FAMILY VACATIONS USED TO MEAN PILING INTO THE BACK OF THE STATION WAGON TO HEAD FOR THE SUMMER RENTAL AT THE LAKE. The beds were lumpy and the only concierge service was the key left under the mat. Those Griswold-esque vacations are a thing of the past.
Today, destination clubs are the hottest way to vacation. Each property is only available to those who pay a sizable enough membership fee to keep the club exclusive (this is not a time-share of the ’80s). Some are perfect for the family that likes to switch it up—one year it’s the slopes of Aspen, but the next it’s a beachfront mansion in the Caribbean. Others are great for those who want to own real estate in a club atmosphere. And of course, getting there doesn’t have to mean a cattle-call flight; private jet club members enjoy the privileges of flying private without needing to actually own the jet.
No matter what your style, all of these options offer over-the-top services and amenities.
TRAVEL WITH HEART
G2G COLLECTION MEMBER
THE G2G COLLECTION IS A UNIQUE TAKE ON THE DESTINATION CLUB MODEL. G2G stands for “Getaway 2 Give,” and philanthropy is at the center of its business strategy. In addition to having a sizable list of over thirty luxurious destinations, the company helps its members make a real difference by donating stays to the charity of the member’s choice. And for the truly philanthropic, G2G will organize volunteer opportunities for vacationing members at local charities.
G2G offers the expected swank villas, luxury homes and yachts, but there is also a completely private island (as in, Cast Away private) in Belize as well as access to Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, which is roughly the size of Rhode Island.
WHAT YOU GET
Homes and villas on the world’s best beaches, ski slopes and leisure destinations (like wine country) are at your disposal. And yachts, they have yachts. While many clubs can offer a toes-in-the sand cocktail experience, a two-bedroom penthouse in a city is a rare find. There are residences in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London and Miami. Every detail of your getaway is arranged by a personal vacation coach (yes, that’s a real term). Kids only eat peach yogurt? The fridge will be stocked with it. Prefer to have the house cleaned every day, every other day? You name it, they’ll make it happen. The service doesn’t end there. Every property also has a local destination manager on the ground to handle any last minute requests.
Initiation fee is $15,000, with half of that being a tax-deductible charitable contribution, and there are no annual dues or other obligations. Five percent of the nightly rate of each vacation booked is donated to the charity of the member’s choice.
Memberships are good for fifteen years. In addition to exclusive access and white glove service, nightly rates are an average of 30 to 60 percent below market prices. Love your friends and family? You can share your membership with them, a unique benefit of this club.
HOW IT WORKS
Every new member gets two five-night stays to donate to a charity. These can be used in auctions or raffles. Additionally, charities can contact G2G directly to obtain vacation homes for auction. The homes often go for $10,000 or more.
On a recent vacation to New York, a member was looking for a way to volunteer with her family. G2G set them up with Meals on Heels to deliver food to elderly home-bound residents. This experience—not Broadway or Times Square—was the highlight of their family vacation.
NFL star Larry Fitzgerald is a member and has used homes to raise money for his charity, the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund. “G2G has been there for almost every event that we have held in the past few years,” says Larry.
PROMONTORY CLUB MEMBER
LOOKING FOR THAT PERFECT BALANCE OF VACATION HOME AND PRIVATE CLUB? There is the world class Promontory Club in scenic Park City, Utah. Members need to own land to join the club, but for those who aren’t ready to build their dream home just yet, there are swank club properties available for rent.
There are nine club-houses on the property and they are open in every season. Locals say that they came to Park City for the winters, but ended up staying for the summers. Promontory’s members feel the same way. Set on just over eleven square miles, this club has it all for the outdoorsy family—access to world-class skiing at Deer Valley, an equestrian center and two of the top three golf courses in Utah as ranked by Golf Digest.
WHAT YOU GET
Here, you have access to 9,300 skiable trails at nearby mountains. Ski buffs are well aware of Utah’s reputation for the “best snow on earth,” Promontory members can enjoy it with less hassle thanks to the club’s Alpine House at Deer Valley that offers concierge service, overnight ski storage and ski in/ski out access. The club also offers a free shuttle to the base of Park City. When the greens thaw, members choose from two world-class golf courses, one designed by Jack Nicklaus, the other by Pete Dye, each with its own separate clubhouse.
The club maintains over fifty miles of private recreational trails. Mountain- style adventure starts at the Outfitter’s Cabin, overlooking the Uinta Mountains and Rockport Reservoir. In the summer you can hike, mountain bike, fish; in winter, strap on the snowshoes or cross-country skis. For après ski, fishing or hiking, families meet up in the Shed Clubhouse for a milkshake at the soda fountain and some bowling or a movie in the club’s theater.
Home sites start at $450,000, custom homes at $1.3 million
FULL CLUB MEMBERSHIP (includes golf privileges) $150,000 initiation fee; $950 per month
SOCIAL MEMBERSHIP $75,000 initiation fee; $650 per month
EQUESTRIAN MEMBERSHIP $15,000 initiation fee (in addition to either a full or social membership); $350 per month; additional $800 per month for boarding
Membership isn’t just for humans. Promontory prides itself on providing luxurious surroundings for all of its members. And horses are considered members of its exclusive Equestrian Center. The center includes indoor and outdoor arenas, private horse stables and, of course, heated stalls. The staff, which includes master trainers and former Olympians, will tailor a program of horse care, training and lessons for each member. Mr. Ed could only hope for so much glamour.
Kids have their own private clubhouse, the Kinnikinnick Cabin. This 5,000-square-foot “kids only” space boasts a tree house with a hanging bridge and forts, climbing walls, a waterslide, jukebox and more. The cabin is at the entrance to the adventure trail—a Tom Sawyer-inspired path that meanders through the woods. Along the way there is a log cabin, tree house and cave. Camps are offered year-round with activities such as tennis, golf and swimming.
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
INSPIRATO IS THE HOT NEW KID IN TOWN. WE HEAR THE NAME ON THE LIPS OF MANY GREENWICH FAMILIES WHO HAVE EITHER RECENTLY JOINED OR ARE PLANNING TO. Inspirato’s destination club model comes on the heels of clubs like Exclusive Resorts, which had a good concept but membership fees were so high that savvy travelers took a pass. In the past, destination clubs purchased all of the homes for member use, hence the huge price tag. Inspirato (and similar companies) instead lease the properties. This means they can ensure the quality of the home without incurring the multimillion-dollar price tag of ownership.
Inspirato membership is a lifestyle. Members have access to homes and experiences around the globe and around the corner. We can see why Greenwich is signing up.
WHAT YOU GET
Inspirato not only has an extensive list of vacation properties, it also offers fabulous packages like a cruise from Rome to Monte Carlo or a cultural journey through Burma, as well as something rare in the club industry—access to hotels. The booking team can take care of everything from a weeklong safari (handling every detail including the temperature of the champagne served at sundown) to a last-minute getaway to New York City.
New members from Greenwich not only rave about the hands-on service but also the prices. The nightly rates are consistently below market value for similar homes and villas.
There are three levels of membership:
Key: $7,500 initiation fee; $325 per month
Family: $22,500 initiation fee; $3,900 annually
Executive: $30,000 initiation fee; $3,900 annually
LAST MINUTE? NO PROBLEM
Through partnerships with hotels, Inspirato members can book last-minute stays for as low as $295 per night. These prices even apply to the luxury homes when they’re available and booked within a two-week window.
FRIENDS & FAMILY
Know someone who recently joined? Make friends with them quickly because up to three friends can join with a family membership for the annual fee (they will waive the initiation fee). Members’ parents and adult children are also welcomed at no additional cost.
HERMITAGE CLUB MEMBER
SINCE THE BRAINCHILD OF OWNER JIM BARNES OPENED, SKIERS NO LONGER NEED TO FLY TO YELLOWSTONE FOR A PRIVATE SLOPE EXPERIENCE. The Hermitage Club on Haystack Mountain is the only private mountain on the East Coast. Heated chairlifts and no lift lines are just a few of the perks.
One skier tells us that she needed to ask someone from ski patrol to snap her pic. The slopes are so empty, there were no other skiers to capture her Queen of the Hill moment for Instagram. The mountain might not be large, but it offers everything from black diamond moguls to bunny slopes, and even has a freestyle park for those who want to show off their mad shredding skills. Access to exclusive music concerts, a world-class golf course and private boats is also included.
Members can purchase homes built on Hermitage property for a ski in/ski out experience or stay in one of the many nearby inns owned by the club.
WHAT YOU GET
We can’t say it enough: Members never stand in lift lines as they wait for the heated lift. The club also offers private lessons and fields a competitive race team. Come lunchtime the dining options are gourmet and there is a seat for everyone. When the little ones get bored, they head to the kids’ club—complete with a movie theater, all the popcorn they can eat, arcade games and more. And they aren’t the only ones who get the royal treatment. The members-only spa would be five stars if it were open to the public. In the warmer months, you can tee off at the Hermitage Club Golf Course with views of Haystack Peak, Mount Snow and the Deerfield Valley. The Desmond Muirhead–designed course is just a few miles south of the clubhouse and they promise you’ll never be held up by slow play.
FAMILY: (immediate family only) $85,000 initiation fee and $6,500 in annual dues
EQUITY: Equity members are invested in the club’s success and enjoy many perks, from locker rooms with a view to VIP check-in at concerts. All members receive seventy-five day ski passes and twenty golf passes to share with friends each year.
Jim Barnes loves music, and members get to enjoy his passion in the form of private concerts by some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Hall & Oates, Natalie Merchant, Train, Rob Thomas and the Counting Crows. At the end of many concerts, Jim will rename one of the runs on the ski mountain after a song from the performing band. A few have included “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, “Round Here” by the Counting Crows and—perhaps the best one—“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.
MORE PLACES TO STAY
The club is expected to break ground on a ninety-three-room hotel at the base of the mountain this year, making it easier for members who don’t own real estate to get away to the club.
HOP, SKIP & A JUMP
One-hour flights from Westchester Airport to Deer Valley Airfield (owned by the Hermitage) via Hopscotch Air are available and start at $300 one way. Or take advantage of the partnership with EvoLux helicopter service.
LOTS OF TOYS
In addition to planes, snowmobiles and skis, the club owns two boats reserved for members to use on the Lake Whitingham (also known as the Harriman Reservoir, the largest body of water located entirely within Vermont.
SENTIENT JET MEMBER
FORGET TAKING OFF YOUR SHOES AND BELT IN THE SECURITY LINE. With Sentient you pull up next to your aircraft on the tarmac and the staff loads your luggage from trunk to plane. We’re pretty sure that your Elite Platinum Super Medallion status with Airline X doesn’t get you that kind of service.
Sentient was the first jet company to develop the membership card model, giving cardholders access to several aircraft models and sizes, and not locking them into a specific size.
WHAT YOU GET
When you purchase your membership card, you get twenty-five hours of flight time on your choice of jet size or category. They have everything from seven-passenger Learjets and Beechcrafts to the sixteen- passenger Gulfstream V. Book a Gulfstream and you can fly nonstop from New York to Dubai in style and speed, thanks to the aircraft’s Rolls Royce engines. Need to get some work done? Gulfstreams have a wireless network, satellite communication, Iridium phone and a fax/printer as standard equipment. Fuel costs are included in your jetcard cost.
There is a concierge team available around the clock to manage every detail of your flight. Your kids want a PB&J sandwich but you’d like smoked salmon? It will be waiting onboard, along with any other goodies you want. Sentient guarantees that a plane can be made available in as little as ten hours. They have worldwide reach and can fly you to almost any private airport.
Cardholders also enjoy complimentary nights at hotels and discounts on luxury goods. We’re not talking 10 percent off a hotel stay—we’re talking two free nights at The Little Nell in Aspen and half off your purchase of $5,000 worth of Roberto Coin jewelry. Members also receive automatic Hertz Platinum status and a membership with luxury travel planner Andrew Harper, a full-service agency that will get you elite traveler status, itinerary planning and benefits such as room upgrades.
A twenty-five-hour card starts at $125,000