I’m an accommodations quality nut and choosing the “right” place to stay for family vacations and getaways is always a big job, even with a ready list of reliable recommendations. If you prefer rental homes with kids versus standard hotel rooms, this task is even more daunting.
Exclusive Resorts, a leading luxury brand in the vacation club category, is a compelling solution for über-discerning travelers given their network of incredible homes with extensive services around the world. See my interview with Jeff Hartman, the Senior VP of Corporate Communications at Exclusive Resorts, for the scoop on how this model works for families.
The rub, however, is that given that the one-time initiation fee alone for Exclusive Resorts is $170,000, it’s a service that is accessible for only a limited number of lucky families.
Enter The Portico Club
The Portico Club is a new offering by Exclusive Resorts that opens up the benefits of the luxury vacation club model to more families at dramatically reduced pricing with a one-time initiation fee of $7,500 and an annual membership fee of $2,500.
Members have access to the club’s thoroughly vetted portfolio of upscale homes around the world at below-market nightly rates. Some properties are independent and some are within a larger resort complex. Members can travel as much or as little as they like (versus the traditional vacation model which caps annual room nights) and pay only for the nights they use. There are no black out periods.
If families decide the club is not for them or they find themselves moving back into hotel-focused stays, they can walk away during the annual renewal period. Nightly rates range anywhere from $300 to $3,000 per night.
Portico Club Test Drive
Exclusive Resorts invited me to give the Portico experience a test drive this summer so I booked a night at their property in Chamonix, France.
Escapist | The first thing that happens when you book nights with Portico is that an “Escapist” calls to confirm exactly how you want to organize your time away. Think global concierge who can organize all the little details families need to get into place prior to arrival from babysitters, to bike rentals, to ski lessons.
Our Escapist was friendly and efficient. For sure this resource can research and book all the essentials in a destination for guests. I didn’t find that the staff knew enough about the finer kid-friendly details — i.e. where should we hike with a 9-year-old or name the best kid-friendly restaurant in town — but I’m sure over time that the staff will become more familiar with the Portico inventory to provide better family-focused advice. For now, the bottom line is that the Escapist is eager to please and is a tremendous, consistent resource to have available for an upcoming vacation.
Les Granges d’en Haut | Les Granges d’en Haut is the Portico Club property in Chamonix, France. If this wonderful property is a representative example of the quality within the Portico portfolio, members are in for a huge treat. I’ll do a comprehensive review of this property in another post, but we immediately settled into this well-appointed resort and would happily stay here for a week or more.
It’s truly the best of hotel and home rental living as guest accommodations are full multi-room chalets with kitchens and indoor/outdoor living spaces, daily housekeeping, an onsite restaurant and bar, and even a Caudalie spa.
We organized a private dinner in our chalet that was exceptional. Our four-bedroom accommodation was cozy and comfortable. If I knew I could have this “ideal” set up anywhere in the world for below-market rates and traveled enough to make the fee structure worthwhile, the Portico Club pricing is compelling. I asked for clarification on what below-market means and I was told that member nightly rates are 50% of rack rates for these properties.
Best of Family Travel Bucket List
The destinations list for the Portico Club reads like best of family travel bucket list. They currently offer 150 homes and villas in 50 destinations. I love the way they categorize their options from Sea & Sand to Peaks & Powder to Skyscrapers & Sidewalks to Links & Leisure. London, Steamboat, Provence … if you could stay in any one of these destinations in a vetted rental home with full, consistent services and no research, is that value worth Portico Club’s fixed fees?
If you travel enough and prefer home and apartment rentals to standard hotel rooms, my two-cents is absolutely.
Editorial Note: Exclusive Resorts provided one-night complimentary lodging for Ciao Bambino to review Portico Club services and accommodations