Abercrombie & Kent are launching their new destination club today with a "Founders Offer", providing some special benefits for new members.

A&K Kohala Coast
A&K Kohala Coast Home

The new club was formed earlier this year as A&K acquired Bellehavens and Crescendo - two established equity destination clubs. In addition to the clubs own $3m homes, members also have access to a selection of European villas and boutique hotel suites, and can exchange some of their membership nights for time on A&K tours and travel.

The club is launching with three membership plan levels which provide 15, 30 and 45 nights of travel each year, as shown below:

Initial Fee$225,000$390,000$495,000
Annual Dues$17,000$29,000$42,000
Nights Included153045
Annual Exchange A&K *to 7 nightsto 10 nightsto 10 nights
Holiday Reservations1 **12

 * Nights that can be exchanged for tours and travel with Abercrombie & Kent
 ** 1 every other year

The Founding Members who join during 2008 will receive additional incentives made up of :

Enhanced Exchange A&K **to 7 nights *to 14 nightsto 14 nights
Holiday Reservations11 *2 *
Unaccompanied Friends/Family **YesYesYes
Guarantee Use & No Surcharge Yacht ***1 week1 week1 week
 * Same as base plan
 ** Lifetime benefit
 *** One-time benefit

Cost per night

When we ran the SherpaReport cost per night model for the membership levels above, the equivalent cost per night came out at between $1,800 and $2,300 per night. This is line with comparable level destination clubs such as Lusso, Quintess, Exclusive Resorts and Ultimate Escapes Elite. Our basic cost per night model assumes no future appreciation in the membership dues, but we also provide a model where you can factor in your estimate of future appreciation for clubs such as A&K and Ultimate that do provide a share of future appreciation when you leave the club.

Financial Transparency

A&K Residence Club is clearly working very hard to be financially transparent to its members. This summer they joined the Destination Club Association (DCA), which requires member clubs to have annual audits and a net asset test.

The A&K Residence Club membership materials show how member contributions are utilized. From the initial membership fee 72.5% goes towards purchasing club homes and 27.5% pays for sales, marketing, and admin expenses and a 10% return to A&K. From the annual dues, 82.5% pays for the clubs operating expenses of member services, travel benefits, property taxes, maintenance etc. 12.5% is the management fee to A&K and 5% goes into a capital reserve.

According to President, Jarvis Slade, the club also plans to hold an annual meeting and distribute annual accounts, with the meeting being chaired by Geoffrey Kent.

It's good to see A&K doing things right this time around. Their initial venture into the destination club space, several years ago, involved them licensing their name to another club. The licensing deal was subsequently ended and that club changed its name to Tanner & Haley, which later filed bankruptcy and was acquired by Ultimate Resorts (now Ultimate Escapes).

With this new structure, its financial openness and years of luxury travel experience it will be a destination club to watch.

And just in case you're a little confused with the nomenclature, a "Destination Club" provides its members with access to multiple luxury vacation homes around the world. A "Private Residence Club" provides its members with shared (fractional) access to luxury homes in one location. A&K is muddying these waters a little by calling its new destination club "A&K Residence Club" - it may be that it wants to distinguish this new club from the prior licensing arrangement that was referred to as A&K Destination Club. If you're interested in joining a destination club then download our free in-depth Guide to Destination Clubs.