Inspirato is a subscription-based homesharing business that is about to go public in a $1.1 billion SPAC deal. It was launched 10 years ago, and in 2013 American Express took a stake and has marketed it to cardmembers. The idea for customers is you stay in uber-luxe residences and get white glove concierge treatment the whole way.
The company promises “certainty, care and value” However like any vacation they can go bad. But since they’re super high end, it seems like anyone staying in one may draw greater attention to themselves than the average hotel schlub.
That appears to be the story, at least, of the lawsuit Blume (et al) vs. Inspirato LLC – 1:2020-cv-01894 working its way through the courts. As it’s been described to me,
A few days after arrival, in the middle of the night the [Tuscan] villa was broken into by a professional gang, that injected some sort of knock-out gas into the ventilation system, so none of the occupants were woken up…
The occupants were robbed of a good deal of cash, jewelry, and personal items, and when they woke up in the morning the local police took a report. A number of them were quite ill from the gas, and have had medical issues that lasted for a very long time after returning to the U.S.
They were told by local authorities this type of attack had been happening semi-regularly recently, and the police had little clues about the criminals …The group of people that were robbed immediately contacted Inspirato in the U.S., who reluctantly moved them to a high-end hotel I believe in Florence, but Inspirato would take no responsibility for the loss.
…,[I]t was learned the specific villa had been robbed before. Further Inspirato and its local Tuscany based agents advised the group to bring a good deal of cash, as the people employed at the villa (cooks / housekeepers) and local merchants preferred that method of being compensated.
I’ve reached out to Inspirato and asked them to comment on the security of their guests and whether staying in especially high-end accommodations makes one a more visible and attractive target for professional thieves? Their Executive Vice President of Marketing simply told me, “Our policy is to not comment on matters involving pending litigation.”
There are other similar stories online (not involving Inspirato specifically) about renting villas in Tuscany and being the victim of thefts at night, even involving possible gassing of those in the villa.
This is apparently how it went down in Sardinia:
The scheme is common enough that a detector for the gas is even sold specifically to alert you to robberies, though I’m not sure being alerted to the gas is better. The criminals want to knock you out to prevent confrontation and so you don’t see them. Seeing and confronting them could be worse.
When you travel it’s important to be alert to tourist scams. It’s also important not to draw too much attention to yourself as a good mark. I’ve certainly written about crimes that take place at hotels, though for this particular risk staying in a hotel may be better. . Maybe the lesson is ‘you can’t trust seemingly reputable players when their advice makes you a mark.’