KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Whenever my family goes on vacation, my wife and I will kick the tires on the idea of, one day, living in that destination seasonally. We might even poke around Trulia at vacation homes in the area.
Inevitably, though, the conversation ends with this question: Would I still feel like I'm on vacation if, the moment I walk in the door, I'm worried about a broken dishwasher, or a leak in the roof, or trees to trim?
And when I'm not there, will I be worried about break-ins or a busted pipe? Do I need to hire a property manager?
If the growth of Timbers Resorts is any indication since they opened their first property, Snowmass in 1999, we clearly aren't alone in being wary of the headaches of managing a second home. A visit to their brand-new Timbers Kiawah was proof you can own a vacation property with all the fun and none of the hassle.
The Timbers residence club model sells fractional, deeded ownership of vacation homes in top destinations. The units come fully furnished and are accompanied by an assortment of private club amenities and services.
The homes are all class, but the ace in the hole for parents is the services. Prior to your visit, you can send your grocery list to the concierge and upon arrival the fridge and pantry is stocked for the week. Knowing we had small children with us, they installed railings on one bed for our three-year-old and had a pack-n-play set up for our infant. They arranged a birthday dinner reservation for us at The Sanctuary Hotel's Jasmine Porch and lined up a babysitter so we could properly savor the southern cooking.
As a dad, you don't have to worry about traveling with or shipping all your sporting goods: there are paddleboards, kayaks, pool toys galore down at the beach club, plus bicycles of all sizes to cruise the island's shady paths or the 10-mile beach. No room for your golf clubs? They have sets on hand for residents. It's all included. To travel even lighter, residents will ship luggage ahead of time using ShipSticks, one of many travel partners - from cars to lounges to private jet travel - Timbers properties has negotiated with to make things even more seamless.
You don't have to worry about fixing a runny faucet or a clogged disposal. Just call the 24-hour desk. You might even have time for golf! Maybe dad can relax on a family vacation after all.
Life as a Timbers Kiawah owner
The total footprint of Timbers Kiawah is intimate, just 3.5 beachfront acres. Three residential buildings feature 21 total units - 18 of which are 3-bed, 3.5 bath, while the top floor of each is a larger, 4-bedroom/4.5-bath penthouse. The centerpiece is the private beach club (fully winterized in the cooler months and includes a pool heated to 82 degrees) - it's a good thing because the island's beaches and other resort amenities can get pretty crowded during peak season. But you'll always have a pool or beach chair here and the waitstaff is always nearby ready to bring another refreshment, even at full occupancy.
Guests of Timbers Kiawah can access the five Kiawah Island resort golf courses, all of which have been recently renovated, and Cougar Point just opened its brand new clubhouse. Timbers residents also have the option to join the Kiawah Island Club. This includes the island's two private courses, Cassique, a fabulous, links-inspired layout by Tom Watson that offers caddies and whose layout features many odes to Open rota holes and even has a flexible front-nine routing. The other private course is the River Club, designed by Tom Fazio.
Then there are the five other resort courses, headlined by the Ocean Course, which will host the 2021 PGA Championship.
Timbers real estate details
Timbers' 3-bedroom units start at $525,000 for 1/9th the year. Once purchased, it is yours to use, trade or eventually sell. Each year, owners put in their peak and off-season week preferences and they are allocated out to owners by the property. Whoever is staying with you that week, friends or family, is treated like a club member. Unused units on any given week aren't rented out to non-residents. Everyone there is an owner. Yearly dues start at about $17,000 per 1/9th and cover insurance, taxes, utilities and services.
Compare that to what oceanfront homes and land costs on Kiawah Island at the moment. Zillow currently lists oceanfront 1/3-acre lots for about $3-million plus. Existing oceanfront homes are $3-5 million while smaller, older condo units next to Timbers are around $500,000 and up offer far less in terms of amenities and services.
“Our residence club works because you have a usage program that fits most people," said Chris Burden, Chief Development Officer of Timbers. “Residents get to be on the ocean in a brand new construction with dedicated services and a beach club.”
Trading time within the Timbers network
When you own a Timbers property, it gives you access to trade your allocated weeks with all 16 properties (that's a growing number: Timbers currently relocated its headquarters to Winter Park, Florida and has its eye on Florida and even urban expansion). An online portal lets you put weeks of your home into the pool and you can select from available properties and weeks within the network. There are great golf courses near all the properties, but for golfers, this most notable is Timbers Kauai, which includes the only golf course Timbers fully owns, the Ocean Course at Hokuala designed by Jack Nicklaus.