I have been writing about the Destination Club industry for six years now, and have covered the bankruptcies of Tanner & Haley ( Chapter 11 in July 2006), High Country Club LLC ( Chapter 7 in January 2009), Lusso (Chapter 11 in December of 2008 ) Everlands ( this wasn't exactly a bankruptcy, but they did cease operation, and Ultimate Escapes purchased their member list) and Solstice (Chapter 11 in March 2009.) For Luxist, I have written about Exclusive Resorts, Abercrombie & Kent, Ultimate Escapes and Quintess vacations. I have also written and spoke about the dark side of the charismatic idea in print and online. I also spoke about this idea back in 2006 at a NorthCourse Conference in Athens.
So, for many, though Ultimate Escapes bankruptcy news today is terrible, it is not shocking. Rather, in Yogi Berra's words, it is deja vu all over again, as there seems to be a well-known fissure in the non-equity destination club model, and this fissure is one that only four clubs ( Exclusive Resorts, Equity Estates, Quintess and Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club) have been able to patch successfully. This crack lies in assumption: that the economy will continue to grow, members will continue to buy into the clubs and real estate assets will continue to rise. As can be seen through any glass darkly, our economy has NOT worked this way, and many have lost more than just their shirts.