In some of my recent Luxist articles, The Dawn Of A New Economy and From Conspicuous to Conscious Consumption I have suggested how newer definitions of luxury help inform the decisions about how and why people buy in this unusual social-economic climate. I learned from the many presenters at the Luxury Summit, a luxury ideas symposium held last month, about the nuances of an emerging economy with new luxury consumer decision-making processes, especially regarding big ticket items. And few are bigger than second and third homes. It is no secret this market has suffered, as has the primary home market in 2009. But there are rays of light in 2010, and especially with the Turks And Caicos Sporting Club at Ambergris Cay. Amid the barrage of news about market declines and foreclosures, this club is doing well. And the reasons for success circle back to the trends explored at the Luxury Summit.
" Last year," recounts Steve Schram, CEO and Managing Partner of DPS Development who owns and runs Ambergris Cay, "was basically a static year. We didn't make money, we didn't lose money There were a few sales, but nothing like we were used to. Then, in 2010, YTD, we have done 20M worth of new home sales. It seemed as if potential buyers were actually hesitant to call us in 2009, and then, in 2010, they called. It was as if the phone lines were reconnected. Most were member referrals, which is always rewarding. There are three new homes just started and another seven to ten starting in the next six months. We will start two of these houses in the next two months. Members and their families know what they receive here, and it fits so well with a newer sense of social and environmental responsibility, along with a sense of being connected to each other and to the island."
One of the many trends gleaned from the Luxury Summit, and borne out by the success of the Turks And Caicos Sporting Club, is that the luxury consumer is not on autopilot anymore. Their purchasing interests have evolved from I want to I need to we need: essentially a journey from individual self-absorption to a kind of familial populism. The consequence of such a shift is the take away value -- which has also moved from quantitative excess to a qualitative rediscovery of feeling favorably connected -- whether it is with people or new experiences. In both instances, Ambergris Cay fits with these ideas in an eco -sensitive, communitarian way.