Sara Whitford, as soon as a accomplice at a high-powered legislation agency, is common counsel and senior vp of actual property at Denver-based Unique Resorts, whose portfolio she’s helped develop to greater than 350 luxurious residences throughout 75 world locations.
A personal trip membership based by AOL pioneer Steve Case in 2002, Unique Resorts has grown to one of many largest homeowners of luxurious actual property on this planet, in response to the corporate. It additionally groups with builders and hospitality manufacturers, together with 4 Seasons and Eden Roc, to handle members-only trip residences.
“At 4 Seasons Anguilla, for instance, we function Unique Resorts residences inside that model. They’re our residences, operated with our service requirements,” Ms. Whitford mentioned.
With 4,300 hundred members, and new membership capped at 250 annually, Unique Resorts “operates very like a rustic membership,” in response to the corporate. Members pay a one-time initiation charge of $175,000 for a ten-year plan, together with annual dues primarily based on the extent of journey—25 journey days begins at $36,625 yearly, in response to its membership web page. Members can share properties with household; each day charges keep the identical, even at peak instances.
Ms. Whitford talked to Mansion World about why sense of place issues in design, how household journey is evolving, and why the which means of luxurious is private.
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Mansion World: What sorts of properties does Unique Resorts supply to members?
Sara Whitford: Most houses are inside the $3 million to $4 million vary, well-designed and professionally furnished. It’s largely four-bedrooms for seashore and ski areas, and smaller two-bedrooms for metropolitan areas. It’s a mixture of residences situated inside five-star resorts, communities or metropolitan areas—members like all of these experiences.
MG: What’s the benefit of changing into an Unique Resorts member, versus experiencing these locations on one’s personal?
SW: First, it’s worth. We’re on a set charge, with most choices at $1,465 per evening. That may characterize an actual worth, because the common common each day charge for a few of these residences might be 4 instances that. One other benefit is service. Our concierge will attain out to members nicely upfront of a visit to ensure they’ve every part lined up: the grocery record to get the home totally stocked, eating places the member desires booked, actions and wellness choices they’re in search of. There’s a seamless transition from planning as soon as they’re on web site, as a result of the identical concierge is on web site and devoted to serving to them.
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MG: How have members modified their stays because the pandemic?
SW: We’ve fairly a couple of folks doing longer journeys the place they’re targeted on doing extra work. A few of these stays might final 4 or 5 weeks, so the member desires to make sure they will have Wi-Fi connectivity and a quiet place to work. On the similar time, there’s a renewed deal with areas the place folks might be with their family members, however in non-public areas away from the general public and different friends. Through the pandemic, you additionally noticed smaller teams protecting to their quick households. We’re seeing it return to intergenerational journey, with grandparents and whole households touring collectively, which has all the time been common for members.
MG: What different corporations or manufacturers are in your aggressive set?
SW: Time-shares could be closest. Branded residences and lodges are all complementary choices. Our members love our membership as a result of it permits them to see a whole lot of locations, expertise locations they might not have thought to go to and belief us to take them there. As soon as they fall in love with a vacation spot, they might buy a house there. There are only a few locations we’ve launched members to the place they haven’t purchased residences.
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MG: For companions like 4 Seasons, what’s the worth proposition in a relationship with Unique Resorts?
SW: For a resort with actual property to promote, the worth proposition is that we’re bringing potential purchasers to their door who’re high-net-worth, or ultra-high-net-worth and extremely certified. Our members additionally spend fairly a bit in-destination. Resorts report again on in-resort spend, and our members are usually their highest spenders, whether or not it’s on the spa, restaurant or actions. And even when a property doesn’t promote actual property, our members are repeat guests. They may come again with extra members of the family and lease one other dwelling or extra rooms.
MG: What does your function as senior vp of actual property contain?
SW: My staff oversees all acquisition and disposition of properties in our residence assortment, and I’ve major accountability for acquisition. I’m targeted on making connections with manufacturers and builders early of their improvement course of—I imply pre-construction and pre-release, which is the perfect time to get into these communities. We would even get to have enter on design. Even when we don’t, coming in at an early level is a win-win.
MG: What sort of enter have you ever provided on design?
SW: We’ve provided extra enter on [furniture, fixtures and equipment] design. We’re seeing a pattern towards clear and modern. Houses ought to have a way of place, and a really feel for the place you’re staying. The trendy-mountain take a look at a residence in Vail does and will really feel completely different than one in Sea Island, Georgia, the place you get a lighter, coastal ambiance.
MG: What’s the outlook for Unique Resorts as journey continues to rebound?
SW: We’re trying to broaden into metropolitan areas in Europe, together with Paris and London. Demand is astronomical, so we introduced on extra stock in each cities for the rest of 2022. We’re on the end line of a contract for 4 new-construction, five-star luxurious residences within the Riviera Maya space of Mexico. We’re additionally trying to broaden into California wine nation, Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and smaller metro areas like Charleston and Nashville.
MG: What’s your personal definition of luxurious?
SW: Luxurious is particular person. It’s somebody capable of have what they need and what they’re in search of. What’s luxurious for me is probably not luxurious for the following particular person. For me, it would imply a personal pool and personal sizzling tub the place the youngsters can bounce within the pool very first thing within the morning, I can have my tea, and I don’t have to decorate as much as go to the lodge pool. For another person, it would imply no matter they should really feel comfy, relaxed and cared for.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
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