When fractional ownership of property first arrived on the scene, the business model wasn’t exactly solid. It offered a tantalising alternative to owning a second home yet when you got there, you were likely to find the fridge full – and little else.
When fractional ownership of property first arrived on the scene, the business model wasn’t exactly solid. It offered a tantalising alternative to owning a second or third home without the hassle of management or the level of investment, yet when you got to the lodge, estancia, chalet or villa that you part-owned, you were likely to find the fridge full – and little else.
The model was too standardised. Quite American, notes Soren Jessen, CEO of the new game in town, Botiga. ‘The attempts in Europe were like an American car company trying to sell Cadillacs over here. It didn’t suit the market. They had very, very nice standard villas but there wasn’t really anything at the very top end.’
Jessen, a former banker turned restaurateur whose calling cards include restaurants 1 Lombard Street and South Kensington’s Papillion, joined Kit Harrison, the man behind Descent, Britain’s most up market Alpine chalet operator, to create a definitive private retreats club based on the hugely successful Descent model but where members owned the properties rather than rented. Botiga, recently launched, offers its members five to six weeks of holiday per year in both peak and off peak time in any of the club’s 60 properties worldwide – Lamu, Zermatt and Marrakech, to name some – in return for a one-off investment of €625,000 and annual dues of €35,000.
If you make the cut to become one of Botiga’s 30 founder members you can subscribe for €550,000 and dispense with annual dues. You effectively own the shares in the Jersey registered property investment company that owns all the club’s assets, and you benefit from the uplift in the underlying property value. On leaving the club you pay a performance fee equivalent to only ten per cent of the uplift in the value of their shares, and pocket the remaining 90 per cent of capital appreciation. Gone is the uncertainty and uniformity of rentals and hotels. This is fractional ownership with clout.