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Exclusive Resorts adds luxury club twist: Adventures in an Airstream

Exclusive Resorts adds luxury club twist: Adventures in an Airstream

Exclusive Resorts is about to send its members where no luxury travel club has gone before — cascading around the country in Airstream trailers.

The Denver company has signed an exclusive agreement with Airstream 2 Go to offer extensive itineraries and 10-day rentals of the iconic American travel campers.

These excursions will cost members $400 per day in addition to the normal cost of their usage days, and about 10 should be available for trips at any given time.

A number of luxury travel clubs in recent years have added set-itinerary trips to their member options, in addition to the high-dollar luxury homes that helped to make the industry sector what it’s become.

But Exclusive Resorts’ newest partnership is one of the more interesting offerings, as it assumes that travelers who pay $40,000 to join its club and seek out coastline villas or mountain homes for their family getaways will want instead to travel with a 28-foot trailer with limited bathroom space and seek out campsites.

Cathy Ross, the company’s chief operating officer, is confident that will happen. In fact, she predicted that the idea of vacationing in an Airstream will appeal to two-thirds of Exclusive Resorts’ roughly 4,200 members who have spend time with their families in a number of luxury locations but are looking for something a little bit different to experience.

“It’s not just about the homes anymore. It’s really about the experience,” Ross said. “Our members are excited to expand their horizons and try new things ... What we’ve learned over the years with our members is that whatever we deliver to them, they trust us and they’ll try it.”

Airstream trailers debuted in the 1930s, and they grew a reputation over the proceeding decades as a sort of family-luxury camping vehicle that parents would hook up behind their cars and take on cross-country journeys.

But at the prices the trailer commanded — they retail for some $90,000 new — there was a limited base of people who could afford them, could store them in a typically non-urban location and could use them enough to justify their purchase of them.

So in 2012, former Airstream CEO Dicky Riegel launched Airstream 2 Go, a company that rents the vehicles, complete with a GMC Denali luxury SUV to pull them, and planning assistance for the vehicles.

And he found two groups of travelers — couples without children and families with kids between the ages of 3 and 20 — attracted to the service.

Under the partnership with Exclusive Resorts — the first such partnership Riegel’s company has entered with a travel company — the travel club will offer three specific itineraries: California Cruising, Big Sky Loop (through Montana) and Canyon Country, which weaves through Zion and Grand Canyon national parks.

The activities that are included range from privately guided canyon hikes to whitewater-rafting trips through national forests.

Ross is betting that the offering will set Exclusive Resorts apart from competitor clubs and that they could appeal especially to entrepreneurs who can enjoy roughing it.

Riegel, meanwhile, thinks that many people will relate to the rugged wanderlust of the trips, even if they are not a typical luxury-club offering.

“The common core is that adventuresome spirit,” Riegel said. “This is not something for a spa goer who is looking to be pampered. This is an authentic, adventuresome experience. And by putting your hands on it, there is an achievement ... that may be the new definition of luxury.”

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