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The Latest in Luxury Resort & Real Estate News
By Scott Kauffman | February 6, 2009 8:29 AM ET
Pillar Panama Pushes Red Frog Beach Development Back into Action
(BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA) -- After being stymied for nearly two years from a labor strike and consequent financial stress, one of Panama's most ambitious luxury resort-style communities is back to life and moving full speed ahead on completing the first phase of its development.
The Red Frog Beach project, located off the northwest coast of Panama in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, overcame its paralyzing 20-month strike last October when Pillar Panama chairman/president Joe Haley announced a settlement between Pillar Construction and the local workforce. Meanwhile, caught between the strike and a tightening global economy, Haley was forced to restructure his original partnership to save the project.
The end result was a better capitalized group of investors and an invigorated Pillar Panama team as committed as ever in completing the development that calls for a 100-slip marina and marina village, luxury residence club and boutique hotel and spa.
According to Haley, 80 percent of the development is now controlled by many of the original clients who invested in the idyllic Red Frog Beach property located on Isla Bastimentos.
"Now we have a new beginning and we're stronger and healthier," adds Haley, who hails from Minnesota. "The last couple years were a huge learning experience for our partnership. What really resonates, though, is the power of many. We had over 400 clients and vendors come together and say, 'We won't let this project die.'
"After revising 450-plus contracts, and making a lot of concessions and sacrifices, it's a new beginning for Red Frog Beach. Not only are we going to continue to develop in a responsible and sustainable manner, but we're galvanized by this huge new collective effort."
For many of the early investors, this newfound energy is a welcome sight so their compelling eco-conscious lifestyle can finally come to fruition.
"Red Frog Beach is everything I envisioned as being paradise," says Chris Hahn, one of the early real estate investors-turned partners. "It's a really special, beautiful place on these islands. ... Panama's like Costa Rica 10-12 years, or Hawaii in the '50s."
Red Frog Beach is a pristine stretch of property contiguous to a natural marine park with three miles of shoreline. Thus, Pillar Panama will leave approximately 70 percent of the 1,524-acre environmentally sensitive property untouched.
Overall residential density is approved for an estimated 900 villas, condos and a luxury residence club being managed by industry leader Jim Whitteron of Spring Creek Partners.
Ten of the villas are completed, priced on average at $575,000, with another 42 in construction. The fractional ownership properties are being sold in 1/10 shares.
Most of Red Frog's infrastructure is completed and Haley projects the marina will be finished by early summer.
Macfarlan Capital Partners Capitalizes on Stressed Resort Communities
(DALLAS, TX.) -- While some might see the resort-style real estate market as a risky proposition these days, Dean Macfarlan smells opportunity. That's precisely why the well-known Dallas real estate investor acquired roughly 30 percent of Centex Destination Properties' vacation home projects in the past year.
Centex Destination Properties, part of publicly traded Centex Homes (NYSE: CTX), was the national homebuilder's division responsible for creating and managing 17 mostly upscale vacation home communities. When the real estate market crashed, though, Centex Destination Properties was forced to liquidate many of its properties.
Macfarlan's namesake Macfarlan Capital Partners was one group that took advantage of the situation, scooping up the following six developments and branding them as Terramesa Resort Properties: The Hollows at Lake Travis, Tex.; The Waters at Horseshoe Bay Resort, on Lake LBJ, Tex.; Pointe West on Galveston Island, Tex.; Bear Lake Reserve near Asheville, N.C.; and South Peak Resort at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire; and V at Lake Las Vegas, Nev.
National Real Estate Investor cited the deal as an example of "well-funded private developers who are taking advantage of the residential slump to bag ritzy residential sites to develop and hold until the market recovers."
To the contrary, Macfarlan says he's in the vacation-home development sector for the long haul with Terramesa Resort Properties, a developer and operator of active resort destination communities.
"We are getting tremendous value, irreplaceable locations and the opportunity to build a great brand," says Macfarlan, who was planning on adding more residential resort communities at year-end '08. "I love to vacation with my family, so I thought it would be fun to get into the vacation-home development business."
Macfarlan will not disclose the price for the Centex properties, but he plans to invest $181 million in them -- and he estimates that they will be valued at $1 billion in five years. The purchase included acquisition of the Centex Hospitality platform, which directs operations in the communities and is now part of Terramesa Resorts.
Terramesa Resort Properties, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dallas-based Macfarlan Capital Partners, L.P., focuses on communities that are easily accessible from major urban centers, and offer real-estate options from condos to homesites to rental programs in a wide range of prices. Each community focuses on outdoor activities that range from boating and biking to skiing and hiking.
Prior to the vacation home industry, Macfarlan made a name buying distressed and undercapitalized industrial properties, ultimately completing $1 billion in commercial real estate deals and $600 million in sponsored investments over the past 23 years.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Officially adds two Resorts to New Timeshare Group
(ORLANDO, FL) -- Holiday Inn Club Vacations announced Feb. 2 that sister resorts in Lake Geneva, Wis., and Panama City, Fla., are now officially part of the newest timeshare brand portfolio. They join the flagship location, Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort in Orlando, Fla.
"We're pleased to offer leisure travelers and their families two more destinations for the ultimate resort vacation experience," says Christian Hempell, vice president of Holiday Inn Club Vacations. "Whether they're looking for a great golf experience, spa treatments, a ski getaway or a sunny beach escape, our guests will find that Holiday Inn Club Vacations provides the comfort and value of Holiday Inn in a full-service resort style environment, and they can now take advantage of two more Holiday Inn destinations to spend their precious leisure time with family."
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Lake Geneva Resort is located just a short drive from Chicago and Milwaukee and offers golf courses, restaurants, horseback riding, spa and fitness center, an indoor/outdoor water park, and other amenities.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Bay Point Resort is located on a 1,100-acre wildlife sanctuary overlooking St. Andrews Bay in Florida's panhandle. The resort features two 18-hole championship golf courses, a world-class day spa and fitness center, 24-hour business center, private beach, kid's activities, restaurants, marina services and nearly 200 deep-water boat slips.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations was announced last September as a strategic alliance between IHG, the world's largest hotel company, and Orange Lake Resorts, one of the largest timeshare resorts in the world.
"These two unique resorts have been very popular with our members, many of whom live within a short driving distance," says Orange Lake president/CEO Don Harrill, referring to Lake Geneva and Bay Point. "We're proud to fly the Holiday Inn Club Vacations flag at these resorts and look forward to welcoming not only our existing owners but Priority Club members and other guests booking through the website."