Hell Yes I’m Joining Inspirato. And CrunchFund Is Investing.

I first wrote about Inspirato (affiliate link, see below) earlier this year – it’s a way for people to rent high end vacation homes at extremely reasonable prices. Instead of paying $4,000 a night for a four bedroom penthouse condo on the beach in Puerto Vallarta (with a private pool, no less), for example, you can pay just $400/night with Inspirato.

The picture above is a 2 bedroom, 3,200 square foot home in Tuscany that rents for $450/night in the summer, and as low as $320 per night in the off season.

For families, or a bunch of friends, it’s an extremely inexpensive way to feel like you are a super high roller while you’re on vacation.

The company operates on a “Costco” model. They have long term leases on the properties and let members get them for a price that just covers the cost of those leases (and the cost of a concierge, housekeeping, etc.). The profits all come from a one time initiation fee of $15,000, and a $2,500 maintenance cost.

It’s not for everyone, but there are a lot of people out there that see this as an almost magical deal. In just the few months since launching they have 900 members, and are adding about 100 per month.

I’ve been thinking about joining since I first wrote about them. Now, I’m not only joining but I’m investing, too. CrunchFund is joining the $17.5 million venture round being led by Kleiner Perkins.

If you’d like to join, use this affiliate link – http://www.inspirato.com/Invite/marrington. I get a $1,000 credit for each signup, and I’ll assign that to you for you to use for your first trip.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Leads $17.5M Financing for Inspirato

Investment to fuel property expansion for world’s fastest growing destination club

DENVER, October 18, 2011 – Today, Inspirato announced $17.5 million in equity funding
led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), the preeminent venture capital firm for
category building consumer companies. Founded by Brent and Brad Handler, the co-
founders of Exclusive Resorts, Inspirato eliminates what is wrong with luxury vacation
rentals, adds what is right about destination clubs, and creates the perfect solution for
families wanting to vacation better. Other investors in the round include Access Venture
Partners and New York Yankees All-Star First Baseman Mark Teixeira.

Launched in January of 2011, Inspirato’s quickly expanding property portfolio has over
85 residences in 25 destinations. With more than 900 memberships sold to date, Inspirato
is already cash flow positive and plans to use the new capital to add even more vacation
choices for its members.

“KPCB’s investment in Inspirato offers further proof that ‘smart luxury’ is alive and well,
and that savvy consumers are looking for a better way to vacation with family and friends,”
said Inspirato founder and CEO Brent Handler. “Our members recognize that overpaying
for a luxury vacation is no longer a status symbol. They have been burned too many times
playing vacation roulette with online rental sites and have no interest in first-generation
destination clubs whose initiation fees are typically hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The Inspirato membership is simple and affordable. Members pay a one-time Initiation
Fee of only $15,000 and an Annual Membership Renewal fee of $2,500. Unlike other
luxury vacation clubs and fractional ownership options, Inspirato has no complex or
confusing reservation rules. Members travel as often or as little as they like, and have no
restrictions on usage, even during peak travel periods such as school holidays. So far this
year, members have traveled thousands of days to club-managed properties and reported
satisfaction of 9.4 out of a possible ten point scale.

At the center of the company’s success is a unique business model whereby the club enters
into long-term leases on properties directly with owners. This structure eliminates
brokers’ fees and enables the club to control the end-to-end vacation experience for
members. Inspirato’s model allows for deeply discounted nightly rates, personalized
service, and maximum availability, even during peak travel seasons.

Ted Schlein, partner at KPCB who will join Inspirato’s board of directors, said, “We believe
that Inspirato is rapidly becoming the standard for luxury vacations in homes. Offering an

affordable, fully curated member experience from one vacation to the next distinguishes
Inspirato from other luxury vacation rental options. I am excited to work with the Handlers
who co-founded Exclusive Resorts and have deep expertise in this business.”
Schlein added, “In the luxury market, even affluent consumers are prioritizing value and
exercising discretion when making purchase decisions. We believe there is a significant
advantage for businesses that not only offer quality, but also value to the affluent
consumer.”

New York Yankees All-Star First Baseman Mark Teixeira, who along with several high-
profile CEOs and athletes joined Inspirato earlier this year, recently became an investor
in the company as well. “After taking my family on an Inspirato vacation, I knew this was
a concept that would appeal to so many other families, especially ones with children like
mine,” Mark said. “The properties are spacious and in the ideal location, the service is
proactive, and everything we need to make the trip perfect is at our fingertips. I am thrilled
to be a part of it.”

About Inspirato
Inspirato is the luxury vacation solution ideal for travel with family and friends that
combines the best of destination clubs’ consistency and service with the value and
flexibility of villa rentals. Inspirato founder/CEO Brent Handler is the co-founder and
former president of Exclusive Resorts. By leasing its vacation properties (rather than
owning,) Inspirato is able to keep membership fees low, offer up to 80 percent off market
rates, and easily add homes and destinations as demand increases. The company’s
innovative business model has led to rapid growth since its January 2011 launch, placing
Inspirato at the forefront of the “luxury for less” movement.

Access to Inspirato’s personalized travel services and advisors, club-managed portfolio
of more than $150 million in vacation homes, and exclusive discounted everyday rates,
is available for an Initiation Fee of only $15,000 and a small Annual Membership Fee of
$2,500. There are no complicated restrictions; members travel as much or as little as they
like. Inspirato residences are outfitted with the highest quality amenities and located
in popular destinations including Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, California, South Carolina, the
Caribbean and Colorado. Beyond luxury residences there is Inspirato Metropolitan, a
collection of select fine hotel and resorts in the hottest destinations around the globe, and
Inspirato Experiences, offering expertly curated vacation adventures.

For more information about Inspirato, visit http://www.inspirato.com.

About Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Since its founding in 1972, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed entrepreneurs in
over 500 ventures, including AOL, Google, Amazon, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech,
Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Sun, Symantec, Twitter, and Zynga. KPCB portfolio
companies employ more than 250,000 people. More than 150 of the firm’s portfolio

companies have gone public. Many other ventures have achieved success through mergers
and acquisitions.

45 thoughts on “Hell Yes I’m Joining Inspirato. And CrunchFund Is Investing.

  1. For a second I thought “Joining” meant working for, like you’re leaving the CrunchFund.

  2. Just signed up. This is an awesome idea!

  3. Ok, joined and looking fwd to my first trip.

  4. Was really pumped at this until I read “only $15,000″.

    Now I’m just jealous

  5. So would it be safe to say that the main difference between this and the Marriott Vacation Club would be the quality of where you’re staying? More of a luxury dwelling as opposed to a comfortable, but mostly average location?

  6. Adam Gering says:

    They should let companies join too. Startups renting villas for offsite meetings/retreats is potential market (which you can certainly market to); and the membership fee may be tax deductible.

    CEO could sign up individually and rent, but what’s the life expectancy of a startup CEO?

    • Adam Gering says:

      Although most the places they have in inventory presently are not “villas” with a capacity suitable for offsites. My house in Costa Rica is bigger anything they list presently. They’ll need to add some villas with larger capacity to serve that market/purpose.

      • Brian Corbett says:

        Thanks for the suggestions, Adam. We’ve found that members enjoy reserving multiple units together for corporate and group use. The homes have plenty of space for gathering, but then it’s nice to have some separation, too.

        We’re always looking at homes with 5 or more bedrooms. At present, over 10% of our portfolio has 5 or more bedrooms. If you have any specific destinations that interest you, we’d love to hear.

        Best,
        Brian Corbett, Founder and Chief Experience Officer

        • Brian, I like your concept, but you need way more places, including exotic, unusual places. Right now you basically have the obviously locations — New York, Paris, etc. I realize the economics for an unusual place might not work, since you probably could not lease the place enough. So how about a slight change in your business model. Add places where you don’t sign a long-term lease, you rent on an ad hoc basis. The value you add is that you have vetted the place, it’s not a dump, the owner is legitimate. If you did this, I would join in a second.

          Call me at (424) 249-7910 if you want further thoughts.

          James Mitchell

        • pj says:

          Brian, my worry would be you raising your rental fees after locking me in with the $15K fee.

          If there are some legal guarantees on that, it’s a great model.

  7. Dave says:

    $15,000 to sign up and then $2,500 annual fees? This is how the other half live then. Or perhaps just the 1%.

  8. Nirav says:

    Wonder what the average age of members would be, don’t expect a lot of <40 year olds in there.

  9. This is pretty bad ass. I’ll have to keep this in mind for when I find time to get out of my bubble.

  10. Shame on you hawking a timeshare for $17500 as an “Investment!”

  11. Erik says:

    Airbnb for rich people. Cool.

  12. I really like the fact that you are willing to push the $1K referral fee back to the particpants. That is one classy move.

    An I would have to agree with Erik, its an Airbnb for the upscale consumer. Sounds interesting.

  13. Guest 9 says:

    Given the economic realities (not likely to improve for many years), particularly in countries like Italy, I can negotiate a deal just about anywhere with a property owner via HomeAway/VRBO/etc. — All without coining in up front.

    I was actually just looking to rent a villa (or, better yet, a castle) in Italy for a week in December – go ahead, look it up — It’s dead easy to get a great deal from many existing referral networks (complete with user gen reviews).

    Sorry. Me thinks @arrington has been spending too much time in the back of an Uber cab…’ye be losing a wee bit ‘o touch with reality I’m afraid.

  14. Scott says:

    Sooo it’s a timeshare. What a revolutionary new market! -groan-

    I just lost so much respect for you guys.

  15. James Zhang says:

    Good luck, this can be a successful business model, lower competition..

  16. Jean-Paul says:

    @arrington, what does Inspirato do with $17MM? Can you give some insight into this kind of tech fundraising?

    I can’t see a cash burn rate on employees of more than $1.5MM/year with $500k in system costs.

  17. Randy says:

    Vacation rentals! How innovative. A sure bet, though. Way to go, crunch fund. Why invest in something risky when there’s… this? Got its perks, too! Right? Yeah!

    So now we know why “Tech” was dropped from the fund’s moniker. It’s not a tech fund.

  18. Johny Miric says:

    It’s very interesting, I heard about this before and suggested to a friend to join. Usually our 2 or 3 families go together on vacations, in summer and Christmas, and we pay really a lot on 5 stars hotels. I wonder can we just pay one fee and share this between 3 families so that everybody can used it when they want?

    • Brian Corbett says:

      Hi John, thank you very much for your interest. Inspirato does have many ways that families can share access to our club. Please give us a call at 303.586.7771 and we will direct you to one of our membership VP’s.
      Best,
      Brian Corbett, Founder and Chief Experience Officer

  19. Zebot says:

    Just signed up – thanks Mike – how exactly will we get that $1K credit?

  20. Jazz says:

    I’m curious to know how Inspirato plans to manage their member to villa ratio? The negative side of these membership clubs is in my opinion, limited availability during prime dates in prime areas. Ya it’s a cool concept but will there be something available for me during the winter in the Caribbean when I want to wear my Borat bathing suit?

    Disclosure: I Co-Founded Luxury Retreats which is an a la carte model.

    • Brian Corbett says:

      Thanks for asking. We always love to hear from others in the travel industry.

      Inspirato is unique from other destination clubs because our leasing model helps us provide high-demand availability. Since we have a great deal of experience in the industry, we know how important availability is for our members. Right now, we have a high availability surplus, and we plan to scale our properties to meet future demand, as our flexible leasing model allows us to do so.

      When members want to travel on a certain date, and our residences are booked for that period, we often shop on the open market to find comparable accommodations.

      Please give us a call at 303.586.7771 if you’d like to discuss.

      Best,
      Brian Corbett
      Founder and Chief Experience Officer

      • Jazz says:

        Makes sense. Thanks for the scoop Brian!

        I know you guys are vets and figured you had solved what I see is one of the flaws with joining these membership clubs. Going out to the open market is a great solution. You probably also have some internal metric like add x new members….must add y new property.

        Good luck and congrats on the funding!!

        Jazz

  21. Are you interested in investing in iJunkey com

  22. Jim Murphy says:

    Inspirato certainly fills a great void: between the high end destination clubs where you $ too much and wild-west style listing sites where you have no idea what you’re getting.

    The real risk for the consumer is the reliance on membership fee income to support operating costs of the business. Destination clubs have suffered from this from the get-go. There is an inherent working capital deficit risk in any biz. that relies on new membership fee income to cover the cost of ongoing operations. Just ask the members of Ultimate Escapes, Private Retreats, Ultimate Resort, High Country, Solstice, Tanner and Haley etc etc. They all succumb to the same problem. Need more memberships to keep cash flow to fund operations.

    Vacation rental rates are very often irrational. This is not the same market as commercial real estate where the rental rates cover the full cost of capital. When a rich guy owns a villa in Mexico, often he does so for lifestyle and tax reasons. Rental income is a way to defray his tax/operating costs not to cover his full cost of capital. This is the flaw in destination clubs where they had to carry the full cost of a villa while the next door neighbor rents for very different reasons…and rates. You can almost always find a rental cheaper than you can purchase or lease – since mid-to-long term leases have the same challenges.

    Fundamentally, you have to ask yourself, why ever pay a membership fee to offset the cost of a vacation in the first place? You know the cost of leasing a villa has to get covered one way or another – it has to net out to more than a straight rental. Paying for a membership just buys you lock-in. You reduce your options to 85 out of the tens of thousands of luxury villas that exist in the market.

    You don’t need to make this trade off – ever.

    Though I’m biased I still wish you and Inspirato the best of luck. :-)

    http://demeure.com

  23. Jim Murphy says:

    Inspirato certainly fills a great void: between the high end destination clubs where you $ too much and wild-west style listing sites where you have no idea what you’re getting.

    The real risk for the consumer is the reliance on membership fee income to support operating costs of the business.  Destination clubs have suffered from this from the get-go.  There is an inherent working capital deficit risk in any biz. that relies on new membership fee income to cover the cost of ongoing operations.  Just ask the members of Ultimate Escapes, Private Retreats, Ultimate Resort, High Country, Solstice, Tanner and Haley etc etc.  They all succumb to the same problem.  Need more memberships to keep cash flow to fund operations.  

    Vacation rental rates are very often irrational.  This is not the same market as commercial real estate where the rental rates cover the full cost of capital.  When a rich guy owns a villa in Mexico, often he does so for lifestyle and tax reasons. Rental income is a way to defray his tax/operating costs not to cover his full cost of capital.  This is the flaw in destination clubs where they had to carry the full cost of a villa while the next door neighbor rents for very different reasons…and rates.  You can almost always find a rental cheaper than you can purchase or lease – since mid-to-long term leases have the same challenges.

    Fundamentally, you have to ask yourself, why ever pay a membership fee to offset the cost of a vacation in the first place?  You know the cost of leasing a villa has to get covered one way or another – it has to net out to more than a straight rental.  Paying for a membership just buys you lock-in.  You reduce your options to 85 out of the tens of thousands of luxury villas that exist in the market.

    You don’t need to make this trade off – ever.

    Though I’m biased I still wish you and Inspirato the best of luck. :-)

    http://demeure.com

  24. Bob says:

    A timeshare? smh.

  25. You have to pay $15,000 every 30 years! So its not a “one time” fee!

    “Each membership term is one year, and members may renew up to 29 one-year terms.”

  26. Bas says:

    I just came here on Uncrunched, after doing a search on Google for Michael Arrington, after I found that as I just returned from a long holiday, Techcrunch was’nt Techcrunch no more. And then I find this timeshare advertorial.

  27. cathyee1 says:

    Michael, I hope you’ve been enjoying your Inspirato membership and had some good vacations at club homes.
    Since Inspirato launched there are now a few clubs with a similar model, in addition to the equity destination clubs where members actually own the club homes and real estate.
    Portico is the biggest of the direct competitors – there’s a side by side comparison article here of Inspirato vs Portico . There’s pros and cons to both of them and Portico currently has a lower joining fee of $2,500.
    Demeure, mentioned in one of the comments above is another alternative, with a slightly different model.

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