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For affluent travelers, resorts are as much about investing in real estate as vacationing. Here is our roundup of resorts with options to buy.

For affluent travelers, resorts are as much about investing in real estate as vacationing. Here is our roundup of resorts with options to buy.

Coachella Valley golf course

The golf courses at The Residence Club are an oasis in the middle of the Coachella Valley.


he real estate market and the travel industry may be struggling, but there has never been a better time to shop for a second home. Almost every luxury hospitality brand around has launched an ownership element, and new properties are being built in every conceivable locale. We’ve rounded up a few standout developments.


The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage Come January, the Coachella Valley will get its first five-star resort – The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. Atop a 650-foot bluff overlooking the city, the 40-acre resort will be home to 260 rooms, 150 whole-ownership residences with 16 floor plans, a Joachim Splichal restaurant, and rare La Prairie spa. livingranchomirage.com

The Residence Club at PGA West, La Quinta Visitors can build equity while they golf with a one-ninth interest in a 3,365-square-foot vacation home at The Residences at PGA West. The private residence club offers access to the La Quinta Resort and Spa as well as preferential pricing and tee times at five adjacent championship golf courses. The Spanish Colonial homes come fully furnished and equipped with a plunge pool, barbecue and firepit. residenceclubpgawest.com

The Westin Desert Willows Villas, Palm Desert Through the aggressively expanding Starwood Residence Club, part owners of these one- and two-bedroom villas can use their allotted time at the Westin Desert Willows or choose to visit other properties within the Starwood network. Scheduled to open in 2009. starwoodvacationownership.com

A rendering of the pool view at the soon-to-open Four Seasons Residences in Colorado

A rendering of the pool view at the soon-to-open Four Seasons Residences in Vail.


Four Seasons Residences, Vail With only 19 residence club homes, even a one-twelfth deed brims with exclusivity at the Four Seasons Vail. The property is scheduled to open in late 2009 (a completed model opens for tours this month) with two-, three- and four-bedroom homes available for between 21 and 28 nights a year, which can also be traded for time at other Four Seasons properties. Bonus: The ski valet will store equipment year-round and return it to guests with skis freshly waxed and boots warmed. residences.fourseasons.com

The Residences at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Vail Due to popular demand, 15 shared-ownership units are now available at the only Park Hyatt in the United States. Five floor plans offer one week of ski-in/ski-out access in the heart of Beaver Creek Village. Owners also accrue points that can be used at 12 other Hyatt Vacation Club resorts. theresidencesatparkhyatt.com

Viceroy Snowmass, Aspen Within the new $1 billion Snowmass Base Village development (dozens of openings start this winter), you’ll soon find the first Viceroy above sea level. In 2010, Viceroy Snowmass will unveil 152 condo/residence rooms, a 7,000 square-foot spa and a service culture that includes personal chefs, sommeliers and concierges who will do the grocery shopping and stock the refrigerator. snowmassliving.com

Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico

The Rosewood Mayakobá offers 4,000-square-foot villas in the Yucatán’s hottest new neighborhood.


Rosewood Mayakobá, Yucatán Peninsula Cancun’s upscale neighbor, Mayakobá, one of the hottest luxury destinations on the Caribbean, is currently taking shape thanks to four of the biggest names in luxury travel. The Viceroy and Banyan Tree are slated to open in 2009. The Fairmont and Rosewood have already made a splash on the Yucatán scene. To wholly own a 4,000 square-foot villa at Rosewood Mayakobá, which comes with an additional 5,000 square-feet of outdoor living space, contact the resort. rosewoodmayakoba.com

Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos For a permanent stake in one of the most romantic resorts in Mexico, check out the residences at Las Ventanas al Paraiso where interiors created by local artisans lead to views of infinity pools and the Sea of Cortez. lasventanas.com

Esperanza, Los Cabos Nearby, Esperanza also has a residence club offering shares in two-, three- and four-bedroom suites. Members get a minimum of four weeks per year with unlimited (and free) use on a space available basis. esperanzaresort.com

Querencia, Los Cabos Golf enthusiasts considering a full-blown second home in Cabo should consider Querencia, an 1,800-acre master-planned private golf community with everything from condos to custom home sites, all centered around a Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course. loscabosquerencia.com

Infinity pools, daybeds and ocean views are standard at Amanyara

Infinity pools, daybeds and ocean views are standard at Amanyara.


Amanyara, Providenciales When it comes to the Caribbean islands, right now it’s all about the Turks and Caicos. On Providenciales, the tiny archipelago’s main island, island-goers will find the luxurious Amanyara resort and its developing villa homes. Three- to five-bedroom homes, some of them oceanfront, offer plenty of opportunity for outdoor living – infinity pools, outdoor baths and showers along with more than an acre of land. amanresorts.com

Parrot Cay A quick boat-ride away is Parrot Cay, a private island and exclusive resort that is now building three- and four-bedroom villas. New owners will join the likes of Bruce Willis, Keith Richards and Christie Brinkley, enjoying the privacy and amenities (think full-size private pool and butler’s quarters) that come along with these 1.5 acre, all-beachfront residences. parrotcay.como.bz

La Costa Resort Villas in San Diego

Get in some golf and relaxation at La Costa Resort Villas.


Setai San Diego There are certainly more exotic places to visit, but San Diego offers something many resorts can’t – proximity. Second home owners can maximize their getaway time with several options throughout the county. For an urban adventure, check out the Setai San Diego, which is finally on track to open this fall after many false starts. Legendary designers David Rockwell and Dodd Mitchell will work together to create a “Zen chic” décor throughout the 23-story building and its 161 condo rooms and 24 penthouses, all available for purchase. setaisandiego.com

La Costa Resort Villas, Carlsbad Up in Carlsbad, La Costa Resort Villas has started selling phase two of its whole ownership condo units (550 to 1,250 square feet). The fully furnished units come with access to the resort’s fitness center, swimming pools and 17 tennis courts, along with discounts at the 26,000-square-foot spa and two PGA-championship golf courses. lacostaresortvillas.com

Four Seasons Aviara, Carlsbad For a partial-ownership program in Carlsbad, try the residence club at Four Seasons Aviara, which is now selling its new one- and two-bedroom floorplans. residences. fourseasons.com

Golfing and much more awaits at Kaua'i Lagoons Resort

Golfing and much more awaits at Kaua’i Lagoons Resort.


Kaua’i Lagoons Resort, Kaua’i Visitors to Kaua’i have three opportunities to own a piece of the new Kaua’i Lagoons Resort, a 520-acre tropical playground created by a partnership between Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. Both brands offer whole ownership villas. The 78 two- and three-bedroom homes (1,301-1,665 square feet starting at $1.6 million) at the Marriott will open early 2009.

For a little more than three times the money, you’ll get a home twice the size (plus a 700-2,064 square-foot lanai) at The Ritz-Carlton, which will open next summer. To get in on the action without dropping several million dollars, check out the property’s residence club, which sells 1/18 interests starting at $200,000. ritzcarltonrealestate.com

How it Works

Whole Ownership
Whether buying a penthouse in an urban high-rise or a villa in an island resort, the process will be much like any other home purchase – down payment, mortgage, interest rates. The big difference will be amenities and marketing. Properties will almost unilaterally offer a rental program where hotel guests will stay in your home. While this will offset your costs, the hotel will take a large cut and/or charge fees for their marketing and reservations efforts. Although some resorts will allow you unlimited time in the unit and an opt-in rental scheme, many will restrict your own usage and require rental participation.

As for the investment, the property offers the possibility of appreciation (like a traditional home). The branding power associated with big-name hospitality companies like Starwood and the Four Seasons not only attracts buyers to the properties, it can help those buyers rent out their units, thus defraying the cost of their own precious escapes.

Fractional Ownership/Residence Clubs
There are more programs and properties than we could ever cover – all with unique benefits and pricing plans – but there are a few general practicalities to keep in mind. With the better programs, while owners have a deed to a specific unit, they aren’t restricted to the use of just that property. If two owners of the same villa wanted to visit on the same weekend and 10 other villas were empty, no one should have to stay home. Much like the fractional private jet market, owners share each others’ properties, and in many cases can enjoy extreme flexibility. For example, if an owner has four weeks in the villa, he could use that time in four villas one week at a time. With many programs, an owner could also use much more than his or her guaranteed time on a space available basis.

If you like variety, look for international resort chains or ask about alliance programs that will let you buy a fraction of one property in your favorite getaway spot and also allow you access to affiliated private homes in other regions or countries.

Destination Clubs
Although they rarely offer an actual real estate investment, destination clubs (to confuse you, they may even call themselves “residence clubs”) are an incredible opportunity for flexible and luxurious travel. Programs like the Solstice Collection, Quintess, Exclusive Resorts, and Abercrombie and Kent Residence Club (to open this fall) provide access to opulent private homes throughout the world in return for a sizeable but partially refundable membership fee and annual dues. More like a country club than real estate brokerage, these programs offer pre-paid vacations where you’re buying vacation experiences, not property. While ownership is ideal for those in love with a particular place, destination clubs are perfect for the traveler who wants to feel at home anywhere in the world.


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