Luxury destination clubs offer next-level R&R

Five reasons discerning travelers choose members-only vacation programs for exclusive getaways.

Since the late 1990s, travelers looking for exclusive vacation experiences have chosen destination clubs. Offering luxury accommodations and top-tier concierge services, these clubs give members access to breathtaking properties and unique experiences in exceptional destinations worldwide.

Always popular, destination clubs have seen a surge in membership during the past few years.

“There’s been an unprecedented level of interest in our club,” says James Henderson, chief executive officer of Exclusive Resorts, who notes that everyone from young families to empty nesters are embracing the idea. “We provide our members with an unprecedented level of service that places an emphasis on quality, consistency, reliability, and safety. In return, they’re connected to a community of like-minded individuals with similar values, all coming together around the shared interest of unique travel experiences.”

Planning an unforgettable vacation down to the last detail takes more time and energy than many people want to expend. Also, some opportunities, such as accommodations at historic properties or once-in- a-lifetime adventures, require insider access.

Destination clubs leverage member resources to create personalized travel plans. They take the guesswork out of booking detailed itineraries, and they cater to members’ individual needs.

Particularly during the past two years, membership offers peace of mind. Pandemic-related travel restrictions can change in an instant. Destination clubs stay current with local regulations and can adjust itineraries as needed.

“Our Ambassadors help guide our members every step of the way to ensure they are prepared and equipped with the most up-to-date information, so they can focus on what matters most,” Henderson says.

Members only, your way

There are several destination club models, each offering a different type of experience. Many, including Exclusive Resorts, offer access to a suite of luxury properties for an upfront membership fee and daily travel rates that cover everything from housekeeping to activities. They also offer vacation planning services that handle every detail of your trip, from private travel arrangements and onsite chefs to a refrigerator full of your favorite snacks.

Other clubs, such as Inspirato, offer unlimited vacation stays for a flat monthly subscription fee and no long-term commitment. You have to arrange your own travel, dining, and activities, but your subscription puts everything else—including onsite concierge, itinerary building, housekeeping, and exclusive member events—at your fingertips.

Travelers who want more than memories for their investment can choose equity-building clubs, such as Equity Estates. Members invest in a small diversified fund of luxury vacation residences and gain access to a network of homes around the globe. They receive distributions on property proceeds until they meet 100% return on their investment, after which they continue to benefit as properties are appraised and liquidated.

5 reasons to join a vacation club

1. Convenience

Destination clubs arrange every detail of your vacation to your exact specifications. Travel how you want, when you want, wherever you want within the club’s network of world-class properties.

2. Privacy

Membership is limited, so you can avoid the crowds. You also aren’t required to travel, lodge, or relax with people outside of your chosen party.

3. Luxury accommodations

Members gain exclusive access to luxury properties that aren’t available to the average traveler. Imagine staying in a Grade II listed manor in England, a spacious villa in Italy, or a beachfront home in Hawaii. If you prefer city living, choose among the world’s finest townhomes and luxury apartments.

4. VIP service

Short on time? Many clubs offer trip planning, first-class travel, dedicated service staff, concierge services, and top-tier vacation itineraries, such as private safaris, specialty cruises, and round-the-world tours.

5. Enhanced sanitation and safety

Destination clubs offer members peace of mind by following strict sanitation and safety standards that help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure or other travel woes.

The true cost of membership

Before joining an exclusive vacation club, understand the total financial offering. Here’s a breakdown of the typical fees, which help cover the cost of maintaining properties and offering 24/7 VIP service:

Initial membership fee: Fees range from $15,000 to $150,000. Ask whether this fee offers lifetime membership or requires periodic renewal.

Membership dues: Clubs may charge monthly and/or annual dues. Dues can add thousands of dollars to your annual cost of membership.

Maintenance fees: Members typically pay monthly and/or annual maintenance fees to ensure these exclusive properties offer the latest in luxury accommodations and amenities.

Vacation fees: Some clubs use a pay-for-points system to book travel, while others charge a daily travel rate. Transportation and excursion fees vary by club and location.

Transaction fees: Don’t forget about transaction fees, which cover administrative costs associated with booking travel.