Philippe Bourguignon, CEO of the Denver-based destination club Exclusive Resorts, has nothing against hotels. Nor does he deny the allure of renting a vacation home. But Bourguignon—whose company launched a new membership service called Portico in February—believes there is a better way to travel.
"A conventional hotel is very predictable and consistent in service, but your room is always a rectangle, lunch is always served at noon, and you are always sitting at a crowded pool," Bourguignon explains. "Alternatively, staying in a private home is a good experience, but it is neither predictable nor consistent the way a hotel is. Portico provides both—predictability and consistency in a high-level home—at rates far below market value, which is something none of the other options provides."
Rather than owning the properties in its portfolio, the way Exclusive Resorts and several other destination clubs do, Portico leases its homes—a practice that keeps overhead down and allows for lower membership costs. Leasing also gives the company more flexibility to act on the feedback it receives from its members. "We have an open dialogue with our members," Bourguignon says. "If we hear that they want a new destination—boom!—we go there. If another location is not working out as well, we simply move on."
Across its more than 150 homes in 50-plus locations—which include Maui, Hawaii; Sonoma, Calif.; Telluride, Colo.; and Provence, France—Portico provides for its members a uniformity of amenities and services. Each of the club’s homes features state-of-the-art technology and upscale decor that draws on the setting or local culture. Portico’s personal "escapists" help members plan their vacations by suggesting destinations and homes based on their tastes, interests, and number of travelers, and the company’s concierges tend to members’ in-residence needs, such as stocking the kitchen, arranging excursions, and scheduling private-jet transportation. Through its partnerships with luxury resorts, such as Viceroy Anguilla and Esperanza in Los Cabos, Mexico, Portico also affords its members privileges at golf courses, spas, fitness centers, and other facilities near the club’s homes.
Portico’s onetime, nonrefundable $7,500 initiation fee (plus an annual renewal fee of $2,500) gives members access to the club’s full portfolio of homes. The properties range in value from $1 million to $10 million and rent for nightly rates of $300 to $3,000. (Portico has no minimums or limitations to the number of days that members are able to travel annually.) The club plans to increase its number of homes and locations and is now looking at properties in the Pacific Northwest and in Asia.
"We have chalets in Geneva, villas in Mexico, homes in Paris, and castles in the UK," Bourguignon says. "There is no one place that can make everyone happy, but I can tell you that we at least have an answer for everybody."
Portico, 866.864.3518, www.porticoclub.com