Broker: Nancy Davidson, Century 21 Mammoth Realty
Condominium price range in Mammoth: $205,000 to $1.795 million
Mammoth Lakes, California, was a sleepy resort town for decades, but that's all changing. "We have seen a real renaissance since (developer) Intrawest came here six years ago," says real estate agent Nancy Davidson. The full-service ski resort concept -- of parking your car and not needing it until it's time to go home -- is in full swing at the Village at Mammoth.
Davidson elaborates, "What has been accomplished here in terms of improving our overall image and desirability could never have been achieved without Intrawest's involvement. The best example of this is the Village at Mammoth. It has high-quality condominiums built above shops and restaurants, with parking underground. A new high-speed gondola, located at the south end of the Village walkway, whisks skiers up the mountain."
Other successful Intrawest ski resorts include Copper Mountain in Colorado and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia.
"Several new developers are coming in now that Intrawest has got the ball rolling. The town has become more upscale. Private and commercial owners have upgraded as well," adds Davidson, who moved to the area in 1976. "Economically, it has been great for the town."
Condos in Mammoth typically are purchased as investments, with owners using them part of the year and renting them out for the remainder. There are numerous local property-management companies that handle rental details such as booking and maintenance.
For the Intrawest projects under construction, buyers put down a $5,000 reservation deposit; when launch day arrives, they choose their unit in an order determined by a lottery or priority number. "The escrow process can be anywhere from 12 to 18 months, while construction is under way," Davidson explains. "Inventory has been really low, so properties are going pretty quickly." "Properties have significantly appreciated by the time they close escrow," she adds.
Most buyers and visitors come from Southern California. However, the region increasingly is attracting buyers from the San Francisco Bay Area, out of state and even Europe, drawn by Mammoth Mountain's nearly 4,000 acres of groomed ski trails, beauty and relative ski bargains.
Summertime is equally busy, notes Davidson, "We're only 40 minutes from the east gate of Yosemite National Park, and the local fishing hot spots draw people from everywhere, not just Southern California."
During the warmer months, the town's 8,000-foot-high elevation offers not only fishing but golfing, camping, boating and even hot air ballooning, plus ample trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
East vs. West: Estate Living
Getting away from it all on either coast definitely is pricey, but for those seeking exclusive neighborhoods, plentiful views, amenities and the ultimate in privacy -- and a layout that can only be done justice by an aerial photograph -- these two properties just might fit the bill.
In East Hampton, N.Y., 100 miles from New York City, the $50 million Burnt Point estate sits on a peninsula on the western shore of Georgica Pond, commanding views of the water in three directions.
"The house as it first appears before you, as you come in the driveway, is really gorgeous," says Kelly Nelson of Sotheby's International Realty. "The foyer has the most unusual and stunningly beautiful floorboards, which in another incarnation were fashioned from old French wine casks. They were steamed until straight, and then cut and stained."
Architect Francis Fleetwood designed Burnt Point. Interior architecture is by Brian O'Keefe and design is by Marjorie Shushan.
"The neighborhood is one of the best in the Hamptons, with both celebrities and low-key notables," says Nelson. Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein and Steven Spielberg are just a few of the famous folk who have homes in the area.
Nearby are top golf clubs including the Maidstone, the Atlantic and the Noyack Golf Club.
The estate offers 2,024 feet of direct frontage on the pond, complete with its own private dock, boathouse and waterside gazebo. Should the weather grow brisk, there are custom storm baffles on all windows. With its own mini power plant and two wells, the property truly is self-contained.
Rivaling Burnt Point's old-world charm is Villa Maremmana in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The $32 million hillside villa, inspired by Renaissance-era Italian architecture, took seven years to build.
"The drama of the house is unparalleled," says Sherry Shriver of Coldwell Banker Previews. The approach to the house is lined with cypress trees and features a wishing well. Orange groves cover much of the estate's 8.5 acres.
"It was built for the owner with the utmost dedication to materials and craft, with artisans brought in from Europe. It wasn't built to be sold," she adds of the home, which features mahogany doors, antique terracotta brick and a wine cellar lined with torches, paved with stones from the streets of 1800s Yorkshire.
Singer Jewel and diet guru Jenny Craig are among those who have lived in Rancho Santa Fe's exclusive Rancho del Lago enclave. "It's the most exclusive gated community in all of San Diego County, with the best school district," Shriver says.
"All of the neighbors have a minimum of four acres. There's nothing like it on either seaboard. Not even Donald Trump's place in Florida can rival it."
The villa sits next to the Bridges Golf Course, where Tiger Woods plays. Although the villa, its pool and guesthouse make up more than 22,000 square feet, Shriver says "It's not gargantuan. It is such a beautiful Italian country home. The sense about it is very informal."