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Condos Vs. Condo Hotels For Vacaton Home Ownership


Condo hotels, also called condotels, are a relatively new concept in vacation home ownership. Rapidly gaining popularity, numerous condo hotels are now being built in Florida, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, the Caribbean and many other locales around the U.S. and the world. To help illustrate the unique qualities of condo hotels, here's a look at how they compare with traditional condos.

AMENITIES

Condos - The average condo has a community pool and some common areas.

Condo Hotels - A condo hotel has many of the amenities you would find at a four- or five-star hotel. In addition to a pool (or pools), there is probably an on-site restaurant (possibly several), a lounge, a full-service spa, a state-of-the-art exercise facility, poolside bar, etc. The amenities in a condo hotel are far greater than what you would typically find in a condo.

FURNISHINGS

Condos - Condos are usually sold unfurnished. You may decorate your unit as you like, and you pay for all furnishings.

Condo Hotels - A condo hotel unit is delivered to you completely furnished, typically with high-end furniture, appliances and fixtures selected by a professional interior designer. All units are decorated the same, more or less, much like hotel rooms. Condo hotel units are delivered user-ready upon receipt. The cost for furnishings is included in the price of the condo hotel unit.

SERVICES

Condos - You are responsible for your own housekeeping and unit upkeep. Services are usually limited to maintenance and possibly security.

Condo Hotels - You get daily housekeeping as you would in a luxury hotel. You have access to room service, concierge services, maintenance services and check-in services. The vast majority of condo hotels are operated by big-name hoteliers like Ritz Carlton and Hilton, the consummate professionals when it comes to customer service. Most of the same services available at their high-end hotels are offered at their condo hotels.

LOCATION

Condos - Condos can be found in almost every major market across the country. Some condo developments are in resort areas, while others are not.

Condo Hotels - At this time condo hotels are only available in a handful of locations, all of which are major vacation destinations or highly desirable cities, such as South Florida, Las Vegas and Chicago. Condo hotels are usually built on the most desirable pieces of land such as on a golf course, overlooking the ocean or in the heart of a major city.

PRICE

Condos - Prices for condos can start as low as $70,000.

Condo Hotels - Units start at $200,000, and most are substantially more. An oceanfront four- or five-star condo hotel unit can cost $500,000 to over $1,000,000.

RENTAL INCOME POTENTIAL

Condos - You have the option of renting out your unit when not using it. However, you are responsible for finding your own renters, preparing the unit for those renters, dealing with any maintenance issues that arise and collecting the rent. The condo association's approval may be required on renter issues. You keep 100% of the rental revenue.

Condo Hotels - All details are handled for you. When you're not using your condo hotel unit, you simply place it in the rental program. Renters would be found for you, and all aspects of the renters' stay would be handled by the hotel management company. The entire process would be hassle-free for you.

You would receive a portion of the rent revenue, typically 40%-50%; the balance would go to the management company. Because the condo hotel most likely is a national or international hotel chain (such as Hilton or Ritz Carlton), it has a global sales force, multimillion dollar marketing campaigns, loyalty programs, a centralized reservation system and a strong Internet presence, all of which suggest that the property's management would probably have better success at keeping your unit rented than you would as an individual condo owner.

APPRECIATION POTENTIAL

Condos - Whether your condo will appreciate or depreciate depends strongly on its location. Because there are so many condos on the market, the rules of supply and demand often help keep prices down. For the same reason, condos can be hard to resell.

Condo Hotels - Because condo hotels are a relatively new type of property investment, they are limited to just a handful of locales across the country. The supply is small and demand is currently high and growing, all of which contribute rapid and significant appreciation. Another factor to keep in mind when reselling a condo hotel unit is that you're selling not only the actual unit but also the luxury lifestyle that comes with an amenity-filled, high-service property.

Many condo hotels are sold out in pre-construction. Often the developers, sensing the high demand, will themselves raise prices many times before all units are gone.

For example, The Mutiny condo hotel located in Coconut Grove, Florida was the first condo hotel to be built in South Florida. From the time the developer began accepting deposits until it sold out in pre-construction, there were nine price increases. People who bought early did exceptionally well.

Joel Greene is the President of Condo Hotel Center, a licensed real estate brokerage that specializes in the sale of condo hotels. For more information on condo hotels -- including property listings, photos and prices -- visit his website at http://www.CondoHotelCenter.com.

Be sure to sign up for the Property Alert e-newsletter at http://www.CondoHotelCenter.com to receive notification when new condo hotels come on the market and are available at pre-construction pricing.


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