Life at the Shore, With or Without a Partner

When you consider buying a waterfront property, no matter where in the world it is, there are generally two ways to go: choosing a residence affiliated with a hotel brand or one that is not.

“Hotel-branded properties are a huge and growing part of sales internationally when it comes to the waterfront,” said Daniel Hertzberg, a real estate agent with the Jills Zeder Group in Miami Beach, who specializes in sales of waterfront homes. “There are new developments opening all the time, and the demand for waterfront properties overall keeps growing.”

But there are key differences between owning a hotel-branded residence and owning a non-hotel residence. Which option is better for you? The following are factors to consider before closing a sale.

Hotel-Branded Residence Rick Moeser, the senior vice president for Christie’s International Real Estate, said that home buyers should expect to pay more — sometimes significantly so —- to own a waterfront home with a hotel brand behind it. “You’re in a hotel setting with access to a host of amenities at your fingertips, such as a maintenance staff, pool and chefs, who can come to your home to cook a private dinner,” he said. “This access comes at a premium cost.”

Owners with freer budgets have the convenience of having everything available to them and don’t have to invest the time to find help to maintain their property, whether that means a company to service the pool or a landscaper to mow the lawn.

Non-Hotel Residence You will probably save money when you buy a non-hotel residence, and that may matter more than services or amenities. But Mr. Moeser said that home buyers should be aware that managing the house can be a headache if it’s in an international destination. “You’re looking after it from overseas, and getting help and trusting someone isn’t usually easy,” he said. “There may also be a language barrier.”

Hotel-Branded Residence With a waterfront home in a hotel, you have the feeling of being on a nonstop vacation, said George Filopoulos, the founding principal of Metrovest Equities, the developer of Gurney’s, which has a hotel and spa with residences in Montauk, N. Y. “You’re living in a resort and can enjoy all of its amenities,” he said. Examples include beachside setup of chairs, umbrellas and towels, food and beverage service at the beach, multiple pools, a spa, youth programs, a waterspouts center and fitness classes such as yoga on the beach. You can also avail yourself of housekeeping and dial the hotel front desk 24 hours a day for anything you need.

Non-Hotel Residence Don’t expect the amenities of a full-service hotel. You’ll have to set up and put away your own beach chairs, for example, and won’t have someone taking your lunch order while you bask in the sun. However, these extras may not matter. “For some people, the biggest priority is living near the water,” said Mr. Filopoulos. “If that’s the case, then you’re better off saving your money for amenities you’re not going to use and owning a property that’s not affiliated with a hotel.”

Hotel-Branded Residence Generally, Mr. Hertzberg said, the maintenance costs for a waterfront home range from 75 cents to $3 a square foot per month, depending on where it is. In a branded development, costs are typically on the higher end of this scale because you’re paying for staff, the upkeep of amenities and other common charges.

Non-Hotel Residence You’re still going to have maintenance costs but won’t have the fixed monthly expense of living in a hotel resort. A head’s up that waterfront properties come with some pricey upkeep, such as dock repair and sea wall replacement. “Hotels take care of these expenses for their homeowners, but when you’re on your own, you can get hit with a big bill,” said Mr. Hertzberg.

Hotel-Branded Residence A big advantage of owning a hotel-branded residence is that the property’s management team takes charge of putting it in the hotel’s rental pool, which gives you the potential to earn extra income. While the hotel takes a cut of the profits, the management team oversees the process from start to finish and is usually responsible for getting the home cleaned when guests leave.

Non-Hotel Residence You still have the flexibility to rent out your home through a third-party site like Airbnb and keep the entire fee for yourself. You have to manage the rental process, however, which can be time consuming and expensive if you hire a property manager to help. Mr. Hertzberg said that he has managed the rental of many waterfront homes and has challenges such as difficult renters who nitpick at everything about the home and finding renters for the available dates. “With a hotel residence, the on-site team is dealing with these issues,” he said.

Hotel-Branded Residence With a home in a hotel resort, foot traffic and people gathering at the pool or on the beach are inevitable. So is some noise. Hotel guests may share the same lobby, Mr. Moeser said, and use the same pool. “You also have to consider that outside guests may come in to dine at the restaurants or use the spa,” he says. If privacy is a priority, but you want the upside of a hotel residence, Mr. Moeser suggested looking at resorts that offer amenities exclusively for residents, such as a dedicated pool, beach or valet.

Non-Hotel Residence You can definitely expect more privacy and can even buy a home in a secluded area away from any crowds. Restaurants and other services, such as grocery stores, may be farther away, but the trade-off could be worth it.

Hotel-Branded Residence Homes in hotels are generally safe settings with security guards patrolling the grounds around the clock and surveillance cameras everywhere. In addition, the beach and pool are staffed with lifeguards, which is an important safety element when it comes to waterfront living.

Non-Hotel Residence You rely on the overall safety of your neighborhood, the neighborhood safety patrol, if there is one, and local law enforcement for security, but you can still find a home in a safe location. The beach or lake, however, is unlikely to be staffed with lifeguards.

Hotel-Branded Residence If you enjoy socializing with others and want to meet new people or have friends you see regularly, a hotel residence is a prime setting. “You have hotel guests coming in and out, and other homeowners that you bump into at the pool or at the restaurants,” Mr. Filopoulos said. “There are endless chances to mingle.”

Non-Hotel Residence You still have plenty of opportunities to meet others in your neighborhood, on the beach or at the lake, but you will not always see people in common settings like the pool. And the faces will be familiar because new guests are not continually checking in.

Hotel-Branded Residence Mr. Hertzberg said that living in a home affiliated with a hotel means adopting the property’s design sensibility. “Your home has to stick to the same aesthetic as others, especially if it’s going into a rental pool,” he said. “You’re likely restricted in making any dramatic changes.” Most waterfront properties favor lighter tones, he said, and natural elements such as neutral woods and stones.

Non-Hotel Residence You have the freedom to infuse your style into your property. Do you love bold colors, midcentury modern or old-world? Go for it, and make the home truly your own.


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