Paradise Valley AZ retreat currently listed for $10.490M by Kirsten Johnson and Denise Pruitt of Arizona Best Real Estate. Photo Credit: Luxury Portfolio International

If you are anything like us, you’ll need a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor after one look at this Paradise Valley dream home. We’ll wait … but the listing won’t. It’s currently priced at $10.49 million and will be scooped up faster than you think, as it comes from a pedigree of architectural talent.

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MN-AJ010_WVA_M_20150506163339

Greenbrier Sporting Club: 7000 sft, 5 bedrooms, wine cellar, billiards room, pool, hot tub, grill, bocce ball court, apartment: $5.995.

It was about this time last year that Kyle Crews, Juli Harrison, and Doris Jacobs all of Allie Beth Allman, and I hopped a plane to Charlestown, West Virginia to visit the one of the most beautiful, breath-taking and affordable vacation home spots in the nation: the Greenbrier Sporting Club.

Why I am telling you this story now? First of all, it’s the beginning of the vacation home season, and we should all be there, dry and happy and out of the rain. We are going back in a few weeks.

Secondly, I am sick of the rain. I know we need it, but this is getting ridiculous. Does Mother Nature know nothing but feast or famine? The only good news is that we may be able to sell some of this water to parched places in West Texas.

Then, the owner of the Greenbrier, Jim Justice, is running for governor of West Virginia in a self-funded campaign. The self-made billionaire was in Dallas last fall at an event benefiting Arlington Hall at Lee Park, visiting with some local owners – – there are a handful of folks in Dallas who own vacation homes at the Greenbrier, and more are interested. The Sporting Club will get even more interesting if Justice wins the governors race —

Greenbrier in Dallas Jim Justice and ABA

Jim Justice with Allie Beth & Pierce Allman, Judy Pittman, Dave Perry-Miller

Justice’s wealth easily trumps Rockefeller’s. The 64-year-old built a $1.7 billion fortune in coal and agriculture, and has painted himself a job creator who bought and restored The Greenbrier historic resort.

The values are unprecedented. When you see the resort, one of the oldest and largest in the country, and experience the magnificent homes and mountain home-sites that surround it, you will fall in love and seriously consider making your second home at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Mountain mama, take me home.

2014-05-18 Greenbrier 2014 (6)

I come ready to hike!

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Alys Beach

Winter in Canada is a long, cold slog for the country’s 34.5 million residents. From the first snow to the final melted puddle, we’re talking 8 months, sometimes 9.

Now, if you were Canadian and you owned a second home in say, Alys Beach, Florida, you’d want to trade the shoulder-high mountains of grey snow for sandy dunes while you work on your tan for as long as possible, right? Me too. But under current laws, “Snowbirds” are allowed to stay in the US for 6 months. If a bill authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer is passed, they could escape Canada’s bitter cold for an extra two months.

That has to be good news for our neighbors to the north:

The impetus for the change comes from the Canadian Snowbird Association, based in Toronto, which estimates that Canadian snowbirds made 1.08 million trips to the U.S. During 2011. The association defines a “Canadian snowbird” as someone aged 55 or older who spends 31 or more consecutive days in the US during the winter time.

“The association estimates that 70% of Canadian travelers spending over one month in the sunbelt states choose Florida as their destination,” stated Evan Rachkovsky, research officer for the Canadian Snowbird Association, in an interview with USA Today. There are many Canadians who own second homes in the U.S., particularly in the states of California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

“A lot of people want to stay longer,” explained Bob Slack, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association, and a keen supporter of the new bill. “They’d like to stay for seven months if they can.”

Other popular winter residences for Canadians include the states of Arizona, especially around Yuma, Lake Havasu, Tucson and Mesa, and California, in particular the Palm Springs area. Meanwhile, Texas is another choice destination for Canadians, especially around Rio Grande Valley, McAllen, Brownsville and South Padre Island.

I love the Florida Keys, but Key West isn’t always the best place to spend a vacation. I mean, I love the Conch Republic and all, but sometimes I just want to watch the waves crash, do some surfing, or have a cocktail without navigating Duval Street.

This island is undergoing rapid development, so now is the time to buy up a lot and build your dream beach house, or buy one of these incredible homes that make the drive over the long Overseas Highway so worth it.

That’s what’s great about Islamorada — the high-end Florida Key with beautiful beaches and gorgeous homes. So here’s our love note to the stunning island, one of the larger Florida Keys:

1) 87961 Old Hwy.

87961 Old Hwy

2) 220 Plantation Blvd.

220 Plantation Boulevard

3) 75140 Overseas Hwy.

75140 Overseas Hwy

4) 88060 Overseas Hwy.

88060 Overseas Hwy

5) 138 N Rolling Hill Rd.

138 N Rolling Hill

 

Ritz Carlton Residences in Vail, CO

Ritz Carlton Residences in Vail, CO

Here’s the deal. The economy is not cooperating, but we still want to enjoy life. I know so many families who want a second home to “create family memories.” Most families, like mine, are spread out all over tarnation. A second home is a great way for everyone to combine a vacation with a family visit. Our family did this for years at Drake’s Island, Maine, and we are trying to do it for our kids with a shared-ownership ranch in the Hill Country. As hard hit as the second home market is right now, buying and maintaining a home outright is still costly. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales are really soft in the Hamptons, which Wall Street usually flushes with money. And no one in their right mind thinks they’ll be flipping it for a profit.

That’s why the new buzz word in vacation home ownership is the Shared Amenities Club, or just The Private Club. (Or, hell, just The Club.) Yes, in the boom this kind of vaca home ownership was the outcast stepsister to full vacation home ownership. Well, those who did the nose-wrinkling are probably underwater on their loans. Someone stopped and asked me about this concept in the locker room the other day, of all places. The couple wants a vacation home but they know they won’t be able to use it year ’round. After all, who gets more than 4 weeks of vacation a year, if that? They don’t want to mess with maintenance or leasing to cash-flow a mortgage. And in this economic climate, they certainly don’t want to take out a home equity loan to finance a second home like so many did a few years ago.

Then I spoke to Wade Shealy, Founder and CEO of 3RD HOME. He mentioned he had just returned from a place in Napa Valley called Calistoga Ranch. How much, says I? Less than $500K, said Wade.

I was all ears and sharpening my pencil.

“Of all the places in the world that I have traveled, none have been as luxurious and service oriented as Calistoga Ranch, which is managed by Mark Harmon’s Auberge,” said Wade.

That’s Auberge as in Auberge Du Soleil, one of the world’s top resort management companies. I happened to have stayed at Auberge Du Soleil back in the nineties on a trip to San Francisco with my husband: most luxurious resort ever. EVER. He had to peel me out of there.

Calistoga Ranch is a private club of select members who join for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase a home there, in too-good-to-be true Napa, under full ownership. As a club member you get use of the club and also have the rights to exchange some of your time at Calistoga Ranch for other luxury homes around the world by their association with 3RD HOME.

Those clubs would be The Palms in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica (which you will be hearing about more here on this blog) and The Reefs Club in Bermuda, which is selling out like gangbusters. Get this: The Reefs sold out 40 memberships in two weeks. This is luxury oceanfront vacation home living plus island fun. Owners get a 1/10th deeded interest in one of 19 two-or-three-bedroom luxuriously appointed residences.  Prices start at $179,500 USD for a two-bedroom and $229,000 USD for a three-bedroom ownership, and will be increasing on July 1st.  The Reefs Club marries all of the advantages of true Private Residence Club ownership— deeded ownership, unlimited vacations, shared maintenance costs and ownership transfer or sale. Located on a limestone bluff overlooking a secluded pink sand beach, The Club’s residences feature spacious interiors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a private terrace with whirlpool spa, a gourmet kitchen, two master suites, unobstructed ocean views and the relaxed luxury of classic Bermudian design.  I am sooo there for less than $300,000.

If Bermuda is not your cup of British tea, try Lake Tahoe or Auberge Private Residences Esperanza in Cabo san Lucas. As a member/owner of these clubs you have the option of using your club or selecting from a host of other properties in the 3RD HOME collection that also includes the Ritz Carlton Residences in Vail, and former President Gerald Ford’s home in Beaver Creek. (I think I wrote about this home for AOL!) Or go abroad to a hillside home in Italy, or a 43,000 sq foot beach home with a staff of 10 — now that’s luxury. The homes are all a part of the 3RD HOME collection.

So I am investigating this concept because honestly, it’s the best deal I’ve heard about yet. There are simply too many properties out there to buy in one Club and have to stay put. And I would think smart developers would be creating similar concepts. It’s a vacation home buyer’s market. Why settle for one when you can have multiple?

Calistoga Ranch Residence

Calistoga Ranch Residence

The benefits of joining 3RD HOME don’t stop there. Readers of Secondshelters.com now have the opportunity to join for free, compliments of Candy Evans! Click any of the hyperlinks within the blog text, or go to http://www.secondshelters.3rdhome.com.

1. Second home trends: Affluent Baby Boomers will retire later and downsize from their large McMansions for which utilities and taxes have become prohibitive, to smaller homes, maybe condos,  in the city and a second home — in the cheaper boonies, or in another city. Just last night a reader emailed me that his biggest dream is to own a second home condo in Quebec! Cripes, even Disney is getting into this market.

2. According to a study by E360 Global Research, 45% of current second home owners think now is a great time to buy a second home. Of those, Mexico has a strong pull for almost half — and this survey was done in August, 2010. The drug cartel crime in Mexico is isolated to certain areas, they believe.

3. Of the 54% who say now is not a good time to buy a second home, most say the next two years will be. E360 (who provided much of this information) expects big growth in the second home markets surrounding highly populated areas.

4. Most people want a second home as a vacation haven to de-stress. Most prefer a lake or ocean view, with a mountain view coming in second. North Carolina, for example, is one of the fastest-growing second home destinations.

5. What kinds of amenities are second home buyers looking for? Good question. To some extent, they want great medical facilities (resuscitate me!) and a spa. Golf and eco-green based living also does not turn them on. I’ve read that many want to re-live their college years, with classes and intellectual stimulation (and pot?) nearby. Boulder, Colorado is home to a lot of intelligent people and gaining a large second home population, for example.

6. Pricing sweet spot: $200,000 to $400,000 and pay cash, if possible. I mean, those 401Ks are doing so well, right?

7. Vacation and lifestyle are the reason 46% want to buy; another 41% want to buy for investment. Only 11% give a rat’s tooshie about retirement.

8. 49% of second home buyers want a single family home, and 60% just want a 2 bedroom, 2 bath floor plan.

9. 49% of second home purchasers will buy domestically, but a growing contingent is eying Mexico and  Central America — Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama — as a low-cost of living second home and place to retire.

10. The second home won’t be too close to the first: 30% of buyers want to be 100 to 300 miles from their primary home; 40% want to be 500 to 1000 miles from the primary home; 11% are willing to be more than 1000 miles away from the primary home.