Friday, June 02, 2006

 

Tea And Timeshare: Just £1.9m For 10 Weeks

Billionaires have been invited to buy some of the world's most expensive timeshares on the edge of St Andrews, the windswept home of golf on Scotland's east coast.

A US developer is set to restore the former Grand Hotel, a red sandstone Victorian building that overlooks the first tee and final hole of the legendary course. Until recently it was a student hall where youngsters paid just £4,000 a year for a single room. Next year, however, the building will be turned into 23 timeshare units with asking prices of up to £1.9m for 10 weeks a year - the yearly equivalent of £10m. Residents will also have to pay annual fees of £15,000 to £20,000.

Mike DiCarlo, of Wasserman Real Estate Capital, the Boston-based private developer, said: "There is only one St Andrews course."

The company hopes there will be enough golf and timeshare fanatics with deep pockets to sign up to its project despite the ambitious asking prices, which are on a par with central London, Hong Kong or New York. To put this into context, it is possible to pick up a three-bedroomed house in the town of St Andrews for less than £150,000. The proposed scheme marks the convergence of two distinct trends. On the one hand, tycoons are prepared to pay ever higher sums for luxury homes across the world. A handful of apartments in Mayfair and Manhattan have sold for more than £20m in the past year.

On the other, developers have been building ever more homes on the edge of golf clubs, mostly to appeal to retired executives.

The Royal Bank of Scotland and Guggenheim Partners have funded a roll-out of Jack Nicklaus-themed golf courses around the globe. The St Andrews Grand was built 100 years ago as a hotel where the likes of Rudyard Kipling and King Edward VII once stayed. In 1949 it was sold to St Andrews University, which converted it into Hamilton Hall, a residence for undergraduates. Wasserman bought the building last year for $40m and plans to finish the development by the summer of 2008. There will be 23 flats, each of three or four bedrooms, ranging from 1,400 sq ft to 1,930 sq ft. The most expensive, a timeshare penthouse, will have 360-degree views over the course and across to the North Sea beach.

Timeshare owners will have access to the golf course and a range of luxury facilities including a concierge service, gourmet chefs, spas, and the use of a helicopter.

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