Q&A with Helmut Schön, founding Member of The Hideaways Club

Just what is The Hideaways Club, and how does it benefit its Members? We spoke to Helmut Schön, one of the founding Members of The Hideaways Club, to find out.

The Hideaways Club promises its Members exceptional experiences and once-in-a-lifetime memories. With its growing property portfolio of exquisite, villas, apartments and chalets in more than 25 destinations around the world, the shared ownership Club is a must for anyone who values quality time spent with loved ones, supported by unparalleled levels of service in private, interior-designed homes from home.

Here, Helmut gives his personal insight into how the Club works, and how it has had a positive impact on his life.

| Travel Intelligence

What is The Hideaways Club?
The Hideaways Club is a private Members Club where all Club Members jointly own an Equity Share in a global property portfolio of villas, apartments and chalets and have quality-assured access to each one, instead of owning just a property themselves or taking risks with quality and standards when renting.

In contrast to owning a second home, Membership provides hassle-free use of authentic homes away from home during different seasons. Plus, Members have access to highly personalised services from the Personal and Local Concierge teams that tailor-make each and every trip, ensuring Members return home with unique experiences and memories to share.

What inspired you to create The Hideaways Club?
We (Stephen Wise, my co-founder, and our respective families) were fed up with not finding what we were looking for - exclusive, interior-designed homes away from home with plenty of space, facilities and privacy, but not forgoing what we all love about a luxury hotel; exceptional service and an efficient and knowledgeable Concierge service available seven days a week.

As 'it' did not exist, we set out to create it.

As founders, we've been down the route before of owning our own holiday home. It's great to start with, but then becomes a drag, sucking up time and restricting opportunities. Having one is great, but what about exploring the world at different times of the year?

Renting homes is mostly a gamble - sometimes lucky, too often not. Often they are substandard, with poor quality interiors and no assured levels of service.

So we set out to create a product that would combine the best of all worlds: owning not one but a portfolio of exceptional homes for different seasons with access to Personal Concierge services seven days a week.

We wanted to remove the risks of holidaying by providing peace of mind when trying something new, and providing assured quality and service levels our Members can rely on and trust. And so The Hideaways Club was born.

How does Membership work?
First, acquire a Share in the Fund that owns the properties. With this Share, a Member co-owns the properties around the globe with all the other Members. This is a one-time payment.

Then, become a Club Member, which is when the fun starts - this covers the holidays, and the Personal and Local Concierge services. The Club also manages all the properties and looks after them, so they are always in the best possible shape.

Members pay an annual fee to the Club Company, and built into that is the use of any property around the globe. Depending on the type of Membership bought, there are certain booking windows and usage levels available to suit different lifestyles.

Some Members prefer to travel at off-peak times, or only use the Club for two weeks a year; others want maximum flexibility.

What is common among all Membership types is that the properties can be shared with family and friends, just like a Member would their own home. So, for example, we have Members who share it with their parents or siblings, and we also allow companies to buy a Membership and share it among senior managers.

How has your lifestyle changed since founding and becoming a Member of The Hideaways Club?
I am indeed a normal Member too and have bought a Share like everyone else. We use it a lot for skiing as we love the chalets and the quality of them all. As a family, when we want to completely wind down we much prefer to stay in a home away from home than a hotel. Hotels can be great for some occasions but they don't really offer total privacy and relaxation.

What's the most significant benefit of Membership to you?
Peace of mind thanks to the quality assurance. It means we look forward to leaving home, knowing that we won't end up in some sort of shack but will be well looked after and won't have to worry about anything.

Aside from the peace of mind, to anyone considering joining, what's the most beneficial feature of Membership?
If you can do without endless accommodation searches on booking websites, not really being sure how the holiday will turn out, and having to organise it all yourself, then you should seriously consider joining.

With Membership, the Personal and Local Concierge are on hand to take care of all arrangements, the quality of the properties is exceptional, and Members and their guests feel at home right away.

I see my Membership as a sort of insurance policy against disappointments - plus I get to spend the best time together with my loved ones and am not wasting time worrying. Our year-round holidays are taken care of with just one annual Membership fee while we focus on having experiences together for life-long memories.

Where's your favourite property?
People often ask that but in all honesty I haven't visited them all. We love the Tuscany villas, Dar Hasnaa in Morocco, and the chalets in Chamonix as well as Nendaz in the Four Valleys. The beauty of The Hideaways Club is that because the properties are so varied it's possible to have many favourites as they all offer something special.

What's your most memorable moment from time spent at The Hideaways Club?
Again, it's hard to pinpoint just ONE moment, as each place or stay produces many, but the first time we stayed at Dar Hasnaa in Marrakech, the Local Concierge took us on a tour of the souk and to places no tourist would get to visit - into people's homes and down hidden treasure alleys - to see the real Marrakech. That was very memorable.

What're the most elaborate arrangements the Concierge has made for you? Just how demanding can you be?
To be honest, we're pretty easy Members! Perhaps the most elaborate was a trip though the Moroccan Sahara with camel riding and staying in Berber tents, which was all sorted by the Local Concierge team.

When and where is your next trip?
We plan some short breaks during the year and like to make use of the exchange deal we have with hotel groups, such as Relais & Chateaux, that Members can use their points with. We've booked a Chamonix chalet for next year and top of our list to visit is Casa Paradiso on Lake Maggiore. We like the look of its views over the water and location in the heart of beautiful Cerro di Laveno.

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