What appealed about Equity Estates?
Our other option was a third home. We already have a summer house on a lake. My wife wanted a 3rd home in Florida, so we looked in Miami, Delray and Naples, but it was just so hard to value the homes.
We found one house and the kids came down and just said while it's a nice house we don't want to go to the same place all the time – we like going to different places. So we listened to them and started looking at destination clubs and residence funds. I liked the structure of Equity Estates with its investment component and its low debt. I like the "dividend" of all the vacations and so ended up buying a half share.
Which trip has given you the best memories and brings the most smiles when you think about it?
Hawaii definitely. That property is spectacular, breathtaking. There are two master suites and four other bedrooms, the pool is enormous, there's a giant hot tub and it all overlooks the ocean and the Plantation Golf Course. Plus it's next door to the Ritz-Carlton.
Which trip are you most looking forward to?
We're going to Vail at the end of March. This is a brand new property for the fund. It's a 3 bedroom suite at the new Solaris building right in Vail Village.
How has ownership changed the way you travel?
With the size of the residences, membership encourages you to bring friends and family, since the homes can accommodate many people. Being together in a home is so much better than squeezing into a hotel room, it's so much more comfortable.
For instance, on our recent trip to San Diego, we went with another family and my son brought a friend. You can find yourself vacationing in homes that may be nicer than your own home.
What's the most pleasing or unexpected thing about membership?
The service is very high and we really like it. We were expecting a basic level of service and Equity Estates have far exceeded those expectations – both the concierges and the local hosts.
The concierges, who help with travel planning, are a step beyond. They really take an interest in members and go way beyond just an ordinary travel agent.
When you arrive at a home the local hosts will present you with a bottle of wine & cupcakes for the kids. They've purchased the groceries we ordered, show us around the house and ask if there's anything else we need. I have sat for an hour with the local host to learn about the local community and activities. Even the one in Vail, I've talked to 5 or 6 times for our upcoming trip, discussing what to expect, things to do and how the snow is. Overall we've been very impressed with the consistent level of service, and all the hosts have been outgoing, helpful and have had great recommendations.