OFFERING THE LAP OF LUXURY

Add destination clubs to timeshare and fractionals as a vacation choice for the well-heeled traveler. Add Dream Catcher, with its luxury residences, to this top-end fraternity.

For a $275,000 membership fee and annual dues starting at $17,000, the affluent traveler gains entry to Dream Catcher's wide-ranging portfolio of multi-million-dollar vacation homes. There are eight now; by late summer, there will be 13. Dream Catcher targets “a fairly thin market,” says CEO Scott Anderson, a hospitality veteran who lives in the high-altitude, pricey community of Telluride, CO. “It kind of talks to folks with a net worth of $3 million and an income of over $300,000 a year.” Dream Catcher owns these homes, and they appreciate, Anderson notes. Just last October, it bought one in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for $2.4 million; now, it's probably worth $3.2 million, and “we depreciate it so the investors get short-term shelter and long-term depreciation,” Anderson says.

“You need to think of it like a private, non-equity country club where you pay a membership deposit to join and then pay your dues,” he says. “It's not really timeshare by any stretch of the imagination. It's like staying at a five-star resort, except it's a vacation home.”

Joining Dream Catcher gives you access to homes in locales such as Beaver Creek, CO; Cabo; and Kiawah Island, SC. It also brings you a personal assistant to help arrange your stay no matter which Dream Catcher home, along with a destination host who serves as a local concierge to manage housekeeping and maintenance.

The other key players in this rarefied field are Exclusive Resorts, majority-owned by former America Online Chairman Steve Case; and Private Retreats and Distinctive Retreats, founded by former Wall Street securities trader Rob McGrath. McGrath licenses the services of luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent for his operations.

“If you use this for 30 nights a year, it costs you $533 a night,” Anderson says, “and in many high-end resort hotels, rooms cost $500 a night.” Corporate memberships in Dream Catcher are available for a $350,000 entrance fee, he notes.

“It's like running a five-star resort, except the guest-rooms are all over the world.”

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