CEO Magazine / September 2018

Wilderness refuge

Owning luxury: The world’s best vacation homes

Whether you want to sail the Amalfi Coast in your own private yacht, tear up the slopes in the Colorado Mountains, or relax on a secluded beach in the Maldives, Lisa Smyth discovers that there are luxury holiday homes just waiting to be snapped up.

Cimarron Mountain Club, US

Investment: US$2.8 million

If you’re a skiing fanatic or a Bear Grylls-type wilderness enthusiast who loves to enjoy the outdoors away from the crowds that flock to Aspen or Vail every year, then it doesn’t get more private than the Cimarron Mountain Club (CMC). Colorado’s first and only private ski resort – located between Telluride and Crested Butte in the high San Juan Mountains – CMC has more skiable terrain than Aspen Mountain, and just 13 members and their families and friends will share it.

“The biggest thing for people to wrap their heads around is just how low-density it is – only 13 owners on 708 hectares of property, each with a 14-hectare cabin site. That’s a huge amount of space for very few people, and a lot of untracked powder to ski,” says Jim Aronstein, a retired natural-resources lawyer from Denver who dreamt up this mountain utopia with his wife, Patsy. Together, they made it a reality.

“I have for the longest time wanted to develop a mountain club that would provide all the recreation options we wanted but not have the crowds or density of other areas and still allow people to be in touch with nature,” says Aronstein.

Let it snow

Although members can enjoy world-class hiking, fishing at 15 stocked ponds and an eight-hectare lake, hunting, canoeing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, sledding, and rock climbing, what you would really be buying here is some of the best powder on earth across 60-plus ski runs. Heli-skiing is also available, with pick-ups directly from CMC.

Aronstein, a ‘buoyant powder hound’, couldn’t believe his luck when he found the property after viewing more than a dozen potential sites in the Rocky Mountains. “This is phenomenal ski terrain on private property,” he says. “In Colorado, you often have valley floors that are privately owned, but as soon as you start climbing, it becomes national park. But we are 2,530 metres above sea level – that’s very unusual to find. The absolute beauty of the property is staggering. We are inside a dormant volcano with sheer cliffs and top-of-the-world views.”

All in the family

The club launched in July this year with six member families each paying US$2.65 million for their membership and cabin site; the remaining seven memberships are still available (US$2.82 million each at this time). Although members can choose to build their own cabin if they desire, the property already has a three-bedroom cabin at its entrance and two two-bedroom ‘glamping’ yurts will be built before the 2018–19 ski season.

There are plans for a 4,65-square-metre lodge with four bedrooms, lounge and dining areas, a bar, and an outdoor spa and fire pit, as well as a warming hut on the shores of the club’s mountain lake.

One membership can include as many as five family members, and members can invite guests with an adult member accompanying them. CMC is determined to keep the area as pristine as possible, and every cabin site will require use of off-grid utility systems, in line with the club’s vision of ‘walking softly on the land’.

It’s clear that this little club on a big mountain should not be a hard sell for anyone who loves adventure and privacy in equal measure.