Steamboat Springs Hot Springs

Photo courtesy of the Colorado Tourism Office

Every ski town seems to have its own appeal. It’s easy to get to, or it’s isolated and exclusive.  It’s snowboarder heaven, or it’s snowboard-free. It a great place for beginners, or  it’s dominated by advanced-level runs and black diamond-lovers don’t have to navigate around skiers like me.

Steamboat Springs in northwestern Colorado is known as an exceptionally family-friendly town. It’s known for lots of programs for children, kids-only lifts, and play areas and parks designed with juveniles in mind.  But,  the area has a unique natural feature with special appeal for adults: mystical natural hot springs where skiers, snowboarders, and hikers can relax and soak away tired muscles and aches and pains.  Click here for a look at these therapeutic wonders and a gorgeous new vacation home listing in Steamboat Springs:

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Photo courtesy of Telluride Tourism Board

Photo: courtesy of Telluride Tourism Board

As Candy Evans reported last week,  the consensus of vacation housing  experts speaking at the NAREE (National Association of Real Estate Editors) Conference which took place in New Orleans in June is clear — these days vacation housing is all about the family.

Children are accompanying parents on vacations and second home buyers are looking for properties that are comfortable for all ages. Among the most family-friendly mountain destinations in the U.S. is the southwestern Colorado city of Telluride, which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its free public gondola system this year.  

What’s the big deal about this unique coach in the sky?

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72 White Pine Canyon Road | Park City, UT | Luxury Real Estate

72 White Pine Canyon Road | Park City, UT | Luxury Real Estate

It’s ski season!

You know about the real estate auction business, yes? I have tried to educate my readers (and myself) about this growing and phenomenally great way to pick up extreme real estate for a great price. I am told that Dallas pipeline magnate Kelcy Warren LOVES to buy real estate through auctions and in fact, the mega rich do constantly comb auction sites for deals in land, homes, yachts, planes and cars.

72 White Pine Canyon Road | Park City, UT | Luxury Real Estate

Well, tomorrow — yes, tomorrow! — you can bid on the home where the stars love to ski in Utah: 72 White Pine Canyon Road, a stunning 17,000 square foot plus mega ski house built in 2001, designed by one of Park City, Utah’s most famous architects, Jack Thomas, now the Mayor of Park City. Thomas has built some of the most iconic Park City homes, and is best known for creating Main Street’s “Egyptian Theatre”.

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Gus Cortina

I know it’s 72 degrees in Dallas, but the ski season is in full swing just a few hundred miles north of us.  And we are quite in love with the town of Telluride, Colorado. We would prefer a little ski in/ski out place at the Villas at Cortina over a box of chocolates. Or flowers. That’s a place where we could escape in winter OR summer, bring the kids and grand-kids, and make it a family fun time. When your children grow up and work, their time becomes incredibly precious and cannot be parsed out enough.

Cortina Villas

A care-free second home at the Villas of Cortina in Telluride provides the perfect family getaway with the cleanest, most wholesome family sport of all times: skiing. That photo is of 2014 Olympic silver medalist in Slopestyle skiing, hometown Telluride boy, Gus Kenworthy, in the Villa’s ski tunnel.

First of all, it’s easy to get to Telluride from Dallas. Dallas snow seekers are taking advantage of increased service to Telluride (MTJ) this winter on American Airlines. Telluride has announced a 20% overall increase in flights to the destination for the 2014-2015 winter season, and the Dallas flight leads the way with a 51% growth in seats. (more…)

Vail Resorts has planned more than $50 million in upgrades to the recently purchased Park City Mountain Resort.

Vail Resorts has planned more than $50 million in upgrades to the recently purchased Park City Mountain Resort.

I know we’re all dreaming of the slopes and yummy apres ski cocktails, and if you don’t already have your winter getaway planned, well, we have some fodder for your ski vacation dreams! News just broke that Vail Resorts, which purchased Park City Mountain Resort for $182 million back in September, is planning more than $50 million in upgrades to this mountain destination.

It’s all part of Vail Resorts’ ambitious capital plan to transform the guest experience at Park City, connecting the resort to the Canyons, and thereby creating more than 7,300 skiable acres. Infrastructure upgrades will be tremendous, and the impact will be felt throughout the valley. Vail Resorts is known for great skiing, and we can’t wait to see what they do!

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Breck Cannabis AP

The line at Breckenridge Cannabis Club goes out the door as vacationers and residents alike take advantage of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana laws. (Kathryn Olson/AP)

We’ve seen photos and stories from Colorado ski towns such as Aspen and Breckenridge showing vacationers filing lines out the door at marijuana shops, so of course, we had to wonder what kind of impact legal pot could have on Colorado real estate. Are more buyers putting it in their pipes and smoking it?

Turns out the Colorado Association of Realtors was wondering the exact same thing.  After all, with 136 pot retailers in the state as of Dec. 2013, buyers were throwing green after green, eventually causing a state-wide shortage of smokables. But is recreational marijuana a boon for Colorado real estate, or a burden?

“Some people don’t want to come [to Colorado] with their families,” says Joyce Burford, executive director of Colorado Association of Ski Towns. “Because they have this image that all these pot smokers will be everywhere.” That’s not happening, she says, and “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Analysis from the Colorado Association of Realtors shows that while state law no longer forbids recreational pot sales and retailers, local governments hold the keys to the lease.

The majority of counties in Colorado have either already passed bans on recreational marijuana retailers or have delayed making a decision and placed a moratorium on pot business; closely monitoring how enactment is working in other parts of the state.

It looks as though recreational marijuana businesses will be absent from large portions of the state for the foreseeable future. According to the Denver Post, of the ten largest cities in Colorado (by population), only Denver is expected to accept license applications for recreational marijuana stores this year.

It’s also important to note that in counties and cities that have decided to allow recreational sales, grow operations will only be in areas zoned industrial.

Right now, Denver and Denver County are the only areas where you can still apply for a marijuana sales license. So vacation property owners don’t really have to worry about an influx of new ganja businesses. And in Vail, there’s a complete moratorium on recreational marijuana sales. Still, folks in Aspen are buying pot, but at least one Realtor doesn’t think it will do much for real estate sales, if anything at all.

“I don’t think [legal marijuana] is making that much difference,” Joshua Landis, a real-estate agent in Aspen, said in this piece in The Daily Beast.

“People have always been able to access marijuana in Aspen. Nobody is out smoking marijuana on the corner” just because it’s suddenly legal to possess and use it in private (it’s still illegal to use publicly). In addition, he says, “I don’t think it has any effect” on property values. “No one who can afford to buy property in Aspen is going to make their decision based on marijuana policy.”

If the lines snaking outside of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club are any indication, pot tourism might make Colorado the new Amsterdam. And heck, it might be a draw so much in that it awakens latent demand for buyers who want to move to a 4:20-friendly state, but perhaps in more affordable areas such as Denver and its surrounding suburbs.

Others, like Lubbock’s Colt and Amanda Smith, are among those planning to move to the state to ride the new economy. The couple founded the Lubbock chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

They had talked about retiring in Colorado but decided to act early once the new law took effect.

“We have our house on the market right now,” Colt Smith said. “It makes sense to find exile in a place that has more reasonable laws than to sit around and wait for Texas to get there.”

The Smiths hope to launch a marijuana edibles business once they establish residency.

“We feel like Colorado is just beautiful and has beautiful laws,” Smith said. “When people tell me they’re going there to ski now, they use air quotes.”

“Skiing,” indeed.

 

Banner photoYear-round views steal the show at 739 Lakeview Ave., which is on the market for $2.7 million in South Lake Tahoe Calif. Listing agent Theresa Souers says this one is “probably the best buy all around the lake.”

Plenty of Texans go for vacation homes near Lake Tahoe.

“But be prepared that our houses aren’t as big as they’re used to,” real estate agent Theresa Souers adds with a chuckle. “I always tell them that upfront.”

Size doesn’t matter so much, however, when you’re breathing mountain air and pondering a looming, pristine lake that straddles California and Nevada.

Wealthy Californians are known for flocking to little towns on the Nevada side to avoid state income tax and enjoy a lower cost of living. Both options offer unfettered views and a sense of tony, tucked-away escapism, but it’s the area’s unbeatable year-round beauty and perpetual sports — including hiking, snow skiing, and waterskiing — that give Tahoe its biggest advantage over seasonal resort spots.

Serious buyers come because “they like the clean air,” says broker Chris Plastiras, of Lakeshore Realty. “They like the low crime rate, they like the educational system.”

220 Glen Way exterior739 Lakeview: Water and mountain views abound at this South Lake Tahoe property.

Home sales are up 30 to 35 percent this year by Sours’s count, and Plastiras’s company has seen a more than 100-percent increase, from $94 million in total sales to around $225 million.

The numbers aren’t a huge surprise, however; typically, California’s property sales foretell Tahoe’s to some extent.

“If you study the historical trends,” Souers explains, “we follow the Bay Area,” usually with about six-month to yearlong lag.

And guess what? The Bay Area is starting to fly high.

As for Tahoe, “we kind of flattened out around November,” Souers said, “but I don’t think it’s a permanent thing.”

Tahoe-area properties are often carefully regulated, for better or for worse; building permits can be scarce, which keeps neighborhoods quaint but frustrates some homeowners.

220 Glen Way interior(Above and Below): This low-elevation, lodge-style home offers direct access to a tennis and recreation center. 220 Glen Way is listed for $2.2 million in Incline Village, Nev.

739 Lakeview Living Room

“Even if you own [an empty] lot, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be able to build up there,” cautions Dallas resident Joyce Jacobson, whose family has kept a beloved second home in South Lake Tahoe — right on the state line, she says — for more than 20 years. Lake houses seem to hold their value better over time, she figures, but they’re also subject to strict regulations. In some cases, she adds, that means rules about what sort of blinds an occupant can hang from his or her windows. Seriously.

Her husband, Bob, has a funny story about their own vacation getaway, which isn’t on the lake. Seven or eight years ago, he said, Joyce and their grown children began pressuring him to sell.

“I put a real high price on it,” he says with a mischievous laugh — $1.2 million, which was several times what the family paid for it years ago — “thinking, ‘if we do [sell], we’re going to get something good.’”

A prospective buyer popped up immediately.

“They were so depressed,” Jacobson said of his family when they got the news. “They were hardly talking, and just walking around with their heads drooped down.”

Then and there, they changed their minds about leaving.

“Compared to Dallas,” Jacobson muses, “everything’s quiet. You get up in the morning, and the birds are making noise. You hear all these little animals. Last time I was up there, there were like six deer walking on our main street.”

Or maybe it’s the other humans — and myriad human diversions — that make die-hards keep coming back.

“It’s all the recreational spots, with all the skiing and the hiking and the water sports,” says homeowner Leroy Hardy (a relative of mine), whose custom-built Incline Village, Nev., house includes a creek, and is on the market.

“It’s unsurpassed.”

Georgia and Matt2Georgia Fisher is a Dallas expat now living in Reno, Nev., with her fiancé. Her interests include cats, Internet videos of cats, and cats watching Internet videos of cats. While she adores her quaint historic rental in Reno, she tries to escape to Lake Tahoe as often as possible. 

While some of us despise the chilly winter winds that have been a-blowing and prefer to bundle up indoors until bikini season arrives, skiers and snowboarders alike know that the storms that blew through Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming this week (and will continue on through the northeast next week) offer the perfect, powdery platform for a fantastic weekend out on the slopes.

Below, check out our top five vacation rental homes to enjoy the best of both worlds: top notch skiing paired with amenities worth traveling for.

Chateau of Breckenridge

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For a true ski-in/ski-out luxury chateau, don’t miss this Colorado beauty, just a few steps from the popular Four O’clock Ski Run. Plus, there’s even a rooftop patio with an outdoor spa and fireplace. Rent this five bedroom, five and a half bath mountainside home for $13,125 a week.

The Stratton Mountain House

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This winter retreat, nestled in Stratton, Vermont, is minutes away from the Stratton Ski Resort. Get a couples massage at the resort’s day spa after a long day of hitting the slopes or take a short 20-minute drive to the Manchester Designer Shopping Outlets nearby. Truly get away from it all by simply staying at the home, which boasts six bedrooms, five and a half baths, a jetted tub and a jacuzzi. Rental rates are $1,600 a night, with a three night minimum stay required.

The Country Estate2688554d-56a5-43fe-8648-423bdf81e847.1.10

I am in love with the decor of this secluded rental in Stowe, Vermont. Romp in seven bedrooms and five bathrooms in three separate dwellings set on an 8 acre hilltop, surrounded by rambling farmland. Cross-country skiers will enjoy trails located just off the property, and black diamond skiers can hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, which is just 15 minutes away. Cost to rent is $10,000 per week.

Four O’clock Breckenridge Condo

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At just $79 a night, this two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Breckenridge condo offers amenities that rival its luxurious competitors: a full kitchen, 46′ flat screen TV in the living room, and a balcony with a mountain view. Walk on a trail to reach the ski resort or simply take the bus just 20 feet from the condo to Peak 7 and 8 of the Four O’clock Ski Run.

Glacier Lodge

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Newly built in 2012, this 2,800-square-foot, six-bedroom rental property is located in beautiful Lake Harmony, Penn., just minutes from the lake, championship golf courses, the Poconos ski slopes, state parks, and restaurants. Soak in the six-person outdoor hot tub or play a game of pool inside this Poconos chalet for $3,200 a week.

Whitney ThompsonWhitney Thompson loves to daydream about the perfect beach house, but she’ll settle for a hot tub in Colorado if that’s on the menu. She is a freelance writer and contributor to SecondShelters.com and CandysDirt.com.