Love Field Guest HouseYou know Airbnb, yes? The sassy vacation rental site that let’s homeowners earn extra money off their homes by renting them out on a short term basis. I had the pleasure of hearing the founders speak two years ago at Inman in San Francisco. They started the concept when they were living in San Francisco, essentially, broke, and made short term cash fast by leasing out their apartment like a hotel. Bingo, a new concept was born.

Only New York City has not proven as friendly to the Airb&b concept. AOL Real estate reports NYC has “effectively deemed the vacation rental website Airbnb illegal, with a finding that a man there broke the law by renting out his apartment through the service.”

There are strict hotel laws in NYC. A judge arbitrating the case for the city’s Environmental Control Board claims using Airbnb violates New York’s illegal hotel law. That law is designed to stop landlords from turning residences into hotels, and prevents citizens from renting out their properties for less than 29 days. Tenants in NYC sub-lease apartments all the time, and that’s legal as long as it is for more than 29 days.

On May 10, a NYC judge fined New Yorker Nigel Warren $2,400 for violation of the hotel law. Not sure why he was snagged — Warren had faced a $7,000 fine for violating building and zoning codes in addition to hosting guests in his condo via Airbnb. According to CNET, the law is only actionable as a secondary offense. In other words, the city will only enforce the rule if a complaint is filed.

Apparently, San Francisco is also watching the hot start-up company for wriggle room around San Fran’s hotel occupancy taxes. 

We have friends who swear by Airbnb and have tried it in three U.S. cities, two foreign countries. Of those five visits, only one was unpleasant.

“It was not so much unpleasant, as it was a lovely property just in a very seedy part of town,” he told me last Supper Club. “I think it was an area undergoing re-gentrification.”

We were on vacation, he told me; we were not in the mood to be risky or re-gentrified. This, by the way, is a Love Field area guest house in Dallas, said to be near the CBD. It is on Midway Road. While the listing has 66 reviews, most quite stellar, don’t tell me that Love Field and Bluffview is near the CBD. This guest house rents for $75 a night.

See why Airb&b is so hot? See why hotels are concerned?

Surely you’ve dreamed of second home ownership but like me, you are a perpetual tire kicker OR you worry that you won’t use the home enough, the maintenance will drive you batty. Second home owners sometimes corner me at parties and say, hey you with your damn fetish for multiple home ownership, it’s helluva lot of work. We just spent our entire weekend painting our second home — thanks a lot.

I get it. We do own a second home — well, lot —that’s part of what I call a condo ranch in Johnson City. It’s a shared ownership ranch because these fingernails don’t chop cedars and split fence. I want a second home with all the luxury, without all the work. I want horses to ride and groom when I fancy, but not every day. Let the ranch manager worry about the Longhorn.

Still: man does not live by the ranch alone.

The Fairmont Private Residences at Ghirardelli Square, which I have raved to you about before, is coming to town. We are having a sip n see party for select readers of and at a private home in Highland Park to learn the nitty gritty of Fairmont fractional ownership. Fred Karpik will be here from San Francisco answering the tough questions. For example, a friend asked me today something crucial: what are the maintenance charges and how much can they go up? We will be asking all this and more, and of course I’ll blog it all. Current owners will be on hand to tell us how much they like or dislike their property.

Fractional ownership makes so much sense to me. Though we love it, we have been to our Hill Country lot once this year. Our children live out of state and we go visit them, or we visit family on the other coast at the beach house in Maine. What’s happened to our home ownership needs is they have changed. We want less, but more. Like most folks our age, we can travel now that our kids are grown, and our family home is filled with family only a few times a year. Then you get that tax bill as we did today and you say, well, I cannot say what I said. (Maybe — ha — thank you, Angela Hunt.) It may make more sense to have a smaller home in Dallas and a part-time place out where our kids live. A fractional ownership at Fairmont Ghirardelli gets me 35 days a year to visit my son and daughter-in-law; last year, I visited them for a total of about 15 days in Cali. That would give me a place to stay in San Francisco, private storage for a warm coat and wine, a  car with driver in town, and flexibility to use another Fairmont Private Residence Club the other 20 days.

And to be honest, who gets more than 35 days of vacation a year, unless you are retired?

Plus the location of this property in unbeatable — and TOTALLY unaffordable for me if it were not fractional.

I think this makes total sense. We have friends contemplating the same thing as they eye fractional ownership of homes near their flock. Are they an appreciating asset? Probably not. At least you get a deed, and can will your deed to your estate, so your heirs can continue to enjoy it. There is no better legacy than leaving a second home for your children and grandchildren to enjoy. And at this one, Fairmont does all the work, from cleaning and electrical to maintenance and repair. Email me at if you’d like to attend or have any questions about fractional vacation home ownership — or pop us a question right here in the comments!

Late last summer, 2011, we were in Sonoma County, California where I toured a most amazing property called Mayacama. I credit finding this property to my trusted veterinarian, Dr. Barret Jiranek here at Lover’s Lane Animal Medical Center (Dallas). Or maybe I should give my precious Doodle Bree the credit. She had an ear ache, and I took her to see Dr. J before leaving town, like any good mother. He told me his sister lives in Sonoma — “in God’s country,” he said, and told me I needed to cover the development on this blog: 675 secluded acres amid rolling hills and northern California vineyards; wine and golf. Home ownership opportunities. I was intrigued.

Then I saw it with my own eyes. I have been to a lot of beautiful properties, from La Jolla to Rancho Mirage to Clint Eastwood’s Tehama. I adore Calistoga Ranch and Costa Rica. Mayacama is definitely one of the most elite and exclusive private clubs in the world, and yes, fractional second home ownership is available!

Whole ownership of any of these properties would be several million dollars.

Mayacama golf is to-die for!

The club is named after the Mayacama Mountains that separate Napa from Sonoma, tucked away, all surrounded by vineyards. If you were to draw heaven, this would be it. Yet it is surprisingly close to San Francisco, even allowing for the usually annoying California traffic. You head north on Highway 101 about an hour north of San Francisco and go about five minutes north of Santa Rosa. You steer up to a gate with guards, take a two mile drive to the clubhouse though a thicket of trees and hillsides that suddenly give way to an open meadow. And there it is.

Mayacama was founded and developed by the Wilhelm family in 1997, along with Forsythe Investments. It was built on land once belonging to Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, an avid golfer who, with a group of friends, envisioned developing a world-class semi-private golf course within the 3500 acre site. Environmental concerns put those plans on hold. The 40,000 square foot clubhouse evokes images of a Tuscan country estate. The villas and casitas are uber first-rate, beautifully designed and decorated.

But here, golf,  is supreme.

The property takes full advantage of the site’s natural elevation, which make the golf course rather challenging. That and the majestic oaks which dictate shot placement, I’m told. The course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened in August of 2001 and of course Nicklaud played the first round. It’s the variety of the landscape that heightens the golf experience. In fact, this was where my husband felt the closest he ever has in the U.S. to the U.K., when he golfed at Skibo Castle in Scotland. Mayacama has a strong caddie program so members and guests can uphold the tradition of walking the course.

Say You Own a  Home in the Wine Country

Golf is great, but you are here in the Northern California wine country — partake. In addition to counting more than 30 of America’s leading vintners among members, the club at Mayacama regularly hosts tasting events showcasing some of the area’s and the continent’s finest wines. There is a full time Concierge, beautiful fitness center and spa, tennis courts, Olympic sized pool, play room for children, and one of the highest rated spas in the country: European style, professional masseuse always on duty. Each member also has their own private wine locker, temperature controlled, to store wine they may buy in the area. In addition to being an amazing escape where you can indulge in golf, fitness, spa, Mayacama serves the glorious food of Northern California as well with top-rated chefs in the kitchen.

There are casitas and villas. Casitas are one bedroom, one bath 840ish square feet fully furnished with every amenity: fireplace, living area, kitchenettes, soaking tub and a staple of the region, the outdoor shower. Villas are three bedroom, three and a half bath, 3000 plus square feet of indoor/outdoor living with decks and panoramic views. All lodges are fully maintained with constant maid service, and like most fine residences the staff will prepare for your stay, shuttle you, and store personal belongings. There are 12 casitas and 19 villas and a fractional ownership here nets you 28 days in one of each.

It’s simply heaven.

The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square offers sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. The waterfront project is in a historic part of the California city on the sea that has always captured my heart. I’m here checking out this amazing property that is available as a fractional ownership for a smidgen over $200,000 for a two bedroom, even less for a one-bedroom!

“We were looking at buying property for a second home in a few places, including Phoenix and Palm Springs,” says Canadian Ron Deyholos. “But my wife is not much of a golfer, so we started to look in San Francisco because we really like the city.”

The couple recently purchased a share in a fractional unit in Fairmont Heritage Place, and love it primarily because they have no headaches or upkeep. This came painfully to my mind as I landed at SFO this morning to news that not one but BOTH hot water heaters were dead upstairs and oh yes, it’s 107 in Dallas and one A/C is out. Great.

It’s about 70 degrees here in San Fran.

Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, the waterfront project is a collaboration between JMA Ventures, LLC, and the Fairmont Hotel chain and is part of the historic former Ghirardelli chocolate factory complex, which dates back to 1893. The red brick exterior walls are original to the chocolate factory, and later I’ll show you how cleanly and cleverly they preserved the original windows but made them more efficient. The development offers 53 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes right in the heart of the city. A courtesy car is about to whisk me off to Inman’s Real Estate Connect at the Hilton in Union Square.

The project is right on the water, offering beautiful views of the Bay across to Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus there’s a fire pit, boutique shops, restaurants and pubs on the street level, so you feel very much in the city.

Fractional ownership gives the buyer a one-tenth deeded ownership of the unit and entitles the buyer to 35 nights per year with benefits, like reciprocity at any Fairmont and Raffles Hotels and Resorts or other Fairmont Heritage communities worldwide. Want to spend more than 35 days per year on vacation? You must be French. Fairmont lets Heritage place owners stay at Ghirardelli for $100 U.S. bucks a night. There are heavy duty discounts available on all other Fairmont properties, too: little bird told me 20%.

What I’m liking and here to really check out: the private residents’ club gives you a five-star experience in your second home. Which is exactly what you want in a second home, not more headaches. Some of these units are in the toney Exclusive Resorts collection. Other benefits I’m checking on for you: the car shuttle, owners’ storage facilities for, say, wine if you hop up to Napa or Sonoma, exercise facility, daily housekeeping (will there be turn-down service? I love turn-down service), great dining, shopping and grocery provisioning. I’m told I’m six quick blocks from Safeway and Trader Joes!

We have a friend in Dallas who owns one of these fractionals –he has a child living in the area, as we do. Also a lot of Canadians are buying in San Francisco  — two lovely gents just popped by my two-bedroom unit for a look/see. Western Canadians love the Fairmont brand, they told me,  and have access to about 12 Fairmont hotels, including the famous Whistler. They were quite impressed with the kitchen. Me, I can hardly wait to draw a bubble bath… and forget about everything that’s breaking in Dallas.





I know, it’s kind of mean and I couldn’t bring myself to circumcise a fly, but just the idea that they are legislating all this stuff! San Francisco may ban infant circumcision as part of a national movement to stem the procedure which experts say is purely religious tradition but offers no benefits. I mean, if they legislate this imagine what happens when you want to chop off a room or two on your house!