Amazon.com Widgets

The 40th Anniversaries of Apollo 11 Moon Landing and Woodstock Offer Baby Boomers A Great Opportunity to Reminisce: Where Were You During the Summer of 69?

July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Living, Travel & Leisure

Summer of 69 was outta sight

woodstock-1969
Image by raymaclean via Flickr

As a Baby Boomer, What Impact Did the Summer of ’69 Have On You?

Recent retrospective news stories have reminded Baby Boomers that the summer of 69 was a three-month time period few of you will ever forget. It’s probably one of those “litmus test” time periods. You know, the ones where everyone remembers exactly what you were doing at the time you heard.

Like…

  • November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas.
  • February 3, 1959, the “day the music died” – when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash in Iowa.
  • Or 9/11

Those are all negative events, however. For Baby Boomers, the Summer of 1969 generally presents a more upbeat image of thrills and chills…

Where Were You That Summer? What Do You Remember Most?

Personally, I was 17 and spent the summer in Europe with 29 of my classmates, all from Madison East High School.  Most of us were looking forward to enjoying the summer then returning for a triumphant senior year as the “Class of 70.”  Our group had been together since junior high, and some of us had known each other since grade school. We were so psyched about that trip…

The idea came from the fact that we’d been studying French since the beginning of 7th grade. With five years of French language and culture under our belts, somebody came up with the great idea that we should actually practice our skills in France, among the natives.

You know, show off our linguistic skills while we enjoyed:

  • Site-seeing along the Seine (Of course we would spend time in Paris. What trip to France would be complete without the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower? No to mention the shopping?)
  • Bicycling high in the Alps (No, we didn’t expect to qualify for the Tour de France, but we loved the idea of tooling around Grenoble on rented “velos”)
  • Lounging beside the Mediterranean Sea (We weren’t bold enough to seek out a nude beach, but that didn’t stop us from wanting to sunbathe on the sands of Nice)

Next thing we knew we were all preparing for the trip of our young lifetimes.

After all, few of us had ever left the country before, and none of us had previously lived apart from our families for more than a few weeks of camp. We spent the entire school year in anticipation:

  • Attending weekly in-school meetings to prepare us for the trip
  • Working after school jobs to save up our spending money
  • And perhaps most importantly, planning our wardrobes

Thankfully, Our High School French Teacher and Her Husband Agreed to Be Our Chaperones

“Madame” was young and fun, and we knew she wouldn’t cramp our style. With her help, we selected a study abroad program that allowed us to spend time touring London, Paris, Rome, Geneva — plus studying French for a month at the University of Grenoble. ” Quelle idee!”

For most of us, the summer of 69 would be our first time spending any length of time away from home. And back then, calling home if you ran into problems was a lot harder, of course. Neither cell phones nor the World Wide Web had yet been invented.

So short of expensive trans-Atlantic calls placed from a phone booth, our correspondence with the folks back home was limited to letters send via air mail…

The Trip Was Fantastic and We All Did A Lot of Growing Up That Summer

I know I was not the same person when I returned… After all, during that trip we experienced so many new things. Among them:

  • Learning to ride London’s underground railroad – the “Tube. ” (And Paris’s “Metro” too.)
    • We didn’t have subways back home…
    • My best friend Jenny and I felt so adult when we left our classmates for the evening and took the tube to visit family friends in a London suburb.
    • Even cooler, they served us beer and lasagna for dinner! (Have no recall of whether or not it was Guinness, but I do know they mixed it with lemonade and called it a ‘shandy!’)
  • Personally experiencing the artistic masterpieces at the Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, Versailles, Buckingham Palace even touring the Coliseum in Rome.
    • I loved seeing the Mona Lisa, though I was surprised how small it is.
    • For me, the colorful Swiss Guard in the Vatican City was even more impressive than was the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace!
    • However I believe going underground to experience the cool and spooky catacombs of Rome impressed me the most!
  • Taking French cooking classes – conducted in French!
    • These were even more challenging than the language and culture classes we took at the University.
    • And we got to eat our work!
    • I recall creating an apricot tarte that was “to die for”…
  • Shopping at wonderful London department stores, like Harrod’s, Fortnum and Mason, Marks and Spencer.
    • I bought some fantastic patchwork silk fabric in shades of peach, cream and lavender that I stitched into a smashing maxi skirt. Tres chic!
    • Of course, being teens, we didn’t miss the boutiques of Picadilly Street, which was so trendy back then!
    • Remember Mary Quant and the British “mod” fashions? If not, here’s a memory jogger for you: some say she created the “look” of the micro mini skirt and tights…

Budgeting was one of the life skills forced on me by this trip: I spent most of my money our first week out, in those fabulous London shops. (This was before we even got to France.)

I still cherish my purchases, many of which were gifts for family back home: including a piece of Limoges crystal in the shape of a deer and a beautiful hand hammered copper bowl.

Why do I say that? Well, had I not run out of of money,  it might have been years later before I discovered my true entrepreneurial self.  But how I raised money to keep myself supplied with Cokes and snacks for the rest of the summer is the stuff of another post…

Strangely Enough The Most Memorable Things I Learned On That Trip Did Not Happen In the Classroom Nor On a Site-Seeing Tour

No. Forty years later I know that the two biggest things I learned that summer are to take responsibility for myself and my welfare — and to be proud to be an American.

Both of those lessons came as a result of being away from home, from “losing my comfort zone.” Especially through the experience of seeing life back home through the lens of distance – and from the point of view of a foreign press.  You certainly recall that the events of the summer of 1969 were pivotal. Both for Boomers – and for all Americans.

A lot of big news happened that summer. And it took place during a time when a lot of Americans — especially Boomers — were very unhappy with our foreign policy and our presence in Viet Nam. In fact, it would be safe to say we were not at all proud of our country at that time.

But it was very different to be experiencing what was happening back home via the filter of British and French newspapers and French TV. Strangely enough, learning about what was going on in my country while I lived on foreign soil had a galvanizing effect.

Instead of  deciding to “tune in, turn on and drop out,” as Timothy Leary had suggested a few years earlier, my living abroad experience enabled me to see what is wonderful about living in the United States, and actually caused me to became quite patriotic.

Fact is, patriotism was really not something I had experienced before the trip. I’d just taken my American citizenship — and it’s perks — for granted…

Among the news highlights  which so impacted me:

  • Man walked on the moon for the first time. For a week in July the world focused on NASA and the flight of Apollo 11, carrying astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.
    • Their goals: land on the moon, perform some experiments, collect some rock samples, take some pictures, get home safely.
    • The trip which began July 16th lasted eight days, though they spent less than a day on the surface itself and only 2-1/2 historic hours actually walking on the moon.
    • Soon, the whole world knew that “The Eagle Has Landed,” and that “We Came in Peace for All Mankind.”
  • While most of the world avidly watched the action in the skies, Mary Jo Kopechne and the rest of Robert Kennedy’s former campaign workers – who’d been dubbed the “Boiler Room Girls” – took time out to attend a party on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
    • Apparently out of deference to the Kennedy family, the US press embargoed a lot of the facts.
    • Overseas readers learned things which weren’t reported in the US media until much later.
    • These days, with the Internet and more global access to news, I doubt this sort of “media protection” could still happen…
  • And just a month later, in mid-August, we read about how almost half a million people gathered in the rain and mud at Max Yasgur’s farm in Woodstock, New York for a psychedelic celebration of peace and music dubbed “Woodstock ’69″…
    • What would it have been like to have seen those musical greats –  to experience the Woodstock bands in person?
    • Personally, I’m not sure if I could have handled the crowds, the mud, the drugs and the lack of order or sanitation facilities!
    • Still, those Woodstock stories from people who lived it are amazing!

In retrospect, being an American in France when we landed on the moon actually helped rebuild my pride and American spirit. Everywhere we went, total strangers  would come up to us and congratulate us on the Apollo trip.

Instead of feeling like the “ugly Americans” – as we had earlier in the trip — we were suddenly hailed as heroes – even though we personally had nothing to do with the flight to the moon…  That was amazing!

What about you? How did the Summer of 69 impact your life? Where were you? Given where you are now, would you agree with Bryan Adams “those were the best days of your life?”

Why not share your personal “Summer of 69” story here?

Have You Ever Seriously Considered the “Expat Lifestyle” – You Know, Daydreamed of What It Might Be Like to Live, Work Or Perhaps Actually Retire Overseas?

Wonder What It Takes To Retire Overseas? Yes You Can!

Do You Sometimes Have the Feeling That You Really Need to “Get Away From It All,” As In Take a Break From the World As You Currently Know It?

You know: you aren’t just dreaming of taking an extended vacation to some exotic locale, but you actually find yourself fantasizing about what it might be like to take up permanent – or semi-permanent – residence in another country? 

Like that couple you might have recently read about, who decided to escape the rat race and retire abroad before they were even 40: They sold everything they owned, raised $500,000 and moved to an island in the Caribbean, where they’ve been “living happily ever” after for the last 18 years… and living like royalty, to boot! 

Perhaps you, too, have wondered what it might be like to retire overseas: to trade in your expensive, traffic-clogged life for a quieter, more affordable one. 

  • Maybe you’ve imagined yourself on on a verdant, mountainous Caribbean island where you might find lush views out every window and sand crabs meandering across the roads.
  • Then again, maybe you’ve seen yourself in somewhat more urban surroundings, perhaps dining on a fabulous three-course dinner with abundant wine, while attentive waiters linger nearby awaiting your next request. Could this be Paris? Or maybe you’re in Buenos Aires?
  • Or perhaps you were so taken by the exotic scenery in the “Lord of the Rings” movies, that you like to imagine yourself riding horseback in the wilds of New Zealand?

No matter which is your dream, your getaway vision always involves somehow transporting yourself to entirely new and exotic surroundings:

  • Sort of like Hemingway did decades ago, when he moved his authoring operations to Spain, land of bullfighting and sport fishing.  
  • Or maybe like what the Danish author, Isak Dinesen, did when she moved to Africa. (Remember, her story, chronicled in “Out of Africa,” begins: I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills…”   (What Boomer woman doesn’t remember the scene in the movie where Robert Redford helps Meryl Streep shampoo her hair while they’re out on safari… )
  • Then again, maybe your vision is more like that of poet, cook and travel writer Frances Mayes, the real-life person whose story of buying a house in a foreign country was so well portrayed by Diane Lane in the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. 

Keep Reading If You’ve Ever Screamed, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.”

Moving – or even retiring – overseas is no longer a radical notion. More and more, Baby Boomers are looking into retiring offshore in an effort the get the most from their retirement dollars, while having the adventure of a lifetime.  Actually, Americans are choosing to emigrate for a variety of excellent reasons:

  • Adventure – what’s more adventurous than leaving behind life as you know it for a new one in an exotic locale?
  • A better climate – maybe you’ve had it with snow shovels, now you’re looking for unending days and nights of temperate tropical breezes
  • Lower cost of living – your retirement savings can afford you a better lifestyle than you would be able to achieve in the US
  • Financial freedom – a way to sidestep recession. Living offshore can mean you can “retire rich” on a middle class budget, never outlive your nestegg
  • Investment opportunities  – an opportunity to grow your investments tax-free or tax-deferred
  • Healthier lifestyle – a way to live better, healthier, and with less stress

Of course, Boomers aren’t just dreaming of basking in the sun on those beaches of the world: we’re talking “retirement” in loose terms here. Let’s focus on how you might have imagined yourself living very affordably overseas while you generated a nice side income for yourself by doing something you love, like:

  • Running a small restaurant on the beach
  • Operating a beachside dive shop, renting out your yacht while you and your spouse serve as crew or giving surfing lessons
  • Exporting local handicrafts back to the US or elsewhere
  • Working long distance for your current US employer
  • Running your own company, via your mobile “laptop office”

Which Countries Offer the Best Living and Investment Options for Potential Expats? 

The fact is, thousands of Baby Boomers are finding themselves dreaming of living a life of retired splendor in another country — and many of them are doing more than just dreaming about what it might be like to retire abroad – they’re actually taking action. You’ve probably even had friends who spoke to you in glowing terms about the benefits of retiring permanently in an exotic-sounding county like:

  • Argentina – Think European-style living at a fraction of the cost
  • Croatia – Sun-kissed islands, great sailing, temperate climate: The best of traditional Europe…Non-traditional prices
  • Dominican Republic – An extremely affordable Caribbean lifestyle, and several large expat communities
  • Italy – Tuscany may be calling, but if you’re American, Canadian or Australian, you don’t have the right to work or live in Italy. So this one is a tougher call
  • Malaysia – If you ever considered Asia, it’s easy to buy property here and they have a “Malaysia My Second Home” program for expats
  • New Zealand – Tight immigration laws, wide range of climates, but English-speaking, and oh! the scenery
  • Nicaragua- Stunning natural surroundings and more afforable than Costa Rica 
  • Panama – Many expats say the this is still the world’s best retirement option. Find out why – and if you agree
  • Poland– Great scenery, growing economy, newer member of the EU, tourism is rising, and there’s a lot of foreign investment
  • The Philippines – Another great Asian opportunity with the economy recovering well, but land ownership laws aren’t as welcoming
  • Uruguay – Some say moving here is like rediscovering the good life of 1950s small town America

Then again, maybe you were wowed by the scenery when you watched the recent Olympics and you’re thinking of moving to China. Obviously, an emerging superpower, China is expected to become the world’s largest exporter by 2010, so there are great investment opportunities here.

More potential financial opportunity comes from their growing tourist economy. Maybe you imagine yourself setting up shop as a travel writer, photographer, importer or consultant

Of course, since it’s still a Communist country you can’t own Chinese real estate outright; but you can buy a 70-year leasehold option on property.

Most likely you’ll agree this country has to be categorized as an opportunity only the most adventurous will choose! 
 

Look Before You Leap: Doing Your Research

Obviously there’s a world of exciting options out there – literally something for everyone. But whatever your reasons for leaving your current lifestyle behind, it’s always best to investigate as much as possible in advance.

Before you sell your home and kiss the grandkids goodbye, you need to do your homework. You absolutely must learn everything you can about the countries you’re interested in.

Experts advise the best thing to do is start with research, and then visit the country you’re interested in several times as a tourist, ideally visiting during different seasons of the year.

These Are Probably the Most Crucial Topics You Need to Research:

  • Climate
  • Crime
  • Cost of living
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Taxes
  • Residency requirements
  • Visa and other documentation requirements
  • Local laws regarding work and foreign property ownership
  • Rules regarding taking your important “stuff” with you: furniture, cars, PETS

How-To Advice to Retire Overseas From Someone Who Actually Did It 

Jacqueline D. Brown, who currently has a show on public access TV in Los Angeles called “Southern Latitudes,” dreamed of living on a tropical island, and moved to the Fiji Islands for a year that turned into five. Prior to that, she lived in South Korea for a couple of years, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). 

On her return to the US, many people asked her how she did it: How was she able to give up everything and move to a place she barely knew?  To answer, she drew up the following her list of ten steps you must take before you decide to move abroad, no matter where you want to go:

10 Steps To Move Abroad, Wherever You Wish to Go:

  1. Ask yourself, whether or not this something you really want to or can do? Talk is cheap. Can you really give up your friends and move thousands of miles away to a place where there’s limited television and yours is the only cell phone around?
  2. Pick a place. It’s important to choose the right place. If you’ve always wanted an ocean view, this is your chance. Or if only the hustle and bustle of city life satisfies you, expect to find it only on a smaller, more manageable scale. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Do your research.
  3. Decide on a moving date. It’s best to have a definite date for your move. This way you are working toward a goal that is realistic and tangible.
  4. Determine how you are going. If you just can’t leave your things behind, renting a container on a freighter is best. You can accompany your things or fly days later when they are expected to arrive.
  5. Do your research. Contact the tourist board or embassy to ascertain residency requirements. Currently in Fiji, you can only stay as a tourist for 90 days but can return the next day for 90 more. Do you need a Visa? Start the process three to six months before you go.
  6. Simplify your life. Clean out your closets and give away or sell things you don’t need or can get there. If you plan to work, take original diplomas. I had a copy of mine but that was unacceptable when I was offered a teaching position.
  7. Maintain your health. Depending on where you are going, the medicine and dental care may not be what you are used to. Get a complete physical, your needed shots, and a dental checkup. Do you have enough medicine? Take enough to last until you find a doctor. Can you order medicines online?
  8. Use the Internet. Here you can find land or houses for sale. Also, if you read the local newspaper online, you can get a feel for the place: food cost, apartment rent, weather. The State Department’s web site will tell you if there are any warnings or problems in the area.
  9. Cut emotional ties. It’s said that if you can make it past the first six months in a foreign country, you will probably stay. After the newness and excitement wears off and reality sets in you’ll find yourself alone without family or friends. This is now your home. You can’t click open your cell phone and call back to your former home every day. My relatives and friends cried when I was leaving for the airport. But I had made up my mind. Although I would miss them, I wanted a new life, a new adventure. Once settled in your new home get to know your neighbors. Hang out with expats also. You’ll appreciate talking to someone with a similar background who will understand what you are saying without your having to give a long explanation.
  10. Make a checklist. Make a list of everything you are selling and everything you are taking, including your tickets and passport. As each thing is done, check it off. I made a list of things I was selling: furniture, appliances, books, some clothes. I took the list to work, made copies, and passed it around. My co-workers picked what they wanted and put it on layaway with me. Just before I left, they paid and picked up their goods.

Some Good Online Resources to Help You Get Your Research Started Are:

Fascinated By the Possibilities in What You’re Reading?

Look for another post on living the expatriate lifestyle coming soon. There’s just too much to cover in just one post! 

Next up:

  • How hard it sit to take your car? What about moving your furniture?
  • How long does it take to get the necessary visas?
  • How do you handle prescriptions and health insurance?
  • Can you really do this?

Real Boomer Women Not Offended By Media Uproar Over “Putting Lipstick on a Pig.” But Isn’t It True You’d Rather Spend Your Time “Wearing” Lipstick and Riding Your “Hog?”

September 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Politics, Travel & Leisure

Lipstick and a HOG

OK, You Asked to Get to the Bottom of This Latest Campaign Silliness So You Can Move On. Here You Go:

According to “Media Matters for Media,” a Web-based, not-for-profit research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media, here’s what really brought about the US presidential campaign’s latest dither, the outrageous “putting lipstick on a pig” brouhaha:

  • First “The Boston Globe reported that former acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift “led the Republican charge” that Sen. Barack Obama’s “lipstick” comment regarding Sen. John McCain’s policies was ‘an echo of [Gov. Sarah] Palin’s joke during her convention speech.’
  • “But Swift did more than charge that Obama’s statement was “an echo” of Palin’s joke; she actually accused Obama of calling Palin a pig.
  • She “directed media traffic” by opining that, “It was a comment that obviously people in the audience and the press interpreted to be directed at Governor Palin. I interpreted it that way. I found it offensive.”
  • “Then the next day, during an interview with MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell, Swift backtracked from that accusation.
  • Unfortunatley for you who don’t have time to waste on trivialities, “The Globe reported neither the direct accusation nor the backtrack.” And the story grew huge, as the campaign and the media once again attempted to create inflammatory news rather than report truth.
  • In the interest of truth: Swift is a national member of the McCain campaign’s recently announced “Palin Truth Squad” – set up to counter attacks on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
  • No wonder the Public Relations Society of America issued a media advisory, calling on both the McCain and Obama campaigns to commit to the highest standards of ethical practice in every facet of their campaign communications.

It was sort of like watching an episode of Seinfeld, much ado about “nothing”…  Except that the McCain machine engineered the media,  to make you think you were watching breaking news instead of wasting your time over “nothing.” Don’t you hate finding out you’ve been manipulated?

Now, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, and don’t really know the long political history of the infamous “putting lipstick on a pig” phrase, you can refer to our own glossary definition of putting lipstick on a pig, which reports that it is a “term used by many, generally in reference to someone who may be trying to make something or someone look appealing or attractive when it quite clearly will not work, or will only deceive the dumbest of people.”

And of course, Boomer voters are not dumb, so in the end, the effort didn’t work any better than the earlier and equally ill-conceived “Obama is a Muslim” plan….

But to finally put this story to rest, let’s remember what Barack Obama told David Letterman:
If I had meant my “lipstick on a pig” remarks about Sarah Palin, she’d actually be the lipstick… not the pig.”

Have You, Like Other Boomers, Had Enough with the Spin, Fluff, Innuendo, Incomplete Information, Character Assassination, Unchallenged Reporting of Falsehoods – And Outright Lies That This Presidential Campaign Has Become?

Likely you have. After all, since McCain announced Palin as his running mate, we’ve been subjected to all kinds of silly and sexist media posturing:

  • First there was the obvious spin: “Women want to be her and men want to mate with her,” opined Donny Deutsch on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”
  • While in an interview with Newsweek, Harvard Business School’s John Quelch said that he thinks of Barack Obama as a new Prius and John McCain as an “old Ford F-150.” Then told Ad Age That McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin was a “good brand extension,” likening it to “putting a red Chevy Camaro in the garage next to his truck.”
  • And later in that same Ad Age article, Bill Hillsman, Chief Creative Officer at Minneapolis’ North Woods Advertising agency said, “Palin for VP may be the best news for the snowmobile industry in the past five years,” adding that her presence on the ticket may induce the “boys with toys” market segment – those independent male voters, outdoorsman who are fishers, campers, hunters and who own 4WD trucks, ATV’s, boats, jet skis, etc., to vote Republican
  • And just before the “lipstick” got smeared, you started reading about Sarah Palin as a fashion statement, with discusisons of her red shoes and frameless eyeglasses, not to mention all the other “news” relating to her fishing, hunting and parenting skills.
  • Yet for weeks, no “solid meat” — Not much real substance had emerged about Palin’s political viewpoints.

Instead of All These References in Terms of “Boys and Their Toys,” Perhaps it is Time to Consider How the “Boomer Girls with Toys” will Respond?

You know: The real-life Boomer women who’d rather wear lipstick and ride hogs than concern themselves with lipsticked pigs. As in women owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. What? You didn’t know one in every ten Harley owners is a woman? The company certainly does. That’s why:

  • Their website has a special women riders section, and why the various H.O.G. (Harley Owner Group) clubs offer special events for women, as well.
  • One of the big events at this year’s huge Harley-Davidson’s huge 105th Anniversary Celebration was a women’s ride, in which 300 women grabbed the throttle and paraded through the streets.
  • And why one of the riders, Wisconsin State Senator Mary Lazich, commented, “There’s nothing more relaxing, and nothing more fun than riding; and riding with women.”

 

Shattering More Stereotypes

You’ve no doubt come to understand that today’s Harley owner is more likely to be a surgeon, a Web site developer or advertising agency art director than a rebel without a cause.

Likely you’ve seen enough Harley riders out enjoying weekend getaways at antique stores and resorts to realize that the typical Harley owner is a married, 44-year-old college graduate with a household income of $70,000.

But perhaps you hadn’t realized how many Harley owners are women.

Regardless, everyone knows Harley-Davidson stands for no-nonsense, for “macho.” It’s as much a part of the world’s image of America as Levi’s, McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. After all, a Harley-Davidson is more than just a motorcycle. It’s:

  • An Obsession
  • Something to Believe in
  • An exhilerating way to Escapethe trivialities of mundane life

Here are some interesting resources about women who own and ride Harleys:

It is fitting that Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley Davidson’s huge 105th Anniversary Celebration took place August 27th -30th, this year: Sandwiched, timewise, right in between the Denver hosted Democratic National Convention (August 25th-28th) and the RNC party in Minneapolis, which took place September 1st through 4th.

Maybe the candidates should have spent more time in Milwaukee? After all, Wisconsin is going to be a highly contested state….

Meanwhile, in order to regain your sanity, Boomer Lifestyle suggests that Boomer Women ignore the meaningless soundbites from both campaigns and the media:  Instead, brighten up your lips and go out and enjoy the fall colors — on a HOG, if you’ve got one.

Maybe if women voters ignore them long enough, the campaigns will return to discussions about issues of substance by the time the autumn leaves have fallen.

After all, the fall leaf shows won’t keep, but after the leaves fall, there will still be plenty of time for political debate before the November election.

Ride On, Ladies!

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!