ROCKY TOP: In the ski town of Telluride, every day is a Solstice.
Like many a CEO, Terry Montesi of the Trademark Property Company owns a second home-and could easily have others. But even as it is, he and his family get to visit their country place in Possum’s Kingdom, Texas, only three times in a year, at most. To Montesi, unhappy with the too-high maintenance and waste, a residence club called Solstice offered the best solution. It would give him access to 10 other second homes, minus the responsibility, maintenance and, yes, guilt over not making full use of his home. Since joining Solstice a year and a half ago, Montesi and his family have enjoyed stays in the Napa Valley, Telluride, Cabo San Lucas and Aspen; on top of that, they enjoyed a getaway on a Solstice yacht to Paradise Island, in the Bahamas.
“Our goal was to focus on the best, most unique homes,” says Jeffrey Scult, one of four Solstice founders. Another, Graham Kos, focuses on the architectural finds, and his wife, Shay Austin-Kos, handpicks everything for each of the homes. Austin-Kos adds unique touches, such as the antique and historic martini shaker in the yacht, to “appeal to highly accomplished individuals who have sophisticated lifestyle palates,” says Scult.
Founded in 2004, Solstice merged with Parallel, another destination club that targeted the ultra luxury segment, in 2006, combining Solstice’s strong portfolio and Parallel’s phenomenal member service, Scult says.
With the Parallel merger, there are now 10 homes-in Telluride, two in Aspen, the Napa Valley, Cabo San Lucas, St. Barts, Paris, London, Florence-and the yacht counted as one of the homes. Solstice maintains a 6:1 member to home ratio and now has 53 members. As they acquire more property, the number of members will increase accordingly. Each property comes with a Solstice lifestyle specialist, a house manager, housekeeping, a car and a virtual office; members can always ask for such extras as masseurs and bartenders.
The current Napa Valley property is temporary and will be replaced by a 200-year-old stone fort, Indian Gap, moved stone by stone from deep in the heart of Texas. Its bullet-ridden stones will be part of a new home, which will include 1,000-square-foot bedrooms and private meditation gardens. Meanwhile, over in Florence, the Villa Dolce is located right on the Piazza Della Signoria, with the façade designed by Michelangelo, original frescoes, and an entire “piano noble”, as the second floor is called in Italy.
For members who have owned yachts, the $4.2 million 90-foot Dover yacht, entirely refitted in 2004, is one of the main draws. Named Solstice I, it comes with Capt. Tim, Doris, the French chef, and Frank, the first mate. There are four elegant staterooms (one king size, three queen), a country kitchen, a large main saloon and dining room and an entertainment center. Other perks include a 30-foot Century tender with twin 250-hp outboards, a 12-foot inflatable and tons of scuba, snorkel and fishing gear. The yacht’s schedule is the Caribbean in the winter, the Bahamas in the spring and fall and New England in the summer. “We did Belize two years ago,” says Scult. “We could hit Uruguay.”
Solstice prides itself on being financially accountable and flexible. First, there are three kinds of memberships: Signature, Platinum and Sky memberships, with annual dues of $26,250, $42,000 and $68,000 respectively. All membership types allow unlimited use of the homes, but the Sky membership offers the most planning flexibility. Using the yacht comes with a $13,500 surcharge, but then again, it’s the most expensive property to staff, run and maintain. On the yacht, Scult says, the magic is that members access a depreciating asset while their membership model appreciates.
Contact: Solstice, (877) 727-5535; www.solsticecollection.com