For those who want no management responsibilities but like the idea of unit-specific, deeded and equity-based ownership, Resort Owners Group (ROG) offers luxurious fully managed properties across North America (Mt. Tremblant, Que., Rossland, B.C., two developments in Florida and one under development in Muskoka).

Flexible purchasing allows whole owners (eight shares) to get 40 weeks annually, half owners 20 weeks, quarter owners 10 weeks, 1/8th owners five weeks with prices for some cottages and chalets around $60,000 and annual fees of about $5,000.

ROG retains 10 weeks of the property (two weeks are set aside for maintenance and repair work). In addition to their purchased share, owners have another full 10 flex weeks that are not specific to their unit. Selling or downsizing to fewer weeks is handled through ROG; its liquidity works to the owner's benefit. Founder and CEO Gary Carter also refers to "stack, rack and roll": stack your weeks booking multiple homes at the same location for an extended family vacation; rack your weeks in a row for a longer vacation; roll your week to another resort. Yours may be a $60,000 investment, yet you may have "rolled" into a million-dollar home in Whistler or the Bahamas (ROG is associated with Intrawest Resort 2 Resort exchange program).

With its high return on investment and return on enjoyment, Carter calls ownership in ROG "a mutual fund you can sleep in" – a unique model of resort home ownership that has been trademarked as OwningSocial.

The last decade has seen the growth of private residence clubs that offer access to a collection of five-star vacation homes around the world in exchange for a one-time membership fee and annual dues. They can be non-equity clubs, where members enjoy the benefits but don't own any interest in the homes and so are not impacted by the real estate market or the financial portfolio of the club, such as Exclusive Resorts.

Or they can be equity-based, which may have tax implications as members own the real estate portfolio. Such is the case with the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. A 1/10th share in Ghirardelli Square allows for five weeks of pampered holidays.

Because owners can stay up to 14 days at a time with reservations made up to 90 days in advance, the club is not unit-specific but floor plan-specific, i.e., two-bedroom, three bedroom, etc. A 1/10th share was selling at press time for US$220,000, with annual dues of approximately US$11,560. Selling the property means placing your share in the queue after a certain number of developer's sales take effect. Part of The Fairmont Heritage Portfolio, this high-end private residence club has more than 100 resorts within Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel. As well, an alliance with The Registry Collection offers access to more than 200 worldwide destinations – although leaving your heart – and a residence – in San Francisco means you'll always come back to your second home.

Originally published in Zoomer magazine, June 2014

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