It's been a rocky summer for destination clubs, the vacation interval alternative of choice for wealthy travelers. The announced merger of Quintess and Dream Catcher Retreats last week will hopefully take some of the sting out of the industry pioneer's filing for bankruptcy reorganization back in July.

What? You've never heard of destination clubs? Few have, given the elite nature of the business and the pricey entry fees. Quintess, for instance, charges $345,000 for membership. After that, high-rolling vacationers pay $21,000 a year in exchange for 30 days at any of the dozens of available properties in the Quintess portfolio.

At those prices, you're not expecting a run-down townhouse with a community pool or a dingy flat on the wrong side of town. Instead, Quintess uses the deposits to acquire upscale homes that average $3 million to $4 million apiece. If none of the exotic locales grab your fancy, maybe the 92-foot yacht will help you lose the landlubber in you. In a nutshell, it's a time-share for the ultra-rich that often allows members to participate in the appreciation of its assets.

This summer's Chapter 11 filing by industry pioneer Tanner & Haley rocked the nascent sector. In its quest to avoid refusing member travel requests at properties that were already booked, Tanner & Haley entered into costly leases to offer compatible digs. It proved to be an unsustainable practice, and coupled with a few unsuccessful investments, it meant reorganization seemed to be the best strategy for the company to get back on its feet.

Last week's merger between Quintess and Dream Catcher may or may not be a response to Tanner & Haley's filing, but it may not be the last combination in an industry that remains just a few dozen entities strong.

Unlike conventional time-share operators such as Sunterra, Silverleaf (AMEX:SVL), Bluegreen (NYSE:BXG), and Wyndham's (NYSE:WYN) Trendwest Resorts, destination clubs don't need thousands or tens of thousands of participants to be successful. Some have only dozens of members. In the larger clubs, memberships number merely in the hundreds. That has allowed for some creative travel clubs that specialize in golf course homes, vineyard estates, and even waterfront retreats for fly-fishing enthusiasts. Yes, fly-fishing.

Destination clubs are really just the logical step up for an industry that was once chastised for its shady sales tactics and hard-sell presentations. That was before companies like Marriott (NYSE:MAR), Disney (NYSE:DIS), and Hilton (NYSE:HLT) helped educate the market and polish the reputation of vacation interval outfits. Now let's see if one timely merger is enough to keep a niche business growing.

Longtime Fool contributorRick Munarrizalmost bought a time-share once. Instead he wound up buying a condo by Disney World, turning a liability into an asset. He does own shares in Disney, which is aMotley Fool Stock Advisor pick. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.