We recently talked to Vicki Vorhees, the President of Premier Destinations to find out the latest details on this luxury destination club. The club has just launched its membership program in January this year and is in discussions with 15 charter members.
Vorhees and several members of the management team were instrumental in building the first destination club, named Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) at the time. They have drawn on this experience in setting up Premier Destinations to provide exceptional levels of service and amenities to the clubs affluent members. Note that after the team left Abercrombie & Kent, the club changed its name to Tanner & Haley which was subsequently bought out of bankruptcy last year by Ultimate Resort.Services & Concierges
As with other luxury vacation clubs, Premier Destinations provides a wide variety of services to its members including itinerary planning, grocery shopping and reservations for tee times or restaurants. Each home has it's own concierge, many of whom came over from Abercrombie & Kent, and so have some of the longest and best experience in the destination club industry.
As a member when you arrive at the airport the local concierge will meet you, and will bring the luxury car that comes with each house. On your first night of arrival at the home you'll also have a dinner prepared for you by a chef - who'll prepare a menu that you've already arranged beforehand. The overall idea is to allow members to relax straight in to their vacation, and to save the time and hassle of finding a local restaurant or preparing dinner on that first evening.Amenities
One feature that Premier Destinations provides that we haven't seen from many other clubs is having exactly the same equipment in each luxury home. This includes identical ovens, microwaves, espresso machines, kitchen appliances, electronics equipment and remote controls. For instance the club will have Direct TV in each of its homes so that there's a consistent experience for members, rather than a member having to learn each cable TV set up in each part of the country. For each new home the club changes out equipment in order to put in the clubs standard high end fixtures. For members this means that they don't have to figure out how to use each new appliance in each new home - and again can relax and enjoy their vacation.
Each of the homes has one of a kind artwork and European antiques as part of the luxurious furnishings. The club offers an interesting twist in that members can purchase anything they like in the homes. This idea came from the experience at A&K, where members would return from a vacation and ask their A&K concierge where they could get a piece of furniture like the one that was in the house they had just stayed in.The Homes
The club currently has 4 properties and the use of a 95ft yacht, The Caledonia. All the clubs properties will be at least 4,000 sqft and 4+ bedrooms. Initially the club is leasing it's first properties and then plans to buy all the properties from number 11 onwards.
In its initial phase the club is mainly focused on the West Coast of the US, Mexico and the Rockies, although it already has a house in the Loire Valley in France (pictured above right).
Members have unlimited use of the clubs homes. The only limitation is that you can have up to four weeks reservations at any time. If you travel for more than 56 days in a year there's also a nightly charge of $200, but for members who travels less than this, all the costs are covered by the annual fee, which for charter members is $19,600 per year. The expectation is that the homes will have an occupancy rate of 45-48% - in other words they will be free and available over 50% of the time. The club bases this model on having a member to home ratio of 6:1.Financial Security
The club has in place a "Full Asset Protection" program to reassure members about their membership deposits. The club management has spent some time putting in place a legal structure for the club that will guarantee this protection for members. The pieces of this that Vorhees shared with us includes :
- membership deposits being held in a separate account and only being used to purchase real estate and furnishing.
- members standing ahead of anybody else in the case that the club is ever wound up.
- the club properties being owned free and clear with no mortgages.
- auditing by an independent CPA firm and transparent accounting.
Vorhees said that she will fully share the details of this protection scheme with prospective members as they do their due diligence on the club. Payments to join the club consist of a $73,500 initiation fee and a $416,500 membership fee which is redeemable at 100% of the current value when a member resigns.
Overall as Vorhees put it, she and the Premier Destinations team are using their prior experience to provide the "thousand little things" that all add up to exemplary service for their affluent members.For details on other clubs see our chart - compare destination clubs.