One of the strongest selling points of fractional ownership properties has long been the flexibility that it affords owners. However while the opportunity to purchase a fractional ownership property at a single destination is appealing to some, for globetrotting clientele being tied to a given destination resort can be less than ideal. Enter: the luxury fractional trading program.
As the marketplace for private residence clubs and luxury fractional properties has ballooned in recent years, several programs specializing in trading ownership properties have sprung up.
From programs which allow fractional owners the ability to swap weeks at reciprocal destination resorts, to membership clubs that list and trade private vacation homes, the luxury fractional ownership market is burgeoning, providing owners with a cornucopia of alternative destinations from which to choose. Even some big names like Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons allow owners in their Private Residence Clubs to trade amongst both their own brand clubs and amongst their brand name hotels.
Below are just some of the programs currently available to fractional property owners.
(Update Dec. 2010 MembersTrade has ceased operations) MembersTrade.com was an online forum that brought together owners of various luxury fractional residences, and private residence clubs from throughout the world. Think of it as high-tech upper crust bulletin board. As an external program, not tied to any particular resort or destination property, MembersTrade offers used the flexibility of trading their unit shares among a wide array of exclusive destination properties provided they meet the site's select criteria.
MembershipTrade was free to browse, but will cost you to list and exchange. Properties range from slope-side condos to private island compounds and with MembersTrades personal agent service, clients are treated to fully tailored rental services.
Like MembersTrade, Elite Alliance was established to facilitate the exchange of luxury residences between members of high-end private residence clubs. DCP International, one of the early leaders in private resort clubs, created The Elite Alliance to help their members exchange time with other high quality clubs.
The Elite Alliance offers an array of destination choices from the Caribbean to Napa Valley and Italy and since clubs have to be accepted into the Alliance, members by and large know what to expect from each resort. As with some other trade services, members are charged on a per-exchange basis.
The Registry Collection
Billed as the largest external fractional property exchange program, boasting over 55,000 properties in more than 100 countries, The Registry Collection offers its more than 15,000 members top-of-the-line accommodations at some of the world's premier destinations. Offered by RCI Global Vacation Network, The Registry Collection is comprised largely of Wyndham Resorts destinations, ensuring access to a host of concierge services available 24 hours a day. However, the Registry Collection also goes beyond traditional resort shares. The Registry Collection also boasts private homes, luxury yachts, and luxury hotel accommodations for members. Membership is limited to fractional property owners and an exchange fee is charged with each completed transaction although some of the available properties are high end timeshares.
Resort to Resort
Launched In 2001 by Intrawest, parent company of such resorts as Whistler and Stratton Mountain, Resort to Resort started as an exclusive exchange network catering solely to Intrawest homeowners. However, by 2003, the network had expanded to include a portfolio of high-end partner resorts. Membership remains limited to Intrawest and its select partner resorts, however members can also enjoy access to more than 2,000 cruise itineraries with leading cruise lines such as Carnival, Holland America and Royal Caribbean.
Based on a credit system, members deposit and exchange time credits into the Resort to Resort network paying an exchange fee for each share transaction. R2R members have access to a collection of more than 155 properties at over 40 resort destinations around the world.
Trade to Travel
Trade to Travel is a club whose members all have homes to spare. Unlike pure fractional trade programs, members can choose from more than 1,200 private properties in 31 countries the bulk of which are wholly owned by other TTT members. Although TTT started with wholly owned homes it now includes residence clubs and luxury fractional properties amongst its selection. As a member you earn points when someone uses your property and can then use those points for other properties that you stay in.
With extensive listings in North America, the Caribbean, and several in South Africa and Australia, TTT members can enjoy the comforts of home even half-way around the globe.
|No initial membership fee, $250/exchange transaction
|Caribbean/Mexico, Europe, Bermuda, Southwest, California
|9 in 4 countries
|Member support agents, 24 hour customer service
|Trade to Travel
|$2,495 initiation fee, See offer below, $100/credit rental
|Mexico/Caribbean, South America, South Africa, Australia, Europe, California, Hawaii, Florida
|1,200+ in 31 countries
|Member exchange support counselors, personal destination search services
|Resort to Resort
|Ownership at an Intrawest or partner resort, $29/night/exchange transaction
|Mexico/Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Florida, Southwest, California, Caribbean/Mediterranean Cruises
|155 at 40 destinations
|Concierge service at select properties, personal client destination search services
|The Registry Collection
|No initial membership fee, $250/exchange transaction
|Caribbean/Mexico, Europe, N. America, California, Florida
|55,000 in over 100 countries
|24 hour concierge service at select properties
|Private Trade Winds
|No initial membership fee; $2,995 annual fee
|US, Seychelles, South Africa, Mexico, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Greece, France, Italy, London, Thailand, Dubai
|20-50% off Villa Rentals; Full Service Travel Agency; VIP Concierge Service; Itinerary Planning; Custom Trade Searches
An Expanding Marketplace
There's no doubt that high-end fractional trading programs have caught on in recent years. Their client-focused approach and the myriad of options they afford to members have created an entirely new option for fractional consumers.
It should therefore come as no surprise to note, that as the fractional ownership market expands the traditional timeshare exchanges - of which there are two major trading companies Interval International and RCI - are also getting into the act. As mentioned above RCI, which owns the Registry Collection has already established a presence in the high-end marketplace. Interval recently announced its own plans to set up a fractional exchange program with Preferred Hotels and Resorts, owners of the Summit and Sterling Hotel brands.
The entry of such players as Interval and RCI could signal a boon for owners in the fractional market.
The 5 Year Itch
While consumers who opt to purchase fractional destination properties love them at first, they often find that after 4 to 6 years they yearn for the ability to visit other places. The proliferation of fractional exchange programs helps owners do just that.
By swapping their ownership locations with other like properties, owners are able to make the most of their own home location while sampling other destinations. So, if you're in the market to buy into a private residence club or luxury fractional, ask if the property has any formal relationship with a trading or exchange system. Once the globetrotting bug sets in, you'll certainly be glad you did.
Trade to Travel are now offering free membership. See the details at http://www.sherpareport.com/prc/trade-to-travel-fractional-exchange.html