The New York-based Luxury Institute just completed a survey of wealthy individuals and asked them about branded private residence clubs. In this Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) the St. Regis Residence Club won top honors.

We spoke to Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute to gain extra insight into the survey results. He explained to us that 513 survey respondents were recruited and screened to selectively include those age 30 or older with a minimum gross annual income of $200,000 and a minimum net worth of $5 million. The average income of this group was $789K and their average net worth was $15.1 million.

The survey included several branded residence clubs, but Fairmont Heritage Place, St. Regis Grand Residence Club, Four Seasons Residence Club, The Ritz-Carlton Club, and Marriott Grand Residence Club were the only ones that these affluent consumers were truly aware of.

Of course not all 513 surveyors were intimately familiar with every club. The level of awareness of each of the club brands varied quite a bit amongst the people surveyed, percentage breakdown for awareness of each club was: 42% Ritz-Carlton, 30% Marriott, 27% Four Seasons, 13% St. Regis and 8% Fairmont Heritage Place. Similarly the following percentages of respondents held club memberships: 7.5% Ritz-Carlton, 4.2% Four Seasons, 3.4% Marriott, 1.6% Fairmont Heritage Place and 1.4% St. Regis.

How Clubs Were Rated

Participants rated the clubs based on four distinct aspects: Quality, exclusivity, social status and self-enhancement. The LBSI is the average of each indices presented on a 0 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest. The LSBI ratings are then compared to the following questions asked under the headings of Price Worthiness, Recommendations and Purchase Preference: "Is this fractional club and resort worthy of a significant price premium?" "Based on your perceptions, would you be willing to recommend this club to people you care about?" "Which fractional club and resort would you be most likely to consider?"

Survey Results

As a result of the survey, LBSI named The St. Regis Grand Club as the most prestigious fractional club. Respondents cited St. Regis Grand Club for "their great service and nice amenities," "excellent quality" and for being "very upscale."

The Ritz-Carlton Club finished a close second with the highest score for quality and tied for exclusivity, as well as receiving the highest score for willingness to recommend.

In a recent press release, Pedraza was quoted saying: "This is the first time that we have rated Private Residence Clubs, known as Luxury Fractional Clubs. We rated only hotel brands with multiple fractional destinations to see how they compare with their competitors."

He continued to qualify the report by stating that, "Our impartial surveys are conducted with independent panels weighted to reflect national results, and the results are tabulated by external analytical experts to ensure objectivity. In a transparent world, where consumers define your brand, and you are simply a steward, these surveys provide quantitative metrics, as well as extensive consumer comments, as to why they will, or will not, recommend each brand."

The Luxury Institute plans on broadening their survey to include more private residence clubs and assess consumer awareness. There will be plenty to choose from for sure. In fact, Ragatz identified 254 luxury fractional and private residence clubs in North America in 2006. And the industry continues to flourish today.

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