Okanagan dream for sale
At one point during the summer, Jim Wilkin of Edmonton had 14 people stuffed into his threebedroom cottage at La Casa Cottage Resort in West Kelowna.
“That’s just the way we like it,” says Wilkin with a laugh.
“Whenever we can get three generations together to enjoy the lake and weather, it’s a good time.”
To bring the head count to 14, Wilkin and his wife had all five of their grown children visiting with their significant others, plus their two grandchildren.
“That’s why it’s important to us to have our own fully detached cottage,” says Wilkin.
“Plus, it was affordable and there’s no maintenance. My wife came out here in late June and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to drag her back to Edmonton.”
So far, 65 per cent of the buyers of the 250 cottages sold at La Casa are from Alberta.
They are attracted by the famous sunny, hot and dry Okanagan summers on 160-kilometre-long Okanagan Lake.
La Casa has a prime piece of that lakeshore with a 40-hectare mountainside property that includes 630 metres of beach on the west side of the lake halfway between West Kelowna and Vernon.
The Wilkins passed the La Casa site every time they’d come to the Okanagan to use their time share at nearby Lake Okanagan Resort.
“We decided to buy and have our own cottage at La Casa because the two weeks at the time share just wasn’t enough,” explains Wilkins. “We’re already using it a lot and will probably spend six months a year here when I retire.”
The 250 cottages already built and occupied at La Casa include lakefront beauties worth as much as $900,000 and cottages around the pool and on the hillside with lake views starting at $349,000.
So far, five cottages are built and for sale for immediate occupancy.
They are three-bedroom 1,076-square-foot models priced at $349,000, which is $120,000 less than the original $469,000 asking price.
“Like most developers who went through the recession, we had a lot of inventory and we’re trying to clear it,” says Trent Blackwell, the director of sales and marketing at La Casa developer Azura Management Corp. in Vancouver.
“These are incredibly welllocated and well-built cottages that because of the circumstance just happen to be discount priced. Really there will never be a better time to buy.”
Blackwell isn’t just making a sales pitch.
He also bought a cottage at La Casa and he and his family spend as much time in the summer there as they can.
He’s from Vancouver, where about 20 per cent of La Casa buyers are from, but both his neighbours are from Edmonton.
The other 15 per cent of buyers at La Casa are from the Okanagan, mainly Kelowna and Vernon residents who want a nearby lakeside getaway.
As the recreational property market rebounds, La Casa will concentrate on selling its remaining inventory and building new cottages as buyers commit with a down payment.
With 250 cottages, La Casa is already B.C.’s largest cottage resort. And it will only get bigger because full build-out calls for a total of 473 cottages.
However, most of the amenities are already built, including an outdoor pool, tennis court, minigolf course, sand volleyball court, 150-seat movie theatre, grocery and liquor store and two restaurants — La Cantina and Deli Zocalos.
A second outdoor pool is going in next year.
And what is a cottage development without a marina? La Casa has a 70-boat marina with slips available for rent by the season or week and a boat launch.
Owners at the resort can also put their cottage into the rental pool when they are not using it.
Rates range from $225 a night for a lakeview cottage and $550 a night for one right on the water.
Owners also get membership in the Interval International
Vacation Exchange Network which gives them the option to swap time at La Casa for stays at any one of 2,300 affiliated resorts in 79 countries.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
The outdoor pool is just one of the amenities at La Casa, which also includes a marina and a 630-metre beach front.
So far, 250 multi-coloured cottages hug the lakeshore and mountainside.