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Whistler home bags record ? Price

By Ian Bailey

VANCOUVER • The Prince of Wales and Arnold Schwarzeneger have already fallen for the charms of the British Columbia resort community of Whistler, but the sale of a lavish 29 room home for ?-million confirms the community's allure to some of the wealthiest ski buffs in the world.

The home, known as Akasha, is the most expensive residence ever sold in Whistler, a world-renowned ski destination located a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver.

Until now, the previous record for a home sale was set by a $3.8 million property.

"[The sale] is just an indication that the high end of the market is being sought after by people from the Lower Mainland and outside our traditional market area, including Americans and Europeans," said Bob Daniels, president of the Association of Whistler Realtors.

Antler chandelier in the living area of Akasha

"High-end people still recognize that Whistler represents very good value on a relative scale when compared with other resorts in North America," Daniels said.

The buyer of the ? million home is described as a 40-ish US computer executive, but has not otherwise been identified.

He does think he got a good deal, however.

"He totally enjoys the house," says Andy Munster, who designed the home over three years through his firm Munster & Sons Developments Ltd. "The first time he came up he had a hard time leaving."

The home is about 5,000 square feet. It's centrpiece is a 15-metre log that is more than 400 years old and was found in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver.

Its frills include 24 elk-antler chandeliers, a 22-karat gold and glass border outlining the stone splash indoor pool, an indoor waterfall, hand-carved totem poles and heated stone pavers on the drive and walkways.

The Tania Group of Companies financed the home. But it was crafted by Mr. Munster, who has built about 40 homes in the Whistler area since 1974. His partner in his firm is his wife, Bonnie.

"It was a labour of love, something we put our hearts into," he said. "The house grew on us. By the time it sold, we did feel sad that it sold because it was kind of like our baby."

The bulk of the home's cost is in it's structure and preparing the land, which provides a 180-degree view of surrounding mountain ranges and the Whistler village that is the base for whisking skiers to the heights of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

Mr. Munster says he never worried about finding someone to buy Akasha. "We felt confident that a buyer was out there due to Whistler's reputation," he said.

The house was initially listed at ? million, but was raised to ? million to encompass relevant taxes. It sold in early February after a year on the market.

The new owner does not live in British Columbia, but has spent about 10 days at the house. The Munsters are managing the house in his absence. They also bought appropriate furnishings to complement the property.

Observers doubt the propery is going to spark the development of a rash of $? million homes, but suggest it will call attention to other properties in the $3 to $4 million range.

"[Akasha] will bring people out here to see what's in that price range," said Pat Kelly, president of the Whistler Real Estate Co. Ltd., one of the region's largest realtors.

"it means that people of substance believe in this area, that it's not some fly-by-night cowboy town."

Box 477 Whistler, B.C.  V0N1B0
© 2001 Munster & Sons Developments Ltd.
Phone: 1-604-932-6254 / Fax: 1-604-932-2462

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