Higher Calling

A Chicago couple fashions a classic apartment in the sky — an ambitious ode to the city’s architecture. 

By Alyson Pitare

Chicago’s skyline is a canvas of bold architectural statements, a portrait rendered in mile-high towers, historic beaux artsbuildings and modernist structures envisioned by the likes of Louis Sullivan and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It’s a citythat lives in the clouds and among dreams, where the world’s first skyscraper was ever conceived. It’s a city meant to be experienced from both within and from above.
One comes to fully understand this paradox from the vantage point of a glorious penthouse on the 87th floor ofTrump Tower, designed by Adrian Smith (the mastermind behind the world’s tallest structure, Burj Khalifa in Dubai). Framed by12-foot windows, the entire city of Chicago unfolds below, with unparalleled views to the north, east, south and west, glimpses ofthe Willis Tower, Aqua Tower and Lake Michigan’s seemingly never-ending stretch of blue.When Chezi Rafaeli, affiliated sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, first showed the 6,850-square-foot raw space to Tom and Michelle Gross in 2012…
 

Click here for the full story, as seen in the Fall 2016 issue of Homes & Estates.

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Unique Homes Visits Palmetto Bluff

On Location: Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina

By Camilla McLaughlin

When you arrive at a resort and one of the first things you receive is a book detailing the history of the land going back to 10,000 B.C., you know a one-of-a-kind experience is in store. That’s the case at Palmetto Bluff, a resort located in the middle of South Carolina’s Lowcountry on a parcel of land so large it’s one and a half times the size of Manhattan.
Here, two different stories converge. One involves conservation and sustainability under the watchful eye of Palmetto Bluff Conservancy and the stewardship of the director Jay Walea, who has a lifelong relationship with these 20,000 acres. On a recent visit, his lifelong passion for the land was obvious on trails winding through an ancient Maritime forests and some 20 different wildlife habitats.
The other story is the evolution of a new paradigm for resort development. Here, life revolves around several villages, existing and planned, each offering a little different lifestyle. The homes that appeared to have grown over time reflect local architecture. Judiciously placed throughout the resort and hidden behind gates are a number of private neighborhoods and custom homes. A new Montage Palmetto Bluff Inn and 13,000-square-foot spa recently opened along with 35 Montage Residences. Thoughtfully designed, these fully furnished, two-to-five bedroom single-family homes help make the best of every moment. Montage’s trusted service means leaving for a day — or the season — is as easy as locking the door.
The deep porches of our resort home overlooked a scenic pond; we spied kids fishing from an iconic bridge nearby. A network of waterways and 32 miles of river frontage means the resort is also a waterman’s paradise. A true sporting club, Palmetto Bluff offers activities ranging from shooting to equestrian to golf and racquet sports.
The best resorts are a state of mind; Palmetto Bluff’s begins on the four-mile approach under massive live oaks and magnolias draped with Spanish moss, and continues long after you leave.

Palmetto Bluff images courtesy Crescent Communities

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A Ski Hideaway at Whitetail Club in McCall, Idaho

FEATURING TURNKEY CABINS AND HOME SITES, WHITETAIL CLUB PROVIDES RESIDENTS WITH ABUNDANT AMENITIES

All photos courtesy Whitetail Club
Ski enthusiasts seeking a true hideaway — one not infiltrated by celebrity mega-mansions, coffee chains or trendy film festivals — will enjoy Whitetail Club in McCall, Idaho. Located just two hours north of Boise, in the heart of the region’s prized Salmon River Mountains, this intimate resort and real estate community is just a short distance away to some of the region’s best and most plentiful natural hot springs in the lower 48. Recently designated by National Geographic as one of the best hidden ski towns to visit in 2016, the resort is located five minutes from McCall Municipal Airport and a mere 100 miles from Boise Airport via one of the most remarkable 2.5-hour drives in the U.S. This mountainous hideaway is set on the southern glacial waters of Payette Lake and offers a retreat for meaningful experiences.
Closely located to the iconic lakefront resort, Shore Lodge, and The Cove, an award-winning McCall spa, this real estate community marries the best in rustic-modern living with the majesty of a mountain-based sanctuary — paying homage to a time when things were simpler, organic and genuine. Downhill trails are available nearby for skiing and snowboarding at Brundage Mountain (10 minute drive) and cross country trails are available around the resort. Back country skiing is also available in the areas surrounding Whitetail Club, with trails carved out naturally done by snowmobiles trekking the area.
Once settled, owners may take advantage of the coveted Whitetail Club membership that enhances each owner’s experience and provides members quintessential benefits, including a variety of active pursuits and indoor adventures that epitomize the vibrant way of life available in McCall and at Whitetail Club. Owners and members also have exclusive access to a variety of amenities, including an Andy North-designed Whitetail Club golf course and Fish and Swim Club, and programs that pay homage to the destination — suitable for any multigenerational explorer and traveler. A new lakefront clubhouse will debut of owners and members at the end of 2016.

McCall, Idaho is often compared to the Sun Valley of 20 to 30 years ago, when it was a small ski resort. Whitetail Club offers its guests amenities that simplify their lives during the holiday season — “hands-free” in that you don’t have to pull out your skis and load them into the car and do all the heavy lifting. Whitetail Club’s concierge does everything for you, waiting outside in a van with your personal skis all packed up where you and the family just have to jump in and head to Brundage Mountain.

Photos courtesy Whitetail Club

They also offer a Christmas tree hunting experience, where while you are scavenging the woods, lunch and s’mores are provided by a fire. After you pick out your tree, the Whitetail Club team brings it back to your home and sets it up for you.

Real Estate

Turnkey Cabins: Rustic charm meets contemporary style with the Clearwater turnkey cabins, designed exclusively by Whitetail Club. Features include stone and cedar exteriors and spacious floor plans. Owners have access to a consultation with Whitetail Club’s interior designer to select from five distinctive designer packages for a finished home that is “move-in ready.” Prices start at $995,000, featuring approximately 3,200 square feet, one-story, four bedrooms that include one room above the garage ideal for a game rooms, 4.5 baths and a central location with easy access to the Fish & Swim Club
Home Sites: Home sites at Whitetail Club start at $250,000 and satisfy any owner’s tastes with a variety of breathtaking views, whether it’s of the Salmon River Mountains, the Whitetail Club Golf Course or Payette Lake. Golf course sites offer picturesque vistas of the award-winning golf course, wooded seclusion and privacy as well as easy access to the Fish & Swim Club. The meadow home sites feature distant mountain vistas and tranquil views over verdant meadows and mountain home sites offer views of specimen trees, convenient access to hiking and biking trails and easy access to the mountaintop Yurt.

Whitetail Club Member Amenities

  • Access to the historic Shore Lodge Hotel, a 77-room resort with an award-winning spa, The Cove, featuring nature-based massages, body treatments, facials utilizing Eminence Organics skincare products and indoor/outdoor saltwater immersion pools lined with more than 30 tons of McCall granite boulders
  • Golf Clubhouse
  • Andy North-designed golf course
  • The Beach at Shore Lodge
  • Movie theater
  • Marina & Boating
  • Fish and Swim Club
  • Tennis
  • Fitness Center
  • Basketball
  • Kid’s Activities
  • Saltwater Pool
  • PLUS, a new lakefront clubhouse will debut in 2017

660 Migratory Ridge, McCall, ID

$2,749,500 | 4 Bedrooms | 6 Baths | 6,600 square feet | Built in 2005

To learn more, visit www.shorelodge.com or www.whitetailclub.com.

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Unique Properties: Westport, Connecticut

An Exemplary Elizabethan Tudor

Beachside, one of the largest estates on the Westport, Connecticut, shoreline, is listed for $32 million.
By Kirsten Niper

Originally known as the Cole-Hinkel-Taylor Estate, this circa 1911 Elizabethan Tudor mansion is nestled in the exclusive Westport, Connecticut, enclave of Greens Farms. Comprising three lots totaling 7.7 acres with 365 feet of water frontage that includes a beach, the grounds are just one of the $32 million listing’s standout amenities.
“This is a country estate in the grand manner with park-like lawns and exquisitely manicured grounds offering horticultural splendor and beautiful flowering gardens along with perennial and specimen plantings,” shares listing agent Victoria Fingelly, of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.
Through the wrought-iron gated entry, up the long, winding driveway and past native stone walls sits the 8,500-square-foot mansion. Recently renovated, the home retains the genteel ambiance of the early 20th century while blending seamlessly with sophisticated architectural and mechanical enhancements of modern life.
The three-level manse offers six bedrooms, seven full and three half baths, and, most stunning of all, unrivaled views of Long Island Sound and the Southport and Fairfield coastlines. Fingelly’s favorite feature of the home is “the expansive, sun-filled solarium overlooking the property, out to the beach and Sound beyond.”
The property also offers a pool, terrace and carriage house. The ideal buyer of this unparalleled offering “must have a deep appreciation for an exemplary Elizabethan Tudor mansion and carriage house on a breathtakingly beautiful property. As for the property and beach, a picture says 1,000 words,” shares Fingelly.

All photos courtesy Victoria Fingelly

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Unique Homes Cover Showcase: Naples, Florida

Elegant in Naples

By Camilla McLaughlin

Even real estate agents find they have to catch their breath when they step inside the Naples, Florida, estate featured on our cover. Like every property worthy of a Unique Homes cover, this residence is stunning, but what makes it incomparable is a flawless balance of every facet, from a transitional mix of traditional and modern aesthetics to the integration of outdoor patios, gardens and water features.
Even the smallest details become important to the overall experience. A Waterford chandelier situated in a tasting area between two glass-enclosed wine rooms, adjacent to the dining area, hints at tradition while being entirely modern. A flat-screen TV over the stove is designed specifically to resist heat, and seems an inspired addition, as does the second-floor balcony oriented to capture long lake and garden views offered by the home’s prime location on the signature hole of Quail West Golf and Country Club’s extraordinary Lakes Golf Course.
Throughout, wainscoting and crown molding, along with beamed, coffered and tray ceilings with tongue and grove insets, lend a traditional feel to a modern floor plan. Well planned transitions including a hand-painted mural delineate spaces in the great room while subtly orchestrated shades of blue play through the house and impart a sensibility of calm and continuity. Here, elegance and livability coexist beautifully, one enhancing the other. While the second floor includes a gathering space and bedrooms for family, the main-floor master suite incorporates a morning kitchen, dual baths and a closet large enough to be a room in itself.
Many properties do not measure up to their photographs, but in this case, quite the opposite is true. “Photographer Greg Agee of Home Photo Pro does a really fabulous job, but as good as these photos are, the home itself is even better,” explains Kathie Soller with the Soller-Brown Team at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, who is listing this cover star completely furnished for $4.895 million.

All photos courtesy Greg Agee

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Buying Into the Resort Lifestyle

Whether one’s vice is golf, skiing or catching some rays, properties with a resort lifestyle never go out of style.

By Roger Grody

Resort living is something luxury homebuyers are constantly chasing, and nothing conveys the vacation lifestyle more than a graceful estate lining a manicured fairway, an alpine villa perched amidst majestic slopes or a lavish oceanfront home. Whether you are a passionate golfer, skier or somebody that loves the resort lifestyle without ever hitting the links, slopes or beach, luxury buying opportunities abound.
Big Island Golf
With six oceanfront holes, a round of golf at the Rees Jones-designed course at Hawaii’s Kohanaiki transforms the game into an almost spiritual experience. People who want to purchase a piece of this Big Island paradise have varied options, from townhomes starting at about $3 million to custom estates pushing well past the $20 million mark. Situated on a full mile-and-a-half of the Kona Coast, the 450-acre private community is essentially self-sufficient, with its own beach club and soon-to-be-completed 67,000-square-foot clubhouse incorporating a luxurious spa and fitness center, fine dining, movies, and bowling.
Erika Alm, Kohanaiki’s vice president of sales and marketing, reports a strong market for both lots and homes on the Big Island, with $3 million-plus transactions in the second quarter, exceeding the same quarter of last year and besting Maui or Kauai. “Kohanaiki, the first new development of its kind on Hawaii’s Big Island in more than a decade, represents an evolution of the private club experience,” says President and CEO Joe Root. “It instills a welcoming, relaxed and comfortable lifestyle that is reflected in the warm and genuine attentiveness of the staff and a true sense of community among members,” he adds.
Alm reports that the majority of Kohanaiki’s owners come from the U.S., but members hail from Canada, Japan, China, and Europe as well. Currently offered at the resort is a spectacular 6,808-square-foot custom home with ocean and golf course views, priced at $22.5 million.
Southern Charm
Pam Ausley of RE/MAX Southern Homes specializes in the under-the-radar resort lifestyle market in Birmingham, Alabama, a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant culinary and arts scene. The properties at Shoal Creek Club — the Jack Nicklaus-designed course has hosted two PGA Championships and is gearing up for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open — appeal to a diverse pool of buyers, many of whom have no interest in golf.
“It’s so quiet and beautiful, it feels like you’re on vacation all the time,” says Ausley, who reminds buyers of Shoal Creek’s mountain views and proximity to downtown Birmingham, tranquil lakes and even white-sand beaches on the Gulf Coast. Second home buyers include University of Alabama alumni who have scattered across the country but want to be in town during football season.
Prices for Shoal Creek properties begin at less than $1 million, but one of Ausley’s current listings is a palatial 50,000-square-foot, French-inspired estate offered at $9.9 million. Approximately 65 undeveloped home sites, all at least an acre in size, remain, including some along the storied golf course’s fairways.
“The luxury market has been strong this year, with prices getting very close to what they were before the recession,” says Ausley, who indicates sustained demand for properties in the $2 million-plus segment. She also reports a booming market at Lake Martin, a more rustic resort setting about 90 minutes away, popular with boaters and water skiers.
O.C. Links
Coto de Caza, a 5,000-acre gated, master-planned community in Orange County, California, offers 36 holes of Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf — one championship-caliber course, another more user-friendly — plus world-class tennis and equestrian facilities. “Coto de Caza offers the opportunity to live in a retreat, with prices per square foot much less than coastal communities like Newport Beach or Laguna Beach,” reports veteran broker Mariann Cordova of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, who resides in the community herself. She reports a consistent market there, with properties under $2 million very hot, but prices for higher-end properties remaining 5-10 percent below their pre-recession peaks.
Most homes in Coto de Caza are sold as primary residences, with some buyers moving from the Orange County coast in search of golf and equestrian estates with greater privacy. In terms of international interest, some Chinese buyers have discovered the community, as well as European retirees. A French country estate on nearly 3 acres, with 7,600 square feet of casually elegant living space, is currently offered by Cordova at $7.995 million.

Hugging the Big Island's Kona Coast is Kohanaiki, whose privileged residents enjoy spectacular views and a private beach club. Photo courtesy Kohanaiki

Hugging the Big Island’s Kona Coast is Kohanaiki, whose privileged residents enjoy spectacular views and a private beach club.
Photo courtesy Kohanaiki

Private Island
There are few places in America that showcase resort living more than Florida, a state defined by its mild climate, golf, watersports, and yachting. One of the Sunshine State’s most unique real estate opportunities is Useppa Island on the Gulf Coast near Fort Myers. The private island — its entire 100 acres are listed on the National Register of Historic Places — oozes Old Florida charm, complete with a romantic inn, restaurant, marina, and collection of gracious vacation homes offered at about a 50-percent discount to the mainland.
Mary and Brian McColgan live on the island most of the year and specialize in its upscale real estate market, which appeals to those who want to leave the crowds and traffic behind. “Buyers are attracted by the location on the Intracoastal Waterway, the lush tropical foliage and the laid-back, slower pace of life,” says Mary McColgan, who adds that the market is not as high-pitched as the Florida mainland, about a 13-minute boat ride away. Currently offered on Useppa Island for $1.349 million is a 5,000-square-foot estate with a private dock and sweeping ocean views. McColgan reports a “youthification” trend occurring on the island, in which younger families, some with long-range retirement plans in mind, are now buying. “We’re unique among vacation destinations because we’re a real community,” she insists.
Home to West Virginia
West Virginia is underrated as a resort destination, but anybody who has spent a night at The Greenbrier, one of the world’s premier hotels, knows of the state’s splendor. Luxury travelers make a trek to the White Sulphur Springs resort — about a four-hour scenic drive from Washington, D.C. — for world-class golf, exceptional dining and horseback riding.
The Greenbrier Sporting Club provides real estate opportunities throughout 11,000 rolling, wooded acres surrounding the resort. Explaining that The Greenbrier has been a family tradition for generations, Sporting Club Vice President and General Manager Larry Klein reports many legacy buyers. He explains these are people who fell in love with the hotel as children and now want their own families to enjoy that lifestyle. “And now some of their kids are starting to buy properties of their own,” says Klein, who reports lots are priced from approximately $300,000 while homes range from $1 million to $5.9 million. Sporting Club members, according to the seasoned manager, represent more than 30 states, tend to be active and relatively young, and stay an average of six weeks per year.
Fifteen different neighborhoods are available, each with their own personalities, says Klein, who maintains, “We have homes and activities for everybody, and we build amenities to complement everything the hotel has.” Currently under construction is Oakhurst, a new neighborhood where four masters — Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player — are collaborating on a golf course for the first time. Greenbrier Sporting Club homebuyers are required to purchase a residential membership, which provides free access to the hotel’s golf courses and pools, plus discounts on other services and activities.
Utah Gold
Park City, Utah, welcomed the 2002 Winter Olympics, but it was discovered long before by creative individuals of all kinds, from chefs to movie directors. The setting for the Sundance Film Festival, Park City is known for luxury estates as majestic as the mountains soaring above them. The community is extremely accessible to Salt Lake City, whose burgeoning technology industry (dubbed “Silicon Slopes”) is affecting the Park City luxury market and making it more of a year-round community.
Nancy Tallman of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty reports, “In most segments of the Park City market, prices are back to their peaks, but in the luxury market there are still some opportunities to pick up properties at relative discounts.” Condominiums are a major component of the luxury market in Park City, including strong sales of units at resorts like the St. Regis, Montage and Waldorf Astoria. Those currently available at the rustic-chic Montage Deer Valley are priced between $2.8 million and $9.25 million.
Tallman states that only about 5 percent of her sales are to international buyers, but expects that to change now that Vail Resorts Inc., has acquired and merged two of Park City’s ski resorts and is marketing the destination around the world. Noting that Salt Lake City International Airport offers nonstop flights to Europe, Tallman suggests, “Wait until they see how easy it is here. They can land at Salt Lake and be at the slopes in half an hour!”
Scott Maizlish, also of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, reports Park City buyers appreciate the resort destination’s more laid-back vibe. Despite a plentiful selection of $10 million-plus properties, Park City is not quite as flashy as Aspen, prompting Maizlish to joke, “Our real estate isn’t expensive enough for Aspen buyers.” But he adds, “People who come to Park City are attracted to a more low-ley, under-the-radar lifestyle…. You don’t buy here to be seen.” For luxury buyers, Park City compares favorably with Vail or Breckenridge, as well as Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley.
Maizlish reports many buyers who could afford a large chalet opt instead for the no-hassle concierge service offered through residential units associated with resort hotels like Montage Deer Valley. He cites Old Town Park City, a cosmopolitan neighborhood where prices average about $1.7 million, as a particularly hot market. “I’m also seeing more primary home buyers than I have in a decade,” reports the veteran agent, who attributes much of that to Salt Lake City’s emergence as a world-class city and Utah’s robust economy. One of Maizlish’s current listings is a spectacular ski-in/ski-out property with more than 13,000 square feet of rustic elegance, priced at $7.1 million.
The Colony at White Pine Canyon is genuine luxury mountain living, with large lots and breathtaking scenery, but is still within reach of Park City’s more cosmopolitan pursuits. The 4,600-acre development was planned for 274 homesites that range in size from 4 to 113 acres, and the 41 remaining lots are priced from $1.7 million to $2.9 million. “We’re a ski-in/ski-out resort and what makes us unique is the setting, which is heavily forested,” says Bob Marsh of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties, who adds, “You don’t hear this often in the real estate business, but we like being the best-kept secret.”
To date, about 150 custom homes have been erected at The Colony, averaging 8,000-to-9,000 square feet with architecture ranging from alpine rustic to über-contemporary. The development’s front gate is only five minutes from downtown Park City, and skiers can catch a gondola from The Colony to a slope from which they can literally ski into town. Among the custom homes on the market is a 15,743-square-foot stone-and-timber estate nestled onto more than 5 acres of pristine wooded mountain land, offered at $18.7 million.

Greenbrier Sporting Club offers luxury residences throughout 11,000 rolling acres at The Greenbrier, the legendary West Virginia resort. Photo courtesy Greenbrier Sporting Club

Greenbrier Sporting Club offers luxury residences throughout 11,000 rolling acres at The Greenbrier, the legendary West Virginia resort.
Photo courtesy Greenbrier Sporting Club

Awesome Aspen
Skiing may have originally put Aspen on the map, but this alpine jewel has evolved far beyond skiing and snowboarding. The affluent Colorado enclave is also a mecca for foodies, music lovers, golfers, and cyclists, with winter being only part of the fun. The common denominator motivating Aspen’s eclectic visitors is a genuine resort lifestyle amidst breathtaking natural beauty. Brian Hazen of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse emphasizes that year-round attraction of the city, explaining, “Aspen is a true community that has become a resort, unlike some resorts that have sprung up and are trying to be communities.”
Larry Jones of Sotheby’s International Realty is known for matching well-heeled international buyers to awesome alpine properties in Aspen, with a geographic emphasis on Snowmass Village. He reports that the first half of 2016 was disappointing, with a substantial drop in both dollar volume and number of transactions from the same period in 2015. Hazen confirms a relatively sluggish start to 2016 but reminds us that 2015 was a record-breaking year and reports a significant uptick of activity in July and August.
“In the most desirable areas, prices have come back to 2005-2006 levels, but there are still pockets of opportunity that are really exciting,” says Hazen, emphasizing attractive prices for large outlying properties. Among his listings is a 13,863-square-foot estate on about 20 acres in Woody Creek 8 miles out of town, priced at $26.5 million.
“One segment demonstrating strength is the entry level luxury market ($1.5 million to $2 million), fueled by families attracted to the outstanding Aspen schools,” reports Jones. Downtown condominium development is heavily regulated by the city, resulting in tight inventory and a strong market that tends to be less volatile than the large villas, says Hazen. Studios can be acquired for less than $1 million, but penthouses have sold for upwards of $20 million.
With a full calendar of events like the Aspen Music Festival, Aspen Food & Wine Classic and ongoing sessions at The Aspen Institute, Jones is prompted to comment, “It probably feels more crowded in the summer than the winter.” Anxiety over exchange rates, oil prices and stock market volatility have dampened some international enthusiasm, but Jones reports sustained buyer interest from Brazil, Mexico and Australia. Typical of his listings is a 6,000-square-foot ski-in/ski-out mountain home in Snowmass Village, offered at $7.95 million.
Bountiful Baja
Just a two-hour flight from Los Angeles, but a million miles away in spirit, is Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. In addition to world-class sport fishing, great food and tequila, and some extraordinary resort hotels, Cabo is a hot real estate market for luxury vacation home buyers. Vanessa Fukunaga, president and CEO of Snell Real Estate — a licensee of worldwide powerhouse Engel & Völkers, Snell is the most dominant luxury broker in Baja — reports a strong, sustainable market. “We’re seeing a very healthy, stable and steadily increasing market,” she says, noting robust demand from throughout the Western U.S. and Canada, as well as affluent Mexican buyers.
Snell Partner Andrew Lemke adds, “We’ve experienced a huge amount of growth in the last six months,” citing luxury hotels and residential properties recently breaking ground. Fukunaga is excited about the flurry of resort-affiliated condominiums under construction, which she reveals is a rapidly growing segment of the luxury market. Observing that these new condos complement a lifestyle with 14 area golf courses and a unique environment where the desert meets the sea, she quips, “You can dine at a restaurant from a Michelin-starred chef or at a local taquería.”
Lemke reports that prices have almost entirely rebounded from the effects of the recession, but that the current market is less frenzied and speculative than in 2006-07. Although the popularity of condominium living is increasing, most luxury buyers still prefer single-family homes in gated communities offering plentiful resort amenities and concierge services. Representative of those developments is Discovery Land Company’s Chileno Bay Golf & Beach Club, which offers Tom Fazio-designed waterfront golf, a sandy beach, upscale dining, and a waterpark for kids.
Among Cabo’s luxury estates is Casa Playa, with 7,000 square feet of Mediterranean elegance perched on a bluff overlooking the beaches of neighboring Palmilla, currently offered by Snell Real Estate at $10.5 million. “It is absolutely paradise,” proclaims Fukunaga of her adopted Cabo San Lucas, who adds, “A luxury unit provides a good return on investment but, more importantly, what you’re really buying into is a lifestyle.”

This estate, with 13,000 square feet of rustic elegance on 4.73 majestic acres in Park City, is offered at $7.1 million. Photo courtesy Scott Maizlish, Summit Sotheby’s International Realty

This estate, with 13,000 square feet of rustic elegance on 4.73 majestic acres in Park City, is offered at $7.1 million.
Photo courtesy Scott Maizlish, Summit Sotheby’s International Realty

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45 Years of Luxury

‘Everything Money Can’t Buy’

 

Lifestyle per square foot is becoming the new way to measure luxury resort real estate.
By Camilla McLaughlin

Not too long ago, there was only one “must have” for a new resort — golf. Now, the number of features and amenities almost considered mandatory continues to grow, while qualities such as authenticity, heritage and ties to local culture are emerging as important characteristics. Golf still ranks near the top in desirable resort attributes, but it’s not the only game in town. Shooting, equestrian, paddle boarding, fishing and the arts are only a few options finding their way into the experience, along with a very different slant on food and wine.
Value continues to be an overriding concern for consumers, but a growing number see true value as something not necessarily computed in dollars and cents. Longtime developer David Southworth, principal of Southworth Development, expressed it most accurately when he summed up what makes The Abaco Club in the Bahamas so compelling: “It has everything money can’t buy.”
“I often say instead of price per square foot, it’s lifestyle per square foot and that’s what people are looking for, and that’s their value,” observes Tina Necrason, vice president of residential for Montage Hotels and Resorts. “Just being nice and well-appointed isn’t luxury anymore.”
Lifestyle per square foot often begins with a well-thought-out vision where the local culture is subtly integrated into the resort experience. The end result is a place where owners become part of the story and the heritage of the region winds through every aspect of the resort.
At Hualalai Resort on Hawaii’s Big Island, a group called Alaka’i Nalu, named to honor the spirt of Polynesian voyagers, acts as ambassadors of the waves. “You can go out and paddle with them. People love it, because you get the fitness components and being out on some incredibly beautiful water, but there is also the cultural experience,” says Pat Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of Hualalai Resort, recalling one excursion in which his guide talked about how his family had paddled the same waters for generations. “You then get the sense this is deeper than just let’s go out and paddle and have fun. It’s not overdone, but it gives you a better connection to what you are experiencing.”
“You can’t fake those authentic experiences, especially in places with substance and history,” observes Tyler Niess, vice president and chief marketing officer for Crescent Communities, the developer of Palmetto Bluff, a new resort in Bluffton, South Carolina. Here the Lowcountry’s iconic lifestyle is woven into the everyday through architecture, cuisine, history and pursuits such as shooting, fishing and horseback riding. For many at Palmetto Bluff, this heritage is personal. For example, Sara Sanford, program director at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club, grew up on a nearby plantation. She describes the sporting clays course as “golf with guns.” For Jay Walea, director of the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, attachment to the land goes back to childhood. The commitment is real; Palmetto Bluff even employs a full-time archeologist.

At Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina, the Wilson Landing Boat Club and adjacent Canoe Club restaurant grounds offer a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Lowcountry aesthetic in the region’s rich architectural heritage. Boating, fishing, shooting, hiking and equestrian pursuits all celebrate the sporting life.
Photo courtesy Crescent Communities

A trip on the water at Hualalai in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, becomes more than just a nice paddle under the guidance of the Alaka’i Nalu, the resort’s ambassadors of the ocean, comprising some of the state’s best watermen and women.
Photo courtesy Hualalai Resort

Outdoor living is a hallmark at Calistoga Ranch in Calistoga, California, where living and dining in the trees becomes an everyday pastime along with the ultimate — an outdoor shower.
Photo courtesy SB Architects

The award-winning, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Palmetto Bluff’s May River Golf Club celebrates the natural setting as much as the nuances of the game. Tee boxes and fairways feature eco-friendly turf, while Nicklaus selected sand from Ohio to withstand the coastal climate.
Photo courtesy Crescent Communities

At the Montage Kapalua Bay on Maui, much is made of the aloha spirit and it’s not just marketing jargon. Rather, the spirit seems embodied in the attitude of the staff beginning with the welcome from the valet. It’s not unusual for staff members such as Silla Kaina, the resort’s cultural ambassador, to mention growing up nearby. Owners sometimes call upon her to give their new residence a traditional Hawaiian blessing or for help with another tradition — naming the home. “I think her passion and her story — because of who she is, and her family has been there for so long — helps you live like a local. And that’s what people are really looking for,” explains Necrason.
A focus on the guest experience is traditionally a hallmark of excellence, but it has been elevated to seem effortless and it also pervades every aspect from neighborhood development to the way food is sourced. It also raises the bar for existing resorts. For example, Southworth now has a person in his company whose sole responsibility is enhancing the brand experience. It might be something as simple as finding a better way to do fresh-squeezed orange juice, or as complicated as a memorable way to enhance their reciprocity program.
Another area often revisited is security. “It’s important,” says Southworth, “because we are selling that comfort and peace of mind.” Security is also part of another overriding value today — family, which affects everything from residence design to programming.

Photo courtesy SB Architects

Photo courtesy SB Architects


“What’s important to families is this togetherness,” says Necrason. For many families, a resort home is the one place where they can let their kids go out and play. When Necrason visits resorts such as Palmetto Bluff, she says she will often look out and “see kids riding their bikes on the brick roads. It’s like a step back in time.”
Children’s dining rooms might be a thing of the past, but activities for families and children are flourishing. In the Caymans, Dart Realty, the developer of a new Kimpton resort, Seafire, on Seven Mile Beach, announced plans for an adjacent children’s resort. In addition to some amazing venues, the goal, according to Jackie Doak, Dart Realty’s chief operating officer, is to provide ways for parents and grandparents to interact with children. Doak also sees this focus on families as part of wellness. “What you do to reconnect with your family is as much part of the equation as healthcare per se. Spending time with people important to you is critical to your wellbeing,” she says.
Spas continue to gain in importance, often assuming the status of a resort within a resort. “Spas are getting bigger; they are getting more elaborate, more differentiated and more connected to the place,” says Scott Lee, president and principal of SB Architects, using the example of the spa at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico. Set on 3 acres, the 20,000-square-foot facility is a place where guests can stay for the entire day. “It’s a full-blown adventure, and it’s different from the resort. It’s not just the resort extended to the spa,” explains Lee.

Photo courtesy Hualalai Resort

Photo courtesy Hualalai Resort

Image courtesy Crescent Communities

Image courtesy Crescent Communities

One the biggest changes in the last decade, according to Fitzgerald, is the emphasis on food and beverage as an experience. Hualalai has six restaurants, a number of which have been revamped in the last few years to meet preferences for more casual dining.
Huge dining areas are also being replaced with a number of options in different-sized restaurants, including some very small specialty venues for sushi, or maybe tequila bar, observes Lee.
Also significant is the emphasis on local sourcing, which aligns with ties to local culture as well as wellness. “We now source our food from 160 to 200 different vendors right within Hawaii, and most on our island, so it’s a true farm-to-table experience,” says Fitzgerald.
Craft spirits, craft beers, premium wines, and farm-to-table food in a very casual setting are all trends, according to Lee. “People don’t want to be too fussy, certainly when on vacation. They don’t want seven courses. They want somebody to bring out a giant platter of fish they just caught. Or maybe you caught the fish.” Like many resorts, Hualalai has a local farmers’ market once a week on the property. Also in demand at some locations is space at the resort for residents to have their own garden or participate in a garden.
“People love how things are made. If you combine that desire to understand how things are made and their desire to consume super-high-quality stuff like food and wine … that’s like Nirvana,” says Lee.
For some, Nirvana is 18 holes of golf on an idyllic course. Resorts might not be designed around a golf course, but developers say it’s still important. Chances are resorts without a golf component have an excellent course nearby. Southworth says “as much as golf has changed, I think it’s still the same. Courses are long, but they are coming back to being more fair. There was a time in golf where harder was better, but that’s gone by the wayside.” And when it comes to golf, some resorts are upping their game. For example, Hualalai introduced some dynamic spaces to refresh with special ice cream and other options along their course.
All of which only increase the lifestyle per square foot quotient.

The Residences At Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico.
Image courtesy SB Architects

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Caroline Bay, Bermuda.
Photo courtesy SB Architects

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Around The World In Thirty Days

Luxury travel providers offer private jet journeys that allow clients to tailor itineraries to their particular interests or to take a multi-week tour around the entire globe.

By Sarah Binder

It’s lunchtime at 30,000 feet. You sip a glass of Dom Perignon while gazing out the jet’s windows and chatting with the co-captain. Yesterday you were cruising the Chao Phraya River in Thai- land on a private longboat; today you will browse the energetic Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. In this moment, you have it all.
In the travel industry, nothing is more suited to today’s have-it-all, on-demand life- style than around-the-world private jet tours, which whisk travelers from one bucket-list destination to another in ultimate luxury.
This epitome of travel began in the early 1990s. Before then, private jet tours focused on one area in depth, such as South America or Africa, immersing guests in sev- eral destinations within the region, explains Heidi Lakani, founder and owner of Lakani World Tours. Over the years, a new clientele emerged to alter the landscape — highly seasoned travelers, and ambitious young people who had the financial means and desire to see the world, but not the time. The demand from both demographics to experience the highlights of the globe in luxury and conve- nience led to the creation of around-the-world itineraries.
TAJ MAHAL PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD KURIN

TAJ MAHAL
PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD KURIN


“These itineraries developed into a dis- covery trip for people; they would go some- where briefly, love it, and then we would de- sign a follow-up tour for them to go back,” says Lakani. “The industry evolved from ‘in depth to highlights,’ and then ‘highlights to in depth.’”
Avoiding commercial flying restrictions and limiting tour sizes allows providers to pamper guests on board carefully custom- ized aircraft, while flying direct to hard-to- reach destinations. “Our classic Around the World itinerary hits nine ‘world wonders’ in one trip, from Easter Island, Chile, to the ‘Lost City’ of Petra, Jordan,” says Andrew Lorence, account and marketing services manager for TCS World Travel.
When an itinerary includes more than a dozen flights across just a few weeks (most trips are approximately 24 days in length), globetrotters understandably seek the most high-end and efficient flying experience pos- sible. TCS World Travel’s expeditions feature a “newly reconfigured Boeing 757, which fea- tures comfy, flatbed leather seats with plenty of legroom, global Wi-Fi, amenities such as iPads and Bose noise cancelling head- phones, and an executive chef on board,” says Lorence. Lakani World Tours is known for its daytime-only flights; the lack of sleeper seats allows for a Sky Lounge where guests can socialize and have lunch with the captain and crew, explains Lakani.
CAPE TOWN VINEYARDS PHOTO COURTESY OF ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / JON11

CAPE TOWN VINEYARDS
PHOTO COURTESY OF ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / JON11


In addition to TCS and Lakani, the number of key players in the realm of worldwide private jet travel is small, yet distinguishable, from the Four Seasons Private Jet Experience, hosting guests in deluxe Four Seasons accommodations, to programs with in-depth experiential and cultural frameworks, such as Smithsonian Journeys, National Geographic Expeditions, and Abercrombie & Kent. Each provider operates just a few around-the-world-style itineraries per year, with most trips selling out far in advance. For example, all of Lakani’s 2016 tours are already sold out.
No matter the tour operator, it goes without saying that an around-the-world trip offers something for everyone. Marveling at the Taj Mahal may be the ultimate bucket list item for a husband, while his wife highly anticipates a thrilling safari on the Serengeti.
Many itineraries introduce travelers to off-the-beaten-path cities that nevertheless share commonalities with popular tourist hubs. “We go to places that are more difficult to get to and would normally require two to three flights, such as Porto, Portugal, rather than Madrid,” says Lakani.
CAMBODIA PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKANI WORLD TOURS

CAMBODIA
PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKANI WORLD TOURS


“What is most exciting is when travelers return home with a ‘wow!’ impression and a desire to return to a destination they have never previously thought of,” explains Karen Ledwin, general manager of Smithsonian Journeys. Their highly educational travel programs, aimed at the 55-plus demographic, align with and support the efforts of the Smithsonian Institution.
Depending on factors such as the trip size, style, and tour operator, travelers encounter a wide variety of authentic opportunities to become immersed in local culture. On Smithsonian Journeys, offered via a custom-configured Boeing 757 for no more than 80 guests, a common highlight is an evening entertainment program that brings visitors and locals together.
“Because of our numbers, there are some special experiences that wouldn’t be possible if a journey were only composed of two couples traveling together,” says Ledwin. “One of the things that people really enjoy are these truly magnificent gala evenings that showcase the best of a destination via all of the performing arts, pageantry, and so forth that the culture has to offer. Whether in India or in Cambodia, travelers really enjoy these evenings.”
KENYA PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKANI WORLD TOURS

KENYA
PHOTO COURTESY OF LAKANI WORLD TOURS


With trips often encompassing seven, eight, or even nine destinations in a short timeframe, one might think that it’s nearly impossible to feel emotionally connected to any stop along the itinerary. However, TCS helps its guests create meaningful connections with local people. Guests on upcoming tours will have the privilege of witnessing rituals like a land diving ceremony to celebrate the yam harvest in remote Vanuatu or visiting local schools like the Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda.
Globetrotters can work with tour operators in a variety of ways to design their optimal experience, from a completely customized private journey to personalized activities on group journeys. “I was in Africa with a family of 12, and the kids wanted to hike, but the parents wanted to relax and go to vineyards near Cape Town,” says Lakani. “We design activities to suit whatever each member of the family likes.” Lakani also creates a brochure of pre-designed frameworks for popular countries and regions; clients can then work with its team to customize their private journey to the destinations of their dreams.
The landscape of private jet travel will continue to ebb and flow. While the around-the-world journeys are highly popular right now, Ledwin predicts that as more and more travelers are introduced to them, the tide will turn. Trips may become more thematic, centered on a specific region, and offered via smaller planes. In order to keep its most experienced travelers coming back for more, TCS designs a trip just for them. “In 2017, our Kingdoms and Cultures of Eurasia itinerary is taking guests to truly off-the-beaten path places like Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Romania,” says Lorence.
EASTER ISLAND PHOTO COURTESY OF ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / TIMTHURLOW

EASTER ISLAND
PHOTO COURTESY OF ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / TIMTHURLOW


No matter the current trend, all three sources agree that these mega-trips offer an inherent value that far transcends their big-ticket cost, even with most journeys approaching or even healthily surpassing $100,000 per traveler.
“People sometimes have sticker shock when they see the price tag of a private jet trip,” says Ledwin. “If you were to take all of the air tickets you would need to make all of these stops, and put together all of these experiences with a high level of customer service and the intellectual overlay, it’s a great value, especially for people who are trying to make up time with their travel.”
OLD TOWN OF PORTO PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMSTIME.COM

OLD TOWN OF PORTO
PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMSTIME.COM

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A Preferred Address

An ambitious developer and world-class designer collaborate on a coveted address on New York’s Upper East Side.

By Roger Grody

Alexandra Portrait - December 2015

PHOTO ©GERALD FORSTER


Manhattan has many exclusive neighborhoods, but no section of town speaks to a refined sense of elegance more than the Upper East Side. The building at 12 East 88th Street—an address in the historic Carnegie Hill neighborhood steps from the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park—couldn’t have a more splendid location.
The 1931-vintage structure was designed by renowned New York architect Rosario Candela, whose elegant imprint is found throughout the Upper East Side. Simon Baron Development acquired the rental building in 2014, updating and reconfiguring the original 65 units into 24 luxury condominiums.
Recognizing the untapped value in the building, company President Matthew Baron explains, “As a Candela-designed building, it represents the epitome of pre-war New York City architecture, and we saw an opportunity to restore it to its former glory.” The developer also recognized the market demand for condominiums in a neighborhood dominated by cooperatives. Popular in New York, “co-op” owners purchase shares in a building as opposed to traditional real estate transactions, and Baron explains that the rigorous, often invasive approval process is a turnoff for many buyers.
Simon Baron collaborated with renowned interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, whose portfolio includes luxury hotels like The Pierre and Carlyle in New York, The Dorchester in London and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. “She really appreciated the history of the building, but gave it a more contemporary feel,” says Baron, who adds, “We wanted it to feel clean and fresh, but still retain some Old World charm.”
“The greatest challenge with the renovation of any historic property is maintaining its signature style and intimate feel while modernizing it,” says Champalimaud, who concedes the difficulty in achieving the perfect balance between old and new. “Our primary goal was to bring 12 East 88th Street back to its original grandeur, the way Rosario Candela would have envisioned, by complementing the existing architectural features,” she explains.
Mindful of those original architectural elements, Champalimaud states, “Our approach focused on accentuating the height of each space and capturing the natural light throughout the property by incorporating a light palette of stones and wood.”
Given the property’s Upper East Side address, she maintained a formality to living and dining spaces while introducing a 21st century appeal through contemporary high-end finishes. “The overall approach is sophisticated, gracious yet modern,” says Champalimaud, who adds, “We also approached each room in respect to framing the surrounding city views and embracing the natural light.”
While 12 East 88th Street’s stately brick façade retains its historic charm, Champalimaud has infused the building’s lobby with a modern look that, thanks to some clever nods to the past, does not feel disconnected from the building’s pre-war vintage. “We kept the lobby design clean and fresh, preserving the original medallion on the ceiling and drawing in features to accentuate the original elements, for example a complementary stone mosaic floor,” explains the designer, whose furniture choices continue that delicate balance of historic and contemporary. “One of my favorite pieces in the lobby is a gorgeous bench by Holly Hunt with bronze legs molded as if they were branches and upholstered with white stingray leather.”
The prices of these condominiums range from $3.05 to $22 million, with current listings commanding more than $3,000 per square foot. “Most of these units are purchased by families, couples looking to grow into the space or empty-nesters moving back into the City from the suburbs,” reports Matthew Baron, who insists, “This is one of the truly great residential neighborhoods in New York.”
“We really try to take pride in the buildings we create, making sure what we’re doing will stand the test of time,” says the developer, who adds, “Alexandra contributed a level of cachet and elegance to the project that resonates with our clientele.”
AFTER RENDERINGS COURTESY ALEXANDRA CHAMPALMAUD

AFTER RENDERINGS COURTESY ALEXANDRA CHAMPALMAUD

Predominantly white kitchens feature countertops and backsplashes clad in Covelano Oro marble, which also envelops the top and side surfaces of a waterfall-edge island illuminated by contemporary pendant lighting. Sleek Signature or Dornbracht hardware and a relatively monotone palette practically shout modernism, but does not seem incongruous with the 1931 building. Naturally, chef-worthy Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances are present in the redesigned kitchens, while the original dark-stained floors have been switched out for a less austere bleached wood. Champalimaud’s kitchens are noticeably bright, capitalizing on every square inch of window space she had to work with.

AFTER RENDERINGS COURTESY ALEXANDRA CHAMPALMAUD

AFTER RENDERINGS COURTESY ALEXANDRA CHAMPALMAUD

The designer’s crisp edges and generous use of natural stone introduce contemporary sensibilities while still honoring the heritage of the building and its elegant neighborhood. A master bathroom’s counters are sheathed in white Dolomiti marble, replacing the dark wood vanity present prior to Champalimaud’s arrival, while the walls, shower and soaking tub’s clean-lined pedestal are clad in richly striated Arabescato marble. “We treated the marble as its own work of art, incorporating a mirror effect with the veining of the stone,” says the designer. Polished nickel Dornbracht fixtures complete a master bath design that strongly suggests the flavor of a luxurious hotel spa, not surprising given the designer’s history with five-star cosmopolitan hotels.

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Cover Home: Seapoint

The waterfront star gracing the cover of this issue sits on 10 acres at the tip of a peninsula on a prized stretch of Massachusetts coastline.

By Camilla McLaughlin

Mishaum 6

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT B. KINLIN


During World War II, the site was a prime lookout for enemy submarines; today it’s the setting for Seapoint, one of the region’s most significant properties. With 270-degree water views, the experience is akin to a private island, but, unlike an island, the location offers easy access to Boston and New York.
Designed by Robert A. M. Stern, the shingle-style exterior and deep porches of the residence evoke New England’s traditional seaside architecture, yet also echo Stern’s “modern traditionalist” aesthetic. “Honestly, I’ve been representing luxury properties for 30 years and I’ve never seen an estate like this one,” says Robert Kinlin, co-owner of Robert Paul Properties, who is listing the property for $18.9 million. “It is built with the utmost respect for quality and detail.”
Consider the extreme level of soundproofing, which makes the interior a peaceful haven. “When you go inside and close the door, all of the wind and weather does not intrude.” Still, he says, the architect has done a terrific job of bringing in the natural elements. Every room looks out to the waters of Buzzard’s Bay. Even the sea grass and native plants move with the ocean breeze and evoke an island sensibility.
When you walk inside, the size and scale doesn’t overwhelm. Instead, Kinlin says, “there is a nice warm feeling.” Best of all, like classic estate hideaways, this property was built to be a place where you want to come and stay. Amenities range from a deep-water dock to a bowling alley and wine cellar. “It’s a property where you are going to bring your fun and plant yourself there with your family and just chill out,” shares Kinlin. Property includes membership in the exclusive Round Hill Golf Club, with golf, tennis, a pool and a sandy beach.
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