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CONDOTEL : A Vacation Property That Pays You Back

MELDING PRIVATELY-OWNED condominiums with a tourist market hungry for accommodations that offer top-of-the-line amenities, condotels are as much a part of the resort-destination landscape as palm trees and ocean-front sun decks in areas such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

To a visitor, a condotel looks like a comfortable condominium or hotel room, where resort-style extras including swimming pools with lifeguards, lazy rivers, hot tubs, fitness centers and on-site restaurants are at their fingertips, and a 24-hour, on-site rental desk is available to meet all their needs.

Many Myrtle Beach condotels go the extra mile to provide family-friendly fun, such as The Caravelle Resort-s kids- pool with water sprayers and dunking buckets and Dunes Village Resort-s indoor water park with slides and water basketball.

Because condotels are managed efficiently and provide daily housekeeping and concierge services, most visitors don-t realize that each unit is individually owned, says Bradley Bennett, broker-in-charge of Oceanfront Guru Real Estate Sales & Development in Myrtle Beach. He points out that condotels provide more than just places for tourists to stay.

"Condotels fit today-s buyer," says Bennett. "Each person who owns a condotel unit stands to gain thousands of dollars annually from the rental market, with virtually little or no effort. The rental management company takes cares of everything-bookings, rental deposits, cleaning and accounting. As an owner, you simply collect your check monthly."

According to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, more than 13.8 million people visit Myrtle Beach annually, and they all need a place to stay. As a result, individual buyers can claim a piece of the tourism industry by purchasing a condominium or suite and putting it into the rental pool when they are not enjoying it themselves. National marketing efforts by rental management companies put heads in beds, which adds to a buyer-s bottom line and helps offset the purchase price of the property.

As with condominiums, owners of condotels must pay homeowner association fees that generally take care of insurance, trash collection, water, sewer, cable, landscaping and maintenance services, security and repair of common areas. Condotels offer a broad spectrum of layout and design. At Sand Dunes Resort in Myrtle Beach, they range from an ocean-front efficiency with a small kitchen to a four-bedroom, three-bath, two-story penthouse with fireplace and Jacuzzi.

Baby boomers are the most prolific buyers of condotels, "though more families with young children are realizing that condotels not only offer strong rental income but a great place for a fun-filled family vacation getaway," says Bennett.

Melissa Newsom



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