Recreation, family, retirement |

Recreation, family, retirement

Preston Utley/Vail DailyNaomi Silva front carries skis for her son Timmy, 4 as daughter Niki, 8 and Husband Joe walk to the bus stop at Keystone Ski Resort.

SNOWMASS ” The snowball fight heats up, Nathan Klein scoring a direct hit on his father’s chest. Not to be outdone, Keith Klein returns fire.

The battle erupted shortly after the Klein family ” Keith, Nathan, Ellen and mother Colleen Doyle ” stopped to rest near a picnic bench after a couple runs on the slopes, a short jaunt from their second home in Snowmass.

The family from Woodbury, Minn. ” a suburb of St. Paul ” avoids the groomers, opting instead for the powder falling from the gray-washed sky. The whole family skis, except for dad, who picked up snowboarding a few years back.

They’re a bit younger than the normal second-home owners, but everything else about them fits. They enjoy skiing, hiking and the other recreational activities ” a major reason second-home owners buy property in Colorado’s High Country.

“Part of it is also the attitude,” Doyle said. “Everyone that you run into shares the same interests whether it be the environment or healthy lifestyle.”

Not only is recreation important to second-home owners. Family and eventual retirement are also key components to enjoying their vacation homes.

Second-home owners are bringing their families to vacation homes. Doyle grew up coming to her parents’ second home in Snowmass. She fell in love with the place, bought a two-bedroom condo here two years ago and now brings her own children here.

Her parents are retired now, and if Doyle has it her way, she and her husband will retire to their second home. That’s the story with second-home owners, who buy a vacation home and end up retiring to the area.

“I’m pushing for that,” Doyle said. “We’ll see, it’s a little ways off, but it’s definitely one of the top options.”

Doyle relishes the proximity to recreation opportunities, which are key reasons luring second-home owners to the High Country, said resort analyst Ford Frick, director at BBC Research and Consulting in Denver.

“It’s a complex collection of attributes, but it’s the predictable things like recreation,” Frick said. “It’s the unusual combination of luxury recreation and mountain character that draws people there.”

“There’s a lot more to do here” than Minnesota, said Doyle’s daughter, Ellen Klein. “You try to get out every day. At home you sit inside for a long time.”

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, a research group, studied second-home owners in Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin and Summit counties and found 83 percent chose recreational amenities in response to the question, “Why live in the area?”

Residents across the second-home spectrum participate in the same activities that brought locals here ” skiing, hiking, biking, rafting and just hanging out in the mountains.

All this recreation improves the health of second-home owners.

“This is a place for physical people,” said Steve Katz, a New Orleans resident who owns a home in Vail. “There are people that are in shape, and then there are people that are in Vail shape.”

Second homes are a haven for families and friends spread across the country. They offer a place to meet and spend time together during holidays and at other times.

“One of the things we’re experiencing demographically is families are scattered,” said Realtor Ken Deshaies of Snowhome Properties in Dillon. “This is an opportunity for them to come together.”

Most second-home owners have children who no longer live at home, said Linda Venturoni of the Council of Governments.

“Families seem very often part of the motivation for ownership,” Frick said. “It may have an increasing benefit because families are so dispersed today. A home is something to come back to for all generations.”

Denver resident Naomi Silva and her husband own a home in Keystone they use to spend uninterupted time with their children.

“As soon as my kids are out of school, we’re out of (Denver) for the weekend,” Silva said. “It’s easier to focus on your family when there’s nothing out there to distract you,” Silva said.

Judi Berkowitz ” now an empty nester ” once brought her children to her second home in Vail.

“It was a wonderful environment for our children ” a safe place where they could walk the streets without cars,” Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz’s children were brought up in the suburbs of New York. Now they can’t get enough of Vail, she said.

“They’d rather go to Vail than where they were brought up,” Berkowitz said. “They consider Vail their home as well.”

Berkowitz’s family gathers in Vail for Christmas, and her husband brings a group of guys out for a weekend every January. All the use resulted in the need for more space.

“We’ve redone (the house) a few times because when we first bought it we didn’t realize how much we’d use it,” Berkowitz said.

Baby boomers who once lived in the High Country part-time are now packing up and moving in full-time, or often plan to. Thirty-six percent of all second homeowners in the Council of Governments study are retired.

“We feel strongly we’d like two homes in retirement,” Silva said. “One would be in a warm climate and the other would be in the mountains. We would never leave the Rockies.”

Summit County, a haven for visitors who own second homes, is experiencing an increase in the number of second-home owners becoming full-time locals.

“We’re starting to get the baby boomers who are leaving the workforce and retiring into their (second) homes,” Deshaies said. “If they find an area they like … it ends up being the place they retire, or they spend half their time there.

“We have a lot of people who will winter in Tucson or Phoenix and summer up here.”

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or

Vail, Colorado

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