Scenic views are often cited as one of the most important factors when investing in luxury real estate. In terms of an investment from which the owner can also extract maximum personal enjoyment, luxury estates with world-class views rank among priceless works of art, rare classic Ferraris and the super-scarce solid gold “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona, an exclusive club indeed.
To cite just one example from Barnes International Realty, which specializes in the most luxurious listings in Barcelona, “The quality and the excellence of the views can increase the value of a high-standing property by up to 50%.”
This is a formula that holds true for nearly any place in the world where incredible views can be had, from Aspen to Israel. And with the increased focus on quality of life at home in the wake of the global pandemic, multimillion-dollar views have never been more in demand.
Simply put, ”Views are priceless” as Alitza Vagenknechtova of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in Colorado tells us. “You can change the home’s interior and exterior design, but the views are what make you feel good about a home. Especially, when they’re million-dollar mountain views,” of the sort for which the Aspen area—and its $40 million-plus mansions, such as Four Peaks Ranch in Snowmass, set on over 800 acres—are justly famous.
“Clients who seek the best of the best demand properties like this,” she adds. “They’re looking for pure perfection, quality, workmanship, the finest materials, and the latest technology. Everything that makes a home their own private sanctuary.”
Mountain views in particular “give you the feeling of being safe while still managing to take your breath away. The stunning views of the peaks and valleys are majestic and powerful.”
While the posh French-speaking island of St. Barth’s may seem a world away from the snow-covered peaks of Colorado, views are no less important to owners and investors. “St. Barth’s offers a small size, and mountainous terrain provides the ideal setup for a majority of locations to enjoy panoramic views,” Tom Smyth, owner of St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, tells us.
“Every home in St. Barth is unique and will merit its own price point based on a variety of factors. Those with an especially dramatic ocean view combined with privacy are in high demand and generally fetch a premium. The desirability of a particular view, whether it be sunset, sunrise, land or sea is a very personal taste and we see buyers interested in them all.”
Take for example two of Smyth’s top listings; the reportedly $55 million five-bedroom Villa Vitti, with its enormous infinity pool perched above Shell Beach in Gustavia; and the sprawling Villa Los Leones on the craggy hillside of Pointe Milou, offering sensational ocean views to complement its whitewashed Greek, Croatian, Moroccan and Mediterranean-inspired architecture, which is comparably priced.
Of course many owners of spectacular properties in this vein do not live in them full time, offering not only an additional revenue stream for themselves, but the opportunity for others to enjoy them on a temporary basis.
Villa Vitti, for example, has previously been listed for rent with rates starting at about $32,000 per week. The burgeoning demand for private high-end rentals worldwide, including those with world-class views, led Marriott International, owner of top luxury brands including Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and the Luxury Collection, to launch its Homes & Villas program in May of 2019. The initiative now offers over 16,000 rentals across the premium and ultra-luxury segment, including a fully-staffed castle in Scotland for $18,000-plus per night.
“Part of the allure of a vacation home is to be transported from everyday life to a dream destination complete with stop-you-in-your-tracks views,” Jennifer Hsieh, Vice President, Homes & Villas by Marriott International, tells us.
“No matter if they’re traveling to the hills of Malibu, the beaches of St. Barths, the mountains of Telluride, old-world Paris, the vineyards of Tuscany, or the ocean off of Cape Town, most people want to surround themselves with breathtaking views that immerse them in their environment and provide something they do not have at home.”
The strength and scope of the brand means they can offer some truly unique properties, such as Frank Sinatra’s former estate in Palm Springs with its views of the mountain ranges surrounding Coachella Valley.
“Historically, vacation rentals with ocean or lake views in warm climates are our most popular bookings,” Hsieh notes. “Bookings for destinations including Maui and Miami are up 110% percent the past six months. However, during the winter months we see a sizable uptick in vacation rentals in mountainous areas including Aspen, Breckenridge, Tahoe, and the French Alps,” which have experienced a 140% uptick.
Those are the kind of numbers to make any investor smile as he raises a glass of champagne, Gatsby style, and surveys the priceless landscape spread out before him.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of Maxim