THE TRUSTED GUIDE FOR GOLF, PRIVATE CLUB & ACTIVE-ADULT/VACATION-HOME COMMUNITIES
Scott Kauffman's Luxury Golf & Resort Living Inc. Network
The Leading Business Journal for Master-Planned Golf, Private Club & Active-Adult/Vacation Home Communities
Kauffman's Resort Living Inc. - March 2018 Newsletter
By Scott Kauffman, Chief Content Officer
March 2, 2018 - Volume 1, No. 1
Red Ledges Registers Record 2017 Sales
Red Ledges is yet another golf and private club community fully recovered from the Great Recession. Indeed, the Heber Valley, Utah, private golf and resort-style community recorded its best year ever for sales in 2017, closing more than $60 million in transactions, a 30 percent increase from 2016.
Located less than an hour from Salt Lake City and minutes from famed resort destination Park City, Red Ledges actually established numerous sales records in 2017.
Tallying up the closings of homes, homesites, club cabins, cottages and villas across the 2,000-acre community, Red Ledges sold 115 properties with a total value of almost $64 million – the highest dollar sales total in Red Ledges’ 10-year history. That total represents a 30% increase over 2016 – which was the previous record year!
And another Red Ledges record was broken in 2017 when a home on Explorer Peak Drive sold more for more than $3 million. Not only is that the highest price ever paid in the community, but the full-price offer came after the home had been listed by Red Ledges Realty for less than one week.
Helping the Red Ledges sales story was last year’s opening of a number of new neighborhoods. Notable among them is Summit Loop, located at the current high point on the property and offering unmatched views of Wasatch Mountain State Park, the Heber Valley and Deer Valley. The approximately 50 available lots in Summit Loop average over an acre in size, and range in price from $400,000 to $750,000.
Another record for the community: as 2018 began, more than 100 homes were either under construction or in the design and approval stages. The community debuted a new website in January 2018, with enhanced real estate search capabilities. To see available homes and properties, updated in real time, visit www.RedLedges.com/real-estate for the latest and most accurate listings.
Red Ledges was developed by Tony Burns and Nolan Archibald, long-time Fortune 500 CEOs with deep roots in the region. The vision and dedication of the Burns and Archibald families allowed Red Ledges to persevere through last decade’s real estate downturn; their story (as chronicled in celebration of the community’s 10th anniversary in 2017) can be viewed at www.RedLedges.com/about-red-ledges/.
Ritz-Carlton Coming to St. Kitts
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. announced Feb. 13 it signed a management agreement with The Liamuiga Corporation to open a Ritz-Carlton resort in St. Kitts. Expected to open in 2021, this represents the luxury hotelier to this Eastern Caribbean Island for the first time.
The natural beauty of St. Kitts attracts travelers from every corner of the world. Steeped in history, this destination, which is part of the Leeward Island chain of the Lesser Antilles, is treasured for its breathtaking mountainous terrain, rain forests and expansive beaches.
“We are excited to bring The Ritz-Carlton brand to the stunning island of St. Kitts and are happy to have found the right opportunity to do so,” said Lisa Holladay, Global Brand Leader for The Ritz-Carlton. “This collaboration will help meet the increased demand for luxury travel offerings on St. Kitts and we look forward to welcoming guests to experience The Ritz-Carlton’s legendary service set against such a breathtaking backdrop.”
The Ritz-Carlton resort, which will include 125 suites plus 25 branded villas and residences, will be located on the picturesque Southeast Peninsula of the island facing the Caribbean Sea. From this location there is easy access to the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brimstone Hill, downtown Basseterre and the local beaches of both leeward and windward sides of the Caribbean Sea. The resort will offer a wide range of amenities including a luxury spa, several swimming pools set within the lush tropical landscape, and spectacular indoor and outdoor dining facilities and meeting spaces.
“We are delighted to see this first step in what will be a major project on the Southeast Peninsula of the island,” said The Honorable Lindsay Fitz-Patrick Grant, minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce for St. Kitts. “We have maintained our focus on enhancing our tourism offerings and we are committed to ensuring sustainable investment and employment in St. Kitts. I am elated that we have such an eminent group working together on this project in what is surely going to be one of the best resorts in the Caribbean.”
The Ritz-Carlton resort will be the anchor of a larger development project led by The Liamuiga Corporation in association with Jim Wrightsman, Principal of the development management firm The JSW|Group. The exciting multi-phased project is situated on a stunningly picturesque 254-acre site fronting two sides of the Caribbean Sea. The project design team includes talented local professionals and consultants and an award-winning collaboration of the Coleman Partners Architects, Three Architecture Inc. and Marzipan Interior Design.
The Ritz-Carlton resort is estimated to create 300 jobs on the island during construction, with a further expected 250 jobs once the resort is operational. “We are delighted to be working with the government of St. Kitts and we are excited to help bring the iconic Ritz-Carlton brand to this exclusive destination,” said William Anderson, Managing Director of The Liamuiga Corporation.
While much of America struggled during the last financial crisis, Texas grew in greater economic stature on a number of levels. Fueled by a thriving job market, one strong growth area was real estate development.
Texans have always had a strong affinity to golf so it’s no surprise real estate communities, resorts and private clubs feature golf as a central component. Two top leisure properties in Texas are 72-hole Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas Hill Country and TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas, home to the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship.
On the private club front, the “Big D” features a collection of renowned golf clubs, including Brook Hollow Country Club, Dallas National and Preston Trail Golf Club, where initiation fees start at $125,000. Following is a handful of golf and resort-style communities leading the Lone Star State’s leisure real estate sector.
Vaquero Club, Westlake, Texas
When it comes to country club living, this Dallas-area private club is as luxurious as they come. Originally developed by Discovery Land Company, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company known for creating such elite clubs as Estancia in Scottsdale, Ariz. the Madison Club in La Quinta, Calif., and Kukio on the Big Island of Hawaii, Vaquero Club is now member-owned and fresh off an extensive $2.8 million renovation to its Tom Fazio-designed golf course.
According to club executives, part of the motivation behind the project was to enhance real estate vistas and create a more core-golf experience. A perfect example of this took place on the club’s drivable par-4 fourth hole, where new tee boxes were added, as well as on nine other holes.
This means resident members inside Vaquero’s stately manors have even more beautiful views to enjoy. Of an estimated dozen listings by the Jeff Watson Group of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, Vaquero’s most affordable home is currently listed at $1.295 million for a 4-bedroom, 4 1/2 –bath residence and it goes up to $5.995 million for a 5-bedroom estate on 3.8 acres featuring a 5-car garage and wine cellar with 1,500-bottle capacity.
The Vaquero Club consists of 385 equity memberships with an initiation fee approaching $200,000. Besides world-class golf, the club also offers a family-friendly Fish Camp, wine programs and other member amenities and services.
Cordillera Ranch, Boerne, Texas
Located 30 minutes northwest of San Antonio, Cordillera Ranch is a debt-free 8,700-acre master-planned residential community in the Texas Hill Country. The family-owned and operated development is not short on activities, considering residents of the gated community can join The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch that feature seven resort-style clubs in one location: The Golf Club, The Social Club, The Tennis and Swim Club, The Equestrian Club, The Rod and Gun Club, The Spa and Athletic Club and The River Club.
Opened in 2007, the community’s Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course has consistently been ranked among the best in Texas, most recently placing fifth on the Dallas Morning News’ annual poll. Its par-3 16th has claimed the No. 1 spot as “Most Beautiful Hole” by the same publication for the past five years.
Among the community’s newest real estate offerings are golf course frontage lots, villas and an entirely new section aimed at young families. Overall, Cordillera Ranch boasts ¼-acre villa homes, valley-view and Guadalupe River-front homes, hilltop home sites and 1-to-10-acre estate residences.
According to the developer, 2014 was a banner year in both real estate and membership sales. For instance, Cordillera Ranch sold 33 homes at an average of $886,000 and total lot sales increased by 32 percent.
Trending in 2015: 46 new homes are under construction totaling more than $60 million in new starts – easily the highest total of any upscale community in the San Antonio area, according to the developer. Another 39 homes are in the architectural review approval process – a 65 percent increase over 2013.
Since its inception in 1997, more than 1,200 lots have been sold and approximately 700 homes have been completed. At final build-out, this low-density Hill Country community will total approximately 2,500 homes and preserve approximately 80 percent of the land in its natural vegetation. More than 70 new members were added in 2014, bucking the national trend of private club membership attrition.
“We’re excited and humbled to be a leader in the luxury lifestyle category,” says Charlie Hill, Vice President of Development at Cordillera Ranch. “With the economy thriving and the San Antonio area continuing to prosper, we expect the upward trend in real estate sales to continue in 2015.”
Cordillera Ranch credits much of its growth to being in the highly acclaimed Boerne School District, which is regarded as one of the best in Texas and boasts schools ranked in numerous national-best lists. The community is also benefitting from being in the prosperous Eagle Ford Shale. While other oil-rich areas have struggled with the drop in oil prices, the Eagle Ford Shale has continued to produce. That has attracted oil and gas executives to come to the Texas Hill Country and settle down in communities like Cordillera Ranch.
Boot Ranch, Fredericksburg, Texas
Three years after being put up for sale, the once-bankrupt Boot Ranch community has kicked back into high sales gear. This posh 2,051-acre master-planned golf community in Texas Hill Country’s Gillespie County started selling luxury lots in 2005 and opened a golf course designed by PGA Tour star Hal Sutton in 2006.
But sales were sluggish as the real estate market started to collapse worldwide and Lehman Brothers eventually foreclosed on the property in 2010. Then, the Municipal Police Employees Retirement System of Louisiana, one of Sutton’s original backers and a past partner on the project, sued a number of Boot Ranch partnerships and corporations, putting the project under further stress.
With all of these financial and legal troubles behind them, Boot Ranch is now able to focus on a revitalized real estate market and the renewed life is paying off for this private golf and family community near the popular town of Fredericksburg.
Case in point is Boot Ranch is coming off an eight-year record high for home and property sales, highlighted last year by $13.781 million in year-to-date sales through Sept. 30. Of the $13.781 million in sales, $9.057 million came from estate home sites; another $1.524 million was from Overlook Cabin home sites and $2.825 million were sales of fractional shares of the club’s Sunday Houses.
Overall, Boot Ranch sold 135 lots last year and had 16 homes completed with another 20 under construction or in the planning stages. Boot Ranch real estate options range from fractional ownership shares of 4,500-square-foot Sunday Houses to large Overlook Cabins priced from the $800,000s to estate home sites from $300,000 to $2.5 million for 2-18 acres.
"The booming demand for luxury ranch living is a byproduct of the successful Texas economy, particularly the energy business," says Sean Gioffre, Boot Ranch director of marketing and sales. "The advent of hydraulic fracturing and the achievements of prized shale formations, like the Eagle Ford, Permian and Bakken, have pushed oil and gas production to record highs. With low interest rates, many people are looking to second homes as a hedge against inflation and as a tangible asset in which to put their money."
Five miles north of the historic town of Fredericksburg, Boot Ranch is a master-planned retreat featuring one of the rare Sutton-designed courses, and a 34-acre practice park comprised of a short game range and executive par-three course. Other amenities at Boot Ranch include access to the 55,000-square-foot Clubhouse Village, casual and fine dining, a fully-stocked wine cellar, golf shop, ReStore Spa & Fitness Center, the 4.5-acre Ranch Club with pavilion, pools, tennis and sports courts, 10 member/guest lodge suites, a trap and skeet range overlooking Longhorn Lake, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and fishing.
Construction is under way on a fishing pier and comfort station near Boot Ranch's signature tenth hole on the golf course.
"We call Boot Ranch the 'American Dream Texas Style,’” says co-director of marketing and sales Andrew Ball. “The motivation for buyers seems to be for recreational property – somewhere where owners can golf, fish, dine, swim, relax and generally enjoy the Texas outdoors. Many people say they just want to get their kids and grandkids out of the city, even if for only a few days or weeks at a time."
Traditions Club and Community, Bryan, TX
This new upscale golf and country club development gives Texas A&M loyalists something else to brag about in Aggieland. Located less than 10 minutes from 10 minutes from a bustling college town and burgeoning health and research center, it’s no surprise why this is shaping up to be another successful Texas real estate project.
Traditions Club and Community is the private golf and residential community in “Aggieland” and home to the Texas A&M men’s and women’s golf teams. Located in Bryan-College Station, the club rests in the shadow of the university and in the heart of The Research Valley’s “One Health Plus Biocorridor.”
From custom-garden homes to large estate lots, Traditions Club has a wide range of developments that cater to many buyers. Future plans to attract even more residents call for a multi-use retail, entertainment and health/fitness complex to be built within the neighboring Biocorridor area that would mirror one of the top suburbs in Houston, The Woodlands.
Traditions’ tournament-caliber, Jack Nicklaus/Jack Nicklaus II-designed golf course hosts many high-profile junior, collegiate and amateur events. Other amenities include a 21,000-square foot, four-building clubhouse with men’s and women’s locker rooms; 25-meter junior Olympic lap and sport-leisure pools; family swim center with beach-like wading pool; and fully-equipped fitness center.
Casual fare is offered at the Poole Grille and fine dining at the clubhouse, home to an impressive wine cellar. Overnight accommodations are available in two-, three- and four-bedroom cottages and casitas located just walking distance from all the club’s amenities.
Overlooking stately oak trees, gently rolling terrain and the lush green fairways of the golf course, the Traditions Club and Community is an enclave of custom estates, Game Day Cottages, cozy casitas, villas, garden homes and luxurious condominiums. Home sites range from .25 acres up to an acre, with homes spanning 1,800 to 8,000 square feet.
The newest phase being marketed is the Blue Belle home sites, a collection of 34 lots designed for two and three-bedroom custom homes. Overlooking a heavily wooded and rolling landscape in a peaceful and quiet enclave, the home sites encompass up to one-third of an acre and are priced with the home. The residences range from 2,200 to 3,500 square-feet and start in the low $400,000s.
Blue Belle residents can enjoy the outdoors without having to worry about extensive home and yard maintenance. Creative landscaped patios open up to peaceful settings that exemplify private community living. A multi-use trail meandering around a small lake is perfect for short walks and hikes
Interiors exude Texas Hill County elegance, with hardwood flooring, granite countertops, gourmet kitchens, high ceilings and open living area. The floor plans are highly personalized, providing a rich, distinguished selection of upscale finishes and features.
“Real estate sales in vibrant college towns like Bryan/College Station continue to thrive as master-planned communities like Traditions build to suit an array of buyers,” says Spencer Clements, Traditions Club Principal. “Empty-nesters or those seeking a second home with minimal maintenance will find Blue Belle offers the square-footages, relaxing setting and customized features catering to their needs and lifestyle.”
Tribute, The Colony, Texas
The Tribute, a Matthews Southwest, Wynne/Jackson master-planned community on the shores of Lake Lewisville, is one of the more ambitious golf and country club developments in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Located just 23 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the Tribute is a 36-hbole upscale semi-private facility whose original plans call for 1,150 single-family homes, 160 golf villas, 183 townhomes, and 700 European condominium units.
The community’s newest course, Old American Golf Club, opened in the summer of 2009 and was designed by Tripp Davis and PGA Tour player and native son Justin Leonard. When Old American opened (it was originally called the New Course), the developers offered premium lake-view, golf course-fronting lots in the Balmerino Village.
This initial phase of lots, located adjacent to the No. 5 green and the No. 6 tee box featured unobstructed views of Lake Lewisville and ranged in price from $135,000 to $275,000 for little more than 1/3 of an acre.
What makes the Tribute so unique it its Scottish links-inspired setting. For instance, the Tribute’s namesake layout, or “Old Course” as it’s often called, is patterned after the legendary courses of Scotland and the Open Championship what with its wind-swept dunes and fescue grasses.
The first and 18th holes share the same broad fairway, just the Old Course at St. Andrews, and you’ll also find a likeness of Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp hole and experience replica holes from Prestwick, Muirfield, Western Gailes and Royal Dornoch. For a special treat, make sure to stay in one of the overnight guest suites above the clubhouse that overlook the course.
The Tribute’s newest course pays homage to famed golf course architects such as Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast, many of whom came to the United States from Great Britain around the turn of the century.
According to an Old American spokesman, the new course currently has about 58 resident members of the club, which represents approximately 25 percent of the overall membership. Among the other amenities enjoyed by members are first-class amenity centers, pools, parks, playgrounds, on-site schools, hike-and-bike trails, landscaped canals and hundreds of acres of accessible open space reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.
If the early arrival of snow up north is any reminder, there’s a reason millions of American and Canadian “snowbirds” head south each year for the winter months. Indeed, the Sun Belt has never looked better as a leisure and vacation home destination.
At the very least, places like Florida and the Caribbean certainly look attractive as great locations to visit in the next month or two while much of America is still thawing out. Here’s a collection of sun-drenched resort-style communities I would recommend on everybody’s winter-to-do list.
Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas
One of the world’s most ambitious master-planned resort developments in years, the $3.5 billion Baha Mar gaming and golf resort, is scheduled to open March 27, 2015 along a beautiful 3,000-foot stretch of white sandy Bahamian beachfront.
Featuring more than 200 residential units and 2,200 guest rooms spread across four hotels – Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, Rosewood at Baha Mar, Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar and SLS LUX at Baha Mar – the upscale Baha Mar ushers in a new era of chic Caribbean living just 10 minutes from Nassau’s fully renovated and expanded international airport.
“Baha Mar will open all hotels along with most amenities on March 27,” said Baha Mar chief operating officer Paul V. Pusateri. “We are thrilled to welcome our first guests to the ‘New Riviera’ in time for the peak spring travel weeks.”
Besides Baha Mar’s four luxurious hotels, the development features the Caribbean’s largest casino, a 100,000-square-foot masterpiece with a full array of the latest slots and table games, an ESPA spa, numerous pools, beach experiences, restaurants and luxury shops.
The property is also the newest home to the Jack Nicklaus-designed TPC at Baha Mar, a championship golf course that is part of the PGA Tour’s elite Tournament Players Club or TPC Network.
“We are very proud that TPC at Baha Mar is the newest property in the PGA Tour’s prestigious TPC Network of resort and private golf courses,” said Baha Mar chairman/chief executive officer Sarkis Izmirlian, whose resort was built and funded in part with the Chinese government. “We’re committed to looking for the most extraordinary partners from around the world, whether it is at tee time or dinner time, to bring the best of the best to our guests at the new Bahamian Riviera.”
The addition of TPC at Baha Mar signifies the continued growth of the TPC brand, following the October 2014 opening of TPC Cartagena at Karibana, located in Caragena, Colombia. All of TPC’s 33 premier properties have hosted or been designed to host PGA Tour events.
“A dream starts great endeavors, but it is only a beginning,” said Baha Mar president Tom Dunlap about the resort’s opening date announcement. “Baha Mar’s vision will truly come to life once the first guests sleep in our hotels, dine at our restaurants, snorkel at our reef, lounge at our Cabana Club, play at our casino, dance in our clubs until dawn—and experience the true soul of The Bahamas with impeccable service and joyful hospitality. This dream has been years in the making, and on March 27, 2015, it will finally become a reality.”
For those seeking a permanent place in the Bahamian sun, Baha Mar offers a variety of residential real estate opportunities. Among the choices are 92 Rosewood Residences at Baha Mar priced from $1.9 million to $12 million for 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom homes as large as 6,071 square feet with terraces offering unmatched views of the Caribbean Sea.
SLS LUX at Baha Mar features an additional 107 distinctive 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom residences priced from $1.2 million for homes ranging in size from 829 square feet to nearly 3,000 square feet, and Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar is selling 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom residences priced from $1.1 million to $12 million for homes as large as 2,583 square feet.
Royal Isabella, Puerto Rico
Another compelling Caribbean development is Royal Isabela, an exclusive oceanfront golf and country club situated within the private Costa Isabela community in the municipality of Isabela. Costa Isabela encompasses some 1,800 pristine acres, including 3.5 miles of Atlantic oceanfront and nearly five miles of Guajataca River basin.
Rich with scenic beauty, diversity of terrain and natural resources, Royal Isabella boasts an ideal Caribbean climate just 10 miles from Rafael Hernández Airport in Aquadilla and 72 miles from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan.
Among the first-class amenities at Royal Isabella: a spectacular oceanfront 18-hole golf course designed by David W. Pfaff, private beach access, hiking/biking trails and La Casa, which offers fine dining and twenty casita accommodations. An organic farm, garden and nursery are also located on property to support farm-to-table restaurant initiatives and experiences.
What’s great about Royal Isabela is it truly represents one of the epic Caribbean locations, yet, it’s officially part of the United States. Set on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this private 426-acre golf resort community in northwestern Puerto Rico is designed with the utmost respect for the land, including large tracts of green space and beach acreage set aside for the enjoyment of members and guests, adherence to “dark-sky” initiative guidelines and other sustainable practices.
More importantly, Royal Isabella’s low-density master plan calls for only 26 one-acre-plus home sites starting at $2 million and a limited number of Fairway Villas that have 3,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space and private pools. The Spanish Colonial-inspired
Fairway Villas are harmoniously placed to maximize the property’s awe-inspiring views of the golf course, ocean and rugged Royal Isabella cliffs that rise 150-350 feet above sea level.
Old Palm, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
With temperatures hovering in the single digits in many places, Florida’s Palm Beaches couldn’t be a better place to be right now. And one of the more luxurious private golf and country club developments is Old Palm.
At Old Palm, access to an unparalleled private golf club lifestyle is clearly the driving force behind another year of record-breaking home and lot sales, according to director of sales Connie McGinnis. For instance, after experiencing record-breaking 2013 with 41 transactions for more than $91 million, doubling Old Palm’s 2012 results, Old Palm’s new Clarion Partners investment group was on target to exceed $100 million in home and lot sales for 2014 thanks to four new neighborhoods of homes being built in the $1.3 million to $15 million-plus range.
“Unfortunately, we only have 55 homes left (to sell),” says McGinnis, who has worked at Old Palm dating back to the original developer and owner, WCI Communities. “I wish we had another 300.”
One area McGinnis would love to have more inventory is the Custom Estates neighborhood highlighted by 1-acre home sites. As one of the few private golf club communities in South Florida offering one-acre home sites, Custom Estate buyers have the rare opportunity to build the 7,000-to-20,000 square-foot home of their dreams.
“Old Palm is one of the precious few places in the Palm Beaches where there are home sites large enough to accommodate residences of this magnitude,” McGinnis adds. “Whatever the owner has in mind, no matter how imaginative or extravagant, it can be done at Old Palm.”
Several PGA Tour stars have bought into this Old Palm lifestyle, including English golfer Lee Westwood. Westwood and his family recently moved into a 10,000 square-foot house on the 14th fairway. Fellow PGA Tour players from South Africa, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 Open champ Louis Oosthuizen, are also new owners of Custom Estates property.
Westwood, Schwartzel and Oosthuizen have each cited the Custom Estates’ spacious home sites and views as primary reasons for selecting the exclusive neighborhood. Lots provide the size needed to build a home to meet their needs and each site backs up to nature preserves, which ensure privacy, or overlook the Raymond Floyd-designed golf course.
Old Palm Golf Club is one of the premier private club communities in Florida with new estate homes ranging from $1.2 to more than $15 million. Situated in the heart of the community is a clubhouse with formal and informal dining, full-time concierge and attentive staff, fitness center and spa, resort-style pool with private cabanas, casitas for overnight guest accommodations, and other amenities.
Ideally located in the heart of Palm Beach Gardens, Old Palm is close to an abundance of shopping, dining, entertainment and beaches. Palm Beach International Airport and North County General Aviation Airport (for private jets) are only minutes away. Old Palm is being developed by Clarion Partners, a leading real estate investment firm with over $25 billion in assets under management.
Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Florida
The Florida Keys have long been popularized as a great place to escape. Especially in the winter.
Ocean Reef Club, a private member-owned resort-style community on the northernmost tip of Key Largo, officially describes itself as having a “unique way of life.” Indeed, any place with its own 4,456-foot lighted airstrip, 175-slip marina, 144-room oceanfront inn, 36 holes of championship golf, medical center and many more world-class amenities, is a place all too itself.
To be sure, Ocean Reef is a far cry from 1945, when the exclusive community started out as a modest fishing camp and 26-room lodge. What makes family-friendly Ocean Reef Club as compelling as ever, however, is the club’s ongoing success in growing its membership base and real estate sales volume.
At a time when many private club communities were struggling to find firm footing in a fragile real estate market, Ocean Reef was not only surviving, but thriving.
For instance, last December, the Marina Inn property at Ocean Reef was sold for $20 million in one of the largest commercial real estate transactions at the exclusive club. George Pino, president of State Street Realty, and William Dickinson, broker associate at Ocean Reef Club Real Estate Company, represented the buyer, Marina Inn Land. Russell Post Sotheby’s International Realty represented the seller.
According to the dealmakers, the buyer plans to redevelop the Marina Inn site with 30 new luxury condo units. The three-acre property includes 750 feet of waterfront and currently consists of eight large two-bedroom rental properties.
Nestled on 2,500 secluded acres, Ocean Reef is comprised of approximately 1,700 waterfront estates, private homes, condominiums and boat slips with one realtor’s listings starting at $750,000 for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condominium home to $15 million for a 1.25-acre oceanfront tear-down lot.
What makes the proposed new Marina condos so promising is Ocean Reef is one of the few marinas in the country able to accommodate mega-yachts up to 165 feet in length, while also offering the privacy and security of a private club. Back in 2009, Post sold one of the few mega-yacht slips for $4 million, doubling the previous high paid for a similar Ocean Reef slip.
Ideally located near the Gulf Stream and North America’s only living coral reef, the club’s surrounding waters offer superior deep-sea, reef, flats and back-country fishing, in addition to great diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, and windsurfing, with easy access to the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Simply put, Ocean Reef is a yachtsman’s paradise, which is one reason Post “dropped anchor permanently” at Ocean Reef in 1973 and later served as the club’s president and president/ director of the Ocean Reef Community Association from 1980-1992.
Since its founding in 1946, Ocean Reef Club has attracted a long and illustrious list of members who appreciate the club’s family atmosphere rich with time-honored traditions such as children being able to get their “golf cart license” at age 12 or the New Year’s Eve party where hundreds of revelers celebrate until the wee hours under the beachside fireworks.
Ocean Reef’s unique lifestyle sets it apart from other private clubs. The quality of life is enhanced by all the amenities of a small, but sophisticated town, including its modern medical center with doctors on call 24 hours a day, a public safety department, bank, grocery market, and a community center with a library and theater. Members and guests never have to leave, and with 24-hour security, they never have to worry either.
As Post puts it, “There is nowhere else in the world that offers the Ocean Reef lifestyle.”
Thistle Golf Club & Estates, Sunset Beach, N.C.
Sunsets and the beach. A combination many snow-bound North Americans would gladly take right now given the opportunity.
At Thistle Golf Club & Estates, members and residents get to live with this sunny equation every day because it comes with the address. Located just across the state line from Myrtle Beach, S.C., this upscale semi-private golf and country club community is one of the more unique properties situated along the highly regarded Grand Strand.
This is evident the moment you get to the development’s main mahogany guard shack. After passing thru front entrance, you drive up a scenic, tree-lined road lined with cobblestone insets and wonderful wildflowers and other colorful landscaping, including purplish plume that grows on Scottish hillsides from which the club - and the original Thistle Golf Club in Scotland - takes its name.
After driving by 27 beautifully groomed and designed golf holes, the main road winds up at the club’s striking 15,000-square-foot Scottish castle-like clubhouse. Inside, you find yourself immersed in Old World charm, whether it be the imported mahogany counters inside the pro shop or pub that date to 19th century England to the many historic golf artifacts and seven fireplaces.
“It’s not only a round of golf, it’s an experience,” says general manager Jamie Roderick. “From the moment you drive onto the property and enter the clubhouse, you get this whole initial, ‘wow.’ And then you get out to the golf course and it’s even more amazing.”
If it’s possible, Thistle Golf Club has gotten better, now that the club’s new owners and operators, developer Bill Haberman and partners from Integrity Golf Company, have infused the property with newfound capital and vision. For example, the new owners built a new $1 million amenity center that is scheduled to open within the next couple months and completed some necessary infrastructure around the development.
The 3,800-square-foot recreational facility features an outdoor pool and kitchen area, spa, hot tubs, fitness center and exercise room.
Meanwhile, the low-density 409-acre development is celebrating a new round of real estate releases along with the soon-to-be opening Southern Living Custom Builder Program Showcase Home. This 3,937-square-foot home is being built by Whitney Blair Custom Homes as part of the Easter 2015 showcase sponsored by Southern Living magazine.
According to Haberman, Thistle only calls for 143 estate lots ranging in price from $125,000 to $300,000. Custom homes range from the mid-$400,000s to $1 million.
When Captain James Cook was credited with discovering Hawaii in 1778, the British explorer landed on what is considered one of the most remote land masses in the world. Situated near the center of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is a long 2,390 miles west of California and 3,850 miles east of Japan.
Remote status notwithstanding, visitors continue to flock to this dreamy Pacific Ocean paradise. For full disclosure, my family discovered Hawaii in 1977 and we’ve been residents ever since.
Personal connections notwithstanding, whether it’s the lovely year-round weather, lush tropical settings, pleasant Polynesian culture or world-class beaches and resorts, the Islands offer a certain allure that resonates on many levels to the 8.2 million tourists that visited last year.
Unbeknownst to many visitors is the Hawaiian archipelago actually comprises 132 islands, reefs and shoals extending 1,523 miles from Kure Atoll in the north to Nihoa in the south.
Overall the islands cover 6,423 square miles. Of course, Hawaii has eight main islands that make up more than 99 percent of the state’s total land area. In order of size: Hawaii, or the Big Island as it’s commonly called, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau and Kahoolawe.
Of the six main islands tourists typically visit (Niihau is privately owned and Kahoolawe is set aside as state land and not accessible to the public), Oahu is where all the action is. The island’s nickname is the “Gathering Place” and with good reason considering it’s home to more than 70 percent of Hawaii’s 1.36 million people – my family included.
Indeed, Oahu is the bustling “big-city’ main island, known for its signature city, Honolulu, and the world-renowned Waikiki Beach and its 2-mile-long stretch of high-end shops, beautiful beaches and top-rated resort and restaurants. But Oahu also is home to historic Pearl Harbor, famous North Shore surfing spots such as Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach and the upscale kickback community of Kailua, where President Obama and his family stays on vacation in a rented beachfront home.
Here’s an itinerary I’d recommend to anybody visiting my home island of Oahu:
Turtle Bay Resort, Kahuku
I love peninsulas. I live on one in Florida. And I had the pleasure to recently enjoy one of the most beautiful peninsulas on the planet here on Oahu’s fabled North Shore.
Few resorts can claim 100 percent of their guest rooms, spa treatment rooms, fitness room bikes, restaurants and ballrooms have an ocean view. Then again, how many resorts are built on a peninsula at the northernmost tip of an island at the last break along a famous stretch of surfing coastline?
Turtle Bay Resort might be the only one that fits that bill. Located on a pristine 840-acre stretch of raw one-time Kahuku sugar plantation land, Turtle Bay features five miles of unspoiled beach and every one of the resort’s 410 rooms and 42 beach cottages have unobstructed views of the Pacific from the ocean’s edge.
This rare beauty is what initially attracted Del Webb in 1972 to build a resort community in what was then a sleepy sugar cane mill town. More than 40 years later, the place is even sweeter thanks to a fresh $30 million renovation by the new owners and the attentive care of new asset manager Replay Resorts.
The new infusion of capital improvements, about a decade after previous owners invested $60 million into the property, is an important milestone for Turtle Bay as it continues an extensive re-branding campaign focusing on creating “authentic, once-in-a-lifetime experiences found only on the North Shore,” according to Replay Resorts.
Situated at the start of the mecca of surf, or the “7-mile miracle,” Turtle Bay is positioning itself as the epicenter of health, wellness and adventure. If you want to discover another side of Oahu, or Hawaii for that matter, this is it.
Whether it’s horseback riding, playing 36 holes of golf designed by Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio that has played host to numerous Senior PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events, taking a helicopter ride, hiking or ending water sports, Turtle Bay has it all in a unrefined laidback sophisticated setting.
And the best part is all 410 main building guest rooms and hallways have been upgraded and completely modeled and the restaurant and bar scene has been greatly enhanced with North Shore Kula Grille and Pa’akai restaurants and Surfer, The Bar – a collaboration between Turtle Bay and Surfer magazine.
For those seeking a private residence inside the unmanned gates of the main resort (Replay decided to do away with the un-Hawaiian like gated resort feel), Kuilima Estates along the first hole of the Fazio Course has several fee-simple 1-bedroom condos built in 1973 for sale as high as $396,000. Meanwhile, a stunning 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2,549-square-foot ground-floor townhome with direct oceanfront access is listed at $2.9 million.
Kahala Hotel & Resort, Honolulu
This resort is one of Hawaii’s most prestigious vacation properties, situated around the corner from iconic Diamond Head Crater on the end of the exclusive and secluded Kahala Avenue. Set on an 800-foot stretch of sugary white sand beach just ten minutes from the world-class shopping and entertainment district of Waikiki, this legendary Hawaiian hideaway in the plush Kahala district is a favorite with heads of state, honeymooners, celebrities and corporate executives.
The luxurious oceanfront resort, fresh off a $52 million renovation project on its rooms, signature suites and public areas in 2009, features 338 rooms and suites, romantic wedding venues, five stylish restaurants, world-class spa, seaside pool and lush landscaped dolphin lagoons.
Bordering the property is famous Waialae Country Club, which plays host to the PGA Tour every year, and Honolulu International Airport is a quick and convenient 13 miles away via the H-1 freeway.
Since its opening in 1964, The Kahala has hosted for accommodations or held events for every American President since Lyndon Baines Johnson, legions of foreign royalty and dignitaries, a plethora of cinema and rock stars, and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Just minutes away from the resort is Kahala Mall and nearby is the ocean-side “Shangri La” estate of famed heiress Doris Duke with its collection of Islamic art and artifacts, now under the direction of the Honolulu Museum of Art. Just east of The Kahala are snorkeling the famous snorkeling and surfing spots of Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach.
For those seeking a more permanent residency in this ritzy section of Oahu, publicly traded Alexander & Baldwin has been helping drive a resurgence in top-dollar Kahala real estate properties. For instance, the large landowner/developer reported in its first quarter earnings report May 7 that it was scheduled to close on the sale of two Kahala Avenue oceanfront properties formerly owned by controversial Japanese businessman Genshiro Kawamoto
The two sales would bring the total Kahala Avenue property purchases to 20 for a total revenue of about $120 million. Local experts value the properties at $200 million.
Of the remaining 10 properties left in the former Kawamoto portfolio, four, which comprise of nearly 70 percent of the portfolio’s remaining saleable square footage, are oceanfront parcels, A&B said.
In its 2014 annual report released in March, A&B said it sold about half of the Kahala properties it acquired from Kawamoto in 2013. Alexander & Baldwin had purchased the 30 “Estates of Kahala” properties for about $128 million. As of Dec. 31, sales of the properties had generated a total of $82.5 million, the company reported.
Last November, A&B sold the beachfront property once owned by Hawaii philanthropist and Pacific Construction Company co-founder Cecily Johnston for $19.4 million. Once a gorgeous estate that hosted celebrities, presidents and heads of state, Kawamoto demolished the home and let the 63,000-square-foot parcels deteriorate.
According to the Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties team that brokered the sale, it was Oahu’s highest-priced land sale since 2006. The wealthy new Kahala property owners buying up these A&B lots are already starting to put new life into the parcels, pumping millions of dollars into construction and landscaping. They include a professional poker player, South Korea’s wealthiest person, a car-racing money manager from Michigan and an Australian billionaire, according to Pacific Business News.
New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, Honolulu
For a more laidback, peaceful boutique experience, this local institution never disappoints. Situated at the base of Diamond Head, across from Kapiolani Park and at the far eastern edge of busy Waikiki, Kaimana is a taste of old Hawaii in a stunning setting.
Kaimana opened in the late 1940s on property that once belonged to the McInerny family of traders. In 1964, it changed hands and the 9-story building underwent major renovations, reopening with 156 rooms, including a collection of must-stay family suites, overlooking one of the most popular local hangouts, Sans Souci Beach.
Kaimana is so popular, generations of families have been frequenting the property for decades, often times staying weeks and months on end. One of the most peaceful settings in all of Honolulu is Kaimana’s Hau Tree Lanai, where locals, celebrities and repeat tourists come for the best breakfast atmosphere in town.
The popular restaurant is named after the massive late 19th-century Hau Tree or Hawaiian Banyan Tree that sits in the middle of the open-air beachfront “lanai,” and once provided shade for Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson in his post “Treasure Island” days. Today, it’s a place that serves the perfect 10 of a breakfast: fresh papaya with lime, eggs benedict and Kona coffee as the Hawaiian sun rises over the glistening blue Pacific waters and surfers catch the early morning waves.
Ko Olina Resort, Kapolei
As you head back into “town,” or the hub of Honolulu, a booming part of Oahu on the leeward dry coast is this 642-acre master-planned vacation and residential community. Just 17 miles northwest of Honolulu, Ko Olina features two miles of coastal frontage, including three natural and four man-made lagoons and a string of world-class resort accommodations.
Among the resort community’s options are a new Four Seasons Resort Oahu set to debut next year, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (see more below), Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club and other timeshare units, condominiums and villa homes.
Some of the resort’s main amenities are Ko Olina Golf Club and Ko Olina Marina, as well as shopping and dining at Ko Olina Station and Ko Olina Center. Ko Olina Golf Club is an 18-hole layout designed by Ted Robinson that annually plays host to the LPGA Tour. The club also is home to Ko Olina Golf Academy, and Roy's Ko Olina restaurant, created by Hawaiian fusion cuisine master and James Beard Award winning chef Roy Yamaguchi,
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina
Now for the first time ever, you can own a piece of an island paradise that truly embraces the beauty and ‘Aloha Spirit of Hawaii’ with the family-oriented ‘Magic of Disney’. And it can be done at a remarkably affordable way courtesy of Disney Vacation Club, which comprises half of the 800-unit resort.
Indeed, this small timeshare piece of paradise is good through the year 2062 and starts at approximately $30,000 for a peak-season week in an ocean-view studio.
Aulani sits on a pristine 21-acre oceanfront parcel, surrounded by the majestic Waianae Mountains, the Pacific Ocean and 1 of 4 peaceful man-made lagoons perfect for swimmers, snorkelers and Hawaii’s scared Honu or Green Sea Turtle.
What makes highly acclaimed Aulani so special is the authenticity of the place. For instance, overall architectural and interior design elements are inspired by Hawaii’s rich history, culture and natural beauty, from touches of dramatic volcanic rock throughout the open-air lobby to various pools of water, lush tropical landscaping and the world-class 18,000 square-foot-spa.
In fact, this part of Oahu is so special that in true Disney story-telling fashion, Ko Olina actually dates back to King Kamehameha the Great and his favorite wife Queen Ka’ahumanu, who used to come to what is now Ko Olina for sacred retreats, rest and relaxation themselves.
"This resort hotel will give our guests another way to visit an exciting part of the world with a brand they trust," former Walt Disney Parks & Recreation chairman Jay Rasulo was quoted at the time Disney announced it was finalizing plans to purchase the 21 acres of oceanfront property. "In fact, Hawaii has been among our most requested Disney Vacation Club getaway locations beyond our theme parks. We are looking forward to building a special family resort that honors the cultural diversity of Hawaii and reflects the spirit of aloha that makes this location so unique."
Jeff Stone, President of The Resort Group and master developer of Ko Olina, was thrilled to have the Disney brand help bring greater awareness to his upstart growing community.
"Ko Olina means 'place of joy,' and I can't imagine a more perfect fit here than a Disney resort that will bring joy to people from around the world," Stone was quoted as saying. "For many years, it has been our vision to continue to expand Ko Olina as a premier vacation destination for families and business travelers, and this new Disney resort hotel is making that vision a wonderful reality."