Hey, Spike! visits with a dual country couple
August 7, 2014
When the answer is: "This is our home in the U.S.," you just know Hey, Spike!'s interest is piqued.
And the rest of the story is interesting.
Welcome to the dual country lifestyles of Shaun and Traci O'Connor.
The O'Connors have a unique home in downtown Breckenridge and a second residence in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and also capital of the largest of the UAE's seven member emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. In 2013, the city had a population of 921,000.
Abu Dhabi houses federal government offices, is the seat of the United Arab Emirates government, home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri family and the president of the UAE, who is from this family.
Overseas, Shaun is the chief financial officer for a real estate company that is developing the tourism infrastructure for Abu Dhabi.
"We are building global attractions like the first Louvre Museum outside of Paris, and the world's largest Guggenheim Museum," he says. "We also develop schools, hotels, golf courses, single and multi-family homes, all on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi."
"Unfortunately, I spend months away from this magnificent town, but I do get both summer and winter extended breaks here," says Shaun, who has an undergraduate in accounting from Purdue University, and his master's from Western Connecticut State University.
"We bought our place fall of 2011 and split our time between Breck and Abu Dhabi," says Traci. "We love the mountain summers and Shaun enjoys the winters."
They had visited the other Kingdom (Breckenridge) a few times over the last 25 years, before deciding to buy here.
"We like the small town feel and easy pace," they say of their high altitude living — on and off, for close to nine months a year.
"We have lived in the Midwest, on the East and West coasts, in the mountains with Breck, Paris and Abu Dhabi," they say. "Each has amazing memories, but our current lifestyle provides the most dramatic climate and culture differences."
Annually, Abu Dhabi receives less than 2 inches of precipitation. Summers in Abu Dhabi can average 125 degrees with 90+ percent humidity, the couple explains.
"You live indoors and move from air conditioned space to air conditioned space," they say.
"Breckenridge provides an incredible escape from those summers with temps in the mid-70s and the ability to literally live outdoors with hiking, running, golf," they note. "Winters in Abu Dhabi are low to no humidity and averaging upper 70s. Compare that to Breck's 80-100 inches of snow base and miles upon miles of world-class winter sports opportunities."
Both Shaun and Traci are strong golfers, having established 6 and 14 handicaps, respectively.
"I began taking golf lessons in Abu Dhabi and could not find dresses that I could wear on the course that would easily transition to off the course," says Traci.
That led her to develop ladies' golfing apparel.
"My line — Roaming Dhabi Designs — is available in the U.S. on my website, or if you are in the Abu Dhabi, my designs are available at the three golf courses, Abu Dhabi Golf Course, home to the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp (HSBC) tourney, Saadiyat Island Beach Golf Club, and Yas Links Golf Club," says Traci.
Abu Dhabi literally means "Father of the Gazelle," notably the successful breeding of desert antelopes and gazelles. Locally, they are called the Dhabi, which is Traci's brand logo.
In addition to golf, the O'Connors are runners, skiers (downhill and XC), hikers and enjoy yoga.
They've started trekking all of Colorado's 14ers, knocking off a few each summer.
The O'Connors are appreciative of their Colorado living that offers "breathtaking beauty as far as you can see."
"I take pictures from our hiking and skiing, as well as out my back door of Peak 8, and send them back to Abu Dhabi," says Traci. "Friends there cannot believe how beautiful it is and the impact seasons have on what you see: Snow covered mountains, aspens changing colors in the fall, running rivers and hiking trails that reach the skies."
In other social news, Spike! offers congrats to Jonny Greco on the opening of his namesake restaurant to rave reviews from a packed house.
His parents, Papa Jack and Maryann "Mamma G," were in town from North Carolina to join in the fun. Nice folks, they are.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to email@example.com