When Iain Johnston was looking for luxury accommodation on his global travels in January this year, he discovered The Hideaways Club, a property investment fund that owns and manages a series of upmarket holiday homes around the world.
He joined as an investor, or "member" of the club, but two months later found himself its new chief executive.
"The founders did not want to run the company any longer and they were looking for a chief executive to operate it," said Johnston, an entrepreneur who set up his own software technology company in 2000.
Johnston accepted the invitation and is now running the club, which is set up to provide investors with a share in its portfolio of luxury holiday homes and also the opportunity to holiday in them.
The club was established by a group of international entrepreneurs in early 2007. One of the founders, Mike Balfour, also founded the London-listed Fitness First health club in 1992.
Hideaways now manages two international investment funds and has 350 members, 40 of whom come from Hong Kong.
Its Classic Collection, started about five years ago, offers investors the chance to own a share in a collection of luxury properties including villas and chalets with an average value of around €1.5 million (HK$15.25 million) to €2 million and an average size of 2,690 square feet. The City Collection, started 18 months ago, includes serviced apartments in various top-tier cities.
The number of days members can use any of the homes is subject to the type of their membership. The lowest entry fee is for an associate membership of The City Collection: a half share in the fund costs £65,000 (HK$817,884) plus an annual fee of £2,760 and entitles the member to 12 nights' accommodation a year.
Investors can trade their stakes in the private market.
Johnston said he believed the club would prove attractive to wealthy individuals in the Southeast Asian region, including Hong Kong and Singapore. By the end of next year he expects to increase membership to at least 100 and to add one to two new properties a year.
He was also optimistic about the mainland market in the long run, but preferred to focus on Southeast Asia at present. "We must learn to walk before we can run," he said.