Best of the Best 2005: Fractional-Ownership Clubs
On St. Thomas’ Great Bay beach, a personal concierge delivers sparkling water to a woman sunbathing where the sand meets the surf, mere steps from her suite. In Jupiter, Fla., a caddie concierge places a call to the spa from the 16th hole of a Jack Nicklaus course, scheduling postgolf treatments for two. And thousands of miles west, in Aspen Highlands, Colo., a ski valet warms boots for a family of five bound for the slopes in their alpine sanctuary’s backyard. The recipients of these personalized services are members of the Ritz-Carlton Club, a program that encompasses home-away-from-home properties in four of the finest locations that fractional ownership has to offer.
In addition to St. Thomas, Jupiter, and Aspen, the Ritz-Carlton Club includes a Bachelor Gulch, Colo., property, which is located some 30 minutes from the Vail/Eagle County airport and walking distance from the slopes. Bachelor Gulch owners reside in 54 two- and three-bedroom suites (sold in one-twelfth interests, or 21-day blocks) that feature gourmet kitchens, living rooms with entertainment centers and fireplaces, and bathrooms with double vanities and whirlpool tubs. The suites’ location within a stand-alone, log cabin–style lodge affords privacy, but, if they are so inclined, owners may avail themselves of the amenities of the adjacent Ritz-Carlton Hotel, including its 21,000-square-foot spa.
The Bachelor Gulch program also includes use of a members’ lounge, a private mountaintop restaurant, and two championship courses at the Red Sky Golf Club. After a day on the fairways or the slopes, season permitting, those who elect to settle in for a quiet dinner may call on the culinary services of a private chef. Twice-daily housekeeping ensures the comforts of home always are maintained.
Regardless of their location of ownership, Ritz-Carlton Club members enjoy reciprocal benefits that allow them to stay at any of the properties, and the club holds inventory to ensure such requests are honored. Members purchase 21 to 35 days per year, depending on the location, for residences of different sizes and types; ownership plans cost from $142,000 to $510,000. Because owners purchase an interest in a particular residence, they stay in the same suite on repeat visits.
Through an arrangement with Marquis Jet Partners, Ritz-Carlton Club members also may book time on private jets. Such perks—and its Caribbean, Colorado, and Florida locations—help make the Ritz-Carlton program the first option in fractional ownership. —Wendy Abrams
The Ritz-Carlton Club, 800.221.5780, www.ritzcarltonclub.com
With the launch of its fractional club program, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts set out to eliminate what can be an undesirable aspect of shared ownership: members’ inability to secure stays over busy holidays. The St. Regis Residence Club Aspen therefore devotes nine of its 25 two- and three-bedroom residences to those who are eager to lock in popular weeks.
Set within the St. Regis Resort at the base of Aspen Mountain, the club residences range from 1,700 to 2,200 square feet and feature gourmet kitchens, stone fireplaces, and plasma screen TVs. The club’s check-in, concierge, and en suite catering services provide the sensation of staying in a vacation home, but all of the resort’s amenities—including ski butlers and the recently opened 15,000-square-foot Remède Spa—are available to members.
Prices for Club Aspen’s one-eleventh shares range from $300,000 to $1.5 million. (A second St. Regis fractional venture, in Punta Mita, Mexico, is in the planning stages.) Owners are guaranteed four weeks per year, two of which may be converted to nights at Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ highest-end properties around the world. —Kim Fredericks
St. Regis Residence Club Aspen, 970.429.7391, www.stregisresidenceclub.com
From one of 27 two-bedroom lodges nestled in a private canyon in Napa Valley, owners at Auberge Residence Clubs’ Calistoga Ranch gaze on vineyard gardens and oak groves while sipping local vintages. Some 1,800 miles south, at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, owners at Auberge’s Esperanza savor fine tequilas while viewing the Sea of Cortés. Those who feel compelled to do so may simply swap one location for the other.
Part of Auberge’s new Napa Valley resort, the Residences at Calistoga Ranch embrace their surroundings with outdoor living rooms and kitchens offering ample wine storage. Wood posts and beams, cedar shingles, and dry-stacked stones are the building blocks of the lodges, which are available in one-tenth and one-fifth shares ($395,000 to $695,000). Owners have access to the greater resort’s Bathouse spa, Lakehouse restaurant, and more than 150 acres of hiking trails.
Esperanza owners, who buy either one-eighth or one-quarter shares ($360,000 to $670,000), reside in one of 36 two- and three-bedroom, glass-walled villas that feature spacious interiors punctuated by palapa ceilings and Mexican art. Outside, two members-only pools and a private beach beckon, and resident guests have privileges at the adjacent Esperanza hotel. In addition to reciprocal rights at Calistoga Ranch, Esperanza owners have access to properties managed by Timbers (Auberge’s partner at Esperanza) in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Snowmass Village, Colo. —Maryann Hammers
Four Seasons Residence Club owners, who have access to each of the program’s diverse locales, will add jungle exploration and tequila massages to their activity options with the completion of fractional properties at Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica, and Punta Mita, Mexico. In the interim, the program’s pursuits are anything but lacking.
Owners at Four Seasons Residence Club Jackson Hole, for instance, can ski, bike, or paraglide near their Rendezvous Mountain base, where two- and three-bedroom residences (sold in one-fourteenth or one-seventh shares that start at $161,000 and $370,000, respectively) are located together with the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. Residence Club owners are free to enjoy the resort’s spa, three restaurants, and heated pool.
In the Southwest, at the Residence Club at Troon North in Scottsdale, Ariz., high-desert peaks provide the backdrop for rounds of golf played on the famed resort course. Farther west still, at the Residence Club Aviara near San Diego, Calif., golfers tee off with the Pacific Ocean in view.
Coastal golf also will be among the activities at the Costa Rica and Mexico properties, where Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus courses play along the Pacific. —Kim Fredericks
Four Seasons Residence Clubs, 800.343.0799, www.fourseasons.com/residenceclubs