Only five weeks into his new job, Jarvis J. Slade, Jr. the President of the new Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club sat down with SherpaReport to discuss how the club will distinguish itself.Management
Prior to his new role, Jarvis headed up the travel operations group for American Express Centurion and Platinum Card holders, so he fully understands the luxury travel sector.
Other key management members of the A&K Residence Club are Darin Gilson founder and CEO of BelleHavens who is looking after Sales and Business Development. Joe Mitchell, the former President of Crescendo is managing the real estate side of the club and Stephanie Papaioannou, from A&K, is the Senior Vice President of Member Services and Hospitality.
This looks like a good team, combining the knowledge that established destination clubs have built in the real estate market, with the A&K and American Express experience of luxury service and hospitality.Destination Portfolio
Most of the current BelleHavens and Crescendo homes will be part of the new club, so the club will start with 18 club owned homes. In addition to these, Abercrombie & Kent has had a long standing villa rental business in Europe and 12 of these villas and manor homes will be made available to club members. The BelleHavens partnership with Stein Hotels will continue to provide access to 13 Hotels and Resorts in Europe.
Jarvis noted that future homes would be in the 4+ bedroom $3+m range and the club is actively looking at future destinations.Club Structure
The club itself will be a debt free non profit club which is fully owned by the members. A&K will act as the manager of the club and as new members join most of their membership fee will go into an account to buy new debt free homes for the club.
As we talked, Jarvis emphasized the transparent nature that the club will have. The portion of the membership fee that does not fund new homes will go to the management company to pay for their management but this will be fully transparent to all. The club will also provide annual audited financial statements to members a practice that we fully advocate. Members will also elect two members to the clubs five member board.
While A&K uses the term equity club to describe itself, the club is not issuing equity securities which would then put it under SEC investment regulations. A better way to think of the structure is more like a country club model where the members are owners of the club, and they hire a manager in this case A&K - to run the club for them.
Jarvis and his team are putting the finishing touches to many details including the clubs by-laws, although he emphasized that the zero debt structure would be part of the by-laws, and these could be changed only if a super majority of the members voted to change them.Membership
The club will be opening up for new charter members in the summer, and the membership levels and related pricing will be announced over the next few months. A couple of features of the membership will be a 3 in 1 out resignation policy, so that three new members have to join before a resigning member can receive back their deposit. If a member resigns in their first 5 years of membership they will get most of their membership deposit back. After five years the membership refund will be based on the current value of the deposit, so that a member could receive back more than their initial deposit.
The club will start with about 150 members, since most of the members of BelleHavens and Crescendo have stayed on although a few took the opportunity to leave.Experiences & Trips
Abercrombie & Kent has an enviable reputation as one of the worlds leading luxury travel companies and has won numerous awards over the years. Members of the new destination club will be able to use some of their time to go on A&K tours and trips to more than 100 destinations around the globe.
With its long standing local relationships A&K does have access to some truly unique opportunities. Jarvis gave examples of:
- In Peru, seeing the original photography taken during the discovery of Machu Pichu
- In Italy, attending a Roman Gladiator school
- In Burma, watching a puppet show with local kids
- In Australia going into the zoo cages with zoo keepers to feed the animals
Other examples that A&K provide are, playing elephant polo in Jaipur, India or browsing the private art collection of the Medici's in Florence, Italy.
All in all this sounds to us like a stable structure and the homes, trips and service experience will make it a club worth looking into.