Some People Don’t Buy Timeshare—They Buy Islands
Friday, November 23, 2007
Some people are just so interesting; I have to write about them from time to time. To me, Geoffrey Kent is one of those people.
Kent is the founder of the luxury safari specialists, Abercrombie & Kent. I mentioned A & K in a blog last August because in a secondary way, the company had found itself being named in a lawsuit that involved individuals investing in a timeshare resort, which they believed would be under the management of Abercrombie & Kent. If this California court case has been settled yet, I haven’t heard yet heard the outcome.
Even if the timeshare investors win their lawsuit, these unhappy investors will at best, only ding this company, whose sales are reportedly $500 million per year and increasing (according to unconfirmed sources) at a rate of 25 percent annually.
If you have never visited Abercrombie & Kent’s website, I encourage you to click on the link and have a look. Something about the site makes you want to board your private jet and head immediately to an exotic location. Catering to clients like Sting, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet, some of Abercrombie & Kent’s customers don’t buy timeshare; they buy islands or perhaps small countries instead. To be fair, I will say that the company does offer some travel packages, safaris, and cruises that are affordable even by those of us who will never own a private island.
But it’s Geoffrey Kent himself, who really fascinates me. At age 65, he’s still an adventure seeker and an admitted adrenalin junkie. Born in Kenya, he was kicked out of a prestigious boarding school, before going on as a young man to distinguish himself as a world-class polo player, and decorated British army officer.
Kent carved out Abercrombie & Kent’s place as luxury travel providers, literally by hand and hard work. Like any other travel related business, the company has seen tough times. Fear of SARS, political strife in Africa, and 9/11 are only some of the circumstances that have hurt leisure travel at all levels, even among the rich and famous. But with the company on target to perhaps see annual sales in the billions within only a few years, it seems that Abercrombie & Kent is weathering short term setbacks just fine.
If Hollywood ever films the story of Kent’s life—and it would make an excellent action film—I’m thinking they will cast Michael Caine or perhaps Sean Connery to play the lead. In the mean time, Kent goes on living his life on the edge, pushing his company to achieve extraordinary numbers, running the Prince of Wales Foundation in the US for his good friend, Prince Charles, and serving as this year’s chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Uber-luxury travel is wonderful. But if you want to explore the world, stay in great resorts, and still have money left over to retire someday, why not buy timeshare resales, where you can lock-in the cost of vacation accommodations for a lifetime?