Inspirato Review: Why We Don’t Recommend It

July 23, 2021
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Founded in 2010, Inspirato is a destination club offering two different memberships. The Club allows its members to rent one of their vacation houses for up to 60 days at a time, while the Pass allows members to pick a vacation from a Netflix-like list with no nightly fees or rent one of their vacation houses for up to 60 days.

However, due to Inspirato’s high monthly fee and the difficulty involved with booking the vacations you want, we recommend opting for a more memorable experience with OceanScape Yachts instead. They offer an incredible array of yachts strewn all across the globe, all available without any monthly fee.

#1 What Is Inspirato?

Inspirato is a destination club that offers luxury vacation subscription that includes:

  • Homes
  • Hotels
  • Personalized luxury service, and
  • Experiences.

With a platform full of diverse options of luxury vacations from which people can choose, it also seems to be one of the best ways to travel multiple times a year, even if the idea comes up as a last-minute plan. Founded in 2010 by Brad Handler, Inspirato’s headquarters are located in Denver, Colorado, USA.

What is Inspirato’s Business Model?

The company is pretty much charging their Inspirato Pass members for as many luxury vacations as they can fit in a year, so the question is obvious: how is this sustainable?

They manage this kind of business by using the extra space that doesn’t get booked in hotels and homes, just like Uber decided to use extra space in cars. By doing this, they manage to get discounts as high as 90% because a vacant hotel room is a loss for any hotel, and they would much rather have it occupied for less money than not at all.

But is it all too good to be true? In this Inspirato Review, we'll cover the things they can offer and compare them with our favorite luxury travel provider, OceanScape Yachts.

#2 How Much Does Inspirato Cost?

Inspirato offers two different subscription plans, Inspirato Club and Inspirato Pass:

Inspirato Club

The Inspirato Club membership offers specific destinations, accommodations, and dates from the full Inspirato collection of homes, hotels, and experiences (activities that can be booked during stay). They have weekly jaunts, which are discount offers and no long-term commitment (people are allowed to cancel their subscription at any time). All for $600 per month, plus the cost of nightly rates during the stay.

Inspirato Pass

The Inspirato Pass membership offers vacation packages from a list of thousands of trips —updated daily —in their homes, hotels, and experiences. For a monthly fee of $2,500 you’ll get:

  • An Inspirato Club membership (which means people also have access to all of Inspirato Club benefits in addition to those of Inspirato Pass).
  • No long-term commitment.
  • No nightly rates, taxes, or fees.

Members can also book experiences, which can be anything from luxury safaris, luxury cruises, dinners, and other activities.

#3 What's Included In Inspirato?

The answer to this question will depend on the type of membership a person has:

Club memberships include:

  • The right to book any of these exclusive homes and experiences
  • Discounts known as “jaunts”. 
  • However, the Club membership doesn’t exclude members from paying for nightly rates, meals, and activities they decide to take during the vacation they plan.

Pass memberships include:

  • Completely planned out vacations
  • Some activities are available in the Inspirato Pass experience section.
  • Access to the Club’s benefits, so they are also able to plan out custom vacations by paying night fees and the different activities they decide to have on their trip.

Both of these memberships allow you to cancel a reservation up to 72 hours before the booking is due, without any penalties; and it is important to note that even though Inspirato can arrange flights so that there won’t be any effort needed to book them, but those expenses are not included in the membership and must be paid for separately.

#4 How Does Inspirato Work?

Inspirato started as a destination club with several vacation houses around the world that members could book to make a vacation trip. This is still how the Inspirato Club membership works: members book a property out of Inspirato’s list and can spend up to 60 days there, based on availability. These vacations can be booked no later than 7 days before the trip is due, and as early as 365 days before. But members need to pay for accommodation and experiences.

Then in 2019, they launched their Inspirato Pass membership, which works pretty much like Netflix. It’s not about deciding to take a trip to Monaco and using the Inspirato Pass to do so, it’s more about scrolling through the options and finding something you like or want to try. Inspirato Pass will not allow members to plan out a full vacation (you need to use the Club membership for that), the idea is to do the complete opposite. Members should scroll through the options of fully planned vacations and find which of these appeal the most to them and their family.

Members with Inspirato Pass are also members of the Club, so even though they can have only one active reservation at a time with the Pass, they can have a second active reservation through the Club membership (which means they would have to pay for accommodations). To book a new trip with Pass, members must wait until they book out of their last vacation and the new trip can only be as soon as seven days after members booked out of their last trip. They are allowed however to subscribe to a second and even a third Inspirato Pass to have up to three active reservations.

#5 Is Inspirato Good For Last-Minute Vacations?

Inspirato tends to reduce the number of days members can spend at a place the closer they are to their arrival date. This means that any last-minute getaways they can book will usually be around two or three days long, but if members wish to do so, they can book extra days through the Club and pay for the nightly fee, based on availability.

#6 Sharing Privileges

The Pass subscription allows members to take a vacation with their family and/or friends, but either the member or their partner should be there for the booking. However, if a member wishes to do so, they may pay an additional $500 per month to get unlimited sharing privileges.

It is important to note that the number of people you can bring with you on a trip will depend on the place you are booking. Some homes will have room for two people, others will have room for six, and so on.

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#7 Inspirato’s Weaknesses

Inspirato is offering a new kind of service with their pass subscription and it all sounds amazing. But their service is not perfect either, so we want to highlight a few mayor cons that we found:

$600 or $2,500 recurring cost

You will need to pay this fee every month even if you are not using the subscription. This means you will have to pay $7,200 to $30,000 a year to be a member of Inspirato and this is just the subscription fee. Remember that you will also have to pay for any nightly fees or activities that come up, which means these are not the final costs.

No more than one active reservation

Unless you purchase a second or third membership, this will allow you one more active reservation each, but will also double or triple the monthly fee. People are using this platform, so a member might find a vacation that suits their needs perfectly while they already have an active reservation, and then not find it once they’ve booked out of their last reservation. These offers have high rotation and can get booked at any minute, so you might end up needing to call a travel agency to book exactly what you need.

Not good for complex trips

Also, members who are looking for more complex vacations, visiting several places in one trip, usually stick to travel agencies to book hotels and tours. This is because these kinds of trips would need to be booked well in advance, and during that time members of the Inspirato Pass wouldn’t be able to use their memberships to their full extent.

Limited variety of properties

Even if they have a vast amount of locations, there are a few locations where they don’t have any homes, so they rely on partnerships with hotels. This means that the chances of finding an available place to stay might be tricky if you don’t book it months in advance when you have a particular place in mind where you want to take a vacation.

Limited availability

Especially as your travel dates approach, you might find that you can’t stay at a property for the number of days you were hoping for or on the dates you had planned. The closer your trip is, the more complicated it becomes to find whatever it is you need. So, in the end, you might end up needing to plan around Inspirato’s availability and offers instead of your convenience and preferences.

Furthermore, like most other online travel agencies, Inspirato is incompatible with hotel loyalty programs. If you're an SPG member, for example, you won't earn any nights for staying in Inspirato properties, a big drawback of staying with them vs. getting a suite at the nearest SPG hotel.

#8 Inspirato vs. OceanScape Yachts

Inspirato is a very good option for people who have flexible work schedules and can plan out a vacation at short notice. But if you're looking for a unique vacation you'll remember forever—and you're able to plan it at least a few weeks in advance—a yacht experience may be better for you. Here are a few reasons why.

The experience of a lifetime

When was the last time you took your family out on a boat for a few days (or weeks)? For most of us, it's been a while, but that's what OceanScape Yachts makes possible. Get the boat lifestyle without buying the boat—just rent one for as long as you need it, no strings attached.

No recurring fees

As a member of Inspirato, you have to pay either $7,200 or $30,000 every year that you hold the membership. That's a fixed cost regardless of how much you travel—when events like COVID-19 hit and travel comes to a standstill, you don't get any of that money back.

When you book a yacht, though, you only pay for what you get. Whether you stay for 3 nights, 7 nights, or an entire month, it's entirely up to you.

Hundreds of boats to choose from

As you can see on OceanScape's website, there are hundreds of boats to choose from all around the world. Whether you're in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean or Southeast Asia, there are yachts of all sizes for you to choose from.

#9 Is Inspirato For You?

Inspirato is for people with a flexible schedule: freelancers with homeschooled children or no children at all are the kind of members that manage to get the most out of their subscriptions. That being said, you don’t necessarily need to fit into that description; as long as you can arrange your time however you like, that should be enough.

Also, it is good for group vacations. That way you can share expenses and have great company in these huge homes. And even though you might get more out of this if you don’t have kids that is only because their schedules might be more difficult to work with, not because they don’t offer kids activities.

#10 Inspirato User Reviews

Inspirato doesn't have that many reviews yet, since it's a fairly new company, but here are two reviews I was able to find on other reputable blogs:

“Once I joined Inspirato, I quickly found out that the majority of the trips I was interested in pursuing were no longer available. It seemed that options were constantly disappearing, yet very little if anything was being added to replace the selection. In order not to completely lose money, I started to book the only remaining feasible options that worked for me, though none I was very interested in, only not to lose money & feel like I was at least getting a tiny bit of value perusing the “left-over scraps” to choose from. I realize now that I won’t be able to take advantage of and use my Pass as I hoped to… Inspirato is still not prepared to deliver.” — Susanna|Luxury Pass Review

“I joined Inspirato in 2016 with a group of YPO friends and quickly realized that as my friends in Texas would say, “Big Hat, No Cattle”. Booked my first trip to the Turks and it was a disaster. They gave me a credit but I couldn’t find anything else to book. So long as you plan a year in advance, you may find something to book on your continent of choice. Spoke to my rep and cancelled my membership and, like a cheap gym membership, they couldn’t find any record of me cancelling. Save yourself the money.” — John Baudhuin|Luxury Fractional Guide

In Summary

For all the reasons listed above, we can't recommend Inspirato in good faith. It's a unique travel membership, but the restrictions placed upon users are too great to warrant the overwhelming monthly cost.

Instead, we recommend opting for a more memorable experience with OceanScape Yachts instead. They offer an incredible array of yachts strewn all across the globe, all available without any monthly fee.

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