 10 days. With lower occupancy in the village, we all started breathing a bit better. G.Os were encouraged to take vacation, while others were offered more training since there was more time for it.

This slower time of the season is also what we call here Transition Time.  This is when G.Os leave for their next destination, and when new G.O’s start arriving. There are usually a few days, sometimes weeks, when the former G.O and the new G.O coexist in order to train and prepare for next season. When the new G.O is deemed ready, the former G.O packs up and leaves for his or her next village, where they’ll in turn be trained by the G.O who’s also waiting to leave for his or her next village… It’s an endless wheel, but it all ends up making sense somehow. In Punta Cana, our former chef de village Abdel has already left for his next village in Cancun, and our new chef de village, Aziz, has settled in to take his place.

For me, it was all a little disconcerting at first. I’d first arrived in Punta Cana at the busiest time of the year, at a time when processes were already put in place for the season and colleagues were settled into their jobs. When September rolled in, I really wasn’t used to this sudden slower pace, or even all this change with colleagues leaving and new ones arriving. It felt different to witness this other facet of Club Med, of G.O life. Saying good-bye to colleagues is hard, because you not only work together for long hours and for days on end… You also live together. Many tears have been shed over the last few weeks, and it’s not over yet. Apparently, and unfortunately, I’m told this is the part of G.O life that never gets easier.

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The last night with my first ever Club Med manager, Antonio Reyes. He was the first face I saw when I walked out of the Punta Cana airport on that first day.  He’s now reception manager in Columbus Isle, a Club Med village in the Bahamas. Thanks for making me feel so welcome Antonio!
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One last picture before saying good-bye to my fellow Guest Relations colleague, Laurent (guy with the black shirt).
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G.Os coming together to say good-bye to colleagues Aurore and Jeremy.
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They got married two weeks later before moving on to their next village. 🙂

 

I was given the opportunity during this slower time to learn a new job. I went from Guest Relations to Reception (which is actually pretty similar, and sort of managed by the same team… But hey, new skills are new skills!)

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I learned how to manage the front desk (with a more professional face than this one), open accounts, handle payments, balance cash, and coordinate room changes.

I also learned fun stuff like how to explain housekeeping and maintenance issues. In Spanish.  Into a walkie talkie.  At 11 o’clock at night.

Out of my comfort zone you say? (There was some laughter involved. Some of it mine. Most of it coming out of the walkie talkie.)

Since then, I’ve been dividing my time between Guest Relations and Reception, and more than ever, I feel like I have a better grasp on each job. I love how learning new skills and taking on more responsibilities can help you understand aspects of the job you were doing before, and WHY you were doing those things in the first place. Every department is tied in together in some way, and it’s fascinating to understand how it all happens. If any new G.Os are reading this, I highly encourage accepting as many opportunities as possible to get more training, or to try your hand at something different. Not only will it help you become a better employee, but it’ll also give you more confidence in the long run since you’ll really get to know every facet of your job. It’ll feel like pieces of a puzzle just snapping right into place.

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Manning the front desk. The fan may not look pretty, but its necessity makes it beautiful.
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With my fellow Reception G.Os Nour and Judith. All three of us are Montrealers, just a few of MANY working here in the village. We like to jokingly call this place “Punta Canada”.

 

In October, I was invited to take my vacation. At Club Med, you get two weeks vacation per season. One week paid, one unpaid. You can choose to take only that paid week if you prefer, but I decided on the two weeks and used the opportunity to fly back home to Montreal to visit my family and friends, and yes, even my Global News peeps! 🙂

 

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But here’s what you should know if you’re a G.O going on vacation back home:

  • Everyone will want to see you.
  • Everyone will want to see you MORE THAN ONCE.
  • You will overbook your vacation to try and do everything, and you will not really rest.
  • No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to see everyone, and you will feel guilty.
  • Those you will see, you probably won’t have much time with, and you’ll feel like you didn’t go in depth into conversations.
  • You will overpack your suitcase on your way back to Club Med, because you will remember all the things you missed in the last months and you will want to make up for it. Not to mention all the things other G.Os will ask you to bring back for them. Be organized, and try not to go overboard. (That didn’t work for me. Ask the Air Transat agent who charged me 180$ in overweight fees).

Also, here’s what will happen in the first few days away from Club Med:

  • You will smile and say hello to everyone you cross paths with, whether you’re at the shopping mall, the pharmacy, or just walking down the street
  • You will accidentally slip out Spanish words (I said “Gracias!” to the very French Canadian cashier after paying for my groceries at IGA.)
  • You will not be able to hear a Crazy Sign song on the radio without going through the steps in your head.
  • You will annoy your friends and family because you will actually show the steps, and force them to dance with you.
  • Regardless, you will love seeing everyone and will feel mentally charged up and ready to get back to work. Goodbyes are not easier the second time around, but somehow you’ll feel more at peace because you know what you’re getting yourself back into. It’ll honestly feel like you’re travelling from one home to another. (That’s if you’re coming back to the same village and not going to another one, but that’s for a different blog post.)

And so… Here I go again. There are still a few days left to this season, and I plan to enjoy each and every one.

That said, I’m VERY anxious to find out more about season 2…

Stay tuned!

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Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises – Orford, Québec

My G.O life is in full swing! (see what I did there?)

6 weeks and 4 days. That’s how long I’ve been living at Club Med Punta Cana.

Honestly, it feels like so much longer. I know I’ve said it before, but time here has a way of messing with your head. I feel like I’ve been here for months already, and at the same time, I can’t believe it’s already been almost 7 weeks! It’s a very contradictory feeling… Many of my fellow G.O’s say they feel the same way. I think it’s because so many things happen in one single day… For example, I’ll talk about something that happened the day before, but then realize it happened that morning. You go through so many actions and emotions in such a short time! As overwhelming as it can sometimes be, it’s also incredibly satisfying. I feel like I’m really living out each day, cramming in as many things as humanly possible into every hour.

The job isn’t for everybody. Since I’ve been here, we’ve already lost a few G.O’s who decided the lifestyle just wasn’t for them. I think back to that emotional “wall” I hit a few weeks back, and I can totally see how someone could say, oh hell no. But it was totally worth powering through. I feel confident in my job, I’m learning so much every day, and I’m having FUN. Sure, there are nights when I dream of room numbers and restaurant reservations and housekeeping requests (“habitation 13 necessita something something…”) And mornings when I wake up with crazy signs music stuck in my head, or almost kill myself practicing the latest G.O choreography in the shower. But I love the busy-ness of it all. My ADHD self is having a ball. 😉

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Being the token redhead = instant access to a Ginger Spice costume…
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… and Cyndi Lauper attire. “Girls just wanna have fu-un…”
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Cyndi, Madonna and Annie Lennox (also known as me, G.O Jessica from the Bar, and G.O Rox from Mini-Club and Passworld)

Besides solving problems by day and being a pop star by night, I’ve also been getting quite familiar with the Club Med lingo and traditions. Because yes, Club Med has a culture of its own. For first-time guests, it can be daunting to find out about dress codes and crazy signs, to have G.Os sit with you at your table to share a meal, or hear all that Club Med lingo being tossed around in conversations. I like to say in my information conferences that you never forget your first Club Med. 🙂

For today, here’s the low-down on the lingo, since chances are I’ll be using these words quite a bit in my posts:

G.O: Gentils Organisateur, or Gracious Organizer. That would be people like me, who live and work on the resort.

G.E: Gentils Employé, or Gracious Employee. These are people who work here, but who live outside the resort. For example: housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen staff, gardeners.. But you also have a few G.E’s in different departments like Guest Relations, Bar, Reception, etc… These people don’t have to participate in G.O life. They work their shift, then go home.

G.M: Gentils Membre, or Gracious Member. That’s you! 🙂 Anyone who visits the resort as a guest is a G.M. In fact, everyone here says G.M, even the clients themselves!

Village: It’s the Club Med word for resort. For example, I work in the Punta Cana village. But there’s the Turquoise village in Turks and Caicos, the Palmiye village in Turkey, the Phuket village in Thailand, the Dong Ao village in China, etc, etc… There are more than 60 villages around the world, and the company is still building more. (So MANY opportunities to travel. :))

Chef de Village: The chef de village, or village chief, is the the resort’s general manager. But everyone calls him “chef de village”, even in English. Punta Cana’s current chef is Abdel Osmani, a kind man who’s been a chef de village for years, and Punta Cana’s chef for close to three. He’ll be leaving next month to be chef de village at the Cancun village in Mexico, and another chef who is now in the Palmiye village will heading over here to replace him. It’s actually pretty common for village chiefs to move around like that. G.O’s and managers tend to rotate quite a bit between villages (that’s where you get the travelling aspect of the job!)

So there you have it… It took me a while to get used to the lingo, but now I use it like a pro! I’ve been careful so far when posting on this blog to make sure I don’t confuse you, but now if you read G.M or G.E at some point, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 😉

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G.Os on their day off…
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…are never really off. #goofballs

Most G.O contracts are 6 months, and go from May 1st to October 31st, and again from November 1st to April 30th. Because I arrived later in the season, my contract is only 4 months and it ends on October 31st just like everyone else’s.

So although I’ve only been here for a little over a month and a half, I already had my mid-season evaluation this past week! This is when us G.Os meet with our supervisors to talk about how we’re doing so far (good news, they like me! Yay!) and also to talk about what we’re looking for next season: do we want to continue or go home, what job would we like to do, and where do we wish to go. I’m told you don’t always get exactly what you want, but if you’re a serious employee and hard worker, they’ll try to help you as much as possible.

The difficult thing for me right now is deciding what my goal is here, and which path I want to take. I know want to stay, and move up in the company. But there are so many opportunities to advance, and to be honest, I want to do it all (big surprise there, huh ;)). But I’m told it helps if you’re a little more specific. My passion is animation, performing, talking  and getting to know G.M’s (you know who that is now :P), and trying to help them have the happiest, most memorable trip ever. But I’m hoping to learn more about the industry and Club Med itself, and gain some managerial and business skills along the way.

So, you know. Juste ça. 😉 

And of course, the travelling aspect is exciting. Working in a different country every season gives you the opportunity to discover parts of the world you might never have visited otherwise. My days have been so interesting until now, I feel giddy just thinking about everything I’ll be able to experience in the next months, maybe years. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be going next!

So, we’ll see. I should know more about the next step sometime in the following month. For now, wishing and waiting. And working and learning. And playing. The season isn’t over yet,  so still plenty of things to look forward to before contract #2. 🙂

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The view from Montana Redonda

CLUB MED IS RECRUITING

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Half of the Guest Relations/Relations Publiques team: Maricruz, Laurent and me! Missing here are Morgane, Elodie and our manager Antonio.

If you read this and thought, huh, that’s a pretty sweet gig and I want it too, then you should know Club Med is recruiting right now for next season. It’s the perfect time to apply. You can click here and send your CV. If you’re in the Montreal area, Club Med will be holding group auditions on Sept 10th and 24th.

SEPTEMBER PRICES

For those of you who’d like to live the GM experience (and who want to visit meeeeee), the low season starts in the next weeks, which means September will be awesome price-wise. Just a tip. 😉 Let me know if you want to come! I’d love to show off my village, and my home! 🙂

 

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Speaking of showing off… 😉

 

 

 

 

 

I’m alive!

Yes, I know, I know… I can sense the exasperation all the way over here.

I’ve been pretty quiet over the past few weeks and I know it’s driving a lot of my friends and family members crazy. I’m sorry!

The truth is, keeping my social media alive is so much harder here than it was back home. The internet connection is not always as perfect and fast as it could be (we are on an island after all), and also, well… I have so little time! I can’t believe I used to spend hours watching TV or surfing the web. Not only do I have less time for that here, but there’s so MUCH going on all day that the last thing you want to do is spend time in your room. And if there is any time left, well… Sleep wins. And even then, that’s if you can resist the invitation from friends living within just a few feet of you who want to hang out and rant about the day over a Cuba Libre (which, most of the time, is more Libre than Cuba if you know what I mean… :P)

I’ve been a G.O for exactly 4 weeks today. But it feels like so much longer! My days are jam-packed, and so much has happened that I honestly don’t know where to begin. This blog post could be 10 pages long and I still wouldn’t be able to properly describe all the emotions I’ve been going through.

All G.O’s warned me to wait 3 weeks to one month before deciding on whether I liked the job or not. I thought it was a bit much at first. This was an awesome job! Of course I would love it! And I was (only slightly! :P) older than most G.O’s, so probably more mature and therefore “readier”. I felt confident, and knew what to expect.

Ha! It turns out it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much experience you think you have, the transition period will be rocky and you will have a hard time. I had a few days of loneliness and doubt, of wondering if I was ever going to fit in here. And I have to admit, that may have contributed to me being a little quieter web-wise… I tend to keep to myself when things get rocky in my head.

The good news is, I’m over it. 🙂 In the past week, something clicked, and things have started getting better and better. I feel like I’m almost done learning the rules of the game and now I can start to play. I’m better at my job and more independent. I’ve started rehearsing for shows and even had my first performance last Saturday!

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Backstage, before my first ever Club Med dance performance.

And this week, I spent my day off with fellow G.Os outside the resort for a change, and it made all the difference. We went to Macao Beach, tasted the Dominican version of poutine called “Yaroa”, and spent the night out in Bavaro. Suddenly, I truly felt on vacation and it struck me.

I live here. I work here. In this paradise.

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Day off at Macao Beach
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Hanging out with fellow G.Os. From left to right, Raphaelle, Mario, Laurent, John and me
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The “Yaroa”, a Dominican version of poutine. Fries, chicken, ketchup, mayo and melted cheese. De-li-cious (and very comfort food-y).

I’m going to have a blast doing this job. And I think I’m going to be pretty good at it too. The excitement level has been mounting, and I’m loving it. I’m suddenly seeing all these possibilities, and I can’t wait to see where this could lead me to!

 

I hope to write again much sooner. Please keep sending me messages, I love reading each and everyone of them, even if I can’t always answer. Thanks for your kind words, and I can’t wait to see you here! 🙂

 

Settling into the “G.O Life”

Days and hours in Punta Cana seem to melt together into one big puddle of time. I can never remember which day of the week we are, and even less which date! Part of my job is planning for the next day’s arrivals and departures, and every time, I find myself looking for a calendar because I have no clue which date to write down. Today could be August, it could be January, a Tuesday or a Saturday… It’s the strangest feeling to lose that sense of time. While this is perfect for guests who travel here to disconnect from reality, it’s disconcerting when you work here and are trying to establish some kind of schedule.

My first week as a G.O has been incredibly busy. I was expecting things to be hectic, but this is a whole other level. I’m adjusting to a new job that includes tasks that are completely new to me, AND I’m adjusting to a new life in a new environment. At least I’ve had the luck of getting assigned to a single room with no roommates, but I’m the exception. Most G.O’s here live two by two, and sometimes three by three!

Being a new G.O is kind of like being the new kid in high school. Friendships and cliques have already been formed, and you have to find your place somewhere in there. Luckily, there have been some very friendly G.O’s who have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome, but I still feel like the odd one out. I’m told this is normal, and that friendships do form quite quickly eventually. But it’s strange to come from a world where my support system was so big, filled with friends, family members, and colleagues who got my sense of humour and were always available for a chat whenever I felt like it. (I’m not saying I took any of you for granted, but I certainly do appreciate all of you more than ever right now!)

The job itself is not an easy one. I work in the Guest Relations department with 6 other G.Os. Together, we do everything to make guests happy. We manage requests and complaints, book reservations for the restaurant and spa, manage sales, give conferences and walking tours, provide flight information, manage departures and arrivals, and provide VIP service for our Gold members (guests who come to Club Med A LOT.) There are many details to deal with, lots of running around (in incredible Dominican heat, no less!) and the stress levels are high.  This is the busiest time of the season for Club Med Punta Cana, with lots of Europeans travelling to get away from tourists invading their countries for the summer. So the resort here is bustling, and I’m trying to help out as well as I can while still in the early stages of learning. I’d forgotten how intimidating it can be to arrive in a new workplace and try to ask questions while everyone else is so busy. I often feel like I’m slowing my fellow G.Os down at a time when they really need ME to help THEM work faster. Things are getting better already, but the first days were harder emotionally than I expected them to be.

And then there’s the whole cultural aspect. Most people here speak Spanish. And everyone else, French! There’s actually not much English here, which surprised me. I’m guessing it has to do with the time of year, with more Europeans travelling to these tropical settings in the summertime.  Also, the Club Med (Club Méditerranée) company originated from France, and it’s very popular among the French and Swiss tourists. Whatever the reason, it’s not an issue… My French happens to be pretty good. 😉 Although… My Quebec French is hard to understand in this sea (no pun intended) of European French. I have to talk slower, stay away from slang, and I’ve had to learn whole other expressions to make sure I’m understood. (Ex: “Dîner” here is dinner, but “dîner” in Quebec is lunch. And “déjeuner” here is lunch. But to me, “déjeuner” is breakfast! So when your supervisor asks you if you’ve had “déjeuner” yet, and you say, well yeah, when you think he means breakfast… There’s a chance you won’t be eating lunch that day. True story.)

And the Spanish.. oh the Spanish. All I knew up until last week was “cerveza, por favor” and “si.” Seriously. Now, my job requires me to deal with housekeeping, maintenance and kitchen staff who ALL SPEAK SPANISH…only! Except for a select few who can speak English or French, but of course they’re never the ones to answer when I call… 😉 Let’s just say my Spanish immersion is happening very, very quickly. (Club Med has been really good at helping me out, they’ve offered to get me online Spanish lessons through Rosetta Stone.)

So yes, there have been some difficult, and lonely, moments. But there have also been some gratifying ones, like meeting really fun guests from around the world and getting to know their life stories. I’ve only been here for a week, yet I’ve already said good-bye to some wonderful families who hugged me when they left and invited me to visit them in their home country one day. I can’t imagine what the rest of my season will be like if I’ve already made these awesome connections so soon after getting here!

Seen above: Goofing around in the luxurious Tiara section of Club Med Punta Cana. Geoff Hall and his family were vacationing away from their home in New Zealand, and were a blast to hang out with.

As a G.O, you work hard, but you also play hard. Every night is different, with themes and parties and dancing and delicious food (oh the food!!), not to mention the shows I’m looking forward to performing in.

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Getting ready to welcome guests for a night of dancing under the stars.
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Cirque du Soleil’s partnership with Club Med makes for some VERY fun daily activities, not to mention beautiful nightly shows.

And on Thursday, I had my very first day off! I slept (A LOT) and walked around the resort, swam in the pool, and even checked out Creactive for a fun acrobatic lesson.

 

 

Everything on the resort is open to G.Os. Anything guests can use or do, we can enjoy too, as long as we stay professional, courteous, and aren’t scheduled to work (so break times and days off). The possibilities are endless! I’m told I have to give it time. It’s just a matter of finding my place in this crazy world that everyone around here calls: the “G.O Life.”

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Packing and leaving for Punta Cana

The last 48 hours have been weird. I was going to say crazy, but for some reason the word doesn’t feel right (although I’m told it will apply just fine as time goes on.) There’s been so much going on, but I feel like I’m sort of floating through all of it, not really believing its happening.

I spent all of Tuesday, and most of Tuesday night, gathering all my things and packing my life into 4 bags. The mess it created was, let’s say, artistic.

Yep.

Anyhow, thanks to my Mom and sister, we managed to make most of everything fit into four (very heavy) bags. When the agent at the Air Canada counter told me I had to fork over 100$ in overweight fees, my first thought was, that’s it? (My second thought was, who will help me carry these bags when I get to Punta Cana?)

 

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My mother and sister drove me to the airport. Goodbyes were sad, but we all held it together pretty well considering the extreme lack of sleep (I think I may have gotten only a half hour Tuesday night) and the stress we’d all been carrying around for the past two weeks. All of this has been an emotional time for me, but I know it’s been equally hard on my family. They didn’t have a say in this, and yet here they are, faced with the reality of my choice and forced to deal with the feelings that come with it. I know if they were the ones to pick up and move to the other end of the continent, I’d be devastated. I’m so appreciative of their support and encouragement. You know you’ve got the best support system when your loved ones are willing to push through their own sadness to cheer you on through a big life decision. They’re the best family a girl could ask for…

Sniff.

Uh-oh… Quick! Cue the goofy picture.

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The Laventure defence mechanism: goofiness and laughter

Ah. Better.

The flight was quick and uneventful. I landed in Punta Cana ahead of time around noon on Wednesday, with my luggage already waiting for me next to the carrousel. (Wish I’d seen the face of the poor guy in charge of lifting those bags. Lo siento!)

When I stepped outside the airport (pushing my luggage on a cart I thankfully found), I felt the muggy air drape itself around my body like a heavy blanket. A Club Med rep was waiting for me at the entrance with my name on a sign. A sweet guy named Antonio, who helped me into a white van (not the scary kind) and asked me how my flight went. After listening to me chatter excitedly and ask about 5 questions in one breath, he looked at me very seriously and said,”You have to remember one thing now that you’re here in the Dominican Republic. Only one.” I waited, expecting some kind of reprimand or warning against a really serious issue.

“You’re on an island now. There is no stress on the island!” And he smiled.

I laughed, and my stress levels dropped all the way down. And when he told me he was going to be my manager, I was even more relieved. I was going to be fine.

Since then, everything has been a whirlwind. I’ve mostly been getting settled into my new room, meeting my new colleagues and following them around to try and learn as much as possible. I haven’t really gotten into the details of my job yet. Right now I’m still just getting over the transition, visiting the resort and learning about how living here will work.

I want to tell you more about my room, this resort (or “village” as they say in Club Med lingo), my experience so far… But it’s bedtime, and nights here are short.

Here’s a teaser until next time:

The G.O life starts now!

 

From TV reporter to Club Med G.O.

Wow.

That’s the only word that comes to mind when I try to sum up the last few days… scratch that, last few weeks!

When I took the decision to leave my job as weather specialist and community reporter for Global News in Montreal to become a G.O. for Club Med in Punta Cana, I definitely under-estimated all the emotion that would come with my announcement.

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Click here to watch the interview.

The wave – no, the tsunami- of messages that flooded my social media platforms has been overwhelming. I cannot express how grateful I am to have you all in my life. Viewers, followers, friends, family. Your positive yet saddened reaction has been heartwarming, and it makes leaving so much harder.

Many of you have asked me to keep updating you on my travels with pictures and stories. And because I do want to stay connected to you in some way (and also because I love to tell stories!), I thought I would start this blog. I’ll also keep updating my Facebook page (Jessica Laventure), and my Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (as @jesslaventure).

This Wednesday, I fly out to the Dominican Republic where I will work as a G.O. (which stands for Gentils Organisateur, or Gracious Organizer). My time will be divided between working the front desk of the all-inclusive resort, entertaining guests, performing in nightly shows, and doing anything to make sure everyone is having a fun time.

 

Most of you tell me it sounds exciting and awesome, and you’ve been so encouraging. But for a lot people around me, the first reaction was: you’re crazy. Which is completely understandable. I’m leaving an awesome job that a lot of people would kill to have, I’m about to experience a pretty big salary drop, and I’m leaving friends and family behind to pursue something that might keep me away for a long time.

Needless to say, I’ve been getting that “why?” quite a bit in the last few days.

I’ve wanted to try this for a long time. Taking off, working abroad, learning about different cultures and traveling the world. I think a lot of people think about doing this, I don’t think I’m unique in that perspective. But I do know there are different constraints: marriage, kids, a mortgage to think about, etc, etc… Not to mention that dropping everything is SUPER scary. Trust me, I know. I’m terrified.

But I’m single. I don’t have kids. No pets even. I do have a mortgage on a condo, but that was easily handled by finding someone who was willing to rent it, fully furnished. My car is fully paid, and my mother is willing to store it in her driveway (thanks Mom!). I won’t be making much money where I’m going, but I won’t be spending either. Everything is taken care of: room, board, activities, uniforms, even medical and dental plans.

The timing is perfect. Everything adds up.

Except for the job I have. Had. I loved this job. I was so happy when I got it that I cried. I remember jumping up and down and running around my Dad’s place like a crazy person. I never negotiated a single thing. I remember Karen, our station manager, telling me over the phone that I had the job if I wanted it and I yelled, “YES! I want it!” And she answered, “but you don’t even know what I’m offering you yet.” And I still said, “doesn’t matter! I want it!” That’s how much I wanted this job.

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Our very first show! Live from the Beaconsfield train station. – The team: Yannick, myself and Sylvain (January 28, 2013)

And it’s been a blast. Really. I’ve met some truly remarkable people, made what I hope will be life-long friendships, and I’ve developed skills that will be useful for life. I’ve learned to ask the right questions, improvise my way through any situation, read people so I can interact with them better, and trust that being myself will almost always work.

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Toys ‘R’ Us Toy Dash with Starlight Children’s Foundation – Oct 22, 2014

 

 

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Upside down interview with contortionist Lucia Carbines of Spiegelworld’s Empire – April 23, 2015

 

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Disney on Ice – October 8, 2015
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St. Gabriel Elementary School – Saint Patrick’s Day 2013
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Interview at Barbie’s with Justin Bieber’s West Island back-up dancers – May 18, 2016

I am about to live an experience that is pretty much out of the ordinary, and definitely out of my comfort zone. But I’ll be fulfilling a childhood dream of working abroad, and once again, I’ve had the incredible luck of finding an organization that not only welcomes my crazy, but wants me to make a living entertaining people with it. Yes, I’m leaving a job I love, but I feel like the timing is right for me to try this now.

I hope to see all of you at Club Med Punta Cana in the next few months. For those who can’t make it, you can always come back here to get a taste of the G.O. life. I’ll try to update this as much as possible.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

OK, then. Here I go.

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Me and my crazy Global Montreal crew after my last show.