Best of the Best: Fractional Ownership Clubs

<< Back to Robb Report, June 2004
  • Laura Camuti, Maryann Hammers

Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands
The peak experience in fractional ownership.


Visions of the ideal secondary residence often prove elusive: The reality of vacation-home ownership frequently entails more paperwork and maintenance costs than fresh-powder runs and hot toddies by the fire. One alternative to this quagmire is fractional ownership, and no program in this category fulfills expectations quite like the Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands.

Aspen remains the definitive ski destination in the United States, and the Ritz-Carlton Club, a 73-residence community situated at the base of the Aspen Highlands ski area, offers private ski-in/ski-out access to these legendary slopes. The property is part of Aspen Highlands Village, a new development that is located just 10 minutes from downtown Aspen and includes its own upscale boutiques and restaurants.

Members at the Aspen Highlands club purchase a one-twelfth interest, which translates to 28 days of access per year. Winter members are allotted two weeks during their “primary” season, one summer week, and one week in the off-season; summer members select from the opposite schedule. A portion of the annual allotment may be spent at other Ritz-Carlton clubs—currently consisting of Bachelor Gulch, Colo.; St. Thomas; and Jupiter, Fla., with a property in Santa Barbara, Calif., on the way—and additional time can be reserved, on a space-available basis, at $100 per night.

Ownership plans at the Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands cost from $170,000 to more than $500,000, in addition to an annual operating fee. The two- and three-bedroom residences range from 1,340 to 2,155 square feet; each includes a formal dining area, living room with gas fireplace, entertainment center, fully equipped kitchen, bathrooms with heated marble floors, and a full-size washer and dryer—a welcome convenience after a day on the slopes.

Service, of course, has been a focal point for the nascent fractional market, and the Aspen Ritz sets the standard. Even before you arrive, the staff devotes its attention to ensuring that you have a worry-free vacation and feel right at home. A personal concierge prepares your residence to your preferred specifications, including a stocked refrigerator, and arranges for limousine service from the airport, ski valet service, child care, and passes for all Aspen mountains. The Ritz-Carlton program even offers members private travel benefits through an alliance with Marquis Jet Partners.

Facilities at the Aspen club include a members’ lounge, health club, and spa, but the property is lacking in this category when compared to its closest sibling. The 54 club residences at Bachelor Gulch are set adjacent to a 237-room Ritz-Carlton resort, and members in the Vail-area program have full access to the hotel’s restaurants, 21,000-square-foot spa, and other amenities. Residents at Bachelor Gulch, however, are entitled to fewer days per year than Aspen members, and for some at least, the adjacent resort may detract from the sense of privacy associated with owning a second home.

With four weeks of access—and a secluded yet convenient location at the base of America’s most prestigious ski area—the Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands is the preferred choice for a fractional home away from home.


The Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands

In Hole or Part
Cowboy casual is the motif at the new Four Seasons Residence Club Jackson Hole. But you will never have to rough it as a fractional owner at this grand mountain resort.

Nestled at the base of Rendezvous Mountain, the ski-in/ski-out Four Seasons consists of a 148-room hotel plus 40 Residence Club condominiums. The property’s exposed timber beams, wood siding, and stone chimneys evoke the romance and grace of an old mountain lodge, and the shared-ownership condos, which offer unobstructed valley vistas or mountain views, have a decidedly Western flair, with stone fireplaces, Native American rugs, and leather headboards.

Each of the Four Seasons Jackson Hole’s one-seventh shares ($370,000 to $520,000) offers five weeks of access per year—two in the summer, two in the winter, and one in the spring or fall. And with only 3 percent of the land in this Wyoming wonderland available for private ownership, the fractional titles present a rare opportunity to secure a part of the Hole.


Four Seasons Residence Club, Jackson Hole

Club Cabo
Winding pathways lined with blooming cacti and violet bougainvilleas guide you to your villa at the Auberge Residence Club at Esperanza. Inside the thatch-roofed, glass-walled dwelling, sand-colored tiles blend with dark wood furnishings, original Mexican artwork, and cobalt glassware dyed to match your views of the Sea of Cortés.

Esperanza’s Residence Club is a community of 36 fractional-ownership villas adjacent to the renowned Cabo San Lucas hotel. The club features two members-only pools (one with a swim-up bar and wet deck), and owners enjoy access to the hotel’s infinity-edge pool, indoor/outdoor spa and fitness center, open-air restaurant and tequila bar, and private beach.
Esperanza’s two- and three-bedroom units, which are available in one-eighth or one-quarter shares, start at $295,000.


Auberge Residence Club at Esperanza

North Star
Lake Tahoe’s North Shore offers world-class skiing, championship golf, and alpine beaches. Set on a 270-foot stretch of white sand in this mountain resort is Tonopalo, an exclusive Intrawest fractional development of 19 freestanding timber- and stone-accented homes.

With a private beach and pier, and a clubhouse with a fitness center, fireplace lounge, and bar, Tonopalo offers the amenities of a major resort with the privacy of vacation ownership. The three- and four-bedroom homes, all with views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains, include gourmet kitchens with granite slab countertops; bathrooms with Jacuzzi-style soaking tubs, heated floors, and steam showers; and modern conveniences such as high-speed Internet access. The development’s concierge staff and on-site innkeepers are quick
to accommodate owners’ requests—from stocking their wine cabinets to readying the fireplace for their arrival.

Prices for a one-seventh share at Tonopalo range from $310,000 to $875,000. Owners are guaranteed six weeks per year, but they have access to the community whenever space is available.



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