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February 2, 2014
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New condos in Avon may put a new face on expensive real estate

AVON — For just about the entire history of luxury, “bigger is better” has been the most common catch phrase. Now, a local developer is trying to put fine finishes and modern amenities in a smaller package.

The Residences at The Westin Riverfront were recently unveiled. How buyers respond may show other builders the way forward. Developer East West Partners has taken what used to be office space on the fifth floor on a southwest corner of the building and created three “penthouse” condos — they aren’t on the complex’s very top floor, but nothing is above them in that part of the building.

Those condos have all the modern technological conveniences and high-end walnut finishes, as well as features including his-and-hers workspaces, gigantic closets and more. But here’s the difference: Those high-priced touches are put into only about 2,000 square feet. More important — at least for some — the units have just one bedroom each. There’s a closed-off area to put a grandkid or two, but that’s it. In car terms, it’s sort of like going from a big sedan or SUV to a 2+2 coupe.

Chuck Madison, the partner in charge of resort development at East West Partners, said the new units have “finishes up to single-family levels,” but in a smaller package. With just one bedroom, there’s enough space to provide single-family-size living rooms and closets — “people are going crazy for closets these days,” Madison said — while still keeping total size relatively small.

While the new condos don’t pack single-family price tags, they are aimed at affluent buyers. The three units are prices between about $2 million and $2.7 million.

Which raises the question of who the target buyer is for a very nice, but still one-bedroom resort condo. Madison said the expected buyers are people who probably already have a luxury home in the valley, but who no longer want or need a lot of space.

“A lot of Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch buyers started with a small place, then bought a bigger place,” Madison said. “But once you get to be 75 or so, it’s harder to deal with bigger homes.”

Madison somewhat understands the potential buyers. He said he has a second home in Washington state, and it can take him a few weeks of work every year to get the place really ready to use.

Madison said second homes in the Vail Valley, especially in Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch, for years have focused on bedrooms and space. A typical home in Bachelor Gulch has several bedrooms, perhaps a workout room, an office and, perhaps, a commercial-quality kitchen.

At The Westin, the three new units have modestly-sized, but fully-outfitted kitchens. But the other amenities are in the hotel. On a recent tour of the new units, Madison first detoured into the spa area, pointing out the pilates studio, the salt-water lap pool and a new indoor cycling center in which people can take virtual rides that vary in speed, elevation change and more. The gondola that can link skiers to Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch is just an elevator ride away.

The new condos also have access to The Westin’s room service and housekeeping services, if desired. There’s also a secure door between the condos and the rest of the hotel, so when family does come to visit, they aren’t much farther than if they were in the guest rooms in a big vacation home.

“People want convenience, and ease of use — they have that here,” listing agent Lissa Tyler said.

While the condos at The Westin are a first attempt at luring “small luxury” buyers in the valley, the market for “nice, but smaller” has been developing for a while.

Carmakers from Cadillac to Lexus to Mercedes-Benz for the past several years have been targeting that market. And, Madison said, luxury condos such as the ones at The Westin are fairly common in places such as New York City. And aging clients seem to be in good supply.

A recent story in the online version of “The Economist” magazine was dedicated to detailing ski industry efforts to lure younger customers because the average age of ski resort visitors keeps climbing, rising from 33 years old in 1998-99 to 39 years old this past season.

Which means if these three “penthouse” units sell quickly, the next question will become where to put the next batch.


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 2, 2014 10:57PM Published Feb 2, 2014 10:57PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.