Destination club puts luxury within reach -- for some

Inspirato connects its members with high-end vacation homes and hotels in New York, London, Paris and beyond.

By Julie K Balise Sep 3, 2013 9:56AM

You don't have to be part of the 1% to spend your vacation in a multimillion-dollar mansion. But you do need considerable funds, CNBC's Kelly Evans reported on Friday.


Founded in 2011, destination club Inspirato connects its members with luxury vacation houses and hotels in 69 destinations, including New York, Paris, London, Sydney and Buenos Aires. Members have access to a range of vacation styles, from relaxing on a beach to ranching in the Rocky Mountains.

But there's a fee, or two: Members shell out a $17,500 initiation fee and a $3,000 annual fee to access those properties, which have an average size of 4,250 square feet and a value of $3.6 million.


That approach makes luxury rentals available to a much larger audience, according to Brent Handler, founder and CEO of Inspirato.


"The pricing and the value that they receive is very, very competitive for what they might be able to find on their own," he said in the report. "And the service level also is really bolstered up because of our unique business model."


Membership fees do not cover nightly rental costs.


Handout photo from Inspirato showing the view from one of the vacation properties available in Punta De Mita, Mexico (© Inspirato/AP Photo)Inspirato currently has more than 4,000 members, according to Handler. The company controls about $500 million in properties but doesn't own the houses. Instead, it uses long-term leases to have greater control over the inventory.


The club runs at an occupancy of about 44%, making it easy to accommodate members' travel desires.


Most destinations include multiple properties. Others, like Costa Rica, which was added last week, and Naples, have only one at the moment. Inspirato is adding new properties on a monthly basis, according to Handler.


Members traveled to Vail and Aspen, Colo., and beyond for Labor Day weekend. As an example of Inspirato's value, Handler pointed to a four-bedroom home in Vail, a property worth more than $5 million.


"We have members currently staying there for only $295 per night," he said in the report. "That's not per bedroom or per person, that's per night."


The rental includes daily housekeeping and a concierge, according to Handler. Other member benefits include a personal vacation adviser, a private chef and access to members-only programming.


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Sep 3, 2013 10:15AM
Not sure about this business model and it sounds like it would take the average client quite awhile to break even with the $17,500 initiation fee.   Even if you're saving $500/night, you're looking at 5 weeks worth of vacation before recouping that cost.  Then another week per year to recoup the cost of the annual fee.  And you're still pretty limited in the locations they offer.  It's like a timeshare plan for the wealthy, except in this case, they don't even own the time.
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