First tracks in Whistler, a gourmet lunch slopeside in slippers, ski valets to warm your boots, and your own resort home to anchor it all... The problem with vacationing like a millionaire unfortunately means needing the pockets of one. Or does it? Thanks to junior high math there are now scores of options for the rest of us to own property at the nation's top resorts and benefit from all the concomitant club membershipsthink spas and a conciergefor literally a fraction of the cost. Take one multi-million-dollar luxury home and divide the deed between a dozen others so each pays a more manageable bite. For at least four weeks a yearperhaps many morethe pad is yours, along with all the priority trimmings a Fortune 500 income can buy. Keep your ski gear, favorite wines, even the family pictures you want at the condo or town home, and workers will make sure everything is back how you want it next time you visit. Unlike traditional timeshares, fractional ownership means owning real estate that appreciates in value, can be willed, put in a trust, or sold. And many developments still allow you to swap time at your ski pad for days at other resorts around the globe. So skiing in Colorado or beaches in Spain? Either way, these five fractional properties make being the lowest common denominator a thing of the past.
Front Four at Stowe Mountain Lodge
Chances are, you'll never see a project like this at Stowe again: brand new penthouse rock-and-timber suites up to 3,500 square feet built smack in the center of one of New England's top ski destinations. Own a 1/8 share of one of the 34 Front Four condos to be built by June 2007 with granite countertops and flat-screen TVs, and you'll get a minimum of two weeks of prime time in winter and another two weeks during the height of the summer. Want to play longer? Just book additional time for any week you like and, depending on availability, the place is yours. Fractions range from $289,000 to $399,000 for a four-bedroom palace on top of the Stowe Mountain Lodge. Resident club membership (starting at $10,000 a year) gets you unlimited ski and golf passes in the shadow of 4,393-foot Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak. You can use your time at other resorts in Vail, Jackson Hole, and even Spain.
The dealmaker: Free access to the resort's day spa while you're in residence and priority reservations when booking treatments.
Mammoth Mountain, California; Beaver Creek, Colorado
Storied Places Mammoth
Mammoth Mountain, California
Be among the first to buy into the 2,800-square-foot contemporary town homes that will pepper the slopes at Mammoth Mountain resort by 2007 and you'll have 33 reasons to justify taking on a second mortgage: one for each foot of snow that falls here per year. Only 22 of the Storied Places ski-in, ski-out properties will be up for fractional sale in March, when powder hounds can get a 1/7 ownership starting at $500,000. You'll get three weeks during winter, two in summer, and as many as you like any other time during the year with space available. Swap runs on Mammoth's 3,500 acres of glades and bowls for bumps at similar ski area developments in Whistler, Quebec, and Tahoe.
The dealmaker: Made a special request for a case of pinot last time you visited? The innkeeper will remember and get it for you next time too.
Ritz-Carlton Club, Bachelor Gulch
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Ritz-Carlton sets the standard in service-oriented fractional properties. To whit: a 1/12 ownership in one of the 54 condos up to 2,500 square feet in Beaver Creek's Bachelor Gulch neighborhood gets you access to lifts that service two areas directly from the development; priority seating at Zach's Cabin, an elegant gourmet restaurant with wall-to-wall glass high on the mountain; and swapped time in Aspen or St. Thomas. Spend three weeks a year playing on the mountain's 1,625 acres that groan under 310 inches of snow a year. Stay longer with space available for $100 a night. Deeds run from $200,000 to $500,000, while the $9,900 yearly membership dues get you service from a concierge.
The dealmaker: A ski valet will warm your boots each morning and schleps your gear to the base of the lifts.