A Fractional Piece of Paradise – Mayne Island Resort

November 16th, 2010  |  Published in Hot off the press

A Fractional Piece of Paradise – Mayne Island Resort

(First appeared in Aqua Magazine, 05/10.)

Six years ago Murray and Kim Rosengren arrived on Mayne Island from the Fraser Valley. Like many visitors before them, they fell in love with the seductive charm of the Bennett Bay area: the sweep of sandy beach, a rarity in the Gulf Islands; the pristine peninsula of Campbell Point, with its remnant old growth forest, and vistas across to Georgeson Island; Georgia Strait curling around the Belle Chain Islets; and Horton Bay with its protected anchorage and swirling currents snugged nearby. It’s an area where properties seem larger, lawns more expansive, and homes older and more traditional. It’s long been our favourite part of Mayne, as was the Mayne Inn. In the past, inexpensive mid-week winter packages tempted us to dust off our bikes and check into waterfront rooms in the old hotel, built in 1912 for the workers of the nearby brick factory. That idea had a short life, according to Rosengren:

“The factory was built with European investors. There was a jetty, pilings, dock, kiln and I believe there were small gauge tracks built between the kiln and loading dock. When the First World War broke out, they pulled out their money. I doubt if they ever produced bricks. In the 1940s it became a landmark hotel in the area, and it has operated ever since.”

A building contractor, he originally intended to buy land and build a house. “And then I came across this hotel for sale. It seemed like a pretty good deal. I interested my business partners, Dave and Sharon Hinton, and we bought it not knowing for sure what we were going to do with it. Initially we thought we would just continue running it as a hotel, but eventually it became apparent that our romantic idea wasn’t going to work. Mayne is a sort of isolated area, even though it’s only 12 miles from Tsawwassen. Then the whole thing started to evolve. We originally thought of just adding rental cottages and then we noticed that there were some strata fractional sales happening in the area, like Poets Cove on the Penders, and Whistler.”

So far he and his partners are pleased with the way the development is going. Eighty per cent of the 80 units in the first phase have been sold, not bad for a recession year, with most of the investor/owners coming from the Fraser Valley. The second phase, to be finished later this year, will add another 64. (This sounds far more massive than it is. One unit is defined as one fractional ownership. Ergo, one residence equals 8 units.)

Nevertheless, a development of this size is a concern to many island residents, who see the fractional ownership trend appearing on their islands. They worry that unlike summer homes, fractional resort/residences are almost always occupied, thus using far more of their island’s limited resources. They’re concerned that fractional owners, who usually come from cities, don’t understand the need to live lightly in paradise. They’re troubled that the island could be losing its essential volunteer base, and that the fractional owners will bring a ‘on holiday’ mentality, which can be at odds with island lifestyles.

However, it’s this same mentality that brings more money into the community. Holidaymakers usually like trying out restaurants, visiting shops and galleries, buying at the local markets, and booking charters, excursions, rentals and guided tours.

In addition, Rosengren points out that the inn could well be the largest employer on the island. In its development phase, about half of its 30 contractors and sub-contractors were from on island. When it is totally completed, approximately 40 full and part time employees will be needed.

He admits, however, that initially they did not do a good job of introducing the development to the locals:

“We did not realize fully the importance of presenting the proposal carefully. We were too vague. The size got exaggerated in people’s minds so a lot of harm was done in the first year by our not spelling our message out properly. As time passed, people became more understanding of the development. For example, we kept the units low to not interfere with locals’ views, for example, so owners still have their prime real estate, while everyone else still has the historic view Bennett Bay has always had.”

It’s my experience that islanders are pretty reasonable if they see a ‘green tint’ in the development, and on this score Rosengren and his partner are pure jade. For example, they point out that while half of the water homes generally use goes down the toilet, it doesn’t happen here. The inn’s back deck sits over a 50,000-gallon rainwater storage tank. At a cost of over $100,000, the Olympic-sized tank supplies water to all the toilets on site, which incidentally are all low flush. “We went through one of the worst droughts last summer but our reservoir only went down about 2’ although the units were pretty much full.”

He also points to the heat exchange system, which runs on electricity but is ten times cheaper to operate than propane, and the quarter million sewage treatment system which is so refined, Rosengren claims by the time it comes off the trucked-in sand filter drain field, you can almost drink it. There’s also a complete recycling wall in the storage area, with 8 giant bins to service recyclers. Then he shows me the glossy, reclaimed antique wood cottage floors. The 1-bedroom cottages are gorgeous, all with exquisite ocean views, high end furnishings right down to the duvets, washer and drier, dishwasher, heated slate tile bathrooms, wireless internet, and entertainment centre with flat screen HD TVs, Play station and BluRay technology. The expansive front patio comes with gas barbecues and lounge furniture, a good idea since most guests would want to live out there. The newest units are 1-bedroom plus small den.

The facility has a lot more to offer buyers. A full time membership in the new spa, to be completed by this summer, the best warm water ocean swimming steps away, kayak and bike rentals on site, and a small market for provisions. Rosengren assures me stocking owners’ favourite wines will not be a problem either.

They’re all pretty classy units and I’m tempted. The contractor has turned salesman. “After all”, he’s enthusing, “each unit is about the cost of a boat, but unlike a boat, these won’t depreciate. Sure, you can find better investments if you are just after straight investments. For the most part, however, our buyers are investing with a lifestyle in mind. How am I doing?” He’s good; if I didn’t already live in paradise, I might go for it.

Sidebar

Interested? The cost per unit (1/8 ownership) is $59,000 up, plus approx. $100/month strata fees and $100/year property taxes. Owners can choose to put their units into the resort’s rental pool when not using them.

Resort rates are $200/night in the low season, with refurbished guest rooms in the old Mayne Inn about half the cost. Check current rates on their website: www.mayneislandresort.com

Leave a Response