Why We Love Our Condo Hotel

It’s summer and vacation season is here again? We will leave tomorrow after work for an ‘up north’ Michigan weekend at Bay Harbor and will once again ‘check into’ our condo hotel unit at Inn at Bay Harbor. This is truly a vacation home, without hassle. Our journey to condo hotel ownership began this way… In fridgette mid-January 2003 we drove up north to our single family cottage in Charlevoix on the shores of Lake Michigan for a fun weekend of skiing. The normally 3.5 hour drive from Birmingham took us 5.5 hours in blizzard ‘white-out-white-nuckle’ conditions this Friday night. We arrived to find the drive was not plowed. I shoveled my way into the cabin to find the furnace had died, and some pipe had burst (even though I painfully drained the pipes before departing on the last trip south).

That weekend, we checked into the Inn at Bay Harbor by Marriott/Boyne down the road, the ski weekend was still on, but the headaches were just beginning. Throughout the next spring and summer, on weekends, my highly skilled Dad and I renovated, and fixed up our cottage (again). My Father-in-law, being much handier than I also came up north and helped. My step-Dad stopped by and lent a hand. My buddy Brian, a Home renovation South Shore MA carpenter and real pro, helped me out. And by the end of summer, the cottage was back in shape.

Around the same time, I purchased a condo hotel unit at The Inn at Bay Harbor, because it seemed like a good ‘investment/rental’ property, strictly a business decision, a bet on long-term appreciation of this lovely property. So during the summer, my wife and daughter began driving down the road to Bay Harbor to use the pool and have dinners at the Inn. Soon, we were all spending more and more time at our condo hotel, and the cottage was playing second fiddle.

Fall came, so did leaves in the gutters, winterizing took up another weekend of work around the cottage. I spent a whole weekend burning construction debris from the summer of remodeling. If it weren’t for my handy family and friends, the renovation would have been so much more costly. I admit it was kind of fun, but it wasn’t my idea of a vacation or a vacation home.

We sold the cottage the following spring. Single family cottage ownership was crimping our ‘let’s go and travel and see new places’ style. We had ‘been there done that’. In talking with many other second home/cottage owners we heard similar stories, “we love our cottage… but… ” Our N. Michigan condo hotel began our ‘up north’ residence whenever we wanted, and when we weren’t using it, someone else was helping us pay for it.

So the following fall, we purchased a second condo hotel unit in Coconut Grove, FL with the proceeds of the sale of our cottage. The Mayfair Hotel & Spa outside of Miami had a view of the sailboat harbor, a walk able downtown environment and proximity to the beaches. Plus, my work was taking me to Miami often, so it was practical for my career.

This week I received 2 checks in the mail, one for rent in N. Michigan and another for Coconut Grove. My mortgages were both covered, even after we used our condo hotel up north for an entire week in June. Summer is slow rent time in Miami hotel markets, but high time in N. Michigan’s resort areas. While we were in Italy for 10 days, our trip was subsidized by the $400 a night rent (we only get 47% of this net) we were getting at The Inn at Bay Harbor.

After having owned rental properties in the past, the thing we like best is never having to find, manage or deal with tenants! If you have ever been a landlord, you know what I’m talking about… This is why I still believe condo hotel is one of the best second home options for today’s mobile, investment minded consumer…


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