Founded in 2002 and publically launching in January 2003, Exclusive Resorts has dominated the destination club industry in terms of members, properties, and vision virtually since inception.
In May of 2003, Steve Case, the Co-Founder and former CEO and Chairman of America Online, stumbled onto the new club's website while searching for luxury vacation alternatives. Exclusive Resorts' vision of multiple vacation home around the world for less than the downpayment of one single home intrigued Case. Already the owner of three seldom used vacation homes and having trouble with the quality and hassles of renting vacation homes and hotel suites when the family wanted variety, Case filled out the brief information sheet to learn more about the club and model. When the Case name came into the Exclusive Resorts' system, complete with an AOL e-mail address, Brent Handler, the club's Co-Founder, elected to call back personally.
The young club had already grown to 25 members and four properties in the five months of operation by the time Case got on the phone with Handler. During the initial phone call, Handler learned that the AOL billionaire not only wanted to join the club as a member, but also as an investor. Three days later, the two would be meeting in San Diego and began work on a deal that would make Case a 50% owner of the club.
"I believe Exclusive Resorts has identified an under-served market and has developed a compelling model for filling that need," said Case. "Just as the concept of the mortgage made home ownership a reality for many more families, the Exclusive Resorts membership concept opens the doors of luxury vacation homes to more people than ever before."
Just two months later in July, Exclusive Resorts had nearly tripled their membership base and were receiving 400 new inquiries per week. That same month, the destination club industry's pioneer Private Retreats, led by Rob McGrath, had announced their new strategic alliance with Abercrombie & Kent to create Private Retreats by Abercrombie & Kent. Already with over 300 members, Private Retreats' new branding and Exclusive Resorts' new investor and 70 members positioned both to favorably compete for years to come.
By September of 2003, Exclusive Resorts had surpassed the 100 member mark and Case would become 80% owner of the rapidly growing destination club in November. A year after Case's second investment, the club had grown to over 1,000 members, passing Abercrombie & Kent Destination Clubs despite a banner year by Rob McGrath of $60 million in sales and 362% increase in sales from 2002.
By the time Exclusive approached the 2,500 member mark late in 2006, the club not only had more members than all of the other clubs in the industry combined, but they were unable to bring on enough new properties to meet the tremendous demand, forcing the club to have a waiting list to join 200 members deep. The aggressive real estate acquisition schedule to meet membership demands pushed Exclusive Resorts' real estate holdings past the $1 billion mark in May of 2007, a number that not one other club has approached even today.
While Steve Case's investment played a significant role in the club's unmatched growth, Exclusive Resorts also made a series of excellent business decisions that made them the top destination club in the sector. Early in the club's tenure, Exclusive adopted a resignation policy that created a non-refundable portion of the membership deposit, allowing the club additional operating capital, now a near universal staple across the destination club industry. Based on their successful investing from Case, Perry Capital, and others, Exclusive Resorts is able to purchase properties in bulk and subsequently receive preferential pricing on their acquisitions.
Today the club has over 3,400 members and $1.1 billion in real estate assets and is often referred to as "the 800 pound gorilla" of the destination club industry and the club that "perfected the model."
To learn more about Exclusive Resorts, please visit the club's quick links found to the right or request a free copy of our Destination Club Guide.
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