What makes Country Club Living so en vogue?
PALM BEACH ILLUSTRATED,
The Centerpieces of these gated communities are their clubhouses, which now provide much more than a tee time check-in counter and a place to change into golf shoes.
“The multipurpose clubhouse is one of the greatest benefits of the lifestyle of a full-service gated community,” says Bill Cruse, club general manager at Broken Sound. “There isn’t a whole lot that residents could want that isn’t right here.”
Addison Reserve’s magnificent clubhouse is a treat —expansive with full meeting and pro-shop facilities, yet charming with Mediterranean-inspired pools and intimate. gathering spots. Recent expansions of the clubhouses at Boca Pointe, St. Andrews and Boca West have transformed those facilities, as well.
Within these clubhouses, residents may find some of the best dining around.
“Maybe more than any part of club living, dining has evolved the most,” says Mizner Country Club manager Bob Fordham. “You used to have a golfers’ snack shack and that was about it. Now look at everything.”
Wake up with breakfast at Boca Pointe's Grill Room. Relax with a casual lunch on the screened patio of Addison Reserve’s Esplanade. Grab an afternoon snack at the bistro-style Lakeside Grille at St. Andrews. Enjoy dinner at Boca West’s in-house steakhouse, an eatery that rivals some of the area’s best chophouses. Or partake in a few cooking classes or wine-appreciation dinners at Woodfield’s Terrace Restaurant.
“We are attracting people who never considered club dining,” says Woodfield executive chef Bart Messing. “All of a sudden, they feel like they are eating at one of the city’s finer restaurants.”
Clubhouses also include major fitness centers, challenging even the best private exercise clubs. Addison Reserve’s sports complex was built specifically for the workout maven, with cardiovascular and weight machines, aerobics studios and personal trainers. At Boca Pointe’s 40,000-square-foot full-service Athletics Center, programs include more than 70 aerobic, aquatic and yoga classes.
“You won’t just find a little workout room stuck in the back of the building anymore,” says Boca West general manager Jay DiPietro. “We have dozens of high-tech fitness machines, and they always are in use.”
To take a day off from, well, usual fun, residents also can pamper themselves at a spa. From massages and facials to manicures and pedicures, spa treatments are just a phone call away.
With windows crashing and sirens wailing, a new way of life was born in southern Palm Beach County nearly two decades ago. At the time, the area was crawling with burglars who found easy pickings in the poorly protected, new million-dollar homes.
“What was it that Willie Sutton, the bank robber, said:’ asks John Thompson, the managing director of Kolter Properties, which was one of the original home builders at St. Andrews Country Club and Woodfield Country Club. "' I rob banks because that’s where the money is.’ Well, 15 years ago, this was where the money was —just like it is today — and we were all fairly easy targets, so burglars hit virtually every community.”
Not anymore. Beginning with the addition of a single guard at Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club’s entrance and a surrounding wall at Boca West, Boca Raton and Delray Beach’s gated communities have progressed into models of security.
But that’s not the only attraction. Over the years, these neighborhoods have catered not only to residents’ need for safety, but a desire to live and play in extraordinary style.
Take Walter Lipkin, board chairman of Boca West, for example. On this particular morning, he is strolling through the spacious clubhouse of the residential development. As he enters the restaurant, a few of his buddies wave to him from their breakfast table overlooking the 18th green while the head chef shows them his latest culinary creation.
Meanwhile, Lipkin’s wife is midway through her workout at the fitness center when a friend — en route to the spa — stops by to make lunch plans.
Another day in the life of a bustling gated community— and it’s just getting started.
“It’s pretty amazing, the lifestyle all of us here — and at some other communities around the area — have been able to create,” Lipkin says.
It’s a way of life that has become the status quo in similar communities in Boca and Delray. Once defined solely by a guard protecting the front door, these neighborhoods have evolved into centers with a stimulating lifestyle all their own.
And they’re not just for retirees — not in the new Boca Raton, where the influx of young families continues to lower the average resident age, which has dropped from nearly 50 to about 43 in the last decade.
At Addison Reserve, the children’s activity center has plenty to keep young minds busy, including a personal computer. The kids center at St. Andrews features video-games, a juke box, and lots of arts and crafts projects. And at the family-friendly Woodfield, programs range from toddler story time to junior golf camp.
“We have a few communities in town, like Woodfield, that are really the antitheses of what you think of when you talk about a Boca Raton gated community,” says Woodfield general manager Ken Green. “This isn’t just a retirement paradise anymore. In our community, life is about playgrounds and school buses and young parents wanting the best for their children.”
While amenities are becoming increasingly diverse to better cater to residents, so are the actual residences. Boca Pointe, for example, has 3,432 homes comprising 28 separate villages, each with a distinct personality. Addison’s Reserve and St. Andrews offer homes that range in price from $400,000 to more than $3 million. Boca West, too, has more than 3,000 homes, which include garden homes, townhomes, mid-rise condominiums, single-family homes and estates.
Newer communities are presenting diverse residences in carefully refined environments. For example, the intimate, 76-home community of Bristol Pointe in Defray Beach offers four model styles —the four-bedroom, four-bath Adriana; the two-story, five bedroom Brentana; the two-story, five-bedroom Daniella. a courtyard home; and the six-bedroom, 4,600-square-foot Contessa.
Mizner Country Club is offering 500 single-family residences on 384 acres. Included are the Ambassador Executive Collection, priced between $300,000 and $500,000; the Heritage Presidential Collection of homes ranging from 3,500 to 4,000 square feet; the Monogram Estates Collection, priced from $500,000 to $750,000; and an enclave of 55 sites for custom-built homes, starting at $1 million.
Of course, combining this selection of residences with top-notch security and amenities does not come without its price, says Cary Nagdeman, who’s been
a Realtor in Boca since 1974. “If you’re looking for something in the upper echelon, you’ll probably pay a 10 percent premium to live in a gated community.” It’s a cost more and more residents are willing to pay.
Secure in your home
As the communities themselves have evolved, so have the means of providing security. Gone are the days when a single guard or entry gate was sufficient. At Woodfield and St. Andrews, trained canine units are kenneled right on property. Security crews patrol from dusk to dawn at Broken Sound Country Club. Access from busy Powerline Road to the new 48-home Mediterrania is restricted by a 24-hour gate guard, individual home-video entry systems and the natural barner of two huge ponds. Even pioneer Boca West has beefed up safety, hiring the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to patrol the community and adding its own emergency medical technician unit right on site.
“With the sheriffs and the new EMT unit, we can cut down response time tremendously,” says Lipkin. “That’s what protects homes and saves lives.”
Perhaps no community has taken security as far as The Polo Club. Its security force — a self-proclaimed SWAT Team of more than four dozen —includes an roving midnight battalion trained in combat tactics and outfitted with night-vision goggles. Gate security is among the most protective anywhere, with each visitor carefully scrutinized before being allowed entry. The club also is completing installation of a new security system, with photoelectric-cell beams and motion sensors, to monitor the perimeter.
“Because terrain is different throughout a gated community, it is important to have different types of security systems to be sure that you watch over each area,” explains Mark Tyson, The Polo Club general manager. “There may be heavy lush foliage where patrols can’t fully see, or an open area where visual monitoring works best. You have to be willing to do whatever you need in order to get the job done.”
The sporting life
With security in check, gated-community residents are free to enjoy the best of South Florida living. For many, that means trying to knock a little white ball into a hole in the ground. There are three lush nine-hole courses at Addison Reserve Country Club, pairs of courses at St. Andrews and Broken Sound, an acclaimed layout at Woodfield, and golf’s newest jewel, Mizner Country Club’s Arnold Palmer-designed course.
Though golf’s popularity continues to soar, it is no longer the only game in town.
“The base concept of offering a great golf course as a way of selling real estate has not changed much since I first came down here 25 years ago,” says Mizner club manager Bob Fordham. “What has evolved has been the other amenities. Those have grown to be much more serious and complex.”
Tennis enthusiasm, for example, has hit near obsessive proportions at some clubs. There are Addison Reserve’s 13-court tennis center with tiered spectator seating, St. Andrews’ 16-court complex with a two-story pavilion, and Boca West’s tremendous 39-court tennis center. Delray’s Bristol Pointe offers an array of recreational amenities, including Har-Tru tennis courts and a high-tech fitness center. Boca Pointe has racquet sports covered: a 29-court dual-facility tennis center that has hosted the Florida Open Tennis Championships, and squash and racquetball courts that have hosted the U.S. Professional Squash Championships.
How about splashing around beneath the Florida sun? Huge, uniquely designed pools can be found throughout Boca, from Boca Pointe’s pair of Olympic pools to Boca West’s aquatic paradise, an interlinked series of five pools that forms a large swimming area, to Bristol Pointe’s swimming pool with lap lanes and a rock waterfall.
Want to stop and smell the roses? At St. Andrews, more than two-thirds of the community’s nearly 800 acres are permanently reserved for outdoor recreational use. Addison Reserve’s spotting guide helps residents chart birds and native wildlife. And the mega-exclusive 122-home Les Jardins lives up to its floral name (the gardens).