What are destination clubs? I didn’t know much about this segment of the travel industry until I interviewed Jeff Hartman, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Exclusive Resorts, a few weeks ago.
While some destination clubs have struggled over the past few years as challenging economic conditions caused a reduction in overall spending on luxury travel, Exclusive Resorts just reported a dramatic increase in sales for 2010.
Given that 91% of Exclusive Resorts members have children, clearly these clubs are attractive to families. Why and who is a good membership candidate? Read my interview with Jeff to get the scoop.
Lake Tahoe residence exterior
What is Exclusive Resorts?
In essence, Exclusive Resorts is a membership-based vacation club. Families who are committed to great vacations and want consistent, reliable service join the club to access luxury accommodations all over the world.
Why are destinations clubs — and Exclusive Resorts specifically — such a great option for families?
Families get to vacation at home. Our multi-bedroom residences have full kitchens and loads of living space. These amenities alone solve many complications for families. In addition, we offer things like pre-arrival grocery shopping.
It’s also worth noting that one of the reasons Exclusive Resorts makes luxury travel as a family so easy and convenient is that housekeeping is included in all of our residences. They make the bed, do the dishes, straighten common areas, provide fresh towels, and even provide daily breakfast in some destinations.
Our residence offering is the most comfortable way to travel with a group. Most of our homes have occupancy for 8 to 10 people.
Lake Tahoe residence interior
Are all Exclusive Resorts residences kid-friendly or is it necessary to create a short list of viable options?
All of our residences are kid-friendly and come fully equipped with Playstations, unbreakable kids’ plates, portable cribs, board games and more.
What value-added services are offered at your residences?
Service is as important to Exclusive Resorts as the quality of our accommodations. Every member is assigned a specific Services Manager for vacation planning. This set-up lends itself to the best service experience these managers learns all the details for a family and get can very granular with recommendations like where to go and what to do once you get there.
In each location, an onsite concierge is the other half of the equation and can make a variety of arrangements including babysitting, private chefs, and kids’ activities. Some of our destinations have kids’ clubs too.
Exclusive Resorts destinations are in cities, the mountains, and the beach — what is most popular for families?
During ski season, the mountains are our most popular category for families. Otherwise, the beach is in high demand.
Grand Cayman residence swimming pool
Are Exclusive Resorts residences just that — exclusive to your members?
Our units are dedicated to our members with one exception. We do have a program where prospective members can try before they buy into the club; they can take one trip to one of our properties for a test drive.
Many of our properties partner with or are located within resorts you would recognize. The key is that our members benefit from all the amenities. A good example is Esperanza Resort in Los Cabos. We have 16 units at that property dedicated to Exclusive Resorts members.
What is the math prospective members need to do in order to determine if Exclusive Resorts is a good fit for them?
A family that enjoys luxury travel is the baseline. The entry level pricing to buy a membership is $160,000 for 10 vacation days per year. Plus, there are annual dues of $10,000 per year.
If a family wants to get the equivalent amount of bedrooms and space in an identical quality category, they are looking at $3,000 per night at a hotel. So, a Cabo San Lucas junkie could spend $30,000 per year to get the same product we are offering. If you are committed to these kinds of vacations, after a number of years you will come out ahead.
What determines which property members can book for a given trip?
Our residences are reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis. We have 370 homes and our members can access any accommodation in our portfolio.
Sometimes siblings will get together a buy a membership. Our program includes a benefit that lets you treat family members to their own vacation at our residences.
What if you join the club and want out?
75% of the joining fee is refundable.
How many members do you have?
We have 3,300 members from 23 different countries.
How many new properties do you add per year?
Last year, 2010 we added 16 properties. We add new properties as our membership base grows to ensure there is enough inventory available for all. With 370 properties, our members can’t go absolutely anywhere, but they can go to a lot of places with incredible family opportunities.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that we have events in destinations around the country targeted at providing extraordinary experiences our members can’t get outside the club. Some of these events are focused on kids. Last year we booked Liberty Island and had exclusive use of the Statue of Liberty. Many of our members participate year-after-year in these gatherings.
Once families experience our services, it’s hard for them to travel any other way.
Photos courtesy of Exclusive Resorts, LLC