Happy Holidays

We’ve been stoking the fire and putting on our woolies here in Fort Lauderdale…ok, we’re kidding. The holidays in Fort Lauderdale are a bit more tropical than that!

lightsWe kicked off the holiday season with Christmas on Las Olas, which is when we turn Las Olas Boulevard, the main shopping district in Fort Lauderdale, into a rare winter wonderland, complete with sledding hill and ice skating rink. While the kids enjoy their activities, various city officials, celebrities and other VIP’s mingle. Local choirs from schools and churches fill the air with the sounds of the holidays from three different stages while strolling carolers delight the crowd who fill their bellies with sips and sweets! It’s quite a treat!

The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is another annual tradition here. The Parade travels East to the Intracoastal Waterway and then North to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach and displays yachts of every size and shape from private boats to giant showboats and corporate mega-yachts. Everything afloat is adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups and beauty queens.

Although available year around, another favorite activity this time of year is the Water Taxi ride which takes you along the Intracoastal Waterway and Millionaire’s Row for jaw-dropping views of the mega mansions. Spectacular anytime, these homes are quite a sight to behold in their holiday attire and splendor.

Last, but not least (or beach, as the case may be…), we get in the holiday spirit by enjoying our local beaches. Daytime high temperatures in Fort Lauderdale in December range from 77-84 degrees, with the lows being 60, so it’s always beach time here. Fort Lauderdale Beach features an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues in addition to a wide range of activities including boating, wind surfing, jet skiing, volleyball, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and rollerblading.

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Watercraft ranging from small private boats to gigantic mega-yachts will be lit up like Christmas trees, and most of the corporate-sponsored yachts feature plenty of lively music and entertainment, sports stars and other celebrities. Keep your eyes peeled for the Galleria Mall Reindeer Barge and the Baptist Health Santa Showboat! Starting on the New River, the boat parade travels east past Stranahan House and Millionaire’s Row then heads north up the Intracoastal Waterway.

When: Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Tickets for the Grandstand viewing area located inside Hugh Taylor Birch State Park are $25 for adults and $20 for children and include access to an array of interactive games and activities. There are also several free viewing areas along the parade route:
40,000 people gather on Las Olas Boulevard each year to celebrate the unofficial start to the winter season. The experience is a rare winter wonderland – snow showers down from the rooftops, children climb Anidjar & Levine’s Snow Mountain & ice skate in the Anijar & Levine Skate Las Olas rink, while CEO’s, city officials, celebrities and other VIP’s mingle with you and your family. Local choirs from schools and churches fill the air with the sounds of the holidays from 3 stages while strolling carolers delight the crowd who fill their bellies with sips and sweets!

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Life’s a Beach

Is the weather dreary or your daily routine a grind? Warm, tropical beaches are always a magical elixir. So why not indulge in some of the amazing beaches on the East coast of Southern Florida? The Gold Coast of Florida (the Southeastern coast line of Florida) is named after its glittering lifestyle and includes the excitement, culture and big city attractions of Miami, as well as the quieter, sophisticated waterways of Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale area alone offers 23 miles of sun-kissed, white sand paradise and daytime temperatures range from 70-90 degrees. So what are you waiting for? Invest in your fractional vacation home and spend a couple of months here exploring or, if you don’t have the time, simply stay in one of the many glorious hotels that line the turquoise waters. The main thing is to get that sand between your toes…you deserve it!

Deerfield Beach – located twenty minutes north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach is pristine and completely open to the public. There are nine lifeguard towers that line the ocean and lifeguards are present from 9-5:00 365 days a year. The pier area is active and a favorite among fisherman while the beach always offers pick-up volleyball games. One of the local businesses, Island Water Sports, has offered free surfing lessons every Saturday morning for the last twenty years. Awarded the pretigious “Blue Wave” designation by the Clean Beach Council, Deerfield Beach prides itself on water quality, beach conditions, safety services and habitat conservation. Have you heard about cable skiing – a hybrid of surfing, skiing and wakeboarding? In addition to its enviable beaches, Deerfield Beach is the home to Quiet Waters Park, which features campgrounds, fishing, a skate park and the longest “cable ski” courses in the nation.

Hillsboro Beach – Not far from Deerfield Beach is Hillsboro Beach and its romantic lighthouse. Hillsboro Beach is popular with nature lovers who come to see the turtle nesting. Right next to the Lighthouse is the Hillsboro Inlet where impressive yachts come and go. From 1885 until 1892 a mail carrier would make a seven-day journey, walking 68 miles from Palm Beach, through what is now Broward County to Miami. The weeklong trip was spent mostly barefoot walking on the hard-packed sand along the ocean so the city erected a stone statue near the Inlet dedicated to the Barefoot Mailman. Near the Hillsboro Mile, where luxurious homes routinely sell for eight figure prices, Hillsboro Beach is a bit quieter and more private than other nearby beaches.

Pompano Beach – Pompano Beach is a friendly and active destination for those interested in sports and games. Named for the saltwater fish found exclusively in the adjacent waters and home to the annual Pompano Seafood festival and Fishing Rodeo, the water on this stretch of coastline is some of the warmest and clearest in South Florida due to a bend in the Gulf Stream. Hosting three and a half miles of white, pristine beaches, the city is known for its excellent boating and fishing, accentuated by an offshore living coral reef accessible to scuba divers and snorkelers. Anglers and families flock to the 1,000-foot-long municipal fishing pier, beachside playgrounds, grills and picnic tables where good times are had by all!

Lauderdale by the Sea – The low-key getaway “Lauderdale by the Sea” is a 1/2 mile wide hamlet which has an old fashioned, charming “beach village” vibe. This town is one of the only locations in Florida where the three-tier natural coral reef system is close enough for visitors to swim out for snorkeling or diving. Friday nights the one street that runs through this sleepy town is blocked off, a stage is erected and live music is enjoyed. Your new favorite spot will be the Ice Cream Shop (yes, that’s the name), where they tend to know everyone on a first-name basis.

In late July the town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea hosts enjoys the annual “Bugfest-by-the-Sea” party, which isn’t what you think. The “Bugfest” is a lobster hunting contest which spans the course of a week with associated diving clinics and underwater photo contests and ends with beachfront lobster cooking competitions.

Fort Lauderdale – Fort Lauderdale beach is brilliantly colored by its proximity to the chic Las Olas Boulevard and, as a result, has some of the best people watching in South Florida. Previously known as a Spring Break destination site for college students, Fort Lauderdale has transformed itself to accommodate a tonier clientele.

The City of Fort Lauderdale boasts more than seven miles of sparkling beaches that offer residents and visitors premier opportunities for many activities from boating, wind surfing and jet skiing to volleyball, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and rollerblading. In addition to the turquoise water, the flowing palm trees and perfectly white sand, the beachfront promenade highlight is the City’s award-winning wavewall, a flowing, swirling beach wall that extends two miles along the central portion of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Now a year around destination for families, Fort Lauderdale beach is a delightful place to sit back, unwind and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Dania Beach – A brief ten minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale lies the hidden gem of the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Dania Beach, which is home to some of the prettiest and least crowded stretches of ocean and beaches around. Dania Beach Ocean Park has an impressive fishing pier where you can dine and enjoy panoramic views and scrumptious fresh seafood. Walk the small town historic art and antique district, where you can browse till your hearts content and end the day at a famous ice-cream parlor or the Dania Beach Grill, where everyone is old-time friendly. Or, close by at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park you can kayak, swim, picnic or just cloud watch on your own stretch of isolated beach shaded by feathery coconut palms.

Hollywood Beach – Named one of America’s Best Beach Boardwalks by Travel & Leisure Magazine, retro-cool Hollywood Beach bustles with joggers, skaters, cyclists and old-fashioned charm along its 2 ½ miles of white sand and turquoise waters. You can bike or stroll the boardwalk, finding several outdoor cafés and multicultural restaurants, or rent some jet skies and go for a spin, or simply chill under a cabana and enjoy the breeze, the ocean views and the spectacular people watching. If you’re interested in snorkeling, gravitate toward the coral patches and sandy ledges offshore from Greene Street, three blocks north of Hollywood North Beach Park. There you’ll find tropical underwater residents such as parrotfish, grunts and sergeant majors. The sunny yellow 500-seat Hollywood Beach Theater hosts Friday night concerts twice a month, live music just about every night of the week and dancing under the stars three nights a week and a variety of cultural performances throughout the year. It’s just 25 steps from the sand to center stage.

Hallandale Beach – At the southern end of greater Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach is the perfect place for a guy’s getaway with a wide array of outdoor sports from golf and swimming to boating and salt-water fishing. Hallandale Beach, home of the famous Beach Ball Water Tower, is 4.9 acres with restrooms, showers, concession stands, playgrounds and bocce ball courts. In addition to the beautiful stretches of beach Hallandale Beach offers exciting nightlife. Two of South Florida’s premier “racinos” are located in Hallandale Beach – Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, home of the sport of kings, thoroughbred horseracing and the Florida Derby, and the Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center.

Vacation Property

Because fractional ownership also involves use of a vacation property for a designated period of time, it is sometimes confused with timeshares. From a strictly legal viewpoint, the term “timeshare” refers to any arrangement involving time-based sharing of an asset, but practically there are many differences between fractional ownership and traditional timeshares.

These differences include:

  • Deeded ownership
  • Control over property
  • Number of owners
  • Furnishings, services and amenities
  • Value preservation and appreciation
  • A very different image and reputation

Deeded Ownership. Fractional ownership is traditional ownership in that every buyer is granted a deed to his/her portion of the property and they are accorded similar rights to any other real estate purchase. Timeshares typically do not involve direct ownership of real estate and instead offer only a “right to use” for a designated period of time.

Control over Property. Whereas timeshares are frequently managed very much like hotels, and the owners of timeshares are viewed more like repeat hotel guests than property owners, fractional owners generally operate more like homeowners associations and retain authority and control over their properties. Although day-to-day responsibility of managing the property is generally delegated to a management company, the owners of a fractional property retain the right to replace that management company if it is not performing. Fractional owners also sign legal documentation specific to their property that designates their agreed-upon rights, responsibilities and obligations. In advance, the parties determine their allocation of usage (or at least a method for calculating this each year), and amounts needed to pay recurring operating expenses necessary to maintain the home in good condition. This legal documentation also specifies details like the extent to which owners can add their own furnishings, move furnishing and/or store their sporting equipment at the property. Like timeshare owners, in most cases, fractional owners have the right to rent out their vacation home for the weeks they will not be using it and have the right to sell their interest in the property should they decide to. Unlike timeshare owners, however, fractional owners are competing with significantly fewer similarly-situated landlords/sellers and, as a result, generally see substantially better rental and resale results than timeshare owners.

Number of Owners. Each timeshare is generally owned by 26-52 different people as timeshares are targeted toward people with 1-2 weeks of vacation per year. Fractional vacation homes are typically owned by 3-12 owners as fractional ownership is for people with more vacation time (4-14 weeks/year) and/or people who plan to rent portions of their allocated time. This difference results in (i) increased wear and tear on timeshares; (ii) decreased pride of ownership in timeshares; (iii) diminished value and marketability of timeshares because of the sheer quantity of sellers on the market. Fractional owners spend more time on their properties and therefore tend to care more about them and their investment. This pride of ownership is reflected in the way the property is maintained which often times translates into appreciation.

Furnishings, services and amenities. Because of the number of owners and frequency of new guests in a timeshare, the goal of timeshare furnishings is durability rather than luxury. Fractional homes, on the other hand, are frequently quality construction appointed with high end furnishings and finishes. Many include state of the art technology and top line appliances in addition to the amenities of high end hotels including concierge services, transportation, personalized grocery shopping and stocking, restaurant reservations and ticket procurement. Fractional owners pay more to purchase their properties and expect to pay more in maintenance and management fees than timeshare buyers, but they generally enjoy a much higher quality product, at a fraction of the cost of traditional (100%) ownership.

Value preservation and appreciation. As mentioned above, the number of owners has a significant impact on the preservation and appreciation potential of a shared property. Fewer users tend to keep properties properly maintained and operating smoothly. Timeshare properties are often not high quality to begin with and frequently degrade over time (because of inadequate maintenance, management and high use), causing them to become less desirable. Combined with the quantity of timeshare properties on the market, this can lead to a loss of most or all of their resale value. Whereas timeshares are generally sold through online exchanges, fractional real estate is usually sold through real estate brokers and the resale values of fractional properties generally track with values of whole ownership properties in the area.

A very different image and reputation. The last twenty years have been difficult for the timeshare industry whose reputation has become virtually synonymous with scam. The sales tactics used to encourage people to buy, the inadequacy of the scheduling and exchange programs and the inability to sell timeshares have seriously damaged the reputation and viability of timeshares. Fractional ownership enjoys a platinum reputation because the selling process is the same as that of buying 100% of a family home and is handled by real estate professionals, not high volume developer sales organizations. The time allocation and sharing details are managed between a handful of families by a professional management company and owners can sell their interests freely, in the same way they would a traditionally-owned home. The fact that high end yachts and private jets also employ fractional ownership doesn’t hurt either. For many intrinsic reasons, fractional ownership is and will remain different and distinct from timeshares, and that’s a very good thing!

Fractional Ownership

5 Ways Fractional Ownership Puts the “Ahh” in Your Vacation

We’ve all had that “I need a vacation from my vacation” feeling before. After sorting through the myriad of options and packages online, you finally book a reservation, get the kids packed up and off and make it to your destination only to find your hotel or condo doesn’t look anything like it did on the internet, the rooms are small and the restaurant a ten minute hike away. Vacations should be your time to relax and refresh. Fractional ownership can help.

First, let’s talk about what “fractional ownership” means. Fractional ownership is a way for multiple families to share the ownership of a high end vacation home, which often times includes a luxury automobile and/or yacht. Generally each family is granted a period of time (ex. 2-4 months) to occupy the property, which is commensurate with their interest in the property. So, if there are six shares in a given package, six different families may purchase 2 months per year of the property.

1. Simplify your travel planning. Obviously, having a property you know and love greatly simplifies your vacation planning and the risks associated with internet travel planning. With fractional ownership you and your family will establish a second home, you’ll get to know your neighbors and the community and cement traditions and make memories that multiple generations will cherish.

2. Leverage the family home. The comfort of a family home is hard to match. As a fractional owner, you will enjoy the full benefits of home ownership for your term, so you’ll have the space to socialize, entertain, and even invite extended family and friends to join you. Many luxury homes include pools, game rooms, his and her bathrooms, decks and spectacular water views. A family home is the best environment for building relationships and memories you and your kids will remember for a lifetime.

3. Take advantages of the services. Extensive concierge services are another benefit not available in the condo scenario. Because you will be occupying your home for a set timeframe, specialized property managers ensure that the home is spotlessly cleaned and prepared prior to your arrival and even stocked with your favorite foods and supplies. Not interested in cooking while you’re on vacation? No problem. Personal chefs can be hired upon request. The goal is to simplify your life and maximize your vacation time…to get you to “Ahh” as quickly as possible.

4. Enjoy the built-in conveniences. Depending on the location of your luxury home, it may include luxury cars or SUVS and/or boats to help you easily navigate your community. And, through concierge services, captains and drivers are readily available. There’s no need to hassle with rental cars and parking, as your share may come complete with vehicles to safely transport your family and even yachts that enable enjoyable exploration of the waterways near your home-away-from-home.

5. Invest in your future. Lastly, in the same way that many prefer to own their homes rather than rent, fractional ownership is “ownership” in that you will enjoy the same possibilities of value appreciation as if you owned the property traditionally (100%). This is not just money spent on vacation rentals, but rather money invested in a property that may well be an incredible investment in your portfolio. Financial upside aside, the experiences shared and good times had at your second home will transcend generations of your family. And that, my friend, is priceless! So, sit back, and relax in the realization that you’ve made the intelligent choice and your vacation time will be optimized. “Ahh!”