Ultimate Escapes Makes Offer To High Country Club Members
By: Destination Club News
Date: November 14, 2008
As High Country Club evaluates their options, destination club Ultimate Escapes attempts to court High Country Club members who look to continue enjoying destination club travel.
In an offer made only to High Country Club members, Ultimate Escapes will give current High Country Club members "a substantial credit toward membership in any club and at any plan level." Based on the plan, High Country Club members could save up to $40,000 on their membership with Ultimate Escapes.
According to High Country Club's CEO, Christian Kirschner, the club began to fall on hard times earlier this year in tandem with the real estate and stock markets downward trends. According to Kirschner, property values of the club's portfolio of luxury real estate dropped as much as 50 percent and obtaining financing grew more and more difficult throughout the year. Kirschner began destination club merger discussions with multiple clubs in the industry and elected to move forward with one, going as far as signing documents to begin the acquisition. The crash of the financial markets forced the acquiring club to back out almost a month ago.
In an attempt to keep their club alive, High Country Club restructured their business model and created the High Country Club Success Plan. The Success Plan was built upon decreasing the number of homes available to members and increasing annual dues, allowing the club to become self sufficient and able to survive exclusively on annual dues from members. Roughly 75 percent of members would need to approve the plan for it to be implemented. A preliminary vote conducted earlier this week forced High Country Club to delay their Success Plan due to insufficient support from members.
Ultimate Escapes, High Country Club's closest price competitor, saw an opportunity to market their destination club to a group of individuals already sold on the destination club concept. Available exclusively to High Country Club members, Ultimate Escapes will discount all three of their three clubs: Premiere, Signature, and Elite. High Country Club members will receive a $20,000 credit towards Premiere, $30,000 towards Signature, and $40,000 towards Elite.
The closest membership to High Country Club, Ultimate Escapes Premiere residences average approximately $1 million each and 2,000 square feet. Plans range from $70,000 for 14 nights of annual usage up to $150,000 for the highest and newest plan, Ultimate Escapes Platinum Plus, allowing members 60 nights of usage.
The next highest membership level, Ultimate Escapes Signature has over 70 properties, averaging $2 million each and 3,000 square feet. Plans range from $145,000 to $300,000.
Averaging $3 million per property, Elite is the highest membership offering at Ultimate Escapes. Typically offering four to six bedrooms and over 4,000 square feet, Elite Members have access to over 50 luxury vacation homes worldwide.
Ultimate Escapes will also offer High Country Club members a "Premiere Club Affiliate Membership" with a $35,000 membership deposit and $4,000 per year in annual dues. As an Affiliate Member, the club provides seven nights of usage, including one advanced reservation and a 60-day space available window to Premiere homes.
Ultimate Escapes, the marriage of Private Escapes and Ultimate Resort, has extensive experience with destination club mergers and acquiring struggling clubs. Prior to the Ultimate Escapes merger, Ultimate Resort acquired the assets of Tanner & Haley following their bankruptcy. Much like Ultimate Escapes, Tanner & Haley Destination Club had multiple clubs: Private Retreats, Distinctive Retreats, and Legendary Retreats. Ultimate Escapes acquired the club's assets in a bidding war that included both Private Escapes and Ciel.
Earlier this year, Ultimate Resort acquired Ventures Equity, a small equity destination club that struggled to get off the ground. Like many other equity destination clubs, Ventures Equity faced strict marketing regulations and could only discuss their club with "accredited investors."
Most recently, Ultimate Resort and Private Escapes merged to form the industry's second largest destination club, trailing only Exclusive Resorts in members and properties.
After learning the results of the preliminary vote earlier this week, Christian Kirschner stated, "I have decided to give ourselves two more weeks to evaluate our options and opportunities."
With Ultimate Escapes vying for the members of High Country Club and Nick Wood from Distinctive Holiday Homes and Jarvis Slade, Jr. from Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club creating another option for High Country Club members, the opportunities available to Christian may very well be getting slimmer and slimmer.
The Ultimate Escapes offer is limited to 200 High Country Club members and ends December 12.
To learn more about the Ultimate Escapes plan for High Country Club members and how it compares to the Distinctive Holiday Homes and Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club offers, please contact Destination Club News, your complimentary resource to destination club advice.