How To Live Like The Other Half
Some investments aren't about return—they're about getting more for less.
(Business 2.0) – Who says you shouldn't live beyond your means? That was certainly the idea behind companies like NetJets and Flexjet, which emerged in recent years to offer shared access to that most high-flying of travel indulgences—the private jet—at somewhat more down-to-earth prices. But a Citation X isn't the only extravagance that can now be divvied up among a group of modestly wealthy folks. Here are three opportunities that allow any Tom, Dick, or Harry to recreate like a Bill, Steve, or Larry.
VACATION HOMES »Forget those drab concrete condo towers in Cabo San Lucas. Denver-based Exclusive Resorts, co-owned by AOL founder Steve Case, is selling the sort of time-share you'll actually want to use over and over. For a membership fee of $375,000—good for 30 years and 80 percent refundable at any time—plus $15,000 to $25,000 a year, you get 30 to 60 days' access to any of more than 150 luxury homes around the world. Options include everything from a two-bedroom apartment aboard a 644-foot ocean liner called the World to a 3,000-square-foot beachfront spread in—yes—Cabo, complete with plunge pool, private chef, and home theater system. Since the company's launch two years ago, more than 900 of the not-so-rich-and-famous have signed up. Says Gene Roeder, a Northern California psychologist who has divided his 45 days among Cabo, San Francisco, Deer Valley, and the World: "You have a staff, they make your breakfast, they serve you margaritas. We're talking classy."
MOTOR COACHES» In traveling the country for his Monday Night Football broadcasts, John Madden rides in a $1 million, 45-foot cruiser with a steam bath and granite floors. A great way to travel—but who else (except maybe a hardworking rock band) really needs year-round access to a five-star hotel on wheels? Such is the premise behind a fractional ownership plan launched last year by Chicago-based American Quartercoach, which sells one-eighth shares in 40-foot Monaco cruisers decked out with full kitchens, master suites, and satellite TV. Each $34,900 share buys you five weeks a year on the open road. After three years, the company sells the bus and splits the proceeds among the owners, typically recouping about half of the investment.
MEGA-YACHTS» Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen paid an estimated $200 million last year for the largest private yacht in the world—the 413-foot Octopus, complete with a personal submarine and a recording studio. Yet for less than what it reportedly costs Allen to fill his diesel tanks, you can buy a 10 percent share in a nicely appointed Fairline 62, which comes with two staterooms, a captain, a chef, and a mate. Your $186,000 plus a $1,750 monthly maintenance fee gets you four weeks a year off ports between Martha's Vineyard and the Virgin Islands. As with the bus-share, Yacht Smart sells the boat on behalf of the owners after five years, generally for about 60 percent of what they paid. "It gives you all the pleasure of owning a yacht without the additional expense and hassle," says Charles Stumpf, an insurance exec from Kansas City in his second year of a Fairline share. "Hiring and qualifying the captains, doing the maintenance—I don't have any of that drudgery." And if he's entertaining business clients? The fuel's a write-off. — JEFFREY DAVIS