Choosing a destination club can take a bit of thought and research. How do you know which one is best for you and your family? By following these simple guidelines our hope is that you will find the perfect club for your future vacations.
THE FIRST STEP: Look at your family vacation patterns
- Where do you like to go? Are you drawn to the beach, mountains, national parks or ski resorts, etc.? Are there certain areas or cities that you love to visit? You can automatically narrow down your options by looking only at the clubs that have homes in the places you want to be. The old cliche holds true here "Location, Location, Location" - Use our directory to find destination club homes in your favorite locations.
- What activities are you drawn to? Are you a golfer? Look for clubs with golf course locations. If you enjoy skiing, make sure the club has plenty of ski resort options in the places you want to visit. Or if, like many people, you're happy to feel the sand between your toes, then compare the beach locations.
- What properties attract you? Some clubs offer a mix of standalone homes and mini luxury resorts while others specialize in one or the other. Also, be sure to enquire about the size of the homes. If you have a large family or like to travel with friends, you should make sure the homes will accommodate larger parties.
- How often can you get away? Some clubs offer prepaid memberships: a longer membership can be enticing, but is your family really able to travel that much? Most families typically use 2 to 4 vacation weeks a year and maybe some long weekends. If you are able to get away more often, that's great, but don't be tempted into a plan that you aren't going to use. You can always add more days later. From talking to clubs and members, we hear that typical members travel 5 to 7 times with their club each year. Some of the trips are short breaks and some are longer vacations.
- What are your holiday plans? Do you like to get away for the major holidays? Make sure the club and membership level you choose has holiday weeks available. Keep in mind that the membership price or nightly rate may increase if you want to book several holiday periods in advance.
THE SECOND STEP: Figure out your budget
- How much are you willing to pay? The initial membership fees range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands, or may be on a monthly subscription basis. Different clubs have different models, so the initial fee doesn't always speak for itself, each club offers a gamut of services and amenities, in addition to very nice vacation homes. The nightly rates also vary by club, and some clubs ask you to prepay these annual dues, whereas others only ask for payment when you use the homes. As a broad baseline, the nightly rates work out to about $1,000 or more per night.
- How is your investment going to work for you?
Some (equity) clubs offer a financial investment, so you are investing in the real estate and could make a financial gain when the homes are sold. Others are purely a rental model. Find out if your membership fee gives you equity in the club or its properties. But, even in an equity club, your prime return on investment will be your vacation memories and the financial investment returns should not be the key driver of your decision.
THE THIRD STEP: Do a little research
- Is the club expanding? Find out how long they have been in business and if they are steadily growing. If the club is growing rapidly they will have lots of homes and locations, but you will be part of a much bigger entity. If they are growing slowly it may be a while before they add many new homes but you may enjoy the smaller more intimate approach.
- Talk to members of the club to see how their experience has been. Ask how easy it is to make reservations and walk through the reservation system. Ask about the quality of service the club provides and if members have had positive experiences overall.
- Check out the many resources on Sherpareport.
SherpaReports own survey of destination club members showed the variety of destinations was the main reason people gave for choosing their club over any other. Other key factors included the value, services and size of the club.