DCs- Variety is the spice of (fractional) life

It is said that variety is the spice of life so why opt for fractional ownership of a single property when you could choose from a wide variety of different properties in a number of global locations, each offering a range of climates and experiences linked by their exemplary service and exquisite luxury?

Destination Clubs are one of the fastest growing fractional holiday sectors- giving members exclusive access to the best homes in the finest locations. With an initial deposit and annual dues members can forget the hassles of maintenance and property preparation and instead just concentrate of the business of enjoyment for a given number of days per year.

DCs tend to offer larger properties in prime areas, furnished to the highest standards and offering the same, if not higher, standard of service that one would expect of the best resort holidays.

The appeal of these schemes is not limited to just the property and its location but the fact that they offer a complete end-to-end service complete with full-time concierge service as well as service partnerships with the likes of private jet companies, exclusive golfing resorts and similar to ensure that your experience is an unforgettable one each and every time. Your larder can be stocked with your favourite foods and wines and even personal belongings set up before your arrival to give you 100% of the second (and third and forth...) home ownership experience even though you are paying just a fraction of what it what cost to own such properties outright.

On the topic of cost- very few DCs are sold as an investment opportunity, you generally cannot resell your membership but most allow members to leave the club and receive either a partial or full refund of their initial membership deposit although this is usually after a fixed time period or after the company has a certain amount of new members. In terms of actual figures there is a broad range charged for deposits which can be from as little as 15,000 to in excess of 1.5m. A small number of clubs offer deposit appreciation programmes whereby upon refund you receive a percentage of the deposit cost as at the time of leaving so if your initial deposit some years ago was 200,000, the current (say, five years after you joined) 300,000 and the refund percentage 80% (a typical value) you would be reimbursed 240,000 rather than 160,000 but time will tell how successful such plans prove.

Founded in 2006 by a group of highly experienced international entrepreneurs and investors, the Hideaways Club offers its members exclusive usage and ownership of an entire portfolio of luxurious properties at a fraction of the sole ownership cost.

Members currently have access to their multi-million euro properties in France, Italy, Majorca, Morocco, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, and Portugal. In 2009 properties in Croatia, Mauritius and Malaysia/Borneo will be added to the clubs portfolio which will continue to grow until a target of 100 propertiesin over 30 locations is reached.

All Hideaways Club properties are located in areas that are renowned for their beauty and accessibility and are luxuriously furnished. One of the major benefits of membership is that it removes all the hassles, hidden expenses and uncertainty associated with booking a holiday and all members are looked after by the Clubs own concierge service to ensure a totally relaxing, enjoyable and stress- free experience.

Commenting on the Hideaways Club Stephen Wise, co-founder and CEO said, The positive outstanding testimonials from our members confirms our belief that the club is not just a financially astute way to own and use overseas properties but also provides the means to enjoy memorable holiday experiences. Members benefit from the capital growth in the value of the entire portfolio whilst enjoying relaxing holidays in amazing locations all organised by the clubs local concierge. This is proving to be a very attractive proposition. Memberships range from 115,000 to 220,000. www.thehideawaysclub.com

Botiga is Europes latest exclusive private retreats club. With their name derived from the old Provenal word for boutique you would expect a range of carefully selected properties in worlds finest and most exotic locations and Botiga does not disappoint.

Botiga offers the finest and highest value properties of all the European clubs (average value of 4.3m) and are one of the new breed of equity clubs, where members actually own the homes in which they stay so benefit from the uplift in underlying property values.

Each property's resident manager runs a full complement of staff offering personalised service at its highest level.

When you arrive at the villa your favourite wines are in the cellar, family photos on the mantelpiece and cigars are in the humidor says Kit Harrison, Co Founder of Botiga, which encapsulates the experience that members of the club can look forward to. Its like returning home even if youve never been there before.

Botiga is shortly closing its Founder offer, however a limited number of Founder Memberships remain available, providing members with a discounted share subscription, 2 dues-free years and a week in any of their sister company Descent Internationals ski chalets for 08-09 winter season.

Botiga is designed for people who expect the very best.

www.botiga.co.uk (+44 (0)20 3326 4000)

From the tranquillity of the tropics or the thrill of the ski slopes, to European locations steeped in tradition, to the exciting and inspiring new worlds of Australia and New Zealand, Distinctive Holiday Homes offers an extensive and ever-expanding portfolio of premium vacation destinations worldwide. All of which have been hand selected by CEO Nick Wood.

As I have lived in Australasia most of my life, says Nick Wood, I wanted my club to have a global vision, and certainly global properties. We have got our wish! Ours is the only club at present with residences in New Zealand, Australia, and in the Yasawa islands in Fiji. Our many other residences are unique also just as two examples, we are the only ones with a chalet in Megeve, near Chamonix in France, and on the Mediterranean side of Tuscany, with two side-by-side Villas in Corsanico, near Pisa, and Portofino.

Individual membership plans range from 15,000 to 250,000, with corporate plans ranging from 100,000 to 176,000 depending on member usage needs. In addition, DHH has multiple service amenities strategic alliances with BMW, Bombardier SkyJet and Quintessentially, a luxury concierge service which is available to DHH members at all times whether they are at a property or not. www.distinctiveholidayhomes.com

Ultimate Escapes- In May of this year Ultimate Resorts and Private Escapes completed a merger deal to create the Destination Club behemoth that is Ultimate Escapes. The club offers a three-tiered membership structure from Premiere level features homes averaging $1 million in value, the mid-level Signature offers $2 million homes, and to the Elite level offering homes with an average value of $3 million. With the tag line Experience the Vacation of a Lifetime, Every Time and 150 properties in over 50 destinations Ultimate Escapes are a dominant force in the fractional marketplace. Memberships range from $200,000 to $450,000. www.ultimateescapes.com

Abercrombie & Kent will be a name many travellers recognise, founded in 1962 by Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie & Kent has provided millions of unforgettable travel experiences to discerning travellers. With the Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club officially launched just last month offering choice in travel options in over 106 countries and 30 destinations. The club offers an equity model with all residences wholly owned by the club- memberships range from $225,000 to $495,000. www.akresidenceclub.com

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