DUO by Quintess: The New Destination Club, A New Option for Ultimate Escapes Members And Others

Two weeks ago, I reported on the Ultimate Escapes Destination Club bankruptcy, which is the largest bankruptcy in the brief history of the luxury destination club industry. This industry has had more than its share of well-publicized bankruptcies, with the members of these clubs usually left out in the cold, money and great travel expectations lost. In this most recent case, 1400 or so Ultimate Escapes members are in this kind of labyrinthine Limbo.

But for many of these UE members, being in such convoluted place is not their first time. To understand the importance of the options created by Quintess and others, it is crucial to understand the unusual context in which the Ultimate Escapes members find themselves.

Approximately seven years ago, in 2003, the first destination club, Private Retreats, launched in Telluride, Colorado. Two years later, Private Retreats changed its name to Abercrombie & Kent Destination Club. The A&K name was leased by Private Retreats. Eventually, A&K ended their licensing agreement with Private Retreats, and the destination club was renamed Tanner & Haley.

Tanner & Haley went bankrupt in 2006-- the first destination club to do so. Then, Ultimate Resort, a small destination club founded in 2005, gathered up the Tanner & Haley members, offered them a way to continue their travel club membership by purchasing the T&H homes. About a year later, Ultimate then instigated a complicated merger with another club operator called Private Escapes. More members were picked up there. And, Ultimate Resort's name change to Ultimate Escapes. So if you're following the bouncing ball, some of the present members of Ultimate Escapes, were actually refugees from Tanner & Haley, and also Private Escapes. So, it is easy to surmise that these members have -- also! -- been bounced around from club to club.
After the financial market collapse in 2008 many destination clubs went out of business. To survive the downturn, in January 2009, Ultimate Escapes levied a one time monetary assessment on the members, with the intent of keeping the club afloat. Those who paid it could stay in the club, those who didn't, couldn't. Then, a few months later, Ultimate became a publicly traded company, trying to raise even more capital. Despite all of these efforts in September of this year, Ultimate Escapes declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In all of this sturm und drang, the Ultimate members did take nice vacations, and had planned for more, which made the bankruptcy all the painful to accept, espcially with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coming.

From this dramatic context, it can be seen that members have paid a high price -- and not ONLY for travel, but for uncertainty. Not knowing about the stability of the club is a major imbalance, and rectifying this imbalance is one of the reasons why the two major destination clubs --Quintess and Exclusive Resorts -- and others, to my knowledge, The Discovery Club, Demeure, Villazzo and Private Trade Winds, have come forth with offers that attempt to re-balance the Ultimate Escapes member mindsets, as well as their travel plans.

This is the context where the Quintess option will be explored, one that involves the creation of its new sister club, DUO by Quintess.

Ben Addoms is a co-Founder, member of Quintess, and also it's CMO. He has helped guide Quintess from the beginning, and like others in this industry, knows the history and the consequences in which the Ultimate members have found themselves. He and his colleagues were also busy creating DUO this Summer, and now, DUO is being offered initially to UE members and will later this year be available to others.

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