Friday, April 25, 2008

A & K Rejoins Luxe Vacation Home Biz

News of consolidation in the luxury shared vacation home field -- two leading outfits, Crescendo and BelleHavens, have been acquired by Abercrombie & Kent, which will thus become a big player in the destination club market. Sound familiar? A & K, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, lent its name to an earlier club that later morphed into the infamous Tanner and Haley. That club went bust into bankruptcy in August 2006, leaving some very angry rich folks in the lurch. The difference now: the new club's portfolio of homes will be owned debt-free, which was the selling point of BelleHavens. And that's a good thing in the current mortgage-wary business climate.

Top dog in the destination club kennel remains Exclusive Resorts. Last September number two and three Ultimate Resort and Private Escapes announced they would merge.

An Abercrombie and Kent spokesman said it will roll out new membership options this summer. Most such clubs offer several tiers, with the most days and best choices going to those who pay heftiest annual membership fees. Presumably members will be able to take advantage of A & K's many ultra-luxury trips, such as African safaris. (Note: this post was amended 4/30 to clarify some points at the request of an A & K spokesman.)

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