Club guru putting his money on paradise: Monty Zullo, director of operations, Jalousie Enclave.
Zullo is part of a team creating The Jalousie Enclave, a development of 20 luxury villas sitting on half-acre parcels; 52 homes on 1-2 acre lots; and a $7 million clubhouse on a World Heritage Site on the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean.
The project marks one of the only places in the world where someone can live on a World Heritage site, a distinction designated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meaning the land is among the most geographically stunning--and most protected--in the world.
"We have a volcano on our property. Well, not on our property, but right behind our property," Zullo said. "It's sensational. It's like being in Jurassic Park."
A New York native, Zullo attended Farleigh Dickinson University as an undergraduate and Master's student. He continued his studies at New York University, enrolling in marketing and economics courses, while beginning his career selling computers for Honeywell.
But having an uncle in the restaurant business and a college buddy also interested in the industry, the hospitality sector soon became his focus. He teamed with his friend to open his first restaurant before graduating college.
Soon after, he worked with Lloyd Price to open Lloyd Price's Turntable in 1969, which quickly became a hip nightlife/music venue, playing host to stars like Wilson Picket, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and the Pointer Sisters.
"I got involved with the restaurant world, but always dabbled in real estate, buying and selling," Zullo said.
He first worked with a New Jersey-based company where he bought foreclosed multi-family properties. After overseeing various hospitality programs at Stony Brook University and LaGuardia Airport, Zullo began to establish a name for himself among Manhattan's luxury hospitality sector.
His expertise put Doubles--a private club that welcomes celebrities, royalty, politicians and socialites on a regular basis--on the map. And Pierre Cardin tapped Zullo to expand Parisian restaurant, Maxims; he managed the opening of the restaurant's New York and Beijing locations, and founded the company's catering division.
But none of this could have been accomplished if Zullo didn't approach each project with a clear vision. "You have to know what you like," Zullo said. "And I was lucky enough to have certain positions that lead me to Doubles. I walk through the streets of New York today and still see my old customers."
It was that success with Maxims that lead Zullo to his latest endeavor on a 200-acre St. Lucia property.
M Group Resorts founding partner Pascal Mahvi asked Zullo to oversee The Jalousie Plantation Resort & Spa in St. Lucia, and--after Zullo became an investor and shareholder in the property--the two have been working on a residential vision there ever since.
The 200-acre location abuts rainforest land and overlooks protected marine waters, where residents can enjoy some of the world's most beautiful coral reefs.
The partners just started marketing the project in places like Canada, Taiwan and China. But with a limping luxury market, Zullo's in no rush to have every unit online. With three now under contract, he and Mahvi are taking a build-as-they sell approach to the self-funded development. And they're also offering a guaranteed buy-back program.
"We're doing it slowly. We realize we're in a slow real estate world. We are not building until we sell, but we are cutting roads and building infrastructure," Zullo said.
Zullo feels it's best to let the economic dust settle in this down market before considering his next venture. Though, he is considering opening a restaurant in St. Lucia, and has already opened discussions with some leading chefs.
"I think today you have to stick with the investments that you have rather than going for pie-in-the-sky deals," he said.
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|Title Annotation:||PROFILE OF THE WEEK|
|Comment:||Club guru putting his money on paradise: Monty Zullo, director of operations, Jalousie Enclave.(PROFILE OF THE WEEK)|
|Publication:||Real Estate Weekly|
|Date:||Jul 8, 2009|
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