Luxury getaways in S.F. 

Imagine owning and living in a spacious, two-bedroom apartment in a historic building in the heart of downtown, with concierges catering to your desires. The cost? Less than $300,000.

The catch? It’s only for three weeks out of the year — which works out to somewhere north of $11,000 a night.

Of course, for the wealthy, that’s still less than buying a $1 million-plus condo that only gets used for twice-a-year shopping-and-opera getaways. And that, in a nutshell, is why luxury fractional-ownership vacation homes are making their way to San Francisco.

Fractional ownership differs from a traditional time-share in that the buyers own part of the property, a deeded interest that can be passed on to heirs or sold to a new owner.

A relatively new and booming type of real estate, fractional sales in 2005 nationally totaled $2 billion, according to a 2006 report by NorthCourse Leisure Real Estate Solutions. That was in increase of 27 percent from 2004 and 283 percent from 2003.

The first in The City, the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, is scheduled to open this fall, Ritz-Carlton Director of Marketing and Sales Robert van Dijk said. The project, in the de Young building at 690 Market St., includes some 57 already-purchased regular condominiums, and 44 fractional-ownership condos scheduled for 12 owners each.

Another project, the Fairmont Heritage Place, is being built by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts with a spring 2008 opening planned. Resort Equities, a boutique firm, is currently listing an eight-fraction penthouse apartment at O’Farrell and Powell streets.

At the Ritz-Carlton, the fractional buyers don’t pick their condo, though they are legally listed as part-owner of one of them, van Dijk said. Owners can also stay in an unused fractional condo for around $150 to $200 a night beyond their allotted three weeks, which is far less than these buyers typically pay for a much smaller hotel room, he said.

"Our one-bedrooms are larger than the average two-bedrooms in The City," van Dijk said. The owners also get concierge services, twice-daily housekeeping and other luxury amenities, he said.

Van Dijk said the Ritz service reputation is what attracts some buyers. So far, the company has sold around a quarter of its 528 fractional slots, he said — many to people who already own one of the regular condos or another Ritz fractional property.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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