2014: Buying a condo at the Four Seasons Private Residences Vail

We left the USA in 1993 for Indonesia. (See the "Welcome to The Introduction to our blog about our traveling lifestyle" for a summary of our life since 1993.) Dimitri's house in Manhattan Beach, CA and Audre's condo in Santa Monica were rented. With Audre's World Bank contract, came a furnished 2 bedroom apartment (with separate servant's quarters  for our servant) in one of the towers of the Jakarta Hilton property. From 1993 to 2014, Dimitri and Audre traveled the world renting fully furnished and equipped houses, apartments, condos and, from time to time, staying in hotels. It was a stress free lifestyle--we described as "homeless, stuff-less and care free" (or was that careless?).

In 2008, we came back to the USA to ski the winter in Vail, CO. We thought we'd ski two winters in Vail (that's the maximum number of winters we had stayed in any one ski area in the world). In 2010, at the end of our second season, we headed to Vancouver, BC, Canada to check out that city and the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Area. But before we left Vail, Dimitri and Audre entered a contest to win an Epic Season Pass from Vail Resorts and, lo and behold, Dimitri won. We did check out Vancouver (click here for one blog post and at the bottom of the post click on "Older Post" to read more about our Vancouver doings) as well as Whistler (read all about it by clicking here and here). Although we had a fine time, we were not happy with the weather and the reliability of the snow. Additionally, the exchange rate for the US dollar was such that it made us think we were paying too much for what we were getting. So we decided to spend a third season skiing Vail (2010-2011). At that point we were hooked: Vail Club 50 was a great source of people for socializing and also a downright great source of outdoor enthusiasts with whom we could ski, hike, snowshoe, mountain bike and everything else. Secondly, we don't know of another North American ski area that offers what Vail, CO offers: a real town with fairly complete services,  great restaurants, great infrastructure, a hospital full of orthopedic surgeons and whatever other specialty we might need, easy access to a major city-Denver on the I-70, great outdoor activities that we love, and lastly but certainly not "leastly": a fabulous and huge ski area with reliable snow and weather.

In 2011 we spent the summer in Vail and loved the hiking, the weather, the Bravo music festival, the International Dance Festival, the Jazz Festival, the farmer's market on Sundays and the socializing. In 2013 we spent a second summer in Vail. We knew we would be back to ski in Vail for as many more seasons as our bodies would allow us to ski. How many years would that be? Maybe 10 years. So we thought we'd "rent from ourselves" instead of our wonderful landlords, the Kleinmans.

During the summer of 2013, we thought we might buy a condo at Simba Run Condominiums from the Kleinmans. We learned that we'd spend almost as much to renovate a unit at Simba Run (to the standard we wanted) as we would be paying for it. That didn't make sense. So we looked around Vail for other possibilities. An investment that Audre made in real estate in NYC was paying off in August 2013 and we decided to put that money back into real estate. We looked at everything and anything in Vail that might possibly be interesting for our real estate investment.

The first unit to attract our attention in Vail was apartment 311 The Ritz Carlton Vail. It was a two bedroom and had a great view of the ski slopes. It was laid out like a traditional 2 bedroom apartment with two complete master suites. Their sizes really couldn't accommodate desks and we would want to leave them "as is" to rent the unit in the summer when we were traveling. Therefore there was too much wasted space. There were other problems there. One was the kitchen--it wasn't set up for a long term stay and it wasn't big enough. The second was parking. We could not get any assurance from anyone that when we had guests, parking would be complimentary. They might have to pay $25 to visit us. That would be ridiculous. A third problem was that it was being sold furnished and we weren't wild about the décor. A fourth problem was that there was no self parking at the Ritz Carlton Vail. We would have to valet park and wait for the car every time we went out. The only other condo that attracted us in all of Vail Village, Lionshead and Cascade was at the Four Seasons Private Residences. Unit 9204 was the smallest unit of the "whole ownership" condos. It was described as a one bedroom plus media room and two full bathrooms. At 1578 sq. ft. it was one-third bigger than our rental apartment at Simba Run--a perfect size for us.
Click here to see the floor plan.

The apartment was new and no one had ever lived in it. (We love new and we love to be the first residents anywhere.) It was very well laid out and the kitchen was big enough, with enough counter space to please Audre. It even had a pantry. Even though it sits on the I-70, the windows are excellent--really soundproof--and we could hear no I-70 noise at all. Dimitri had a great idea to block out the sight of the I-70. We would get top down, bottom up motorized shades that we would leave at halfway up. It would block the I-70 but, with the top of the shades open, the mountain view across the highway would not be blocked. Voilá, we would have a mountain view. There were two gas fireplaces (Dimitri had refused to light a wood fire at Simba Run for our last two winters there) so the gas fireplaces might even be used. The media room would have Dimitri's desk and the master bedroom was big enough for Audre's desk. That would work well. The master bathroom was huge and we really liked that. With the unit came two deeded parking spaces and a very large storage room. We also got a "memo of assurance" that our guests would be able to valet park their cars for free. We would be able to furnish the unit ourselves to our taste; we would just have to keep in mind the requirements for rentals in case we decided to have the Four Seasons rent for us while we traveled.

We made an offer, with the help of Jeannie Hauff, the transactional broker we "happened upon" the day we saw the Four Seasons Private Residence #9204. We negotiated with the seller, Barclay's Bank (which had taken over the property after the second developer went belly up). When the negotiations went well and we got an acceptance of our offer, we were thrilled. The condo felt good to us every time we walked in; it flows very nicely. The staff of the Four Seasons was wonderful to us. Once we signed a contract to purchase the unit and we had a closing date (January 3, 2014 for tax reasons no less), the staff gave us a key to the unit and would open the garage gate to let us use one of our parking spaces for self parking (Dimitri loves self parking). We were given permission to use the fitness center and the spa before we closed too. The Four Seasons Resort Vail would be the right place for us. And so it was and is.

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