Equity Estates vs. Inspirato: What to know before joining a vacation club

Published Date: April 6, 2023

Beautiful Luxury Home Exterior at Twilight with Colorful Sunset Sky
For those who love to travel, do so frequently, and want more out of their accommodations than simply a hotel room, vacation clubs and fractional ownership programs can be very appealing. While timeshares are common and available through a wide range of companies, there’s another tier of vacation clubs designed for luxury-minded travelers. Two of the best known are Equity Estates and Inspirato. While they both offer their members access to incredible vacation homes and hotel properties around the world, the way they’re set up — and how much they’ll cost you — varies significantly. Here’s what you need to know about Equity Estates and Inspirato, and why Pacaso might be an even better option.

How does Equity Estates work?

A common gripe about timeshares is that you pay a lot of money into the program, yet you gain no equity in the properties you visit each year — you get only the right to use the property. Equity Estates offers an alternative. Instead of paying a membership fee, you contribute to an investment fund that buys you shares of the Equity Estates property portfolio. Down the road when your defined liquidity date arrives, the residences are sold and investors are paid back 100% of their initial capital contribution, plus 80% of the profits. 

Properties and destinations

During the years between investment and disbursement, investors enjoy access to 60+ destinations across over 25 countries. The properties are private, luxury homes valued between $2 million and $5 million, with amenities like oceanfront views, ski-in/ski-out access, swimming pools and private club access. 


Depending on your level of investment, you’ll get a set number of nights per year. Equity Estates promises better availability than timeshares since homes are only available to investors.


In addition to your initial investment, which can start at $145,000 or more, investors pay annual fees to cover maintenance, daily housekeeping, a personal travel concierge, destination manager and local hosts. 

How does Inspirato work? 

Inspirato also promises luxury vacations at upscale private homes around the world, but the structure of the program is quite different from Equity Estates. Inspirato is set up as a subscription model featuring three tiers with varying levels of cost and benefits. 

The Inspirato Pass

The Inspirato Pass is the company’s core offerings. For a $2,550 enrollment fee and a monthly subscription of $2,550, members can choose from over 1.5 million Pass Trips, with all nightly rates, taxes and fees included. And it’s not just homes. You can also stay at top hotels and resorts and choose from cruises, safaris and guided tours.The pass is designed for travelers with flexible schedules, as you have to complete a booked reservation before scheduling your next trip. It’s also ideal for those who want to travel frequently but want the planning to be simple and straightforward. 

Inspirato Select

The second tier, Inspirato Select, comes with a higher price tag ($24,000 per year), but also offers three Select trips that you can use yourself or gift to others. Guests with the Select membership can make upfront reservations or book on a whim, and the cancellation policy is flexible. 

Inspirato Club

The third option, the Inspirato Club, costs $650 per month. Travelers get access to the Inspirato Collection of properties and experiences, with members-only nightly rates and travel planning assistance. Inspirato luxury homes are owned by the company, but they have partnerships with hotel, resort and travel brands, ensuring you have access to stays and experiences all over the world. 

Which option is right for you? 

Whether you choose to go with Inspirato or Equity Estates depends on what you’re looking for out of a vacation club. The people who join Inspirato tend to be frequent travelers who spend a lot on travel each year and have a flexible enough schedule to work around some of the inherent booking limitations. Equity Estates appeals to people who spend significant amounts each year on travel, but want to see some return on their spend. Because of the potential for investment gains, the initial investment is higher than other options. 

Equity Estates pros and cons

Actual investment with opportunity for gains, instead of simply a membership feeInitial investments often start at $145,000 or more
60+ destinations in 25 countriesLimited number of nights available; competition with other members for availability
Portfolio of luxury homes with upscale amenitiesDefined liquidity date that individual investors have no control over 

Inspirato pros and cons

Three membership tiers with varying price pointsNo ownership stake or equity; membership only 
1,200+ accommodations15,000+ members competing for availability 
Ability to use membership to access hotels, resorts and travel experiences Booking process works best for those with very flexible schedules

Now get to know Pacaso

Equity Estates and Inspirato aren’t the only innovators in the world of luxury travel. In fact, Pacaso takes the best of what these companies offer and delivers a smarter way to enjoy second home ownership. With Pacaso, you co-own a luxury second home in a top destination instead of paying for a membership or right to a certain number of nights. You’ll find Pacaso homes in Palm Springs, Aspen, Lake Tahoe, Park City, Miami Beach and many more incredible locations, so you can pick your favorite. Every Pacaso home is fully managed, professionally designed and ready for you to enjoy, with equitable scheduling among owners. Pacaso co-owners purchase shares in a property-specific LLC, and when you’re ready, you can sell your share to realize any returns on your property.  

Comparing Pacaso and Inspirato

Pacaso has some key advantages over Inspirato: 
  • Real estate asset: With Inspirato, your money goes to a membership fee and nightly costs. Pacaso offers a better alternative, helping you to buy, own and enjoy a real estate asset — starting at ⅛ share of a luxury home. 
  • Scheduling: Inspirato has roughly 14,000 members, all vying for stays at the most crave-worthy residences. Pacaso homes have a maximum of eight owners, and the SmartStay technology ensures you get a fair share of time in your home.
  • Predictability: How much you’ll pay for nights with Inspirato can fluctuate dramatically, especially during peak vacation times and major holidays. With Pacaso, you won’t have to worry about unexpected price fluctuations, and costs are always transparent
  • Familiarity: With Pacaso, you’re not bouncing through different hotels and homes when you vacation. You return to the same luxury home where you know all the amenities, details and features. You become residents of a community and know your favorite shops and restaurants. There’s value in having a consistent place to make memories with your family that you won’t find in a vacation club.

An owner’s view of the differences

Pacaso owner Mark also has an Inspirato membership. While he uses his Inspirato to “fill the gap” when he wants variety in destinations, he says he loves that his Pacaso gives him true ownership in a destination he loves. “We’re kind of creatures of habit,” Mark said. “We like to go back to the same place that we know. We know it’s going to be quality. We get to know people in the community … it’s a totally different animal, and we prefer having the house.”  
PacasoEquity EstatesInspirato
Cost/typeReal estate ownershipInvestment fundVacation subscription with tiers
Opportunity for equity and gainsYesYesNo
SchedulingStarting at 6-7 times a year on averageSet nights per year (but offers more than a timeshare)Limited; Can only book after completing each stay
Luxury homeYesYesYes
Consistent experience every timeYesVariesVaries
Best forTravelers interested in ownership and easy vacations in their favorite placeTravelers who want to earn on their investment and stay in different places Frequent travelers with flexible schedules

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Jen Lyons

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