BIG RESORTS HAVE IT ALL AND WHY THEY MAKE SENSE
Vacation home inquiries always touch on the question of smaller resorts such as Steamboat or Crested Butte as compared to Vail and Beaver Creek which are urbanized megacomplex destination ski areas and not always in keeping with the desired quaint small town Rocky Mountain experience. Our commentary is always driven by quality of the ski mountain, base village amenities, variety of available activities, easy airport access, financial performance, and short term rental income offsets. Crested Butte is one of our favorites places in Colorado based upon physical beauty, a by-gone era vibe, lack of crowds and low density visitation. The obstacles for smaller ski areas is the lack in diversity of activities and access since most people measure their time in days and are driven by convenience to the thing they are coming for which is typically the ski mountain. There is no real track record for appreciation for most smaller resorts nor much in the way of liquidity and short term rental income which greatly affects affordability and financial performance. Affluent families with more money than time look for best of the best experiences which for some is just being in the mountains, but for most it is a cornucopia of activities which includes fine dining, music, the arts, shopping, spas and other upscale diverse options. While most vacationers can be entertained with novelty of place for a week, but when you are investing two of your most precious resources which are time and money what the town has to offer as a package becomes increasingly important.
If these drawbacks are unimportant to your goals and objectives then there are places much less expensive than the Vail Valley but with far less liquidity and little to no return on invested capital. Telluride, Jackson Hole and other remote places favor those enthusiasts with private aircraft or extended time away from the office. These specialty markets have a dedicated fan base but do admit that they are just too small to support multiple week visitation. Breckenridge for example is exploding due to Front Range CO demand which is predicted to be one of the four fastest growing SMSA’s in the US over the next 30 years. This demand, upgrades to the resort, and increased sophistication of the town is now driving appreciation supporting our basic premise that affluent world class resorts in combination with fixed supply appreciate, the rest would do well with a breakeven outcome.
Clients hire us to help them with the lifestyle decision but are not oblivious to the financial expense. Breck has had an incredible surge in demand over the past three years with prices running $600-$700 psf which we expect will continue going because it is located less than two hours away from the Denver metroplex. If a more authentic less urban lifestyle were to be the only criteria and you have private aviation or the luxury of an all-day travel then Telluride, Jackson Hole or Crested Butte become viable options. But if multiple nearby ski mountains, ease of transportation, a highly diversified amenity base, and future growth dynamics is the criteria then Vail, Beaver Creek or Breckenridge reign supreme.
After living in the Rockies for more than 25 years our singular objective is to help clients with proper targeting because “a misguided strategy, perfectly executed, still produces a misguided result”. In reality there are only three ski areas in the US that qualify for world class status. Aspen & Snowmass (the land of billionaires), Vail/Beaver Creek (despite what the critics say is the #1 destination ski resort in the country), and the Park City/Deer Valley/Canyons area which is easy to get to but suffers from no fixed supply constraints, this is pretty much the list for having fun and making money which is what our company is all about. The specialty markets of Telluride and Jackson Hole have their enthusiasts but are equally expensive, very hard to get to, have incredibly difficult terrain, and are not nearly as sophisticated as the Top Three with Breckenridge rapidly becoming the fourth which is why or why not they could be the right place for you..
This narrative is just part of to our overall advice and counsel services Vail Property Brokerage provides its buyer only client roster and we welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters in greater detail. While I encourage interested parties to talk with us on the phone you need to understand that it is impossible to encapsulate any idiosyncratic specialty niche marketplace in a 15 minute narrative. If you really want to understand the where to buy question, which is 75% of the conversation, and what to buy which is 25% of the decision, plan on spending time learning the nuance differences which took us decades to understand and simplify into a less than one hour narrative.
Thanks again for contacting Vail Summit Property Brokerage; questions are always welcome.