Different ways to buy a shared paradise

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 July, 2010, 12:00am

Fractional ownership: You buy a fraction of the property. In a luxury resort setting the properties are often referred to as private residence clubs (PRCs).

Pluses: It's yours to keep, at least part of it. The costs of maintenance, management fees, etc. are shared. Some companies offer exchange schemes. PRCs boast the extras of 5-star destination clubs such as airport transfers and concierge service.

Minuses: It's sharing and so not yours to change or personalise. Limited usage. It is early days for the fractional market, so effectiveness as a good investment is unproven. Foreign ownership in some Asian countries is not straightforward.

Who offers it: Absolute World Group (YooPhukhet), Firstlight, Four Seasons, Marriott, The Banyan Tree and Ritz-Carlton Destination Club among others.

Cost: Not cheap, a likely initial outlay of US$1 million. At YooPhukhet, US$70,500 buys you a fractional share of a 38 square metre studio.

Destination club: You buy the right to use a property for a set period of time (1-2 weeks), choosing any destination in the club's portfolio. Some offer asset-backed membership, such as shares in the company that owns the portfolio, others offer a percentage refund of the initial joining fee if you leave the club. Some offer perpetual membership.

Pluses: This is high-end luxury with all the trimmings - concierge service, spas, airport transfers, car rental and sometimes golf club membership. Exclusive destinations, spacious, luxurious villas. Choice of destinations.

Minuses: Expensive joining fees, plus annual fees. Less liquidity. Clubs say you should be able to sell your membership for a profit; appreciation is not a certainty.

Who offers it: Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, The Hideaways Club, Exclusive Resorts, The Banyan Tree Private Collection. See also www.sherpareport.com.

Cost: Joining fees vary from US$60,000 to US$500,000, with annual fees at US$3,000 to US$30,000.