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Kiawah Island Partners Experiences Strong Real Estate Bounce

(KIAWAH ISLAND, SC) -- After acquiring the luxurious Kiawah Island, S.C., resort community in 1988, Kiawah Partners chairman/CEO Buddy Darby has seen his fair share of economic downturns. If first quarter real estate sales are any indication, however, it appears that Darby's 10,000-acre barrier island has bounced back from perhaps the biggest recession of them all.

Indeed, through the end of March, Kiawah Island Real Estate recorded $61.5 million dollars in residential sales, a 59 percent increase over the first quarter of 2009. The strong first-quarter earnings were fueled by $39.5 million in vacation home sales in March, which exceeded the total sales volume for the entire first quarter of 2009 and represented the biggest month in properties sold (25) since April 2008.

And the sales keep piling up with another $37 million in properties under contract in April with the average price being 1.5 million for single-family homes, villas and home sites.

Darby, whose Kiawah Partners is the master developer of this exclusive island 21 miles from Charleston, S.C., credits a literal thaw in the North for Kiawah's sales bounce, as well as a growing confidence in the equity markets and knowledge that Kiawah is backed by a "healthy developer that's not over-leveraged," a resort developer who "doesn't have any debt on his properties" and a community association holding $14 million in reserves.

"A lot of people couldn't get out of the northeast, which is a large part of our market, and once the snow thawed, people started coming down and we've just had a remarkable March and April," adds Darby, whose Kiawah Island Club features private courses designed by Tom Fazio and Tom Watson, the Robert A.M. Stern-designed Beach Club and members-only spa. "Anytime there's a harsh winter we tend to hear people say, 'I'm done.'

"Another thing is the (stock) markets are holding up. ...  Plus, people have been suffering from what I call a frugal fatigue where it wasn't fashionable and they were sort of looking to see which way the wind was going to end up blowing. I think now people have a comfort level and they're starting to buy again."

What's especially refreshing for Darby is the heightened amount of activity in Kiawah's upper-end homes priced above $2.5 million (11 were sold through May compared with 14 in all of 2009). He partly explains this surge for the realization many of these homes are selling for close to replacement costs so there's "some real value out there."

"Who knows where this will all end up at the end of the year, but right now we're hanging 10," Darby adds. "I suspect that this is going to continue."

New Italian Borgo Egnazia Resort Opens in Apulia

(APULIA, ITALY) -- The luxurious Borgo Egnazia is the newest golf resort gem now open for business in the Mediterranean. Located here in the south-eastern part of Italy, Borgo Egnazia is a five-star resort that borders the ruins of the ancient city of Egnazia and offers stunning vistas over the Adriatic coastline. Borgo Egnazia is set to become one of the leading luxury family, golf and spa resorts in southern Europe. 

Borgo Egnazia offers a uniquely authentic experience of southern Italy from the lush green fairways of the San Domenico Golf Course to the delicious Italian recipes carefully prepared in its restaurants and the idyllic pace of village life. Borgo is the Italian word for village and the resort has at its heart a traditional Apulian village inspired by the peaceful hillside towns nearby.

A central piazza is surrounded by 72 Apulian-style townhouses, which offer the perfect solution for those looking to escape the stresses of working life.  The beautifully furnished bedroom suites look out over private Arab gardens and ocean-view roof terraces allow guests to relax on another level. For those looking for more exclusive breaks, the village also features 28 luxury private villas. 

The Borgo Egnazia Hotel offers 63 luxurious guest rooms and suites, a variety of restaurants and bars, a grand ballroom, several meeting rooms and an indoor and several outdoor swimming pools. Spa lovers will appreciate a 2,000m² Raison d'être spa, which has been designed to be one of the finest in Europe based on a modern-day interpretation of a Roman bath house.

The crown jewel of the resort is San Domenico Golf Course. Opened in 2003, the course hosts some of the world's top young professional golfers each year at the European Challenge Tour Grand Final and has already developed a reputation as one of the finest tests of golf on the Mediterranean.

The par-72 course, which meanders between the olive groves of Apulia and the rocky Adriatic coastline, is the only championship layout in southern Italy and the only links-like course in Italy. Designed by European Golf Design group, San Domenico measures more than 6300 yards and provides a stiff test for top golfers at the same time as being accessible for less experienced players.

"It is a privilege to be opening such a wonderful resort in one of the most beautiful regions of Italy," said Cristiano Cabutti, Borgo Egnazia's Group Director of Sales and Marketing. "Borgo Egnazia is the ideal place for people looking for a relaxing golf or leisure break away from the hustle and bustle of other parts of the Mediterranean. The village and the hotel offer truly authentic Italian hospitality and comfort and the spa with its Roman concept have to be experienced to be believed. For golfers, the San Domenico course is one of the finest in southern Europe and will offer a links-like experience against the azure backdrop of the Adriatic. I look forward to welcoming our guests in the months and years ahead."

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