What drives Peter Sobrero, Managing Director of Resort Development for The Agency? A passion for exploring and finding new places, people, activities and lifestyles. It’s this enthusiasm that opens the door for new opportunities and concepts, like the recently revealed The Ledges at Espiritu, a collection of three-bedroom residences and five-bedroom penthouses perched above Palmilla Bay in Los Cabos, Mexico. When it was time to reflect on the vacation home sales explosion of late, we knew no better person to talk to. In this interview, Peter explains what people want in a resort home, his idea of heaven and where he swears you’ll run into the most dynamic people.
You’re quite the sports enthusiast. Having competed in several triathlons and over 15 cycling races, is there overlap between your athletic mindset and your business mindset?
Wow, I can’t say enough how inextricably linked the two are. Athletics overlaps into every facet of a person’s life, so certainly it expresses itself in business. As someone with a healthy competitive nature, this plays out in the form of strategizing, planning and practicing prior to a major meeting or launch, taking action on a new initiative, or identifying one’s strengths and finding complements to improving them.
How would you describe your role at The Agency in just a couple of sentences?
I’m a forager for the company, constantly networking and searching for unique and interesting opportunities that add value to The Agency. A situation where people, locations and timing authentically lines up—that’s what fires us up.
Vacation home sales exploded in 2014, making up 21% of all home sales last year at an estimated 1.13 million, the highest level since 2003 and a 57% increase from 2013. How would you explain this?
In a few words…pent up frustration. Frustration from holding back on purchasing because it was prudent and applauded for some time, and missing out on creating new memories with family and friends. So when the gate finally opens, it can resemble a stampede as people get back to the lifestyle they always wanted to live.
How would you characterize these purchases?
Most of these acquisitions are intended for personal/family use and even business use as opposed to a pure investment play. Don’t get me wrong, we still see it, but it represents a much smaller market and I think that is a positive thing for the industry.
What amenities and services are in high demand right now?
Personal wellness and growth continue to serve as a compass, driving individuals and families towards locales with a greater selection of activities and even the capacity to achieve some of their bucket list items. In the younger generation, we are seeing a precipitous fall off in golf interest (at least 18 holes of it) in favor of mountain biking, hiking trails and challenging activities that border on extreme.
Does the buyer wanting to own at The Ritz Carlton Residences in Rancho Mirage define luxury in a completely different way than the buyer of a mountain home at Victory Ranch in Park City, Utah?
Absolutely. We are all individuals and our definitions of relaxation and luxury are oftentimes dissimilar. If I can hammer a grueling private mountain ride in the morning at Victory Ranch, play nine holes of golf, catch some brown trout later in the day on a freestone river, and do a 5 mile hike with bird dogs at pace, I think I might just be in heaven. I am not sure others would sign up for that itinerary. A yoga class, organic breakfast, pool time with the New York Times and an afternoon massage followed by a gourmet dinner at the Ritz Carlton might be just as appealing to someone else.
Victory Ranch evolved from being a summer-only destination to a becoming a lifestyle for all seasons. How were you involved in this process?
It all boils down to simply asking the right questions, such as “Why isn’t this an amazing winter spot as well”? Victory Ranch is and has everything. It is one of those places we authentically freaked out about…we just had to start a new conversation.
The Agency has several properties south of the border, including the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences (Cabo San Lucas), Espiritu (Los Cabos) and the newly-launched The Ledges at Espiritu (Los Cabos). In your opinion, is this a hotbed for those looking to buy their second or third home?
Yes. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, and the coastline between them, is some of the most magnetic and truly ethereal place I have ever been. Not only is this area a highly sought-after oceanfront location to purchase a second or third home, but I would go as far as saying it represents a concentration of some of the most interesting and affluent people in the world, combined with the most luxurious living experiences you can find.
How would you describe the concept behind The Ledges? If so, why did they introduce it, when they traditionally built single family residences in Espiritu and Villas Del Mar?
Relevancy is everything in the resort new development business. As Villas Del Mar/Espiritu has done for 20 years, The Ledges is a direct response to paying attention to the market, as well as keeping in tune with the changing wants and needs of buyers. There are many who have thoroughly enjoyed single family living yet desire the same luxurious atmosphere and space without the individual responsibility of maintaining the spaces surrounding their home. The Ledges and multi-home living solve all of the pains these acquirers have today.
In your opinion, will 2015 continue to experience an upward trend in the sale of luxury resort homes?
I remain nervously optimistic. I am naturally bullish and truly believe we are going to have another very strong year in 2015 which, for Cabo and other winter destinations, will translate well into 2016.
On any given day you could be surfing, rock climbing, cycling…but what’s your favorite way of exploring new landscapes?
These very activities are what inherently connect me to the land, giving me a sense of what the core vibe is of an area or how it was formed. My favorite way of exploring is typically to find the trendiest, eclectic and most amazing coffee shop in an area and expand from there. Those places are like magnets for interesting people, leading me to absorb good Beta (climbing term for information) on everything cool and amazing about where I am. It’s silly but I swear it works.
Before transitioning to real estate investment, you worked in the tech world, building highly successful sales teams within software development startups. As technology continues to seep into nearly every aspect of modern life, including the retail industry and overall customer experience, do you think it has the power to transform areas of the resort vacation home sector?
Technology has and is a major driver on all fronts, from the homes we are designing and building today, to the technology used to present those homes, to the underlying way we engage in sales and marketing automation.
So, a guy walks into a bar…
…Grabs a stool at the counter and within minutes is handed a margarita with Casa Amigos reposado tequila by the bartender who says, “Here you go, Mr. Smith”. Imagine that your name is Mr. Smith and this is your drink of choice and brand of tequila. That’s happening today. The possibilities are endless.