Advantages of Managed Resorts vs Buying a Condo

Managed villa resorts enable owners to have the private villa they really want with all the conveniences (and more) of a condo resort

Now don’t get me wrong: I have nothing at all against condos in the right context – for example, I love the convenience and efficiency of my high-rise condo in downtown San Francisco (earthquakes notwithstanding). But when I’m down in the Turks & Caicos Islands, it’s an entirely different matter.

In the tropics, I much prefer the privacy, freedom and autonomy I get from staying in my own private villa. There, in my little slice of paradise, my own private oasis, I can really escape from the hustle and bustle of the urban lifestyle: savoring long, languid days languishing by the pool, followed by easy, warm, languorous evenings enjoying cocktails and quiet dinners (or maybe BBQ’s!) with family and friends on my private deck. Call me a misanthrope if you must, I’ll survive.

Indeed, it was on a vacation spent in just such a private villa that I first decided to acquire my very own tropical vacation home in the Turks & Caicos. I realized then that as good as that vacation rental was, only buying and/or building my own place would eliminate that irreducible element of chance that comes with having to rent your place in paradise. Not to mention that owning your own villa means you can sustainably design, furnish and even landscape it in just the manner you wish. (And, to be honest, the possibility of the place paying for itself (or more) via short-term rentals when I couldn’t be there didn’t hurt either.)

But almost as soon as I had this epiphany and began exploring the possibility of buying a villa in the Islands, people started telling me I should buy into a condo resort instead. I was told that because the supply of private villas was more limited, their prices tended to be higher than for comparable condo’s, and also that condo’s came with amenities such as gyms, hot-tubs, and airport transfers that villa’s lacked. Perhaps most persuasively, they pointed out that buying into a condo resort, rather than buying the villa I really wanted, would save me the hassle of organizing property maintenance and short-term rentals.

Yet, despite all this well-intentioned advice, I decided not to follow it.

Go big or… stay home

Why? Because, for me, no matter how much more convenient owning a condo might be, I knew in my heart that staying in one would never match the experience I had in that private vacation villa on my first visit to the Islands. The way I saw it: settling for something that didn’t match my dream meant it wasn’t worth doing at all.

But when, sometime later, a villa came on the market that did match my original dream (and also confirmed that the price/amenities arguments were, at best, overblown) I found myself faced with a decision: should I just accept the hassle of managing the property and its rentals myself? After a bit of soul searching, I decided to bite the bullet and do it.

I can honestly say now, looking back, that I’ve never regretted that decision. Just as I anticipated at the time, that decision to stick to my guns and buy the kind of vacation home that I truly wanted has brought me countless wonderful ‘special moments’ and experiences that will never be forgotten.

However, I must also admit that managing the villa and its rentals by myself – especially from a distance – has indeed been, at times, a challenge. And while for me, on balance, the effort has been well worth it, I also fully understand why others may not have the time and/or inclination to follow suit.

The answer? managed villa resorts

It was this realization more than anything else that made me such big fan of the managed villa resort concept.

Briefly stated, a managed villa resort simply provides owners in a villa development with the same property management and (optionally) rental program services that they would receive in a condo resort. In this way, those buyers who (like me) really prefer a villa lifestyle can still get the vacation home they actually desire but with the hassle-free convenience they desire too.

As we developed the concept for our new “Karaya Blue” villa development in Long Bay, therefore, it was an obvious and easy decision for us to implement this managed development approach in partnership with our friends at TKCA – the best independent rental/management company in the Islands.

Of course, Latitude 22 is by no means the first TCI developer to recognize the benefits of this concept. On the contrary, when our Karaya Blue resort is completed it will join a small but exclusive group of outstanding managed TCI villa resorts, including, for example, the elegant Beach Enclave North Shore resort developed by our good friend Vasco Borges, the stylish Sailrock Resort located in South Caicos, and the well-designed Sunset Beach Villas resort in Leeward. (And, of course, we all post-date the venerable Grace Bay Resort which has been nudging its way to the same result over many years.)

Although each of these resorts has its own unique style and special features (whether it’s BE’s “personally tailored hospitality,” Sunset Beach’s proximity to Grace Bay, or Karaya Blue’s immersive, design-forward, enviro-romanticism), all provide their villa owners with first class rental and property management services.

Disadvantages of buying a Condo: Small is beautiful

In addition, because managed villa resorts typically have far fewer owners than do condo resorts, the services provided can be individually-tailored such that each villa owner need only obtain – and pay for – those services he or she specifically requires. Done correctly, this means villa owners can obtain better service at a lower cost than might be the case in a condo resort (where unreasonably high service fees are a perennial complaint).

Moreover, the smaller number of owners in a villa resort also means that each individual owner has a bigger say in the decisions made by the HOA. This can mean Restrictive Agreements that more judiciously and appropriately balance members’ freedoms and obligations, and can also benefit villa owners on the rental management side, where a smaller-scale, and more responsive HOA can apply its ‘power of the purse’ to negotiate better terms with its rental program provider. (An improvement over the situation in a condo resort where individual owners tend to be in a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ situation.)

Given that short-term rental rates for vacation villas meet or even exceed rates for same-size condos, and also that Island villas tend to appreciate in resale value faster than condos, there is a powerful economic case for choosing a managed villa development over a managed condo resort.

Horses for courses

Each individual’s villa-versus-condo preference is, of course, a matter of personal taste. And, as great believers in personal choice, we at L22 would be the last people on earth to suggest that our own personal preferences in that regard are ‘better’ than those of others (they’re just ours). TCI is justifiably proud of its many excellent condo resorts and the exceptional value they bring to the many people who prefer that style of accommodation for their Island experience.

But it’s also good to know, we think, that TCI is blessed with a small but growing collection of high-quality managed villa resorts catering to those who really prefer the villa experience for their Island visits. In summary then, and for all the reasons I’ve mentioned here, we are confident that the managed villa resort model should, and will, continue to be a crucial & invaluable contributor to this beautiful country’s smart and sustainable future prosperity. And as big fans of the managed villa resorts already gracing the Islands – and catering, each in its own way, to the varying tastes and needs of their owners – we’re both proud and excited to add Karaya Blue Villas to the ranks of this illustrious community.

Julian A. Biggs, CEO, Latitude 22

Advantages of Managed Resorts vs Buying a Condo