Let the pampering begin … | VailDaily.com

Let the pampering begin …

Matt Zalaznick
Daily file photoThe posh Ritz-Carlton Club at Bachelor Gulch, with 648 second homes, opens today right alongside the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel

The posh Ritz-Carlton Club at Bachelor Gulch, with 648 second homes, opens today right alongside the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel, says managing broker Jeff Meier.

“Unlike most second homes, which are empty. These are full,” Meier says. “We should run in the high 80s in percentage of occupancy.”

That means second-home owners at the Ritz-Carlton Club will be around to shop and dine in the valley, Meier says.

“It adds another element of visitor to the valley,” he says. “From a merchants’ standpoint, our owners have already paid for their vacation. They’re going to be out and dining and shopping and spending money.

“And,” he adds, “they’ll be consistent and loyal.”

Actually, the Ritz-Carlton Club only has 54 condominiums. But for anywhere between about $200,000 and $450,000, owners can buy a one-twelfth share in a ski-in, ski-out condominium with heated bathroom floors, among other luxuries.

“The privacy and beauty of the area is unmatched,” says Michael O’Donnell, a Denver attorney who has purchased an interest in a Ritz-Carlton Club condo.

The two- and three-bedroom condos are loaded with luxury, such as DVD players, a top-notch sound system and four different spots to plug into high-speed Internet access. And of course, heated bathroom floors.

It’s so luxurious, in fact, if you’re lucky enough to be an owner, you don’t really have to do anything when you visit the club aside from vacation. Pretty much the only things club staff won’t do to take care of you is ski and eat.

“We’ll go out and pick up the groceries if a guest wants us to,” Meier said. “But the pampering starts prior to arrival –30 days prior when we call you, providing personal concierge service.”

Sheri Heedum, who does public relations for the Ritz-Carlton Club, says concierges there will do a lot more than an ordinary hotel concierge.

“It’s not just your typical hotel concierge who calls your room and says “Can I make dinner reservations for you?'” Heedum says. “You have a personal concierge who will get to know you pretty well. She’ll call you the minute tickets get released to a performance at the Vilar Center. She will anticipate your desires.”

Because the condo is a second-home, Ritz-Carlton Club staff will get your condo looking like your second home before you get there, Heedum says. The Ritz-Carlton Club will keep personal effects like photos and children’s toys in storage and then put them in a family’s room just before they arrive.

“They’ll put your ski photos on the mantel, the kids’ toys will be in the drawers, your type of wine will be in the fridge and your type of bread will be on the counter,” Heedum says.

Each owner gets to stay in his condo 21 days a year. For a nominal fee, owners can also visit when there’s space available in other condos, Meier said.

Owners also have can stay at the other two Ritz-Carlton Clubs, in Aspen Highlands and on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Another club is set to open soon in Jupiter, Fla.

“What we’re trying to do is get the best of the mountains and the best of the ocean,” Heedum says.

And the phrase “sluggish economy” isn’t in the dictionary up at the RItz-Carlton Club, where sales have been brisk.

“In an economy that can arguably be described as weak, this thing is zooming,” Heedum says.

Of the 684 interests, 200 have already been sold – that’s 50 percent more than expected, Meier said.

“The economy hasn’t hurt us,” Meier said. “In fact, we may have benefitted from that. Our customers are saying the market’s not great, let’s put our money into real estate we can have fun with – and, let’s be pampered.”

The success of the Ritz-Carlton Club shows that the wealthy don’t necessarily need to build their own fancy house to have a second home, Heedum says.

“People don’t need $6 million homes when all they can vacation is 21 or 28 days a year,” Heedum says. “This is the hottest, fastest-growing real estate sector in resort communities.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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