Aaron & Jasmine Bible
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October 30, 2013
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Timbers Resorts rename, complete takeover of Ritz-Carlton Club - Bachelor Gulch

On Friday, Nov. 1, Timbers Resorts officially took over Avon's Ritz-Carlton Club — Bachelor Gulch, renaming the property Timbers Bachelor Gulch, and bringing its number of premier resort "residence clubs" to 13.

Sales at Timbers Resorts properties in 2013 are already up around 40 percent on YTD real estate sales in 2012. It has closed on more than $120 million in real estate sales across all of its active properties so far in 2013. It sold $87 million in 2012.

"As part of the process of joining the Timbers Resorts collection of properties, Timbers Bachelor Gulch plans to add several dedicated luxury amenities to restore the exclusivity of the club, and will also undergo a renovation of the residences to bring them up to the latest standards of luxury," said Timbers Resorts founder, owner and CEO David Burden, Carbondale.

When he’s not starting from scratch and creating a best-in-class lodging opportunity from the ground up, Burden stays busy with deals such as this one, taking over management and sales, rebuilding and revitalizing properties in Colorado’s mountains and on golf resorts and beaches around the world.

Burden is one of the premier developers in Colorado and his success there has catapulted him into the successful role of worldwide developer. He started the company, by himself, in 1999 and it now has more than 600 employees, including the majority of his family. His initial project on U.S. soil was Aspen Glen, the upscale golf course community west of Carbondale.

Since that time, Burden has essentially revolutionized the fractional real estate market with exclusive "residence club" and whole ownership opportunities worldwide. While many development companies have gone by the wayside, Burden continues to see success. Most of his contemporaries consider him a visionary, with many continuously pondering his next move. "People choose to be around other people that they respect," said Burden.

Current Timbers Resorts properties include Dancing Bear in Aspen; The Timbers Club in Snowmass (the first in the Timber's portfolio); Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; The Rocks Luxury Residence Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Castello di Casole in Tuscany, Italy; The Preserve at Botany Bay on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands; Mayacama in Sonoma, Calif.; One Steamboat Place in Steamboat Springs; The Orchard at The Carneros Inn in Napa, Calif.; The Villas at Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; The Links Cottages at Doonbeg in County Clare, Ireland and The Sebastian – Vail. Timbers Bachelor Gulch makes 13.

"They’re all really unique, but they have to be front row," Burden said. "We do many things, but one of the things we do that’s unique is the residence clubs. The private Timbers Resorts residence clubs in prime locations are carefully selected, at the right value point, and that's the cornerstone of Burden's development strategy.

Burden has catapulted Timbers Resorts to its spot as premier creator and operator of small, private, luxury resort properties in the world’s most sought-after ski, golf, beach and scenic countryside locations, which Burden refers to unilaterally as "ocean front," aimed at creating intimate and private luxury destinations that enhance owners and guest experiences beyond all expectations. Not only are they intimate, but they exemplify what true service can and should be.

Timbers Resorts employees are empowered to give owners and guests five-star service, capitalizing on world-class amenities, artwork and location. Last year, Burden opened the highly anticipated Hotel Castello di Casole, a restored 10th century castle turned 41-suite boutique hotel in Tuscany, recently named the "No. 1 Resort in Europe" by Travel + Leisure magazine.

New additions to the portfolio include Mayacama, a stunning private golf and residential community located in the heart of the Sonoma wine country, and Dancing Bear Aspen, a boutique residence club that has seen great sales success lately and has limited inventory remaining in the original offering—plans for Phase 2 are currently being discussed.

"It always starts with the first rule of real estate, location. If anybody forgets that, that’s a huge mistake," Burden said. "What we’ve done is, basically, I don’t know how to do second or third or fourth tier properties. Price is always a factor, but value is a factor as well. And that's easier to understand if you start with a great property." The unassuming magnate was actually an international Citibank executive and says he never knew he would go into real estate. After working in London, in the Middle East and other locales, he wanted to try his hand in the States.

When developing a new property, Burden says, his biggest challenge is overcoming the "Aspen come to town" attitude of local government and in-situ developers. To overcome that he enlists the help of locals, ensuring them the property is intended to reflect their local heritage, not bastardize or Disney-ify it. And when Timbers comes in with full financing, promising hundreds of local jobs, it's hard to argue with him. It's an especially appealing model when they are taking over and renovating and upgrading existing properties, instead of breaking ground.

The success of this model has been proven in several prestigious travel awards. Timbers' Castello di Casole property was recently named Travel + Leisure magazine's World’s Best Awards 2013 "Number 1 Resort in Europe;" "Number 1 Resort for Families in Europe;" and "Number 2 Resort in the World." Condé Nast Traveler placed it on the 2013 Hot List. The Sebastian Vail was named Travel + Leisure magazine's World’s Best Awards 2013 "Number 12 Resort in Continental U.S." and "Number 97 Top 100 Hotels Overall." It made the Conde Nast Traveler 2012 Gold List. But the proof, as they say is in the proverbial pudding -- that pudding being the black on the balance sheet. "Awards are nice, but it comes down to numbers," Burden said. "Most of the sales tend to be referrals."

On site, however, it comes down to the exceptional service and atmosphere that really does set these properties apart. Burden uses words like "soul," "personality," and "intention" to describe his customer service environment. Part of the key to this formula is that Timbers typically owns and manages all property amenities, from the restaurants to the spas and golf courses, allowing a tight locus of control. Burden says his guests should feel noticed, but not necessarily the center of attention. "They're going to clean your windshield when they park your car, but not make a big deal about it, and that's what makes you feel good."

He hires "people that want to do it right." And, Burden says, "whether you're the Coca Cola delivery guy or the King of Siam," everyone gets the same treatment — and that's what creates a truly unique level of service. "You've got to really like what you're doing to work with us. When you say, 'We've been expecting you, we're so happy you're here,' if you can't say it and mean it, you're in the wrong job," Burden said. "It's the experience. You hear it, it's trite, but it's true."

"I guess I’m not going back to developing golf course communities," he said, "because this is working. I love what we’re doing."

Deliberate Design

In an age when traveling to any corner of the world is just a click away, how does one create a destination property that visitors will choose over any other? It's a concept that Sandy Burden, director of interiors for Timbers Resorts, keeps at the forefront of her design creation and execution for every project she touches.

Sandy Burden’s conscious approach is apparent as you enter any of the 13 Timbers Resorts destinations. Each property is a unique and elegant oasis that working in harmony with its environment. Whether the location is the Rocky Mountains of Colorado or the rolling hills of Tuscany, Burden has successfully created inviting properties that work in balance with their natural setting.

Her first step at each location is to consider the demand, desires and lifestyles of the visitors. She delves into why the guests are there: what are they seeking from this experience or vacation? The result is properties that effortlessly achieve the marriage of form and function. Not pretentious or overdone, the exquisitely executed decor exudes style, class and elegance. The unexpected and playful elements keep the properties fresh and “current, not trendy,” says Burden, who adheres to the design philosophy of investing in pieces that will stand the test of time. As with architecture, good design starts with good bones. During her 30 plus years of interior design experience, her aesthetic has evolved from formal and tailored to a personal style that invokes a bit more character and fun, blending her love of the old and pairing it with contemporary aesthetics.

Sandy Burden develops the overall concept and vision, and works with a team of collaborators to bring the design to life. Enlisting the expertise of local artisans and craftsmen, she respectfully engages with the community to create environments that are not only beautiful, but beneficial to the local economy.

At the Castello di Casole in Tuscany, Italy, the restoration of the 4,200 acre estate created jobs for locals and a renewed interest in an area and land that had seen glory and near abandonment since its original creation in the 10th Century. The extremely mindful and authentic restoration and design achieved a balance of opulence and practicality while adhering to parameters set by the historical society. The polished yet rustic property is a testament to Burden’s ability to create comfortable and incredibly special spaces that bring families together for a remarkable experience. More than a property, it’s a lifestyle.

There’s a reason the Timbers Resorts properties have won countless accolades. Upon ones' first steps into the Sebastian - Vail, the body instantly relaxes and senses begin to enjoy the warm, inviting and plush atmosphere. Luxurious fabrics and textures envelop the European-inspired property at the heart of Vail Village. Burden has created a refuge inspired by artists, athletes and authors. Retreat to the ebony hued library appointed with countless tomes and large scale artwork by Manuel FelguÃrez, famed abstract artist of Mexico. His canvases and sculptures grace the property along with works by Leonora Carrington, a participant in the Surrealist movement — and the restaurant’s namesake.

Alongside famed artworks, a bit of whimsy keeps the property youthful and vibrant with elements like the “Jenga fireplace” that Sandy Burden used to “create cozy areas to relax and unwind after a day on the slopes.” Attention to detail enhances the overall experience without being obvious or trite. Cohesive design flows from the lobby to each room encouraging visitors to enjoy every area of the property, from intimate vignettes that encourage warm conversations, to world class meals in the on-site restaurants, to the solace enjoyed in the award-winning spa.

North of Vail, Steamboat Springs is a special place, a mountain town like no other. One Steamboat Place manages to harness a bit of this magic in the quintesential slopeside sanctuary. Tasked with the responsibility to develop a property that would retain rural mountain town authenticity, Burden developed a style that she refers to as “cowboy with a twist.” Part of that twist is certainly the museum-quality art collection. The exquisite collection is displayed in main areas for all guests and visitors to enjoy, without museum ropes and security guards. A framed letter from Ernest Hemingway hangs unassumingly in the lobby. Burden garnered support from the local community when she wisely used art from local artists...local first graders created drawings of Steamboat to conceal construction mess during the building process. Small offerings like this show Burden’s conscious connection and allow others to feel a sense of pride and ownership in each of her projects.

Countless residential and commercial projects later, Sandy Burden still relishes in the initial stages of the design process: the exciting time during the brainstorming period and concept creation when she wakes with dreams of design swirling in her brain, a joy that can only be matched by the, “faces of people loving the space and enjoying it in the way you envisioned.”

In her downtime, she and husband David Burden, CEO of Timbers Resorts, retreat to their riverside home in Carbondale. For 15 years, the quiet and peaceful nature of Colorado has given her the inspiration and renewed energy to begin each new project with a fresh perspective.

As part of the process of joining the Timbers Resorts collection of properties, Timbers Bachelor Gulch plans to add several dedicated luxury amenities to restore the exclusivity of the club, and will also undergo a renovation of the residences to bring them up to the latest standards of luxury, said Timbers Resorts founder, owner and CEO David Burden.

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The VailDaily Updated Nov 6, 2013 03:03PM Published Nov 6, 2013 03:33PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.