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Former AOL Chairman Heads Luxury Travel Firm

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2004; Page E05

Steve Case, America Online Inc.'s former chairman, bought a majority stake in Exclusive Resorts LLC, a two-year-old luxury travel company, and signed on as the company's chairman.

Exclusive Resorts LLC, based in Washington with most of its operations in Denver, said it sells memberships allowing customers to vacation in luxury homes around the world with an average value of more than $2.5 million. The company owns about 300 private residences in 30 locations, such as Snowmass, Colo., the Kohala Coast in Hawaii, London and Florence. It said about half of the homes are still under construction.

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Case, who stepped down as chairman of what is now Time Warner Inc. in May 2003, bought a 50 percent stake in Exclusive Resorts and joined its board of directors in the summer of 2003. Donn Davis, a former senior executive at Time Warner and at Dulles-based America Online, also made an investment in the company and took over in July as chief executive.

"Steve Case was looking at a bunch of new, innovative concepts and he came across this poking around on the Web," Davis said. He met with the two founders a week later, Davis said, "and he agreed to buy half the company on the spot."

Davis said Case went on to buy most of the shares of outside investors for an undisclosed amount. Case also helped recruit other high-profile executives for the company's board, including John M. Fahey Jr., president and chief executive of the National Geographic Society; David G. Golden, managing director of J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.; and Todd Chaffee, former executive vice president of Visa International and managing director of Institutional Venture Partners.

Case could not be reached for comment, but he said in a video news release that "Exclusive Resorts is poised to be a very significant, billion-dollar company."

Members initially pay $375,000 to join the program, a deposit that is 80 percent refundable if they end their membership, then pay an annual usage fee that ranges from $15,000 for 30 days a year at the properties to $25,000 for 60 days.

The private company said its real estate portfolio is worth more than $600 million and its membership sales were more than $250 million in the past 12 months. Davis said the company has almost 200 employees and about 1,000 members.

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