Warming Trend Hits New Lowe : Firm That Initially Developed Ski Resorts Is Now Seeing Growth in Hotter Climates


Real estate executive Robert J. Lowe spent the early days of his career skiing as well as developing one of Colorado’s largest ski resorts, Snowmass.

Three decades later, Lowe, president of Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises, is still involved in the resort business. But this time around, “we see the growth in warmer climates,” Lowe said.

From an oceanfront condominium resort in Hawaii to a luxury golfing getaway in South Carolina, Lowe and his partners are expanding the company’s portfolio of more than a dozen hotels and resorts owned or managed for investors. His real estate investment company--which employs about 4,000 people and owns or manages a nationwide portfolio of commercial and residential property--will soon break ground on a golf course and 250-unit housing development in Indian Wells near Palm Springs.


Lowe, 57, who was raised in Southern California and is involved in numerous civic activities, is counting on several factors to boost demand for resorts. America’s aging population will have more time to travel, and many affluent seniors are expected to buy second homes in vacation areas, he said.

In addition, the combination of the telephone, computer and fax have made it easier for even the busiest of business people to get away and still keep in touch with their office. Technology is “making it easier for people to travel and conduct their affairs from remote places,” said Lowe, whose resorts also aggressively court business groups and conferences.

Larry Kantor, a lodging industry consultant at Arthur Andersen in Los Angeles, said the resort and hotel business has benefited handsomely from the expanding national economy.

“People have more disposable income . . . and resorts are prime beneficiaries of that,” Kantor said. He also noted that as businesses expand, they are more likely to increase the number of conferences and sales meetings held at resorts.

Lowe and his clients are also beneficiaries of the giant resort and hotel building boom that swept the nation during the 1980s. Many of those properties fell into bankruptcy or dropped dramatically in value during the real estate bust and national recession of the early 1990s. Lowe and other investors have acquired many of those properties at substantial discounts.

For example, in 1994, Lowe represented the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn., a public pension fund, in its purchase of the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel in Pasadena for about $45 million--a deep discount from the estimated $100 million Japanese investors had spent to purchase and renovate the landmark. Lowe operates the 383-room hotel for the pension fund.


Many of Lowe’s resort properties feature golf, which is enjoying a resurgence as aging baby boomers swap snow skis for nine-irons. But Lowe, an avid skier, still sees growth for his beloved winter resorts as they add more activities and amenities--such as larger retail and entertainment facilities--that appeal to a wider audience.

“That’s good for people who are older and don’t want to ski seven days in a row,” Lowe said.

Selling to Latinos: Century 21 Real Estate Corp. began a nationwide advertising campaign in Spanish as part of a strategy to tap into the fast-growing Latino market. Century 21 said it’s the first real estate brokerage to launch a coast-to-coast Spanish-language marketing program, which began this week with 30-second commercials in 125 cities. The commercials will feature the phrase: Una inversion para toda la vida (“An investment for a lifetime”).

The rapid growth of the Latino population has caught the attention of many real estate brokerages and home builders in recent years. Century 21 said that the number of potential Latino home buyers grew five times faster between 1990 and 1995 than the total number of potential U.S. home buyers.

Jesus Sanchez can be reached via e-mail at or by fax at (213) 237-7837.