There have been many new clubs emerging into the destination club market this year. In addition to the newcomers, some clubs have merged; many established clubs have grown in both memberships and properties; and sadly, some haven't survived.Who's Who Among the New
If you're concerned about the rising initial fees and annual dues of the more established clubs, then maybe a newly established club can entice you to purchase a membership before their fee structures increase as well. There are plenty out there offering a gamut of incentives-including clubs with no initial fees, equity clubs and non-equity clubs, impressive amenities, and partnerships with third-party services for extravagant star-like treatment.
- New as of summer 2007, Distinctive Holiday Homes (DHH) has 11 properties, one yacht and one 86 ft motor yacht in their portfolio. They have also partnered with Quintessentially, a concierge service; and Bombardier Skyjet International, a private jet service to better serve their members. Additional residences will be available for bookings soon: Megeve in France will be ready for occupancy in February 2008, with Queenstown New Zealand opening this month for guests and Auckland New Zealand opening in January. They currently serve 37 members and should be at 40 by the first of the year. Memberships currently run at $50,000 joining deposit per week (80% refundable), which will increase to $60,000 per membership week starting March 2008. Yearly fees will stay the same.
- CareFree Elite is set to launch before the end of the year. The club has 12 pre-launch members, 14 locations with 20 properties, and has plans to add a few more locations before the end of the year. CareFree also has luxury cars available to members as well as several different membership packages including an off-season athletic membership geared for professional athletes who want to vacation in Florida for 30 consecutive nights. CareFree Elite has a different structure to most of the other destination clubs. The membership fee in Carefree Elite is non-refundable at the end of the seven year membership period; whereas with most other clubs the membership period is open and you receive back at least 80% of the deposit when you resign.
- Grand Resort Properties started up in late 2006: Still in its early stages, Grand Resort has already grown from two to four destinations with plans to add four more in 2008. At the beginning of the year they had six member families and now have 35 member families. The club will change its membership/ownership options and prices after Jan 1, 2008.
- Worldwide Private Residences offers investors the opportunity to both invest in 30 residences around the world, and to have at least 5 weeks of vacation usage at these residences each year for a one-time membership fee. As of May 2007, the club had acquired 3 homes for a 10-year usage period. After the first 20 buyers, the investment price for new members will increase.
- Rocksure is similar to Worldwide Private Residences, but on a smaller scale. In November 2007, Rocksure Property launched a fund to buy 6 luxury homes around the world, with an average value of £1m ($2m). Members of the fund enjoy vacations and property appreciation. While Rocksure doesn't bill itself as a destination club, it is very much comparable to the equity destination clubs such as M Private Residences, Crescendo, BelleHavens and The Hideaways Club.
- One Key launched in March 2007 and currently has 42 members with an estimated 50 or over by the first of the year. They run the club slightly different in that they do not own any of their properties, but are able to find homes in areas where their clients desire to go. They currently have access to over 200 residences in over 25 destinations, and are adding locations at about one per month. Exciting new plans for 2008 include accumulating several more state side residences and three European locations.
- The Hideaways Club opened in May 2007. Since opening the club has seen much growth with 40 members at the time of writing. The club has an equity membership structure, with an initial minimum membership period of three years. When a member does sell, a 5% fee goes to the management company, the member receives 80% of the capital gain, and the remaining 20% is allocated to the management company.
- Portofino launched its Continental Collection in 2007. The Continental Collection's first $3.5m homes will be in Montecito, Napa, Vail, Scottsdale, Palm Springs and Paris. Members also have unlimited reciprocal usage of the homes in Portofino's Signature and Portofino Collections, so they will have use of 27 homes altogether.
- DreamCircle is South Africas first destination club and offers equity ownership in a club that will have a 12 year lifetime. The club just launched in November this year.
We have caught wind of several more club launchings. We will report on these as they get closer to full launch. Plus, there are other clubs still in the early stages of development that we are tracking (but have not reported on yet).Merged Clubs
Mergers make sense for a lot of the clubs, since combined clubs can offer more homes to their members and share the "back office" operations across a larger base. We're expecting to see more mergers in the future.
- Ultimate Resort, the 2nd largest destination club, and Private Escapes, the 3rd largest destination club, announced their merger in September 2007. The combined club has 1,200 members with 140 club homes located in nearly 50 destinations in the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. The merged company, Ultimate Escapes, will operate three distinct destination clubs targeting the $1 million, $2 million and $3 million average home value club categories. Currently Ultimate Resorts (UR) has two destination clubs and Private Escapes (PE) has three. The two clubs are still working through the full merger process and expect to finalize the details in January. For more details see our article on the merger at http://www.sherpareport.com/destination-clubs/private-escape-and-ultimate-resorts-merger-announced.html.
- BelleHavens acquired Havens this year. The combined clubs have approximately 90 members with 14 properties to use. Eleven of the homes were originally BelleHavens' homes and three were part of a reciprocity program with another club. While BelleHavens is an equity destination club, the transitioned Havens members are joining on a non-equity basis, due to the terms on which they joined their previous club. Havens members have the option to upgrade to equity status anytime during the next three years. As equity members, they become owners of BelleHavens' portfolio of wholly-owned, debt-free real estate.
Many clubs have been growing rapidly this year, increasing their membership numbers and property choices.
- Exclusive Resorts is still the largest club in the industry. This summer they announced that they had over $1bn of real estate across their more than 350 homes. They started the year with about 2,500 members and currently have over 3,000.
- Quintess started the year with over 300 members and expects to end the year at over 425. They offer over 70 homes in 30 locations.
- LUSSO passed the 100 member mark this year. "We had 50 members at the start of the year and expect at a minimum 115 (conservatively) by year end. We are at 110 now. We had 19 homes at the start of the year (current and in development). We now have 31 (current and in development)," says a Lusso spokesperson.
- High Country had less than 200 members at the start of the year and have already passed the 300 member mark.
- Solstice, started the year with 56 members and expects to end the year at over 80 members. They have added several homes to their portfolio with an average value of about $6.5m.
- M Private Residences, an equity destination club based in Alberta passed the 100 member/investor mark this year and currently has over 120 members and 16 $2.5m homes.
- My Global Playground's website is still there but we haven't been able to talk to anyone or had them return our calls in over a year. We don't think they ever really got going and doubt if they had more than a handful of members.
- Premier Destinations' website is now gone. We interviewed the CEO earlier in the year. At that time the club only owned one home and had arrangements to lease 5 others. It was unclear if the club had many, if any real members other than the founding team.
Overall there has been a lot of activity amongst destination clubs. In addition to all the activity above, both BelleHavens and Ultimate Resorts announced partnerships with hotel groups, so offering their members a wider selection of destinations. Exclusive Resorts announced its "Once in a Lifetime" trips and many of the clubs increased the number of services they offer. The established clubs have also been raising their prices throughout the year as thy add homes and grow their services.