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Agassi Opens Up About the Next Chapter of His Life

59299537_f7fd957b1c_mI had an unforgettable opportunity to chat with tennis superstar Andre Agassi for one of Business 2.0's stories in our upcoming December issue (it hit stands on Nov. 27, so be sure to grab a copy).

Agassi, who retired in September after 21 years on the tennis court, spoke to me, among other things, about how he plans to plot the second half of his life.  Well, it involves spending time with his family -- he has two kids with wife, tennis pro Steffi Graf -- and expanding his two-year-old real estate company, co-owned with Graf. 

The Las Vegas-based firm began with a luxury, all-seasons resort in Tamarack, Idaho, a city that has been touted as the next Sun Valley.  He discovered the beautiful town after a friend suggested he visit the area and immediately fell in love. 

The Fairmont Tamarack, the project Agassi is developing with Miami-based Bay View Financial and Fairmont Hotel, will include a hotel, ski slopes, a resort and spa, a golf course, and 50 luxury villas (the estimated price for a one-bedroom condo begins at $800,000).  "We've created a place that not only is pretty amazing but shows what we really care about," he explains.  "We've traveled the world as a family.  We've traveled the world individually.  We've seen the best, and in some cases the worst, cases the world can throw at you during vacations, and combine that with our detail and our desire to express ourselves.  It was a perfect marriage from the get-go."

Up next for Agassi: the graciously kind 36-year-old just teamed up with Exclusive Resorts LLC, a time-share company headed by AOL co-founder Steve Case to develop luxury resort communities, beginning in Costa Rica (memberships for Exclusive Resorts costs between $235,000 and $450,000 a year).  "For me, the strongest connecting point I've had over the past 21 years was being able to affect people for a few hours when they came to watch me play tennis, and now I feel like I have a platform to get into a world that can affect people's lives for a much longer period of time and on a much more personal basis."

But will this be a flop or a huge success?  Celebrities haven't had the best luck in land grabbing ventures.  For instance, in June, George Clooney sold his interest in a failed $3 billion condo-casino project in Las Vegas.  The project fell apart financially before it ever really began.  Clooney donated the profits from the sale to the African Debt Relief Project.

I will say that after chatting with Agassi, it's clear he and his wife are fully committed to the project for a celebrity couple.  They're involved with everything from the family activity offerings to the design of the rooms to the lobby decorations.  "We have poured in tireless efforts to make sure that the resort reflects who we are and offer an experience we want people to have," he explains. 

I must say, though, that I'm ambivalent about the Aggasi-Graf real estate firm.  One the one hand, I love Agassi.  I always have, and after talking with him, I probably always will.  He's awesome.  He's smart, generous, philanthropic, and just downright cool, so I hope this works out for him.  But on the other hand, why not create a legacy geared towards developing housing for under-privileged folks, not super-rich folks? But, in his defense, he has dolled out millions to his Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised more than $70 million for at-risk kids in Las Vegas, his hometown, including building a charter school for disadvantaged youths.  And that, much more than upscale resorts, will definitely make an impact on society. 

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