Is There a Luxury Travel Club in Your Future? Why These Clubs May Prove More Enticing Than Buying Full Ownership in a Traditional Vacation Home. (And what the heck’s a “luxury fractional?”)

August 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Travel & Leisure

Recently I’ve begun thinking taking a spectacular vacation. We haven’t gone on a cruise for over a year, and since 2008 marks twenty years of wedded bliss, I figure we have a perfect excuse to find the time for something a bit more “grand” than usual.

That’s why I opened an unsolicited email last week titled: “The Most Elite Travel Club in the World.” And kept reading, once it opened up to a breath-taking shot from the interior of a fantastic villa in St. Barth’s, French West Indies, complete with the tantalizing headline, “Wouldn’t You Rather Be Here?” Darn right! Who wouldn’t? As usual, those travel marketers sure know what they’re doing!

As I kept reading about this French-speaking tropical paradise venue, I realized I wasn’t just being offered the opportunity to rent this particular house for a dream vacation, I was being solicited to join a private vacation club.

As a member, and after parting with a significant upfront fee, I’d have the opportunity to vacation at a choice of 250 stunning luxury vacation venues worldwide. AND, the solicitation promised me, when I compared the membership fee with the cost of buying a vacation home and/or taking my family on an all-inclusive vacation, I’d discover that the membership fee was a BARGAIN

Talk about Marketing to Boomers, these people knew all my “hot buttons.”

So: They weren’t just offering me the splendor of the villa on St. Barth’s, they were offering me the opportunity to vacation in fantastic, upscale residences worldwide, including, in no particular order:

With dozens of locations to select from, I was promised that none of the magnificent vacation homes I viewed would leave any detail of my vacation to chance.

My on-call Member Services Representative would see to that, ensuring that I would experience “the vacation I truly deserve.” “Yowza,” I said, “tell me more.”

One Key World Members Pay for Vacations With Their Special Debit Card

Now, I’ve always enjoyed vacations where we rented a house or condo and used it as a base camp, because this has offered us such a freedom of options.

But as I read on, I realized that this club – One Key World – was offering something a bit different: The web site promotes their travel card, and opines that “The One Key Travel Card does for luxury travel what the Jet Card did for private aviation —

It allows access to luxury homes, amenities and services without a major outlay of upfront capital or the hassle of whole ownership.”

By the way, if you’re not familiar with the Marquis Jet Card, here’s the concept: for a single payment of $200,000, you get 25 hours of flight time in a well-maintained private jet.

Marquis has an alliance with NetJets Inc., the world’s largest business-jet fleet operator, which created the concept of fractionally owned jets, and which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. So you get the benefits of owning your own jet, without the responsibilities. And Marquis promises guaranteed availability with as little as 10 hours notice.

“One Key World appears to operate like a high-end travel agent or villa broker with additional concierge services,” says One Key’s founder Jay Sapovits, who adds, “We really think of ourselves as a destination club. We offer outstanding service and amenities.

“Travel agencies tend to focus on specific areas, mostly outside the US. We have a competitive line-up of properties domestically as well as internationally. Most importantly, we pre-verify all homes in our portfolio to make sure they reflect the excellent standards [that] our members expect.” (By the way, before starting One Key World, Sapovits was a Marquis Jet VP.)

But this is much more than renting a vacation home, this concept works a lot like the Jet Card: We’re talking about plunking down a membership deposit of roughly $200,000 and acquiring “fractional ownership” in a group of luxury vacation homes. Then paying an annual fee to access up to 45 days of vacation in one or more of the luxury properties. What a way to reduce Boomer Lifestyle-induced stress!

So What’s “Fractional Ownership” All About?

This shared ownership concept has become quite popular lately in the world of luxury product marketing – you can also fractionally own luxury cars, and designer accessories.

With a bit of research I’ve discovered that One Key World is not the only organization to offer these luxurious vaction club amenties. There are actually dozens of others around the world. In some cases, Denver’s High Country Club being an example, your one-time membership fee and annual dues buy your use of the club’s many facilities, not unlike what happens when you purchase a country club membership, but you don’t have any actual ownership share in the properties.

In other cases, One Key World being an example, you’re paying a larger fee upfront, and actually purchasing a fractional interest in the properites, which can be bought and sold, much like happens with a traditional timeshare property.

In all cases, the membership club facilities combine spacious and luxurious homes with five-star service and a “no-hassle” model of ownership.

  • Easy access to multiple vacation homes in a variety of locations
  • Avoid hassles associated with HOAs, cleaning, maintenance, and utilities
  • Members involved in decisions regarding new property acquisitions
  • Free travel planning services to help you select and pre-book vacation activities
  • No doubt you’re wondering, ‘just how does this “luxury access” concept differ from a timeshare?’

    Well, from a strictly legal point of view, there’s no difference: The law considers them the same, which is good news, since the laws for timeshares have been constructed to provide owners with certain protections.

    It might help to think of the difference between owning a timeshare and owning a membership in a private residence club or luxury fractional as being similar to the difference between driving a Mercedes SL500 and a Dodge Neon. Both are cars, and both will get you to your destination. But one is more comfortable, offers more bells and whistles, and probably provides you with more service at the dealership.

    Want to Know More?

    For a list of other luxury vacation operations, variously known as private residence clubs vacation clubs or destination clubs, and more information which will help you determine if this is a vacation solution for you, request my free report on luxury Destination Clubs by supplying your name, email address and clicking the button to “Rush you my free report on luxury vacation clubs.” You’ll receive it immediately, so you can start picturing yourself vacationing in luxury right away!


    23 Responses to “Is There a Luxury Travel Club in Your Future? Why These Clubs May Prove More Enticing Than Buying Full Ownership in a Traditional Vacation Home. (And what the heck’s a “luxury fractional?”)”

    1. Eileen Williams on August 19th, 2008 8:26 am

      Sounds like true luxury–and lot of fun if you can afford it. Traveling to all those beautiful spots and staying in magnificent homes would be a great way to enjoy one’s golden years!

    2. Mark@European Vacations on November 25th, 2008 5:47 pm

      Being able to travel the world is a wonderful thing. This sounds like a great way to save some money while visiting some of the best vacation spots in the world.

    3. Marcin@All Inclusive Vacations on January 19th, 2009 3:39 pm

      That’s a great idea to save some money while traveling around the globe. And you don’t have to stay in those cheap crappy hotels.

    4. Jerry@Jag XJR on April 3rd, 2009 5:34 am

      I was in Mautitius last month and it’s a fantastic luxury holiday destination. The standard of hotels, the service, and the food, is exceptional and in our opinion makes Mauritius one of the best luxury holiday destinations in the world.

    5. John@5 Star Hotels on April 10th, 2009 6:30 am

      I’ve downloaded your report, and I find both that and your article above very helpful. With the current economical downturn, luxury hotels and resorts are so much more accessible. I agree with Marcin: forget about staying in crappy hotels!

    6. Cruise Travel Tips on May 23rd, 2009 9:03 am

      These clubs may help you get more inexpensive vacations 🙂

    7. M Brand@Phuket Hotel Travel on May 30th, 2009 7:35 pm

      I agree with John, cheap hotels will get less attention but unfortunately many people will choose budget over quality many times

    8. hotels in las vegas on June 2nd, 2009 2:17 am

      Las Vegas would certainly make a grand vacation for any special occasion. Every step you take theres an attraction. No need to walk too far!

    9. Costa Cruziero@cruise schedules on June 9th, 2009 7:16 am

      Before committing yourself to a luxury travel club, be sure to read the smal print, and question the long term viability of the scheme.

    10. Dave@cruise vacations on June 16th, 2009 6:55 pm

      These look like some excellent places to take a vacation at my favorite would have to be Las Vegas and Mexicao – oh ya!

    11. Dan@free timeshare listings on July 13th, 2009 8:03 pm

      Clubs can be great. I own one in Mexico and couldnt be happier. But it is buyer beware. There are some clubs being peddled that arent worth the paper they are written on. Do your homework.

    12. Vacation Services of America on October 4th, 2009 12:05 pm

      Owning a “fractional” timeshare can definitely be more beneficial than outright owning a second or vacation home.
      But also, travel club memberships (similar to timeshares) are the best.
      My reason for saying this is because they typically offer multiple destinations, instead of just 1 place at a singular resort. So you’ll be able to go see more of the world.
      And another thing is that travel club memberships will also more than likely give you discounts on flights, dining, and recreational activities.

    13. Kathleen@Legitimate Work From Home Jobs on December 4th, 2009 12:53 pm

      I have been considering joining a “vacation club” for some time now (which is how I stumbled upon your article here), and you opened my eyes a bit. Like you, I received an unsolicited email and it piqued my interest.. Still considering the pros and cons, but discounts on flights, dining, etc sure sound good.

    14. Mary Jackson@Luxury Vacation Club on March 30th, 2010 10:12 am

      You forgot about Quintess. Another major luxury destination club. Check it out!

    15. Mary@Private Residence Club on April 6th, 2010 9:49 am is one of the top Luxury Destination Clubs available. Check it out.

    16. apartment cleaning service on April 11th, 2010 1:50 pm

      After reading this, I could really go for a vacation right now. Las Vegas, Mexico or Florida would be my pick 🙂

      Thanks for the great post!!!

    17. Chuck Clayton on August 14th, 2010 5:36 pm

      These offers sound good, however the contracts are frequenly complex and convoluted.

      Be very careful and do a great deal of homework on what the contact says.
      A lawyer may be warrented to review properly.

      A standard check list would start with:

      * What is clearly included
      * What are the options, how much do they cost
      * What are the hidden charges
      * What are your legal rights
      * etc



    18. Anne Holmes on August 14th, 2010 5:42 pm

      Good advice on the contract language, Chuck. And thanks, Mary for adding Quintess to the list!


    19. Lynda B on January 25th, 2011 2:31 pm

      We belong to Club Intrawest, which is points, not one location to trade. They do have some properties in Whistler, Palm Desert, Zihuatanejo, Florida, and some other ski resorts in Canada. You can also exchange your points for RCI (Resort Condominium International) condo properties which are all over the world. We are really enjoying our points every year.

    20. Archie@Jet Card on March 14th, 2011 9:36 pm

      Belonging to an exquisite travel club may have a lot of advantages compared to renting a villa for a week or two. They have connections with a lot of travel companies from all over the world and they can help you go on your dream vacation anywhere, never the same place twice unless you insist on it. I’d definitely sign up for such a travel club.

    21. Audrey@Kidkraft Table and Chairs on April 11th, 2011 3:01 am

      I bought a travel club membership years ago but never used it. You really need to think it over before buying because sometimes, there are restrictions. The one that I had can be used to exchange resorts at RCI but I always find that the places that I want to stay don’t have any relationship with RCI. So, buyers need to really check things out before committing to a particular club.

    22. Bob@Luxury Vacation Rentals on September 26th, 2011 8:02 am

      A luxury villa or home is always the best option. Who wants to book a hotel room, when you can stay in your own private villa?

    23. Eric@Short breaks Scotland on February 21st, 2012 4:04 am

      I totally agree, Bob. And another thing – nowadays the luxurious villas are absolutely wining over the hotels, first – they are cheaper, secondly – luxurious villas are way more comfortable, third – you have a whole house to yourself and don`t have to deal with loud neighbors etc.