WORDS JAMES MEDD / PHOTOGRAPHY SAM CHRISTMAS
The luxury holiday-property investment club that’s now run by one of its former members
Nick Bettany arrives late for our appointment, but since he has been attending a prenatal scan it’s hard to hold against him. It’s twin boys: ‘Jumping in at the deep end,’ he says with the smile of one who has a good idea of what he's in for. You feel he’ll manage, considering the ridiculous amount he's already packed into his 34 years.
Since September Bettany has been CEO of The Hideaways Club, a property firm with one of those glaringly obvious clever ideas. He has the elevator pitch off pat: ‘Hideaways combines a real-estate investment with a lifestyle choice. We see it as an alternative to second-home ownership, without the restrictions of being stuck in one place and all the hassle of maintenance.’
Hideaways has two funds, the Classic Collection, which comprises four- or five- bedroom villas from piste-side Alps to beachside Mauritius, and the City Collection, which launches this month with 10 properties in major world cities. The Classic has been running for four years, with members investing up to £250,000; when they sell, they receive 80 per cent of the capital appreciation, which has been a steady six per cent since launch, according to Bettany.
In the meantime they have eight weeks a year in luxury holiday homes, the current 34 set to rise to 100. They also pay a levy of £14,000 but the level of accommodation might cost closer to £80,000 on the open market, and that’s before you factor in the concierge service that looks after everything from cleaning to shopping.
The City Collection has apartments in New York and Miami, some European capitals and also Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The system is the same but, since use will be less seasonal, there can be more members per property and so membership and annual cost contribution (for 23 nights a year) are lower, £120,000 and £5,300 respectively. ‘The Classic is more for families,’ says Bettany, ‘this is for people who are a bit more constrained with their time, who can’t afford to spend up to eight weeks a year on villa holidays.’
Bettany speaks very quickly, but coherently and persuasively. He’s the kind of man you’d trust with both your money and your holidays, particularly if you knew the breadth of his experience in both. Having followed his father into fund management in Jersey, he moved from administration to regulation. Then, after an MBA at INSEAD in 2006, he came to London and boutique investment bank Avington, buying and selling hotel chains, before turning entrepreneur in 2008 and setting up IT and care-home businesses.
His initial interest in Hideaways was as a member, and one who well knows the suffering of second-home ownership. As well as a family-owned wine estate in the Loire that he describes as a ‘labour of love’, he has a place in the Algarve which is a typical Hideaways story: ‘We’ve had it for 20, 24 years, probably been there 15 times, and it just sits there mouldering.’
He’s always had a toe in the hospitality industry, too. Since the mid-Nineties he’s had a stake in the Banyan Tree resort in the Seychelles, and he helps his brother, an award-winning hotelier who runs ‘eco-boutique resort’ Azura in Mozambique. He bought into the Hideaways management company, then came onboard in 2010, becoming CEO last September.
It’s a perfect fit. ‘I’m an accountant at heart,’ he says with pride, ‘but I’m involved in every aspect from sales and marketing to operations to speaking to members and making sure they’re happy.’