The luxury residence fund, or equity destination club, Equity Estates launched its second fund last year. We caught up with founder and CEO Philip Mekelburg to talk through the funds and what it means to be an investor in Equity Estates.
Tell us about the highlights in 2013 for Equity Estates?
We launched Fund II in the summer of 2013 after the successful sell out of Fund I. The fund is scheduled to raise $30 million and invest in twelve homes. We’ve already sold out our Charter and Founder rounds and obtained properties in Lake Tahoe, CA, Watersound, FL and Los Cabos.
What are the key plans for the club this year?
We plan to add at least six properties this year—more beach, likely the Caribbean, more city locations including San Francisco and more mountain. Perhaps another in Deer Valley.
What types of members are joining the club this year?
We have been fortunate to find like-minded investors that appreciate vacations in quality luxury homes they also own. We fit best with business owners, senior executives, doctors, lawyers, busy professionals in general, that are value driven and like knowing how their money is being utilized and how they will get it back. We have empty nesters, singles who like traveling with their friends and plenty of families that make up the majority of investors. Some have young children and others have children who have young children. Many tell us the only way to get their college and recent graduate aged children to spend time with them is by reserving an Equity Estates residence.
Which are your most popular destinations amongst members?
New York City (pictured below), Los Cabos, Turks and Caicos, Deer Valley, and Costa Rica
What is the main reason your members cite for joining?
Happy investors (we also call them owner members) tell us they love the consistent quality, ease of use, high touch service and peace of mind knowing that as the homes appreciate the likelihood of them making money upon divestment gets better and better. For Fund I that will be in 7 years and for Fund II the divestment event is scheduled for 11 years. Since our shared cost (annual dues contributions) are the lowest in the industry for the quality of homes and services we deliver, most also say that if they only get what they put in back, it was more than well worth it to invest in Equity Estates.
Are you noticing any new trends amongst members and their travel?
There’s a drive to gather and capture new experiences. Everyone wants to both sit still and chill at the homes with their friends and families to have fun, laugh, and make memories, as well as take an adventure, explore, try new activities and restaurants. We share the best of what’s to do amongst our owner members.
Of all the things that members can ask their travel planners to arrange, what are the most popular, can you give us some examples of the unusual ones?
Stocking the groceries they desire, to avoid wasting time on vacation at the store is the most popular. There are a few who love to pick out their own fresh fish and vegetables. We let them know where the best markets can be found. We have been asked to plan small weddings, reunions and parties which we love doing. Beach BBQ’s in some of our Caribbean destinations have been fun, with one splurging for fireworks to celebrate a big birthday. The most interesting and out of the ordinary personal travel concierge service delivery was helping an owner member experience a flash mob on a New York City street for a tenth wedding anniversary re-proposal and vow renewal. It was executed flawlessly with photographer, videographer, violinist and DJ. There was even a Broadway actor involved who helped officiate. After the proposal (delivered on one knee) the mob put the happy couple in chairs and danced the Hora (a Roman and Israeli wedding dance that encircles the couple while lifted in the air above the crowd.) The only snag that was reported was out of Equity Estates’ control—the ring size was too small, but we were told she was blown away by the thought and care that went into the whole event. He invested in just two, 30 minute phone calls, and some money to pay the vendors involved but he too said it was priceless. We do deliver these experiences with zero mark up, it is all part of the services included when you are an owner in a Luxury Residence Fund like Equity Estates.