Vail Valley: New Starwood time share project opens in Avon | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley: New Starwood time share project opens in Avon

Scott N. MillerVail, CO, Colorado

Starwood Club opens new units in AvonWeeks start at as little $20,000By Scott N. Millersmiller@vaildaily.comIt’s been a hard year for real estate sales in the Vail Valley. Right now, it might be better to sell units a week at a time.With that in mind, Starwood Vacation Ownership recently opened its newest Vail Valley property, 34 units of time-share property adjacent to the Westin Riverwalk Resort & Spa.Unlike units at the Westin, which are sold to single owners, then put back into the hotel’s rental pool, Starwood’s condo units are sold in one-week pieces to club members, who can trade their ownership interest in the Avon units for nights in Starwood properties around the world. People who buy weeks at the Westin can use all that resort’s amenities, including the pool, spa and fitness center.And, while all real estate sales are down these days, people who own pieces of Starwood clubs tend to use them. The average occupancy rate is about 85 percent at all the clubs, according to company official David Matheson.About half of all Starwood customers pay cash for their weeks, company official Bruce McNish said, so those units tend to get used. They also tend to be kept. While time share units are usually the first to hit the foreclosure records in Eagle County when the economy slumps, McNish said Starwood’s default rate is ranges between 2 and 7 percent, depending on the property. The higher-end properties tend to have the greater default rates, he said.Sales have just started for the Starwood units at the Westin, and the company is optimistic. Still, the 34 units just opened represent only the first of three phases, and further construction has been postponed until the national economy turns around.”We’ve hit the pause button on those,” Matheson said. “But we’ll be ready to go whenever we need to.” Starwood already has a club in Avon, at the nearby Sheraton. Why have two properties so close together?”The demographic of the owner/guest at the Sheraton is different than the Westin guest, just like it’s different for a St. Regis guest,” McNish said. “And this project is an opportunity to be part of this (Westin) project.”The ability to use the resort’s amenities is also a big draw for customers, Starwood’s Chan Sherman said.The model being used at the Westin Riverfront is also becoming more common in the time-share business, McNish said.”Being able to use those amenities is a very efficient use of facilities,” he said. And the new units next to the Westin look like a nice place to spend a week. Most have small kitchens, and all have living-room areas with flat-screen TVs and Internet access. Two-bedroom units have natural stone fireplaces, marble bathrooms and dining areas that seat six.While the Westin units just opened, sales started in October. Matheson said the company doesn’t release sales figures. But he added, “we’re doing about what we expected.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.