"As we have assessed the market and the various offerings, we believe there is a significant opportunity to create a destination club that provides the best of what other clubs do, while addressing some of the key deficiencies. Such deficiencies include offering equity memberships; lower up front membership fees and flexible membership options; properties that are located both regionally, nationally and internationally, to allow a good mix of both drive-to and fly-to destinations; and a club that if required, can comply with timeshare regulation to offer the ultimate protection to its members."
These words from BelleHavens Founder Darin Gilson launched the club's first round of venture funding in early September of 2003. Joining Gilson on the executive team was Scott DeGhetto, a seasoned senior banker of UBS Investment Bank, a subsidiary of UBS AG, one of the world's largest diversified financial institutions, and at Bear Stearns and Citigroup. The club's executive team developed a member-owned model where membership deposits were used to purchase real estate outright. As new memberships were sold, the club held membership deposits in escrow until ten members joined and then purchased a property debt-free.
In August of 2004, the club began to officially sell their Charter Membership offer. The club's member owned model and portfolio of $1.5 million luxury residences proved to be a potent combination. Less than two years later, Tanner & Haley, the pioneer of the destination club industry was forced into bankruptcy, confirming the appeal of the equity club model created by BelleHavens and Gilson.
In March of 2007, BelleHavens reached out to the struggling and similarly named club Havens. A non-equity club, Havens had seen some initial success following their launch, but growing competition had pushed the club to the brink of bankruptcy. Approximately 40 Havens members joined the BelleHavens' family with the opportunity to join as non-equity members or upgrade to a full equity membership. Havens' members that did not upgrade to equity members were allowed redemption rights after three years.
April of 2008 saw BelleHavens on the other end of a merger when luxury travel giant Abercrombie & Kent acquired both BelleHavens and another equity club Crescendo Residences to start their new venture, Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club. The combined strength of the two equity clubs and the Abercrombie & Kent branding immediately made the new club a powerful player in the destination club industry. The vast majority of members and properties from BelleHavens and Crescendo were rolled into the new club, and BelleHaven's Founder Darin Gilson joined the club's executive team as Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development as A&K Residence Club implemented much of the model that was pioneered at BelleHavens.
To learn more about BelleHavens, please visit any of the club's quick links found to the right or please request a free copy of our Destination Club Guide.
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