Daniel de la Vega just got back from Aspen, Philip Hordijk has been skiing in Davos, and Liz Hogan is off to Vail next week.
It’s ski season, and any real estate player with a fondness for powder and adrenaline is hitting the slopes.
When it’s time to shred, real estate’s dealmakers head to mountain ski resorts for leisure and laidback time with clients and colleagues. The industry and the sport are a natural match. Ski mountains and their loyal riders are a developer’s dream, driving demand for commercial and residential real estate in small, secluded towns.
There are 525 ski resorts around the country, but only a fraction of those are the elite, coveted mountains that have the luxury residential real estate to boot – places like Aspen in Colorado, Park City in Utah, and Jackson Hole in Wyoming to name a few. A report released by Savills in November found luxury ski homes around the top 46 resorts in the U.S. rose by 20 percent in just a year, and by 30 percent since 2020.
Real estate agents say a perk of the job and national brand networks is connecting with fellow brokers in these markets. De la Vega, the skier/snowboarder president of Miami-based One Sotheby’s International Realty, says he’s nurtured friendships with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty agents in his trips to the mountain town.
“I’ve built such a great rapport with them,” he said. “They’ve become really good friends, our kids ski together.”
De la Vega has been visiting Aspen regularly since he was old enough to strap on ski boots, he says. It’s where his family skied when he was younger, and it’s where he married his wife, Veronica Bilbao, in 2014. He hosted the One Sotheby’s leadership retreat there in 2019, as well.
“Although it’s traditionally been a glitz and glamour town, it’s very, very laid back,” he said. “It’s also a great place to hang out with clients.”
While De la Vega emphasizes these trips are primarily for family time, he says being in a ski hub like Aspen makes it easy to get some runs and meals in with clients who are also visiting.
Liz Hogan, a snowboarder and top broker with Compass, agrees that hitting the slopes is good for business. The agent regularly snowboards in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she connects with clients and colleagues alike.
“Obviously, I want to go out there for vacation, but there’s definitely networking that goes on for sure,” she said. “It’s a nice casual way to do it that’s not so forced.”
Hogan, who describes herself as a blues cruiser, rather than a black diamond bomber, is heading to Vail next week to try something a little easier than the notoriously challenging Jackson Hole slopes. She already has plans to hang out with Tye Stockton, a fellow Compass agent based in Vail.
Other real estate players shy away from mixing business and the pleasure of skiing. Philip Hordijk, founder of New York City-based Leven Real Estate, recently headed to Davos, where 75 members of his extended family rented out a hotel near the mountain famous for the World Economic Forum for a week of skiing. His family has done this trip every other year for the last 30 years.
Hordijk prefers skiing in Europe to get away from work.
“The benefit of going out east, you’re not bothered by emails till you’re done skiing,” he said. “Getting up and skiing before anyone can start bothering you is huge.”