Costa Ri­can vil­las of­fer win­ter es­cape

Di­rect flights from Canada to re­sort area

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - PAMELA IRV­ING

While most Cana­di­ans are toast­ing their frozen toes by the fire, El­yse John­son of Vancouver will be float­ing in the in­fin­ity pool at the Palms re­sort in Liberia, Costa Rica.

John­son owns one of only 32 vil­las in the gated com­mu­nity of the Palms just steps from Playa Flamingo — a pris­tine beach on the Pa­cific Ocean in the Gua­nacaste re­gion, an area speck­led with Cana­dian in­vestors and tourists.

The Palms is only a 45-minute drive from Liberia’s re­cently ex­panded in­ter­na­tional air­port, which is now of­fer­ing di­rect flights from Canada.

“The in­fin­ity pool is def­i­nitely my favourite fea­ture,” John­son says from her home while pack­ing for her an­nual six-week stay at her villa. “It feels like you are right on the edge of the ocean.”

The vil­las are now on of­fer for frac- tional own­er­ship through the Pri­vate Res­i­dence Club, which in Novem­ber was head­ing into its first full sea­son.

Prices range from $129,000 US for 1/10th shares to $149,000 for 1/8 shares, with an­nual club fees at $5,646 and $7,058, re­spec­tively.

Once the priv­i­lege of sole own­ers, the beach-view vil­las that sell for $1.2 mil­lion US can now be en­joyed by the av­er­age in­vestor.

“In this econ­omy, peo­ple want flex­i­bil­ity with fre­quent use by fam­ily and friends for min­i­mal in­vest­ment and max­i­mum re­turns,” says sales di­rec­tor Jim Jack­son while con­duct­ing a tour of the vil­las. “We are meet­ing that de­mand.”

The Pri­vate Res­i­dence Club is for peo­ple who want a lux­u­ri­ous, fully fur­nished va­ca­tion home with ameni­ties and ser­vices — but with­out hav­ing to main­tain it or in­vest mil­lions of dol­lars.

Beach­front is es­pe­cially rare in Costa Rica be­cause of leg­is­la­tion en­acted in 1977 that banned beach de- vel­op­ment, but the orig­i­nal re­sort was built be­fore then.

In 2005, com­mer­cial de­vel­oper Bob Spence of Sacra­mento, Calif., pur­chased the prop­erty and has since in­vested $20 mil­lion in ren­o­va­tions.

Ev­ery 2,300-square-foot villa over­looks the white-sand beach and in­cludes free long-dis­tance call­ing and wire­less In­ter­net, along with two bal­conies, two bed­rooms and three bath­rooms.

It also in­cludes a lux­u­ri­ous Jacuzzi tub in the mas­ter en­suite, Vik­ing ap­pli­ances in the kitchen, and unique fin­ish­ings that range from Brazil­ian floor tiles to Span­ish tiles on the roof.

Each de­tail in the vil­las was hand­picked by Spence and wife Mar­sha.

The ma­hogany and glass doors in each unit are worth $30,000 alone, pro­vid­ing trans­par­ent in­door-out­door liv­ing and light­ing to suit ev­ery mood and time of day.

Mar­sha se­lected the Tommy Ba­hama fur­ni­ture and orig­i­nal art­work, and worked with a lo­cal artist for the mu­ral in the on-site fit­ness cen­tre. She also lends her green thumb to the court­yard gar­den.

“The big­gest draws here are the beau­ti­ful pri­vate beach and in­cred­i­ble sun­sets, so we wanted the vil­las to re­flect these qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ences,” says Bob Spence over co­conut jumbo shrimp at on-site Palapa Grill.

A hands-on de­vel­oper, Spence over­sees every­thing.

He’s even on hand for grout­ing tiles on the new three­bed­room res­i­dences, ready for sale next month for full own­er­ship start­ing at $2.5 mil­lion.

“There are no prop­erty taxes in Costa Rica and I as­sist buy­ers with all the le­gal trans­ac­tions. Buy­ers be­come own­ers in shares at point of sale, and can en­joy the ‘pura vida’ here, too,” says sales di­rec­tor Jim Jack­son, quot­ing the national motto that means “pure life.”

CVisit our web­site un­der the head­ing, ‘Rec Prop­er­ties,’ for more sto­ries and photo gal­leries.

Pho­tos by Dayle Sop­pet

The in­fin­ity pool at The Palms in Costa Rica, a gated com­mu­nity of 32 vil­las just steps from the Playa Flamingo — a pris­tine beach on the Pa­cific Ocean.

Beach­front prop­erty is es­pe­cially rare in Costa Rica due to leg­is­la­tion in 1977.

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