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!