Now with years of success under his belt at Private Retreats and the club's subsequent spinoff Distinctive Retreats, Rob McGrath launched his most exclusive club, Legendary Retreats just as the club was losing the valuable Abercrombie & Kent branding that they had utilized since 2003 in the summer of 2005.
"We have reached a natural conclusion to this partnership with the sellout of our first two clubs," said McGrath. "The two clubs will continue to operate as they have in the past with no changes. Having just launched Legendary Retreats, a Tanner & Haley Destination Club, we are now focused on expanding the Tanner & Haley brand and its unique identity."
In all actuality, the club had missed several months of payments to Abercrombie & Kent and the licensing agreement was pulled. Virtually overnight, McGrath, the pioneer of the destination club model, was forced to rebrand his collection of clubs.
Legendary Retreats, under the Tanner & Haley Destination Clubs umbrella, offered members a collection of properties averaging $7 million each. Membership plans were $1.5 million. Annual dues $72,000 per year. The club promised to be the most exclusive destination club offering in the industry, quoting a four to one member to property ratio and allowing members to "own any membership appreciation."
Unfortunately, many of the first mover policies that the collective clubs instituted early in the club's history began to quickly erode the firm's ability to continue. For years, the club had provided guaranteed reservations to members, requiring the club to take out costly short-term leases to accomodate members. Annual dues failed to approach the club's overhead and the loss of the Abercrombie & Kent brand confused consumers. Legendary Retreats largely had very little chance to succeed based on the financial decisions that helped Private Retreats and Distinctive Retreats grow so quickly.
According to Holly Etlin, Tanner & Haley's Chief Restructuring Officer, problems arose from the club's members first approach. "(The clubs) have rarely refused a member's travel request - if a desired property in their portfolio was unavailable, they commonly entered into a costly short-term lease with a third party. In addition, many destination club members received thier memberships at a deep discount and/or locked in low annual dues and daily usage fees."
During their rather brief tenure, Tanner & Haley was only able to sell 15 Legendary Retreats' memberships, but were the focal point of media coverage as Tanner & Haley's bankruptcy was announced.
After the club's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, Tanner & Haley's members were actively approached by several clubs including Private Escapes, Ultimate Resort, and Ciel. In December of 2006, after a bidding war between Ultimate Resort and Ciel, a federal bankruptcy judge selected Ultimate Resort's $100 million bid. Approximately 650 members from Tanner & Haley elected to join Ultimate Resort via either a dues only membership or via an option to upgrade to full membership when the acquisition was completed in May of 2007.
Just four months later in September, Ultimate Resort and Private Escapes announced their merger to form what would eventually be Ultimate Escapes with the collected Tanner & Haley members still a prominent portion of the club.
To learn more about Legendary Retreats, 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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