W residences propel Aspen-area fractional sales for first three quarters

Sales of units at the Sky Residences at the W Hotel, available in one-tenth ownership shares, accounted for nearly one-third of Pitkin County’s market in fractional sales for the first three quarters of 2019.
Courtesy of W Hotel

A slice of heaven

Sales of fractional ownerships in Pitkin County held steady from January through September. Here’s a look at how the first three quarters have performed since 2010

Year Dollar volume No. of transactions

2019 $61 million 161

2018 $62.2 million 115

2017 $63.2 million 152

2016 $33.7 million 158

2015 $38.3 million 243

2014 $53.8 million 634

2013 $58.9 million 818

2012 $45.7 million 106

2011 $75.9 million 175

2010 $72.1 million 134

Source: and Title Guarantee Co.

The fractional-ownership component of the recently opened W Hotel drew $18.9 million in sales for the first three quarters of 2019, accounting for nearly one-third of Pitkin County’s fractional-sales totals through September.

The W Hotel’s opening in late August made a big splash because it marked the first opening of a luxury lodge in downtown Aspen in 25 years, with a prime location at the base of Aspen Mountain.

Along with its 88 guest rooms, the lodge also includes the Sky Residences, comprised of six three-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units. They have been marketed in one-tenth intervals; 22 of them sold through September at an average price of $659,943.

Those figures come from Denver-based Land Title Guarantee Co.’s recent market report, which also said 161 fractionals combined to sell for $61 million through September in Pitkin County, keeping pace with the first three quarters of 2017 and 2018 (see factbox).

When it comes to fractionals, the opening of the Sky Residences put it in the same rarified air as the Residence at Little Nell, Dancing Bear and the Hyatt Residence Club, as well as the Ritz-Carlton Club, said James Benvenuto of the Aspen-Snowmass office of Sotheby’s International Realty.

“I’d say with certainty in my mind that we have the best fractionals in the world,” he said, noting the Residences at Little Nell almost are in their own category.

This year’s seven sales of one-eighth fractionals at the Residences at Little Nell had an average price of $1.9 million, according to Land Title Guarantee. That added up to $13.2 million, giving it 21.7% of the market for the first nine months of this year.

It was just two years ago that some of those Little Nell residences were selling for $1.275 million, Benvenuto said.

“That’s why they’re they creme de la creme,” he said.

The report also showed 15 fractionals at the Dancing Bear sold for a collective $13.7 million from January through September, for an average price of $916,429.

“Dancing Bear elected to not allow their owners to rent because they wanted more of a private experience,” Benvenuto said, “and that’s why their sales haven’t been as robust at the Residences at Little Nell.”

Nationally, fractional sales have leveled off since the pre-Great Recession days, when sales hit their high-water mark of nearly $2 billion in 2005, according to Ragatz Associates, a consulting a market research firm in the resort real estate industry.

Last year saw $471 million in sales, down from $480 million in 2017 and $516 million in 2016, according to Ragatz Associates.

“It is still felt that the shared-ownership components will rebound in the future,” said a market report Ragatz Associates released earlier this year. “Reasons include being a concept that is based on: (1) personal use rather than speculation; (2) being able to purchase only the amount of time that have vacations to use and discretionary income to spend on; (3) lowering household spending habits and capabilities; (4) being hassle-free, i.e. ‘show up and enjoy’; and (5) the opportunity for flexibility and variety of use due to the external exchange process.”