Owning a timeshare is one of those things I’m sure will be a big deal to me once I make it big as a reality TV star with my hit MTV show “Lower Middle Class and Pregnant,” which will be all about how I attempt to haggle with my insurance provider in an effort to lower my deductible in the days leading up to my due date. (Copyright pending.) So that’s why I’m paying attention to the timeshare market now—gotta stay ahead of the game.
But a recently launched startup, Inspirato, takes an interesting new angle on the timeshare model by eliminating a number of the restrictions. And it’s attracting some admirers. The company announced Monday that it has raised $17.5 million in a round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with help from Access Venture Partners and New York Yankees All-Star First Baseman Mark Teixeira.
Launched in January 2011, the site gives members all of the luxury of a timeshare without the hassle of having an extra mortgage to deal with. Members pay a one-time initiation fee of $15,000 as well as an annual renewal fee of $2,500 (this sounds like a lot, but it’ll be like maintaining a Costco membership when I hit the big time with my show [copyright pending].) In return, they get significantly reduced nightly rates for any of the 85 properties in Inspirato’s portfolio, with no restrictions on usage, even during peak travel periods, and no black-out periods.
To make this possible, Inspirato enters into long-term leases on properties with the owners, themselves, thereby eliminating brokers’ fees and giving Inspirato complete control over the property for up to three years.
Currently, the company’s portfolio contains properties in 25 locations, including London, Paris, Tuscany, Ecuador, Mexico, the Bahamas, Kenya, and the U.S., totaling over $100 million of luxury vacation rentals.
And users are interested: the company has already sold 900 memberships to date and is cash flow positive. Members have reported satisfaction rates of 9.4 out of a 10 point scale.
“We believe that Inspirato is rapidly becoming the standard for luxury vacations in homes,” said KPCB partner Ted Schlein, in a statement. “Offering an affordable, fully curated member experience from one vacation to the next distinguishes Inspirato from other luxury vacation rental options.” Schlein will be joining Inspirato’s board of directors.
The company plans to use the funds from this round to add more properties to its portfolio.
Luxury vacation rentals are a pretty hot market these days. Last month, Gilt's Jetsetter unveiled its new luxury vacation homes rental service Jetsetter Homes, which will compete with the likes of AirBnB and HomeAway for vacationing consumers, but will aim specifically for the luxury market.