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» Featured Columnists | By Scott Kauffman | April 24, 2009 8:00 AM ET

The Els Club at Dubai Sports City Named Runner-up Development of Year

(DUBAI, U.A.E.) - The Els Club at Dubai Sports City, the first Middle East golf course designed by golf star Ernie Els, was recently named runner-up international Development of the Year by Golf Inc. magazine. The award, recently recognized at the annual Crittenden Golf Conference, is just another honor for the year-old course that set a benchmark in the UAE when it opened last January.

The $13-million Els Club is a central part of what is being described as the "world's only integrated sports city," according to Dubai Sports City chief executive officer U. "Bala" Balasubramanniam. 

In an exclusive interview with the Real Estate Channel, Bala was pleased to report that the low-density 1,250-acre Dubai Sports City development is more than 30 percent sold out, including 956 phase one villas priced from $1 million to $3.5 million.

Meanwhile, the semi-private course's first release of memberships (150 in total) sold out in a matter of weeks, priced from $35,000 for individuals and $85,000 for corporate memberships. The second and final release of 100 memberships is scheduled for early this year with more than 100 names currently on the waiting list.

Managed by Troon Golf, the Els Club is the most successful membership launch ever in the UAE. The 7,563-yard layout is the jewel of the Victory Heights residential development, an exclusive golf course villa community where the "world of sport unites, and people with a passion for the game combine with only the very best in global facilities."

Set on 50 million square feet within the massive Dubailand development, Dubai Sports City will feature world-class sporting facilities, including three state-of-the-art stadiums and a variety of world-renowned sports academies that is highlighted by soccer's elite Manchester United organization.

In addition to the sporting facilities, Dubai Sports City has plans for other major residential and commercial developments, including a mall and retail hubs, international schools, medical facilities, hotels, community centers and entertainment venues.

Among the initial sports partners besides Els, Dubai Sports City features the only Butch Harmon School of Golf outside of America, a 25,000-seat cricket stadium and a relationship with the governing International Cricket Council, a 60,000-seat multi-purpose stadium, 10,000-seat Indoor Arena, David Lloyd Tennis Academy, Next Generation Health Club and more.

When asked how to describe the state of the bubbling Dubai real estate market, Bala was optimistic, sharing the following wisdom.

"Government is all about governance," Bala told the Real Estate Channel. "Governance is all about leadership. Leadership is all about creating opportunity. Opportunity is all about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is all about taking advantage of the opportunity. That, in gist, is what Dubai is about."

Construction at Ocean's Edge Resort Continues to Take Shape in St. Kitts

(ST. KITTS, WEST INDIES) -- One of the newest resort-style developments on this tiny Caribbean island has had a busy first quarter. For starters, the first two phases of construction have been "nicely progressing," according to the developer, and the sales center has embarked on a phase two round of sales. 

Meanwhile, the interim rental program is doing well with most available phase one units currently rented out on long-term stays. In fact, a representative for the developer told the Real Estate Channel that St. Kitts appears to have created a lot of future demand for long-term accommodations due to a number of universities on the island, including medical, nursing and vet schools that are attracting a growing number of students and professors.

A flurry of other resort-style developments is also creating rental traffic for Ocean's Edge, which has plans for 170 condos and 23 custom villa units at build out.

Property prices range from $359,000 for 1-bedroom beachfront units to more than $1.4 million for the custom lot/villa home packages. Among the 15-plus units now open are 2-bedroom hillside units with private plunge pools, priced from $575,000, and some 1-bedroom beachfront condos.

Phase two sales were launched in February and new advertising campaigns in the U.S., Canada and U.K. markets were received "very well" with numerous inspection trips scheduled in the coming months, the developer's representative reported. Ocean's Edge picked Savills Select Resorts, a leading real estate services company listed on the London Stock Exchange, to handle its sales and marketing efforts.

Ocean's Edge is a 40-acre resort development overlooking Frigate Bay and adjacent to the popular Royal St. Kitts Golf Club, one of the few courses in the Caribbean with views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.   A variety of leisure and entertainment facilities are planned, including a clubhouse, fitness centre, restaurants, pools and tennis courts.

Ocean's Edge is owned by Cable Bay Hotel Development Company Limited, and a consortium of stakeholders comprised of Canada's Newfound NV and locally based partners TDC Ltd., Mansha Ltd., and SKNA National Bank Ltd.

Sol Meliá Vacation Club Selects LeisureLink to Distribute Premium Rental Inventory

(ORLANDO, FL.) -- Sol Meliá Vacation Club announced April 24 a partnership with LeisureLink Inc., the leading distribution and revenue management platform for specialty lodging suppliers. Sol Melia, based in Orlando, will be integrating LeisureLink's Demand Management System to distribute premium rental inventory to consumers and travel agents worldwide.

"We look forward to bringing Sol Meliá Vacation Club resorts in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe to a new audience of consumers and travel agents," said LeisureLink chief executive/president Erik Hovanec. 

"Consumers are rapidly adopting timeshare rentals for their spaciousness, intimacy, and value.  Sol Meliá's strong global brand reassures the consumer that they will have a high quality experience."

Sol Meliá Vacation Club, part of Spain-based Sol Meliá Hotels & Resorts, is an internationally-branded membership club that is looking forward to the new relationship.

"Bringing rental guests to our Sol Meliá Vacation Club resorts is a great way to attract new club members," said Denis Ebrill, executive vice president of Sol Meliá Vacation Club. "After they have personally experienced the services and amenities offered to members at our resorts, they clearly see the benefits of club membership to meet their long-term vacation needs with endless choices worldwide.

"We also see great value in LeisureLink's revenue management capabilities.  LeisureLink's revenue management tools will help us to price appropriately and increase revenue over time."

Sol Meliá Vacation Club focuses on providing leisure lifestyle experiences that include exotic destinations, designer-appointed luxury accommodations, exclusive services and unforgettable amenities.  By virtue of Sol Meliá Vacation Club status, all members have access to stay at any of the Sol Meliá hotels and resorts worldwide, including those in destinations such as Paris, London, Madrid, Rome and more.  Sol Meliá Hotels & Resorts is a 50-year-old international hospitality company with 350 hotels in 30 countries on five continents.

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