Inspirato: A New Luxury Vacation Club Designed By Brent Handler, Co-Founder of Exclusive Resorts (with Video)
This week marks the launch of Inspirato, the next intriguing idea of Exclusive Resorts co-founder Brent Handler. Inspirato combines the advantages of independent villa rental with the personalized services and amenities of private luxury vacation clubs. Inspirato membership provides access to a portfolio of multi-million dollar vacation homes that are controlled and operated through the company's long-term lease arrangements, along with personalized service and support. I interviewed Brent recently, and asked him questions about his new venture and adventure.
How did your entrepreneurial spirit and your Exclusive Resorts background inform your creating the new club, Inspirato?
I am the co-founder of Exclusive Resorts, and started the whole Exclusive Resorts Destination Club idea in my basement. This experience was a consequence of my being a serial entrepreneur. I always find more enjoyment in building something than maintaining and protecting something. This is why I left ER over a year ago. I still love Exclusive Resorts, but I wanted more challenges. This is the curse and blessing of having this type of entrepreneurial DNA. I am always thinking of what to do next, of different opportunities. So, I began thinking: I have always enjoyed vacation travel and remembered a statistic that really interested me and stayed with me: the villa/vacation rental industry was one that garnered $24B or so in recent years.
Why did you find that interesting?
It is interesting because that's a large dollar amount, and the villa rental experience is generally not curated for the user. We began due diligence, and discovered that those who rented villas did it through brokers, meaning the renters had no idea about the quality of the homes or their interiors. There were no travel planners at the beginning, or dedicated people to help the villa renters once they were there. So, to an entreprenuer's mind -- here was an opportunity! What we did was apply the benefits of the branded club experience to a completely different market segment, which was in this case the villa rental industry.
And this is how Inspirato was conceived?
In general, yes. Along with three other co-founders, my brother Brad who started Exclusive Resorts with me, Brian Corbett, a senior leader at Exclusive Resorts who managed the Once in a Lifetime program, and Martin Pucher, another entrepreneur from the tech world, we put together Inspirato as a way to make luxury vacation travel even easier. And I think we have succeeded. Our club is unique, in that it has no prepaid days, no upfront fees, no nightly minimum, no reservation rules, yet the members receive all the service benefits similar to destination clubs or branded clubs, like the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons. At Inspirato, there are Personal Vacation Advisors who learn each member's preferences and assists in vacation planning, residence selection and booking, and a Destination Concierge that offers local expertise and dedicated assistance before arrival and during the member's vacation. In collaboration with the member's Personal Vacation Advisor, Destination Concierges are experts at planning the ideal vacation that suits each member's personal preferences, from recommending and arranging activities for all ages; booking spa, golf and restaurant reservations; securing on-site transportation; and assisting with any needs during their stay.
Inspirato Villa Enclave, Anguilla
What will all this cost?
It is simple: To gain access to Inspirato's portfolio of homes and services, members pay an initiation fee, introductory priced at $9,500, market-based nightly rates for each reservation they make, plus an optional annual renewal fee of $2,500. The average cost per night for all the homes in Inspirato's portfolio is approximately $1,000, with some value season rates as low as a few hundred dollars.
To research and book their reservations, members log in to Inspirato.com, search the calendar – which displays availability and the nightly rate – and make their selections. Pricing for each property is dynamic and market-based, influenced by factors such as how far in advance reservations are made, travel dates and length of stay. Unlike many other clubs, Inspirato members can easily make reservations during high-demand travel periods. The demand for homes during holidays and other peak times will be equitably balanced by nightly rates, which will be understandably higher during these time frames. In addition, Inspirato's flexible leasing model allows it to add specific properties to satisfy excess demand during peak periods.
Members pay only for the nights they use, and there is no limit to how often a member can travel. Reservations may be made up to one year in advance, and all members are treated equally. There are no levels of membership or complicated reservation rules to master.
One of the ways we make the cost so compelling to members is because of our long term leasing strategy. We do not own the properties in the portfolio. Rather, we enter into multi-year leases with the owners. We take all the inventory risk in return for total control of the asset. This allows us to provide a uniform, branded club experience at a fraction of the cost of traditional vacation clubs. Our revenue management is similar to that of hotels and airlines and allows us to provide greater value and transparency in pricing than that of other alternatives.
Tell me more about the 40 Villas you have now.
Our Villas range in price from around 2M to 10M , and range in square footage from 1708SF ( In Aspen) to over 11,000SF in Anguilla. We know those are both substantial ranges, but we also know that by having these, we appeal to larger demographic segments also. We appeal to families, as well as to empty nesters. Here is what we have so far:
Anguilla: 7 properties
Aspen and Snowmass, CO: 4 properties
Esperanza and Punta Ballena, Los Cabos, Mexico: 6 properties
Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, Hawaii: 3 properties
Hualalai, Kohala Coast, Hawaii: 2 properties
Kiawah, SC: 2 properties
The Montage, Deer Valley, UT: 1 property
Pelican Hill, Newport Coast, CA: 4 properties
Tuscany, Italy: 5 properties
Vail and Beaver Creek, CO: 8 properties
Cabo San Lucas, Inspirato Villa
Where did you get the name Inspirato?
This is a wonderful story: the hardest part of creating our new business was naming it. We went through so many names, but I wanted just one word. Out of frustration, I took it to my mother who is a writer. She came up with the name in three hours. My Mom's a genius!
After all the dust settles, what do you want want the core identity of Inspirato to be?
I want the identity of our offering to be easy: easy to use, easy to buy, and easy to remember.
Beaver Creek, Inspirato Villa
Inspirato Villa, Aspen