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Ultimate Escapes Vacation Club Files for Bankruptcy

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Ultimate Escapes Inc., a destination-travel club that sells holidays in villas and yachts from Tuscany to Costa Rica, filed for bankruptcy protection after the financial crisis hindered fundraising and slowed membership growth.

The company listed assets of $10 million to $50 million and debt of $100 million and $500 million in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Eighty-four affiliates also sought protection.

In an interview last week, Chief Executive Officer Jim Tousignant blamed the 2008 financial crisis for the Kissimmee, Florida-based company’s fiscal woes. Ultimate Escapes raised $15 million from members in January 2009, then fell about $20 million short of its next fundraising attempt, in October, collecting just $10 million from investors. In February, it scrapped another public offering.

The destination-travel industry has been hit with a series of bankruptcies. Island One Inc. and five affiliates of the resort company filed for bankruptcy protection in Florida this month citing falling sales and declining property values.

High Country Club LLC, based in Denver, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in January 2009. The parent company of the Minneapolis-based Lusso Collection filed a Chapter 11 petition in December 2008.

The case is In re Ultimate Escapes Holdings LLC, 10-12915, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Delaware, at dmccarty@bloomberg.net; Beth Jinks in New York at bjinks1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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