Proud Canadian and Ultra Member Larry Fichtner reveals his favorite aspects of Club life.
Larry Fichtner of Calgary, Canada, has traveled with his wife, Jan, at Exclusive Resorts’ highest level possible for years. Why? As an avid outdoorsman, sun seeker, skier, and music lover, he will remain forever passionate about seeing the world. A Member since 2004, Larry expands on the transformative nature of travel, his favorite destinations, impromptu experiences, and how his family has grown with the Club.
Why did you decide to join Exclusive Resorts?
We are active travelers. We had two recreation homes initially, and then we realized how much work they were. We were always busy doing things or dealing with upkeep versus having fun. So, we sold them and tried hotels for a while, and it wasn’t very fulfilling because we like to travel with friends and family. I saw an ad in Food & Wine for Exclusive Resorts and the Club fit all our criteria. It has since been an amazing solution to an active life. It’s brought to us a great range of diversity and a level of quality we otherwise would have a difficult time finding through a nice hotel, Airbnb, or VRBO. We've been able to take so many family and friends to jaw-dropping places, which is a privilege. Plus, from an economic perspective, if you want diversity, it’s by far the more economical way to recreate at a high level.
What kind of trips do you take with the Club? Is there a traditional or annual trip you continually take with family and friends?
We like to stay home in the summer but come winter we cycle between ski and sun. We ski Vail most, because of the amazing location at the Arabelle. Music is a big part of our life. We often bring musician friends with us to Club destinations and we end up doing impromptu concerts for other members or surrounding neighbors who are always delighted to attend! In Vail, our horn player guest, Jens Lindemann, played the American National Anthem from our balcony at the Arrabelle to a full, outside aprés ski bar below. The partiers stood up respectfully, with hats off and hands over their hearts, cheering wildly at the end. It was great!
Costa Rica has always been one of our favorites. We got totally spoiled when we first went. Those big homes were just stunners. We also use Kohala Beach in Hawaii often. In the winter we ski a lot in Vail, Snowmass, and Steamboat.
Have you taken Once-In-A-Lifetime journeys too?
Those are some of our greatest experiences. We went to Africa, with Nairobi as our hub. From there we went to Rwanda trekking with the gorillas, then to a lodge in the Serengeti, before we were off to the Seychelles. After my son and I returned home, my daughter and wife climbed Kilimanjaro. We also took a group of 18 to Antarctica — just beautiful. And we experienced a great family trip from Indonesia — from Bali up to Singapore — to visit the orangutans in Borneo.
Have you traveled with your family more because of Exclusive Resorts?
Yes, we travel with our kids a lot. And with the Club we experience more diverse places and higher quality vacations. Additionally, since our children will eventually own this membership someday, over the last five years we say to our kids, “this is your week, and don’t invite us. Invite your friends and think two years ahead.” And they’ve used it. They’ve gone to both Costa Rica and Grand Cayman several times.
So, you plan to use the Club as a legacy gift?
Absolutely. It was a long-term move. We have two memberships, technically. Each child will receive a membership. The Club is also great for friends. You really get to know friends on a whole different level when you spend a week with them. We're very much into music, so we all like watching videos and sitting around jamming or listening to music, and we’re also good with board games. We have a lot of fun just staying at the residences. If we’re on a ski vacation, we never start at the crack of dawn, we’re usually on the hill by 11 a.m. after enjoying a nice leisurely breakfast.
How has the Club evolved with your family?
The Club has been a great vehicle to do many things with our family and grandchildren, as the homes are typically large enough to have everybody there. We love to cook — and the homes have wonderful kitchens and are very comfortable places to be. So, it’s a great aspect in continually pulling the families together.
What has been an impactful, only-with-Exclusive Resorts moment?
One time while staying in Vail our Concierge, Kalina, who is now our Ambassador, brought us an apron, as she knows we love to cook. And every year since, when we’d return, the team would embroider a new snowflake on it. The apron now has 16 snowflakes.
How has the Concierge experience been for you?
The value of your Concierges — being the frontliners — is very important. The Club typically always has extraordinary people in that position. A Concierge can change a trip from mediocre to “wow” instantly.
Favorite VIP benefit?
Avis is one of my favorites. You get treated well with them. They are typically very friendly, and you receive an upgrade to a bigger car depending on what you're looking for.
What recent Club experiences most stand out?
We took eight people to Lake Como. The staff there was amazing. They were over the top, would make a great breakfast for us every morning, and then one night made us this incredible dinner that I will never forget.
You helped stage an incredible concert at Peninsula Papagayo. Can you tell us about that experience?
One year (pre-pandemic) we decided we would book two homes adjacent to each other in Costa Rica, and that we would bring an entire band with us. We had about 12 people — and the idea was we’d have the band play a Wednesday night at the Exclusive Resorts clubhouse, and then another concert for the community association, which has a huge venue. We had the whole band plus a vocalist, an opera singer from south Costa Rica. We ended up having 300 people at the concert, and it was an amazing party. The sun set right behind the stage. It was just magical.
Where to next?
We’re heading to San Sebastian soon. Jan loves to bike; she loves action. So, we’re excited about that. We’re certainly still having fun, after all these years.