Last weeks article looked at the destinations and locations that are available to members of Quintess, Exclusive Resorts and Ultimate Escapes. This section of the comparison looks at the homes themselves, the membership plans and several other key factors. (Note, this article was written in 2010 and Ultimate Escapes filed for bankruptcy in late 2010)

The Homes

Each of the three clubs has well equiped, spacious luxury residences with gourmet kitchens and spa like bathrooms. They have the latest electronics including wireless internet, video games and large screen TVs. As the value of the homes increases from club to club, the homes get bigger, but just as importantly the locations become even better. They may be in more exclusive destinations or resorts, or they may be that bit closer to the beach or the ski run.

In the Ultimate Escapes Elite Club the average home is about 4,000 square feet and is typically large enough for big families or gatherings. The Signature Club homes are about 3,000 square feet, and the Premiere Club homes average approximately 2,000 square feet. Beach and Shores, Mountains and Trails, and Golf and Leisure residences are usually larger and have 3 or more bedrooms. Metropolitan destinations are a little smaller, but situated in prime locations in each city. They have one to two bedrooms and most are equipped with full kitchens and living areas. Elite homes have an average value of approximately $3,000,000, Signature homes average $2,000,000 and Premiere are about $1,000,000.

At Quintess the free-standing homes average 4,000 to 5,000 square feet and have at least four bedrooms. City apartments range from one to three bedrooms, including two penthouses, with an average of 2,500 square feet. The average home value is approximately $4,000,000.

Exclusive Resorts beach, mountain and leisure residences are large enough for big families or gatherings of friends. The homes average 3,500 square feet and most have three bedrooms or more. Metropolitan destinations have two bedrooms and are approximately 1,250 square feet, most with full kitchens and large living areas. The average value is approximately $3,000,000. Exclusive often has groups of homes or enclaves in each location.

Membership Plans

All of the clubs offer multiple membership plans with varying numbers of nights, so you can pick a plan to suit your travel requirements.

Ultimate Escapes offers 5 membership plans with 14 to 60 nights in each of its three club levels. The table below shows the membership plans for its Elite, $3m home club. The membership fee is 80% refundable at the current value.

 Ultimate Escapes Elite 60 42 28 21 14
 Membership Fee $450,000 $375,000 $335,000 $275,000 $200,000
 Annual Dues $49,000 $35,500 $27,500 $23,000 $16,000
 Advance Reservations 5 4 3 2 1
 Holiday Reservations 2 2 1 1 1**

There are 6 membership plans offered by Exclusive Resorts. The membership fee is made up of a 25% initiation fee and a 75% refundable deposit. The Members pay an additional non refundable fee, of upto $99,000, to make advance reservations for peak holiday times.

 Exclusive Resorts 60 50 40 30 20 10
 Membership Fee $500,000 $440,000 $380,000 $310,000 $240,000 $160,000
 Annual Dues $59,700 $49,750 $39,800 $29,850 $19,900 $9,995
 Advance Reservations 6 5 4 3 2 1

Quintess offers two types of membership plans, one type with advance peak holiday reservations and one "non-holiday" without the advance holiday reservations. The table below shows the plans with advance holiday reservations.

The membership fee at Quintess is made up of a 25% initiation fee and a 75% refundable deposit. Members also pay $275 per night, for each night in residence.

 Quintess 60 45 30 25 21 15
 Membership Fee $895,000 $635,000 $450,000 $397,500 $336,500 $250,000
 Annual Dues $64,500 $48,375 $32,250 $26,875 $22,575 $16,125
 Advance Reservations 20 15 10 8 7 5
 Holiday Reservations 6 3 2 2 1 1

Resort Faciities and Enclaves

All three clubs offer preferred access to resorts in some of their locations. This may mean members can use the resort amenities for free or at specially reduced rates. These resorts include The Abaco Club in the Bahamas, The Rocks Club in Scottsdale, Esperanza in Los Cabos, Grand Wailea in Maui, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and many more.

Family Use

Club homes are large and spacious so that members can invite family and friends. Each of the three clubs also allows the members extended family, of siblings, adult children and parents, to use the club homes without the member being present.

The three clubs also offer various membership plans for corporate use, to invite colleagues or further extended family members for an incremental fee.

Multiple Home Use

All three of the clubs allow members to reserve multiple homes at a given time. So for instance a father and son could reserve a home for a fishing trip, while the mother and daughter arrange a shopping, spa and theater vacation. Or, for a large gathering, a couple of adjacent homes could be reserved to accomodate everyone in the party.

Flexible Membership

All three of the clubs offer some level of flexibility in the number of membership days that a member has each year. Members at Ultimate Escapes and Exclusive Resorts can change to a membership plan with fewer days and simply pay the annual dues for those lower days. Quintess members use the "club consignment program" to trade days amongst each other, so members with extra days one year can sell them to a member who would like more days for that year.

Members at all three clubs can also buy additional days each year to use in a short term window when space is available. The rates for these additional days are $775 at Quintess, $600 to $1,500 at Ultimate Escapes (depending on the club) and $1,500 at Exclusive Resorts.

If you've just dipped your toe in the water with a smaller membership plan and then want to regularly travel some more, all the clubs will be happy to upgrade you to a larger plan. There are upgrade fees to move to these larger plans.

Travel Planners & Local Concierges

All members of destination clubs are provided with itinerary planning, air and ground transportation assistance, pre-arrival grocery shopping, housekeeping, activities booking (spa, golf, restaurant, etc.), and a 24/7 personalized onsite concierge.

Occupancy Rates

The amount of time that the clubs homes are occupied is a key measure for all members. If this percentage is too large it means there is less flexibilty for members to reserve the time they want. If the percentage is too small (significantly below 50%) you have to wonder how the clubs are paying for all those empty homes. The clubs aim to have an occupancy rate around about 70%, meaning that the homes are used by members 70% of the time averaged across the year, and for the remaining 30% of the time they are empty - and available for use.

For 2009 Exclusive Resorts reported that its homes were occupied 67% of the time (70% in 2008). Ultimate Escapes homes were occupied 61% of the time in 2009 (57% in 2008). Quintess homes were occupied 65% of the time in 2009. Interestingly Quintess sells memberships equivalent to 225 nights per homes (ie 62% of the time) and the balance is made up of members buying additional nights for $775 each.

As you can see there are several factors to consider in choosing a club. Many of the services are similar across the clubs, so a good place to start is locations ( covered in Part 1), and your own budget and travel plans which helps identify the right club and membership plan. For more background information read our destination club glossary, download our in-depth 60 page Guide, or compare all the destination clubs.