Clubbing It

A hub of the travel club, the Front Range offers world-class adventure travel destinations, as it’s done for more than half a century

Exclusive Resorts Real Del Mar, Mexico destination indulges guests with a hillside luxury villa and unparalleled ocean views. Photography: Real Del Mar

Exclusive Resorts Real Del Mar, Mexico destination indulges guests with a hillside luxury villa and unparalleled ocean views. Photography: Real Del Mar

The beauty of the Front Range is a sight to behold. Blue peaks line the horizon and rolling valleys stretch for miles. As any local knows, the rugged landscape attracts attention from those looking for a sweet escape from their everyday existence. Whether in the lush summer months or pristine snow-sheathed seasons, the state is known for vacationers coming back year after year. Just as attractive as our state has become for tourists worldwide, it’s also the hub of some of the most prestigious travel clubs in the world. And it may date back to the 1960s, when Denver-based Ports of Call Travel Club began offering all-inclusive travel memberships.

Established in 1966 in Denver, Ports of Call worked out of a private terminal near Stapleton International Airport. Operating with large Boeing aircrafts, the club whisked members away to exotic destinations and provided one-of-a-kind experiences that weren’t easy to come by as a private traveler at the time. With around 29,000 members, the club provided vacationers with myriad destinations, such as Puerto Vallarta and Jamaica in the 70s, and Luxembourg and Kenya in the 80s. The club even featured an annual “Mystery Trip,” which involved members signing on to travel to an unknown location. According to those who were members, traveling with the club felt like vacationing with an extended network of friends.

Today’s travel club members include the likes of America Online founder, Steve Case, and Microsoft mogul, Bill Gates. But you don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy the benefits of a travel club, which offer the perks of owning a second home, without any of the hassle. Most clubs function similarly to the Ports of Call model. By paying a one-time membership fee and annual dues, members gain access to the clubs’ innumerable destinations, with higher level memberships opening up more exclusive options and amenities.

Exclusive Resorts
Exclusive Resorts offers its members more than 300 multimillion-dollar, two- to five-bedroom privately managed residences spanning 75 destinations. Each of the hand-selected destinations comes with the services of a concierge and amenities such as media rooms, private pools and hot tubs. Perhaps most renowned are its Exclusive Ambassadors.

“No matter where you travel, every Exclusive Resorts vacation is planned from start to finish by our team of expert Ambassadors who know our travelers’ likes and dislikes down to the snacks in the pantry and wine being chilled in the fridge,” says Chief Operations Officer, Cathy Ross. “Our Ambassadors work directly with each dedicated, onsite concierge team to ensure that every Exclusive Resorts guest arrives to a residence that feels just like their own.”

The attention-to-detail truly makes the club stand out, with Ambassadors arranging for the families’ own photos to greet them upon arrival and personalized aprons hanging in the gourmet kitchens. One of the Ambassadors even arranged for a Christmas tree to be delivered, and decorated the entire residence—complete with wrapped presents—because the family had never been away from home during the holidays, explains Ross.

The Traveler’s Advantage
An Exclusive Ambassador who gets to know you and your family’s likes and dislikes; individualized itineraries for each vacation; freedom to enjoy the vacation destinations without paying the membership dues.

 

As part of Exclusive Resorts Mountain Collection, the vacation homes in Lake Tahoe exude luxury. Photography: Exclusive Resorts

As part of Exclusive Resorts’ Mountain Collection, the vacation homes in Lake Tahoe exude luxury. Photography: Exclusive Resorts

NextGreatTrip
NextGreatTrip, a leisure travel company, orchestrates premium package vacations incorporating private charter flights out of Denver, says Tom Filippini, chief executive officer and founder of NextGreatTrip, as well as co-founder of Exclusive Resorts. “Our service is to some degree modeled after Ports of Call,” says Filippini. “Our trips are unique in that they eliminate the hassle of commercial air travel; provide a simple, one-stop-shop booking process; and offer highly-personalized service and trip planning.”

This summer, travelers embarked on the “Fly the USA Pro Challenge” experience, which offered an Aspen-Snowmass weekend getaway that gave adventurers exceptional access to the USA Pro Challenge cycling race. A private jet whisked travelers between race stages, who had a chance to ride the official course before the pros. Even more rare, those who booked the trip had a former professional cyclist serve as their host and dedicated bike concierge throughout the week.

However, NextGreatTrip’s travel options extend far beyond the state. The “Spectacular SoCal Getaway” featured a stay at the 5-Star Grand Del Mar hotel in San Diego and took in the beauty of the coast. “The destinations we serve, which are often difficult or impossible to reach with a direct flight from Colorado, are perhaps what make us most appealing to travelers,” says Filippini. “We offer trips within the state to incredible places, such as Telluride and Aspen, though our primary focus is on iconic destinations such as Bandon Dunes, Oregon and Loreto Baja, Mexico.”

The Traveler’s Advantage
Private chartered planes with direct flights; access to unique destinations; one-stop booking process for quick and easy travel planning

Inspirato
CEO, Brent Handler, founded Denver-based Inspirato in 2011, and it’s quickly become one of the most luxurious vacation clubs in America. Inspirato Signature Service is the center of the member experience, which is designed to provide an unforgettable vacation without any of the hassle that comes with travel. A Personal Vacation Advisor guides guests to the destination that most aligns with their desires, whether that is an excursion to a pristine beach at one of the ocean-side spots, such as the Bahamas, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Cape Cod, or a mountain retreat, such as Wyoming, Lake Tahoe and Colorado.

The resort’s portfolio includes a number of Colorado destinations because travelers are so attracted to the state. “Colorado is synonymous with skiing and riding, but the diversity of other things to do, not only in the winter but throughout the year, makes it a favorite destination for the affluent and active families we serve,” says Chief Experience Officer, Brian Corbett.

The Traveler’s Advantage
A $700+ million portfolio of more than 235 Inspirato Signature Residences; a Personal Vacation Advisor to help you get the most from your membership; a lineup of last-minute Inspirato Signature Residence getaways offered at discounted rates.

Natural Habitat Adventures
Boulder-based Natural Habitat Adventures offers something a little different, and something they guarantee to be the most memorable travel experience possible. This nature travel outfitter offers outdoor-focused adventures with unique itineraries developed by the World Wildlife Fund’s top scientists. From private wildlife reserves to remote access to the most alluring national parks, these journeys are guided by a collection of naturalist Expedition Leaders who are highly trained experts in their fields of study. In groups of nine or less, travelers can explore the most unadulterated landscapes this world offers. After a long day in the rugged terrain, luxury camps and lodges make excursions as comfortable as they are astonishing.

The Traveler’s Advantage
No cancelations on trips due to low enrollment; 100-percent offset of the carbon emissions from each trip as the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company; worldwide travel partner of the World Wildlife Fund.

The beauty of Colorado—and its appeal to vacationers—has made the tourism industry an attractive investment. Maybe that’s part of the reason why so many vacation clubs call the Centennial state their home base. “Colorado is a great place for all kinds of travelers, but especially those who love the outdoors, said Ross. “There’s so much to do year-round. Our members love rafting, fishing and biking in the summer. Autumn is stunning when the leaves change color, not to mention perfect weather for hiking. Winter is great for tubing, snowmobiling, dog-sledding and snowshoeing. And of course, you can’t beat skiing in the winter and spring.”
No matter if a traveler’s inclination is toward pristine coastlines, mountainous terrain or exotic excursions, the Front Range is the hub of the travel club, as it has been since the 60s and will continue to be for many decades to come.

UP NEXT: Home on the Range

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