Ultimate Escapes Destination Club
Ultimate Escapes, the fusion of leading destination clubs Ultimate Resort and Private Escapes, respectively the second and third largest clubs in the industry, established a stranglehold as the second largest club in the industry behind industry giant Exclusive Resorts. Announced in September of 2007, the combined club counted approximately 1,200 members and over 25 percent of industry's market share.
The $200 million merger made Ultimate Escapes the largest destination club in the $1 million and $2 million home value category and the largest club in terms of total destinations. The clubs also married two rather divergent growth models together.
Launched in February of 2005, Ultimate Resort was lead by President and CEO Jim Tousignant. After growing organically through successful charter membership plans, Ultimate Resort completed the acquisition of the assets of the bankrupt Tanner & Haley Destination Club in May of 2007 for approximately $100 million. Now including the vast majority of Tanner & Haley's 874 members, Ultimate Resort instantly became the second largest club in the industry. In February of 2008, just months after announcing the merger with Private Escapes, Ultimate Resort acquired the assets of Ventures Equity Vacation Club, adding a handful of members and properties to the club.
Former Private Retreats COO and member, Richard Keith founded Private Escapes in October of 2003, looking to provide a more economical solution to the destination club audience. "As outstanding as the Private Retreats experience is, it is an expensive option," Keith wrote. "Membership requires a $250,000 deposit, which limits access to a more affluent audience. I was convinced that the wonderful benefits of this concept could be extended to a more value-conscious market as well. It was in this spirit that we founded Private Escapes." Private Escapes blossomed and soon grew to well over 400 members. Following the Private Retreats model that eventually included higher priced clubs Distinctive Retreats and Legendary Retreats, Private Escapes launched companion clubs Private Escapes Platinum and Private Escapes Pinnacle.
The collective Ultimate Escapes operated three distinct club levels with multiple membership plans within each. The Premiere Club offered a collection of homes valued at $1,000,000 and average approximately 2,000 square feet. The Signature Club's collection of $2,000,000 homes averaged 3,000 square feet and three to four bedrooms in most locations. The Elite Club, Ultimate Escapes' highest club level, showcased a global portfolio of $3 million homes, averaging four to six bedrooms and 4,000 square feet.
In September of 2009, the official merger was completed, just weeks after the club made the announcement that they had signed an agreement with Secure America Acquisition Corporation, effectively making the club a publicly traded company.
In 2010, Ultimate Escapes defaulted on a loan agreement with lender CapitalSource. Unable to make their monthly interest payments, the club approached members with the message "we are in crisis." Several proposals were outlined for club members to review, but Ultimate Escapes would be forced to file for bankruptcy protection in September of 2010, citing between $10 million and $50 million in assets and $100 million to $500 million in liabilities.
Demeure a new exchange based destination club, was selected the winning bidder of the club's assets a month after the Ultimate Escapes bankruptcy announcement.
To learn more about Ultimate Escapes, please visit any of the club's quick links found to the right or request a free copy of our Destination Club Guide.
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