Tidal Waves of Elegance

Featured image: ©istockphoto.com / Chinnapong

It’s time to discover these 10 extraordinarily refined places, each with distinctly different waterfront experiences.

Birmingham, Michigan

What’s tucked inside a Great Lakes luxury property? The better question is, what’s not? Aside from fantastic lakefront views, plenty of room for entertaining, and a spot for any water toys you may fancy, the area itself is famously well-known. Janine Grillo, a Keller Williams Domain Associate Broker, tells Unique Homes that the Great Lakes region is the
No. 1 freshwater boating destination in the U.S.

“The sheer size of this territory affords boaters a whole world of fun and a number of diverse places to explore on the water,” she says, noting that every day here feels like a vacation. “This summer, we are finding buyers are looking to enjoy life more, relax (and work) from home. The updated, roomy waterfront properties sell fast,” Grillo says.

Lake Tahoe, Nevada & California

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine. Bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? It is the same the angels breathe,” said Mark Twain in describing Lake Tahoe. Chase International President and CEO Shari Chase characterizes it in the same way, recounting this quote from where she calls home, on the Nevada side of the iconic area.

“Lake Tahoe is a real treasure,” Chase says in painting a picture of the 22-mile-long, 12-mile-wide body of water, which is majestically surrounded by mountains. “Everything has a very spiritual essence to it here. The water is beautifully pure, with blues and crystalized greens,” she continues. The land boasts an outdoor lifestyle, where residents can easily take in treasured hiking trails, ski lodges, boating, beaches, art and more. Within one hour of the space are gems such as Virginia City, Genoa, and Jackson, California, which all are filled with wonderful recreation.

Prices here range from $3.75 million to $48 million, with most buyers prioritizing a spacious pier when considering their search.

Chase International Broker Trinkie Watson says that diversity of year-round outdoor activities, alongside good restaurants, art galleries and unique shopping are a huge draw to the area, as well as convenience to Sacramento and the Bay Area. Residents can easily take in treasured hiking trails, ski lodges, boating and beaches. “Whether it’s at the lake or on a beautiful trail in the mountains, it’s all gorgeous,” Watson says.

Londonderry, New Hampshire

The New England waterfront is known for its variety of seasonal landscapes throughout the year. Residents are able to experience the full extent of floral springs, fluttering snowflakes, peaceful waters, and crisp autumn leaves. And right now, in the summertime, the sights could not be better, says Morgan Smith, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty.

“We have hundreds of clean lakes with 360 degrees of spectacular scenery. Owners love to watch the loons, fish off the dock, kayak and waterski, and lazily soak in the clear, fresh water warmed by the sun,” she says. Coastal properties in New England feature properties with rocky ledges, crashing waves, and beaches that can be strolled for miles and miles.

With regard to how the market is faring, lower-than-average inventories are leaving very few properties for sale at a time. Prices of waterfront properties range from $1 million to $25 million, with buyers privy to direct access to the water, spacious frontage, and plenty of room for a watercraft, Smith says. She enjoys her daily life in the area, and wishes to share the elegance with new buyers. “I love spending time in Cape Elizabeth,” she says. “If I can be on a boat (or a hammock), and smell fresh air next to a body of water, I’m happy.”

Coronado, San Diego, California

The California oceanfront is star-studded with luxury at every turn. Coronado, San Diego is absolutely no exception. Broker Associate Scott Aurich of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty has lived in 17 different houses throughout the town and loved every second of it. To get away from it all, Aurich enjoys his early mornings more than anything else; he spends it surfing in tranquil waters, golfing through immaculate links, or entranced by friendly creatures at the stables. He stressed that Coronado camaraderie cannot be replicated anywhere else he’s seen.

Whether it’s the unique amenities the town has to offer, the community center with a gym, or the iconic $34 million Crown Manor estate he is representing, Coronado is truly special. But his favorite piece of home, he says, is the people. “The best thing is the people; it’s hard to describe,” Aurich mentioned. He finds that the kindness of his neighbors is where he feels the most pride. It’s not just Aurich that has noticed the grandeur; the temperature of real estate in Coronado is booming, to say the least. The demand is so high that at press time, only 54 houses were for sale. “The market is white hot,” Aurich said, explaining that the value of homes has gone up exponentially in the last 20 years.

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Door County, Wisconsin, is a gorgeous peninsula with 250 miles of coastline — it’s surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan on the eastern side, and Green Bay on the western side. For weekenders or vacationers, the area boasts incredible opportunities for sailing, water sports, fishing, boutiques, restaurants and quaint villages that dot the shoreline, explains Jamie Sanger, a managing broker with Coldwell Banker Realty.

The county of Door has fantastic experiences in the arts, theater, and golf courses, but most of all, it is best known for its natural scenic beauty, she tells Unique Homes. With even multimillion-dollar homes and estates selling like hotcakes, any inventory that is available is selling for well over asking price. Sanger feels that her area and the lifestyles awaiting there are in particularly high demand: “I feel the pandemic has fueled our market, in that folks want to be able to ‘get away’ from the urban areas to enjoy a more peaceful, private, and healthy lifestyle,” she continues. This is what she sees in her own hometown as well, Ellison Bay, which she says has stayed tranquil and untouched by development in recent years.

Sarasota, Florida

Over in Sarasota, Candy Swick, president and broker at Candy Swick & Company, is dazzled by the diversity of people she meets every single day. “One minute you are having a conversation with an astronaut, a rocket scientist, an author, or an international ballet virtuoso from Russia,” she says.

Swick describes the water in Sarasota as “Carribean blue,” alongside a breeze that drifts in soft and cooling. Residents can enjoy multitudes of water sports, a world-class ice skating rink where Olympic figure skaters have trained, and ballet and opera performances.

As for the price tag, luxury homes are running from $2 million to
$20 million. Houses are frequently selling the day they enter the market, at list price or often in a situation with multiple offers. A typical bayfront home in Sarasota starts at $2.5 million, where buyers can view the magic, nightlife, and restaurants outlining the entire city. “We know that if an individual desired to enjoy a new restaurant for lunch and another for dinner, it would take more than a year to explore them all,” Swick said.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“Think of a place that has beautiful beaches, with crystal-clear water and clean, silky-smooth sand; a place that is known as the yacht capital of the world, with spectacular vessels cruising in daily through the port,” says Shai Mashiach, a Coldwell Banker Realty agent, in painting a picture of his beloved home.

He notes that in the bustling housing market, several waterfront neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale are in high demand; particularly Las Olas and Harbor Beach, where prices start in the millions. Mashiach noted the convenience of the area as well; it’s only a one-hour boat ride to the Bahamas, a 30-minute drive south to Miami or north to Palm Beach, and one hour to the Florida Keys. “It’s a place that has the best restaurants, great nightlife, and magnificent people from around the globe,” he continued.

As far as his personal favorite to-dos, Mashiach and his family enjoy quality time on the water, fishing, or docking at a favorite restaurant on the Intracoastal for a spectacular meal. “From yoga on the beach to amazing deep-water fishing, Fort Lauderdale has a wonderful ambiance and everything you need to enjoy life,” he says.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico is known as one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. A hundred-plus feet of visibility in the pristine, cobalt water is perfect for a deep dive, whether you’re a novice or expert. “The clarity of the water is just extraordinary,” says Cindy Case, a Realtor with Douglas Elliman. The island takes pride in differentiating itself from the mainland; as opposed to cities like Cancun, Cozumel boasts a private, more intimate community.

“It’s a unique, small island with a very relaxed vibe,” Case says. Yet, this does not eliminate the availability of ample restaurants, shopping, and hospital care. There are many properties available for sale along the water, and well-priced at that. Case notes the affordability of property on such a prime Caribbean island. When recalling her favorites, Case enjoys beach hopping along the backside of the island; she treasures the chain of beautiful, wide, white-sand beaches with restaurants and bars.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Picture year-round warm weather and sunshine, vast cultural diversity and delicacies, and a fabulous cosmopolitan lifestyle when thinking of residential life in Honolulu, Hawaii, says Tracy Allen of Coldwell Banker Realty.

“Breathtaking hikes along the Ko’olau mountain ranges and scenic coastal trails offer incredible vistas second to none. Visitors and residents love the vast cultural foods found in Hawaii, and come to the island to enjoy many different dining experiences,” Allen describes.

For purchases on the water, prices start at around $6 million, and can range from $8 million to $20 million as well. Allen says that waterfront homes in the area have generally been built within the last 10 years, and include modern touches such as lighter wood tones, smart technology, gyms, home offices, and large, professional kitchens.

Surfing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, jet skiing, and canoe paddling are just a few activities keeping residents entertained. Allen wants buyers to know: if you’re looking for a diverse experience, Hawaii is for you. And when asked her perfect way to spend a day, her answer is simple; “The beach! You can never go wrong with our turquoise crystal-clear waters!”

Kaua’i, Hawaii

In another part of the islands, luxury on Kaua’i translates to “soulful” according to Hawaii Life broker Neal Norman. It is that very soul and heart that keeps residents smiling in the sunshine, just as Norman found himself when he moved in 25 years ago.

“We’re seeing purposeful buyers who want to live the lifestyle: that luxury, soulful living that Kaua’i provides,” Norman says. In the North Shore region where he is located, buyers and sellers are connected on the ocean view at a variety of prices, ranging from $3 million to $50 million. Dream homes are purchased on the daily in this blue-sky paradise, where residents can spend quality time with loved ones and friends.

Offering numerous outdoor endeavors, hiking, surfing, sailing, snorkeling, swimming, beach combing and biking are just a few of the fantastic opportunities in Kaua’i. “Buyers are finding solitude and serenity on this little island in the Pacific Sea,” Norman says. “Kaua’i is a rare and special place.”

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE UH Summer ’21 ISSUE OF UNIQUE HOMES. TO SEE THE DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS STORY, CLICK HERE.

Peggy S. Lotz

MVP Realty LLC

GRI, ABR, AWHD, e-Pro, CIPS , GREP, PSA, RSPS, SRS, SFR, SRES

239.564.2140 | lotzrealestate@gmail.com | peggylotzrealtor.com

Raised with Midwest values of honesty and integrity, Peggy developed a very strong work ethic. Her background in real estate began in the 1970s in Wisconsin, and since then has worked in many facets of real estate, from residential and luxury markets to law offices. Peggy and her husband have lived in Southwest Florida since 1995. She serves the areas of Miromar Lakes, Estero, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples. Her passion shows in her commitment to you. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, her goal is to exceed your expectations. She will welcome you to “paradise”and provide you with exceptional service.

Listing by Peggy S. Lotz

Boat from Your Backyard Dock —Miromar Lakes, FL

 

For enjoyment, go fishing, skiing or enjoy water sports on 700+ acres of freshwater, and call Miromar Lakes, #1 Community in the USA, your home! This custom-built home has extensive upgrades, 3 split en-suite bedrooms, a den and pool bath. The gourmet island kitchen is full of amenities. Outdoor living includes an outdoor kitchen, saltwater pool/spa, lanai, and semi-private deeded pier with floating dock.

$1,595,000

 

 

Peggy S. Lotz originally appeared as an Elite agent in the Unique Homes Spring ’21: Elite edition. See her page here.

Offering 100 feet of private beach frontage on Lake Michigan in Norton Shores, this two-bedroom, two-bath cottage showcases three miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.

“The property is contiguous to the P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, so no one can build to the left of the property — and you can enjoy private walks along the beach, miles of hiking and skiing trails and kayaking in the summer,” says Bradley Wisk of Keller Williams Harbortown who is listing the property for $1.5 million.

The home has been recently restored and features include a teak deck leading to the beach, an open floor plan, a chef’s kitchen with luxury appliances, a bath with a large walk-in shower and jetted bathtub, and a lower level with two bedrooms, a full-bath, and  laundry room. 

 

Photos courtesy of Bradley Wisk.

With 500 feet of privately owned river frontage (with a dock) this stunning home in Minnesota overlooks the St. Croix River and is set on 17 acres. “The setting is spectacular,” says listing agent Sharon O’Flannigan of Coldwell Banker Realty. “It is completely private and secluded.”

Architecturally designed and built by Vujovich Design, the home features exceptional use of quality materials and details, creating a warm, inviting environment. “The great room, dominated by a stone fireplace, provides intimate spaces for conversation and relaxing,” says O’Flannigan.

Listed for $2.236 million, the home features a pool, pool house, pond and fire pits. “This home would be ideal for a family or couple who enjoy the outdoors, wildlife and the joy of navigating the magnificent St. Croix River,” says O’Flannigan. “It is a home to create memories in a naturally beautiful setting.”      

For more details and a full tour of this property, go to www.oflannigan.com.

Sophistication abounds in this property, which has sweeping views over all of Plum Island sound and the Atlantic Ocean in Ipswich, Massachusetts. With this direct oceanfront property, you can step down to the beach into a boaters and swimmers paradise, which features a deep water channel for mooring. 

Inside features include soaring columns, cathedral ceilings, a marble fireplace, Brazilian hardwood floors, Venetian tile kitchen countertops, and a tremendous amount of glass to enjoy the views and natural light. 

The master bedroom suite has a private deck and tile bath with whirlpool tub overlooking the water.

The property is listed for $1.495 by Andrea Osbon of Churchill Properties. Escape from the city into your own sanctuary just 33 miles North of Boston.

Churchill Properties was recently featured in Unique Homes Ultimate 2020. Click here to view this year’s edition!

This one-of-a-kind waterfront estate boasts 710 feet of protected shoreline in Moultonborough New Hampshire. “On the venerable Lake Winnipesaukee (located 100 miles north of Boston), it is a chosen site for summer retreats by anyone seeking natural beauty and privacy, which is the hallmark of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region” says the homeowner. “This property even has the additional benefit of being one of few that has private, legal seaplane and helicopter airports on the lake.” 

The home features views of the exquisite sunsets from the western exposure and an impeccable white-sandy beach, which is bookended by jetties and punctuated by a shorefront granite patio and private guesthouse. Listed for $5.5 million by Randy Parker of Maxfield Real Estate, this stunning, custom-built 6,400-square-foot home is situated on 1.36 private acres, features five bedrooms and 6 baths, and offers Adirondack living at its best with water views from every room.

For more information on this property, contact Randy at 603.455.6913
or visit the property’s website, 
www.randyparker.maxfieldrealestate.com. 

 

This property was featured in the 2020 Edition of Unique Homes Ultimate. Click here to view the issue!

1814 Roland Street, Sarasota, Florida

Majestic 2.5-acre, gated residence on Sarasota’s Intracoastal Waterway. Six en suite bedrooms allow homeowners to enjoy the grandeur of their own private Sarasota getaway.

Features include a gym, upstairs kitchenette, wine cellar, and entertainment room with antique bar from early 1900s France. The pool area boasts travertine, an outdoor kitchen, and sauna. The open kitchen/butler’s pantry incorporates all current culinary conveniences.

6 bedrooms, 6 full and 3 half baths
Price: $6,500,000

Represented by: Sindy Carr, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
941.928.9308

The Transition

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The Legends of Ultimate Homes

As we take a look at this year's Ultimate Homes magazine, we also look back at the exceptional properties and agents who have been a part of the annual celebration of the most expensive real estate in the U.S.

Elite Agent: W. Terry Potts

Agent Terry Potts of Country Club Properties offers wonderful, luxury real estate in the Highlands area, whether you're buying or selling.

Elite Agent: Mariann Cordova

Mariann is a multi-award-winning Realtor and marketing expert with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

Elite Agent: Yvonne Summerfield

As Kauai’s top selling Realtor (most sold transactions), Yvonne is am uniquely qualified to help client with their real estate needs on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Elite Agent: Candy Swick

Featured by Elite agent Candy Swick, this spacious downtown residence was showcased on HGTV. A completely renovated open plan overlooking 11th-floor bay views.

Elite Agent: James Lucarelli

With over 30 years of experience in Telluride real estate, James Lucarelli is the only 3-time Telluride Association of Realtor’s Realtor of the Year and has a vast array of market knowledge.

Elite Agent: Lily Liang

Lily Liang is Co-founder and Executive Vice President of Strand Hill Properties, Christie’s International Real Estate. She has represented both buyers and sellers from around the world in transactions worth over $1 billion.

Elite Agent: Trudy Stambook

Renowned for discreet, individualized client service, Trudy Stambook is a key resource for real estate clients and those actively engaged in the business, development and cultural community in San Diego.

Elite Agent: Tracy Allen

As an industry leader with 32 years of dedication, Tracy is honored to be the #1 Individual Sales Agent in Hawaii and #6 Individual Sales Agent in North America for Coldwell Banker Realty.

The Legends of Ultimate Homes

As we take a look at this year's Ultimate Homes magazine, we also look back at the exceptional properties and agents who have been a part of the annual celebration of the most expensive real estate in the U.S.

Tidal Waves of Elegance

Find your perfect lifestyle at one of these 10 extraordinarily refined places, each with distinctly different waterfront experiences.

Car-Free Communities

Long commutes, congested traffic routes, parking fees, and pollution have all encouraged a whole new way of thinking when it comes to cars — car-free communities. These communities are designed for those looking to reconnect with the outdoors and spend less time stuck in traffic.

The Beauty of Victoria

Privately nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, this rare discovery awaits in Victoria, British Columbia’s Capital City on Beautiful Vancouver Island.

Dream Home in Illinois

This warm and inviting 1918, Georgian-style home will great you with modern elegance. Architectural detail and classic style await the future homeowner.

North Cottage in Norton Shores, Michigan

Stunning Lake Michgian views await with this waterfront cottage featuring three florors of renovations and miles of beach along the lake.

Beautiful Luxury in Rich, Historic Istanbul Turkey

Live among the rare Bosphorpus mansions in Istanbul, Turkey in this seven-bedroom, four-bath Andonaki twin mansion (built in 1890).

Majestic Luxury Living in the Bahamas

With 170 feet of beachfront and a 98-foot private dock, this 5-bedroom, 6-bath estate home sits on 1.5 acres on the longest natural beach on the northeast shore in Nassau, Bahamas. The majestic home greets all with a grand circular, brick-paved driveway with an electric gate.

Equestrian Escape in Edmond, Oklahoma

Majestic family estate on 18 acres in the gated equestrian addition of Qua Vadis in the Edmond city limits.

Under Pressure

On Unique Homes' first exclusive virtual panel, real estate agents discussed how the real estate markets of America endured (and continue to endure) through the turbulence that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused.

Fall is The Perfect Time to Take a Soak

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No Reserve Auction September — Exclusive Dallas Estate

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Rise to the Top

Subscribed to REAL TRENDS 500? This year, Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate members were recognized more than 150 times in the REAL Trends 500. Find out more about these top agents!

Who’s Who Luxury Real Estate Retreat Announces World Record Holder As Keynote Speaker for Spring Retreat

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Tamarack Resort is More than Just a Destination

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New Luxury Residence Begins Sales

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Stacy Gottula joins Celebrity Team Eklund-Gomes

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Engel and Völkers Snell Announces New Partnership

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New report affirms the allure of a second home

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Chinowth and Cohen Realtors to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

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Featured Property: Punta Gorda, Florida

Rebuilt and redesigned from the slab up in 2005, this stunning home offers many recent updates. Enjoy the Florida sunshine from the cedar-lined front porch entry to the fully porcelain tiled, open floor plan with 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths and an office. Gather around the floor-to-ceiling stone, gas/wood burning fireplace in the great room. Other features include boat lift and 2 docks. a lanai and pool with serene waterfront view. Direct access to the Peace River, Charlotte Harbor and Gulf of Mexico from your own dock.

Price: $739,000

SHARON KERR
Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty
www.SharonKerr.com
Sharon.Kerr@comcast.net
941.286.7315

For more details and a full tour of this property,
go to www.SharonKerr.com.

In Sarasota, Florida, this home is elevating the standard of luxury, waterfront living. 

1309 Vista Drive in Sarasota, Florida, is a gated French Country private estate located right on the bay. It was built in 2015 on the 1.5-acre-plus property.

Located in one of Sarasota’s most coveted neighborhoods, Harbor Acres, the property is just as close to the bay as it is to the bustling downtown district filled with restaurants and retail stores. The perfect blend of old-world charm and modern Florida luxury.

The interior of the home includes a La Cornue gourmet kitchen, imported French stone floors and cabinetry. But the quality doesn’t end inside — with over 244 feet of direct bayfront on the property, you can enjoy the water every day of the year.

1309 Vista Drive in Harbor Acres, being a perfect blend of French charm and modern style, is the quintessential home of the neighborhood and surrounding area.

Photos courtesy of 1309 Vista Drive.

Propelled by natural beauty, cultural diversity and imagination, Florida has built an entire industry dedicated to luxury living.

The Seagate Hotel & Spa

© Scott Wiseman

Florida is more than a single place or prevailing attitude. While its history is multicultural, this vestige of the Deep South has attracted enough newcomers to swell into the nation’s third-most populous state and an economic powerhouse. Snowbirds from up north arrived, so did Cuban and Haitian refugees looking to rebuild their lives. Ultimately, people from around the world joined native Floridians in contributing a unique energy that makes the Sunshine State a world-class destination.

Checking In

The combination of sunshine and sandy beaches is irresistible to the hospitality industry, so it is hardly surprising that luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons maintain a heavy presence in Florida. “Four Seasons has a history of entering into markets and setting the standard for luxury lifestyle experiences,” says J. Allen Smith, President & CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. To date, his company has invested in Miami, Surfside, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, while Ritz-Carlton has more than a dozen properties in the state.

When it opened in 1954 — long before nearby South Beach became trendy — the Fontainebleau was Miami Beach’s premier hotel. Reimagined for a new generation, it now features restaurants from celebrity chefs and a vibe reminiscent of Las Vegas. Equally iconic but more buttoned-down is The Breakers, a stately oceanfront property in Palm Beach where high society has convened for a century.

The Seagate Hotel & Spa presents a stylish package of amenities in Delray Beach, including a contemporary tropical aesthetic that incorporates five eye-popping custom aquariums. “Affluent, in-the-know travelers looking for an intimate, personal setting are increasingly venturing beyond the Greater Miami area,” explains William J. Sander, III, executive vice president, director of operations and general manager of the Seagate.

On the Gulf Coast, an Edition Hotel (a modern luxury brand from Marriott International in collaboration with Ian Schrager) is being integrated into Water Street Tampa, a $3 billion, 50-acre mega-project. On the top 15 floors of the 26-story tower will be 46 Edition-branded residences, among the most luxurious of the 3,500 housing units planned for Water Street.

Orlando has shaken its reputation as a company town, but two of its best hospitality properties are at Walt Disney World. The Victorian-themed Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is luxuriously nostalgic, while the Mediterranean-esque Four Seasons Resort Orlando offers a sense of privacy, championship golf and a chic rooftop steakhouse.

The Seagate Hotel & Spa

© DominicMiguel Photo

Real Estate Snapshot: Tampa Bay Area

Trend: The market is no longer so reserved, but still a bargain by Miami standards.

Clientele: Real estate developers, old money Floridians, newcomers looking for an alternative to South Florida.

Signature Property: Offered at $15.9 million is a historic oceanfront estate in Clearwater, with 23,900 extravagantly appointed square feet.

Settling Down

In addition to luxurious overnight accommodations, Florida leads the nation in branded residences with all the amenities of a five-star hotel. Now that Fort Lauderdale, once the capital of spring break, has grown up, the 22-story Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences is rising over the oceanfront. More than $100 million in sales have already occurred for residences scheduled for completion in 2020. A four-bedroom, 4,200-square-foot unit is currently priced at $7.7 million.

Fortune International Group, whose development projects include the glitzy Jade Signature in Sunny Isles Beach and Auberge Beach Residences & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, responds to worldwide demand for the South Florida luxury lifestyle. President & CEO Edgardo Defortuna reports, “Developers look to differentiate themselves by bringing in international architects to create unique amenities and products.” He believes the scarcity of sites in Greater Miami and the extension of the Brightline high-speed rail project will encourage investment in other regions of Florida.

Even for a weekend, luxury is taken seriously at Aqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, but there is also an opportunity to move permanently into the Mansions at Aqualina or forthcoming Estates at Aqualina. Almost ready for occupancy is the Mansions’ $38 million Palazzo del Cielo (“Palace in the Sky”) penthouse that includes complimentary use of a Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini.

Fortune International Group’s Defortuna reports that branding of residential towers, pioneered by hospitality companies, is now attracting other iconic names — Porsche and Aston Martin from the automotive industry, Armani and Fendi from the fashion world — to convey exclusivity.

Real Estate Snapshot: Greater Miami

Signature: Jaw-dropping oceanfront estates; penthouses in towers designed by “starchitects.”

Clientele: Hedge fund managers, pro athletes, international entrepreneurs.

Highest-Priced Property: 14,000 square feet of Neo-Classical opulence on 2.38 lushly landscaped acres in Coral Gables, offered at $55 million.

Jade Signature in Sunny Isles Beach

Photo by DBOX

Retail Therapy

With annual events like Miami Fashion Week and Miami Swim Week, designers and fashionistas are focusing their attention on Florida, where Latin influences are fused with European themes to arrive at cutting-edge fashion design. Local boutiques, from Key West to Pensacola, reflect that creative energy.

Alexis Barbara Isaias, who co-founded the trendy Alexis fashion label with mother Ana Barbara in Miami, reports the city’s fashion cred has evolved. “Miami was stereotyped as a sexy beachwear city, not a place to debut a fall collection,” says Barbara Isaias, but insists the Miami Design District, Art Basel and new fashion education programs are changing perceptions. “There’s a lot to inspire designers” says the young entrepreneur of her hometown, citing the climate, bold colors and vibrant cultures, and believes the industry will eventually spread throughout Florida.

There are luxury shopping destinations scattered throughout Greater Miami, including Aventura Mall and Bal Harbour Shops. Art, fashion and interior design intersect at the Miami Design District, where iconic labels Bulgari, Givenchy and Tom Ford compete for attention with art galleries and high-end home furnishing showrooms.

Worth Avenue in Palm Beach has been called the “Rodeo Drive of the East,” sharing many exclusive designer boutiques with Beverly Hills’ famous shopping street. Escada, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, and Louis Vuitton are just a handful of the rarified fashion labels found on this lovely sun-drenched lane.  

Despite the emergence of smartwatches, demand for ultra-luxury handcrafted timepieces is sizzling. With prices rivaling Italian sports cars, no brand is hotter than celebrity-favored Richard Mille, famous for its avant-garde aesthetics. A Richard Mille boutique is found at Miami’s Brickell City Centre, which also hosts a branch of Westime, a Beverly Hills retailer whose 50-plus brands of Swiss watches include Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey and Hublot. Company President Greg Simonian, who clearly appreciates the sophistication of his new clientele, states, “I’m continually reminded of how many clients we already know in South Florida because they travel the world and have shopped at Westime in California.”

A watch is not the only thing you can wear on your wrist that is worth more than a typical Florida condo. Creating extravagant bracelets is Lugano Diamonds, which arrived on Worth Avenue last year, breaking into the Palm Beach market after establishing boutiques in Newport Beach and Aspen. In Naples, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and De Beers occupy storefronts at Waterside Shops.

Tiffany & Co., Burberry and Hugo Boss are among the 200 stores at Tampa’s International Plaza & Bay Street, anchored by Neiman Marcus. And in Orlando, names like Prada, Versace and Ferragamo elevate the suburban shopping experience at The Mall at Millenia.

Miami’s Brickell City Centre

Real Estate Snapshot: Naples

Trend: Increasingly opulent oceanfront homes competing with more prestigious Atlantic Coast markets.

Clientele: Retired entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 execs, Miami expats.

Highest-Priced Property: 16,000 square feet of European-style elegance with beachfront exposure, offered at $49.5 million.

For the Sport of It

Florida is home to numerous major league teams, high-profile PGA events and some of the nation’s top collegiate programs, but spectators are not the only ones having fun. None of Florida’s 21 million residents live more than 90 minutes from the ocean — not to mention the state’s 30,000 lakes and network of waterways — so watersports are a part of everyone’s life.

Sailing in Florida can take many forms, from sport fishing off the coast of Destin or Panama City to boarding opulent yachts whose amenities rival luxury hotels. For those dreaming of jetting across Biscayne Bay like Sonny Crockett, Florida is the best place to acquire a high-performance speedboat.

South Florida is one of the centers of the yachting world, offering a short voyage to hundreds of Caribbean islands ripe for exploration. Brokers are currently experiencing an explosion of demand for larger, faster and more flamboyant vessels with prices equivalent to oceanfront estates. For those interested in a short-term relationship, a glamorous 230-foot Benetti superyacht — complete with eight staterooms, gym, Jacuzzi, and crew of 27 to pamper the guests — can be chartered for about $500,000 per week.

With more courses and more touring PGA professionals residing there than any other state, golf is practically a religion in Florida. “Florida remains a world-class destination for golfers, thanks to the year-round sunshine and mild weather, as well as the variety of golf courses offered throughout the state,” says Jeremy Wiernasz, general manager and director of golf operations at the multi-course PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie.

Offering 160-plus golf courses, Palm Beach County proclaims itself “Florida’s Golf Capital,” undeterred by Naples’ bold assertion that it is the “Golf Capital of the World.” Nobody disputes the game is an economic force statewide, generating about $9 billion annually to Florida’s economy, even more than theme parks. Florida Gulf Coast University Professor of Economics Christopher Westley reports, “The development of a corporate culture — with capital and labor moving here from higher tax and regulation states — has resulted in greater demand for golf.”

Further reflecting the synergy between golf and real estate in Florida, several homes lining the fairways at the Nicklaus-designed Bear’s Club in Jupiter are on the market for nearly $10 million. Identified as among the most exclusive courses in the world by Forbes is Key Largo’s Ocean Reef Club, where members enjoy a private airstrip, 175-slip marina and two impeccably manicured championship-caliber courses. Adjoining homes can command in excess of $15 million.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples

Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton Naples

Frequently ranked by golf journalists as the best course in the state, Juno Beach’s Seminole Golf Club is so elite it reportedly turned down golf legend Jack Nicklaus for membership. Sandwiched between Ocean Drive and the Atlantic surf, the estates surrounding the course are predictably palatial.

For equestrian sports, Florida is unrivaled. There are thoroughbred racing venues in the Tampa Bay Area and Greater Miami (some with casinos). Many of America’s most legendary horses, including Triple Crown winners Affirmed and American Pharoah, have connections to Ocala, a northern Florida city nicknamed “Horse Capital of the World.” Its hunter/jumper events draw competitors from around the globe, and multimillion-dollar ranches reflect the economic clout of the community’s biggest industry.

The Village of Wellington, outside Palm Beach, hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival, where 8,000 horses compete for more than $9 million in prize money. As one of America’s premier equestrian communities, Wellington home prices regularly gallop past $12 million in price while some ranches command $30 million.

The “Sport of Kings” also has a presence in Wellington, where the 250-acre International Polo Club Palm Beach hosts the prestigious U.S. Open Polo Championship. The accompanying social scene involves the consumption of Champagne and caviar at fêtes that sometimes make the matches feel like an afterthought.

Real Estate Snapshot: Palm Beach

Signature: Gated Mediterranean-inspired estates with ocean frontage.  

Clientele: Old money, both native Floridians and New York elites settling in for the winter.

Highest-Priced Property: Over 28,000 square feet of classical elegance on the ocean, priced at a staggering $109.5 million.

Cultivated Communities

Once dismissed as a sleepy state reserved for leisurely rounds of golf or perpetual sunbathing, Florida has assembled a world-class portfolio of cultural institutions. Sarasota is known for sugar-white beaches, but The Ringling, an art museum and Venetian-style palazzo built by one of the founders of Ringling Brothers Circus, puts the city on the arts trail. St. Petersburg, long burdened with the reputation as an overgrown retirement community, has developed a robust cultural scene headlined by the Salvador Dalí Museum.

The largest performing arts venue in Florida is the Straz Center in Tampa, but Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center hosts the New World Symphony, Florida Grand Opera and touring musicals. In 2002, Swiss-based Art Basel added Miami Beach to its exclusive calendar of events and the trendsetting festival has helped the city burnish its status on the world’s art stage.

Other cultural attractions in the state’s largest city include the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the spectacular Vizcaya Museum & Gardens on Biscayne Bay. Executive Director/CEO Joel Hoffman maintains his institution inspires people to embrace the natural beauty and cultural vitality of its host city. “Today, Miami represents a global perspective with limitless creative and artistic viewpoints and experiences,” he says.

The Miami skyline, with buildings from celebrity architects Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron, and Zaha Hadid, reflects the city’s dominance in the visual/interactive art of architecture. It is also a testament to a competitive luxury real estate market in which high-rise developers showcase world-class design to sell condos at a premium.

Miami is not the only Florida city where architecture contributes to the local heritage. Sarasota, nationally recognized for its Mid-Century Modern design, is the equivalent of a drive-thru museum, while both the natural environment and ethnic diversity foster a culture of creativity in Jacksonville. St. Augustine, the oldest city in the nation, showcases Spanish, French and English architecture.

Art collectors appreciate the Sunshine State’s generous clusters of galleries, such as Duval Street in Key West, Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, downtown Jacksonville, and Gallery Row in Naples. Tallahassee’s Railroad Square is home to more than 50 studios and galleries, while resident artists in St. Augustine are inspired by the city’s 450-year history.

For equestrian sports, Florida is unrivaled.

Real Estate Snapshot: St. Augustine

Signature: Traditional villas that complement the city’s unique heritage.

Clientele: Affluent history buffs with little interest in showing off; old-time Augustinians.  

Highest-Priced Property: Offered at $6.5 million is a nearly 8,000-square-foot villa on the Matanzas River.

Flavors of Florida

“Another day, another country,” was how the late Anthony Bourdain described Miami on CNN’s Parts Unknown. “You can eat your way across the Caribbean and through all of Latin America, and then over to Africa if you’d like. It’s all there,” he said. Contemporary Floridian cuisine, in which classic technique is applied to eclectic ingredients, takes full advantage of that diversity while showcasing resources nurtured by the state’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen. And while you can score a satisfying Cuban sandwich for a few bucks, there are some bona fide luxury experiences awaiting diners in the Sunshine State.

At Victoria & Albert’s, the restaurant at Disney World’s Grand Floridian that put the Magic Kingdom on the culinary map, a tasting menu at the exclusive kitchen-adjacent chef’s table begins at $250 per person. Celebrity chef José Andrés brought molecular gastronomy and some wildly creative mashups (e.g. jamón ibérico and caviar “tacos”) to The Bazaar in South Beach, but his latest Miami restaurant, Bazaar Mar, offers a $225 tasting menu called “A Study of the Sea.”

Many award-winning wine lists do not offer a single bottle of revered Château Pétrus, widely considered the best of Bordeaux. But the extraordinary list at Tampa’s Bern’s Steak House — thick as a telephone book and backed-up by a cellar overflowing with a half-million bottles — offers more than a dozen vintages of Pétrus, several exceeding $5,000 per bottle.

The steaks at Bern’s are justifiably renowned, but for beef with a more exotic pedigree consider Prime 112 in Miami Beach, where an eight-ounce Japanese A5 Kobe filet is priced at $280. With just eight seats, Miami’s Naoe presents an exclusive, highly personalized sushi experience, but before even ordering a glass of sake, the meter starts running at $220 per person.

Real Estate Snapshot: Orlando

Signature: Sprawling Mediterranean-style homes, often lakeside, that are long on amenities, short on pretenses.

Clientele: Corporate execs and entrepreneurs, plus some Mouseketeers at heart.

Hot Property: Under construction in Four Seasons Private Residences at Disney World is an 8,500-square-foot Mid-Century Modern-inspired home, priced at $7.945 million.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 edition of Unique Homes Magazine.

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