The Hideaways

Earlier this year, we spent a week at the fabulous Chalet Etoile in the Valais region of Switzerland, looking over the towns below and enjoying some of the finest views in Nendaz.

This property is making its investors a handsomer return than most.

Enter The Hideaways Club, our gracious and hospitable hosts for the week here in the village of Nendaz.

The Hideaways Club was founded in 2006 by Stephen Wise, Helmut Schoen and Michael Balfour. Being holiday home owners themselves, the founders were looking for a simpler and more enjoyable way to own a second home overseas.

“If you have a property abroad the first few days of your holiday are spent doing chores like fixing a broken window, cleaning-up or taking stuff to the tip. Our Members can afford second homes but they don’t want the hassle that comes with it. They also want the chance to explore a different location every time.”

The initial portfolio included 13 properties located mainly around the Mediterranean and 60 Members, most of them joining through word of mouth. After a few years, the Club positioned itself as an exclusive members travel club, bringing together the elite that wanted the travel lifestyle, minus the home ownership headache. The Hideaways Club brings a twist to the US “fractional ownership” model, the main difference being that investors pay £250,000 to own a share in a global property portfolio, rather than just buying the right to use the properties.

The global portfolio now consists of 32 Villas in France, Italy (including Sardinia), Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Croatia, Mauritius, South Africa and South East Asia as well as Ski Chalets in France, Switzerland and Japan. More properties are planned to be added and reciprocal agreements with similar destination Clubs such as Banyan Tree, Equity Estate and Exclusive Resorts give the Club’s Members access to over 250 additional properties in 70 different locations around the world.

We were staying at the Ski Chalet Etoile in Switzerland. With four plush bedrooms, two masters, a games room, walk around terrace, jacuzzi and majestic views across the valley, it was hard to not fall in love with the place. As you can see from the video embedded in the magazine, the chalet itself was breathtaking.

We were greeted by Treena Davis the Operations Manager for The Hideaways Club. And before you assume we were getting preferential treatment, we weren’t. All Hideaways Club guests are greeted personally – be it at the airport or at the resort by the team. Having loaded our luggage onto the Polaris, we steamed up the hill towards the properties. Quite a sight as the sun set over the mountains and millions of tiny energy-efficient bulbs switched on across the Rhone valley.

I have stayed in many a chalet before and enjoyed some of the best the big five regions have to offer. I always bring a few people with me who are ski seasonaires and who can give me a wide-eyed, dewy opinion. ‘Magnificent view’, ‘amazing house’, the compliments came in drifts.

The one thing I hadn’t experienced, believe it or not, was a ski in chalet. Having spent many years travelling as the guests of many organisations, I had never been placed high on the piste.

This was to be an experience for me. Setting off first-thing involved no lengthy trudge or drive, just a small click here and there and off I went. I was on-piste in about two minutes, scouting for bars. As the season was coming to a close and the heat was being turned up, there were many people skiing in shorts enjoying the fine weather this side of the valley has to offer. Having parted with my Swiss currency and bought a lift pass (another opportunity to use my Franglais), myself and my non-ski-centric friend ascended the piste. Don’t worry, I wasn’t about to try and give lessons; I was far too keen to try and cause serious injury to myself by hurtling down the piste. Luckily I had arranged for Patrick Schlup from the Alpine Centre to come and teach my partner in crime to parallel. True to his work, he had him skiing reds and blues within two days, in Nendaz and Verbier no less. Despite having invested in the new GoPro Black edition, I still wasn’t able to get any sizeable spills on camera.

After two days on and off piste, I felt we were starting to get our bearings and a real feel for the house and the local village. There are a selection of excellent bars and restaurants in the town, but La Cabane ranks highly along with Le Bob bar on the slopes of Tracouet.

To be honest, I’m more a fan of buying in for the family from one of the local butchers and cooking something hearty and delicious. The kitchen in the chalet was chef standard, so cooking up a decent meal for all was a joy. The Hideaways Club can of course arrange restaurant reservations or an in-chalet chef for the length of your stay of course. So how does the system work?

There are several levels of membership package ranging from £69,500 – £250,000 and your time at the properties in the portfolio is determined by your investment package. You can choose from Tuscany, Miami, Mauritius – the list is endless – and growing every year.

A huge amount of research also goes into property selection, as you would expect. If the past few years have told us anything, it’s that the international property market for single investors can be volatile and daunting.

The Classic Collection is now the largest club investment with properties worth upwards of £1.5m. Properties tend to be chosen with the area’s natural beauty and access in mind, and are all furnished with care and attention.

If you are more allured to the idea of a cultural weekend break, the group also has the City Collection. The Hideaways Club offer a selection of fully-serviced Apartments spanning the world’s most sophisticated and culturally diverse cities from Paris to New York and Miami. These aren’t properties just anywhere; you wouldn’t be able to hire somewhere to this specification and in these well chosen areas, if you tried.

The key focus for the Club’s Members is ownership. Both Funds allow investors to buy a stake in the portfolio, which is then managed and maintained by the Operations team.

The Hideaways Club also offers a unique concierge service that tailors each holiday to its property owners’ needs. Airport transfers, activities, nanny, chef – you name it, they are there.

Our meagre needs in Nendaz weren’t quite up to family-of-four standard. All we required was the occasional transfer and late-night recommendation on where to go. It is clear that the team and concierge care about their Members’ enjoyment. And what could be more enjoyable than staying in your own home, knowing that it will be looked after all year round by dedicated professionals. All this – but with a tangible ROI. With market fluctuations as they are and the increasing level of complexity required to own a second home, The Hideaways Club is leading the field of international property ownership. Don’t just take our word for it – watch the video and see for yourself.

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