Southern Charm with a Modern Edge at Savannah Quarters
Having relocated many times throughout their busy working lives, Jim and Celeste Whirt were ready to find their ideal home, in their ideal location. They toured a few places in Florida, but it was the master-planned community of Savannah Quarters in Georgia that eventually won their hearts.
“Family is very important to us so we knew we wanted to be close to at least one of our three children,” explains Celeste. They also knew that they wanted a warm climate and to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, while still having easy access to shops, restaurants, and a vibrant cultural scene.
“When my daughter in-law suggested that we take a look at Savannah Quarters, a beautiful community that was close to them and not far from Downtown Savannah, we set up a viewing right away,” says Celeste. They were shown around by a Savannah Quarters representative and instantly fell in love with the friendly atmosphere, modern amenities, and peaceful natural setting.
Savannah Quarters checked lots of boxes. It has a Greg Norman signature golf course, an award-winning fitness center with a dynamic range of activities, and it enjoys a year round sunny climate. “Everything is so easy at Savannah Quarters,” smiles Celeste, “Most people have a golf cart to get around, so there’s very little traffic, and I love the peace and quiet.”
Looking to retire within the next five years, both Jim and Celeste wanted a home where they could age in place, but they weren’t interested in the 55+ set up. “Considering our age, it was high on our priority list to be close to first-class medical facilities, but we didn’t want to be in a retirement community. I love the fact that kids are playing in the neighborhood and that there are people of all ages living around us. It keeps me young!” says Celeste.
The Great Escape
The Whirts chose to custom build their ideal home in a part of the community called The Reserve that prides itself on acres of stately hardwood trees and shaded ponds. Having relocated from just outside of Atlanta, Jim and Celeste were excited to soak up the tranquility of a more natural setting.
“It’s so beautiful here, and I like the more relaxed pace. Especially as I am still so close to great shopping and all the night life of Savannah,” says Celeste.
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The Lakewood Ranch 21st Annual Tour of Homes is happening now through November 18th. Lakewood Ranch is the #1 best-selling multi-generational community in the country for reasons one must be there to understand. And, this month-long event may be the best time. Activities and events are scheduled throughout the month in order to highlight the best of the Ranch. There are more than 70 models and move-in-ready homes to tour on the Ranch, ranging in price from the $200,000s to more than $1 million. This year, guests will be able tour homes in the 14 actively-selling villages, including the two newest additions: Toll Brothers’ The Isles, and Lakewood Ranch Waterside.
Where is Latitude Margaritaville?
Latitude Margaritaville is a unique state of mind. It’s a place where happiness and friendship reside. It’s a community where those who are growing older, but not up, come together to enjoy life to the fullest.
Inspired by the no-worries island lifestyle of fun, food, and music portrayed by legendary singer, songwriter, and author Jimmy Buffett, Latitude Margaritaville communities are designed to put the exclamation point on fun! This all-new portfolio of active adult communities is being developed by partners global lifestyle brand Margaritaville Holdings and master developer and builder Minto Communities.
Latitude Margaritaville came onto the active adult residential living scene less than two years ago. In a remarkably short time, it has become one of the nation’s most talked about new lifestyle models for those 55 and better. Latitude Margaritaville has been in the headlines across the country and featured on Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Live with Kelly & Ryan, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and more.
The first, Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach, opened for sales in November 2017 and was named the number one most popular active adult community of 2018 by 55places.com, a leading resource for those searching for information on active adult communities in the U.S.
The second, Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, located in Hardeeville, SC, opened for sales in March 2018. A third, Latitude Margaritaville Watersound, located in the Florida Panhandle, is in the planning stages and slated to open early 2020.
The public response to Latitude Margaritaville has been phenomenal. At the Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach sales launch in November 2017, more than 300 people camped out all night under a giant tent to be among the first to secure their home sites. The event quickly turned into the community’s first “block party” with those in line getting to know one another while enjoying a steel drum band, complimentary food and drinks, games, and more. Some even changed from the home site they originally selected so that they could be neighbors with those next to them in line. Interest has grown exponentially, and more than 2,600 attended the grand opening of the model homes last February.
Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head received an equally enthusiastic welcome. The February 2018 sales center preview was attended by 850 prospective home buyers over a three-day weekend, and more than 2,500 attended the June grand opening of the model homes.
What is so special about the Latitude Margaritaville way of life?
Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach is proof in motion that Latitude Margaritaville is much more than an all-new, one-of-a-kind concept in active adult living. New residents began moving in last March and are celebrating the Margaritaville lifestyle first-hand while enjoying their many new friendships with neighbors throughout the community. New residents began moving into their new homes at Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head in November.
An impressive range of resort-level Margaritaville-branded amenities open this spring at Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach. The first phase will include the Latitude Town Square and bandshell for live music and dancing; Latitude Bar & Chill Restaurant; Changes in Attitude poolside bar; Fins-Up! Fitness Center with aerobics studio, indoor lap pool, spa, fitness classes, and wellness programs; pickleball and tennis courts; multi-use sport court, Paradise Pool with beach entry, cabanas and tiki huts; and Barkaritaville Dog Park. In addition to the many in-community amenities, a golf cart-accessible, Margaritaville-themed, 200,000-square-foot retail center anchored by Publix is located at the community entrance.
Additional amenities are planned for Phase 2. These include the Last Mango Theater, Workin’ N’ Playin’ Center, Barkaritaville Pet Spa, and private Latitude Margaritaville Beach Club on a spectacular stretch of sparkling white beach on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. A continuous shuttle service will provide transportation to the Beach Club.
Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head amenities include the now open Lake Latitude Club that features a resort-style pool, beach area, fitness center, and party room. Additional Phase 1 amenities are under construction and slated to open fall 2019. They will include the same Phase 1 amenities that are nearing completion at Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach.
Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head residents, like Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach residents, will enjoy walkable neighborhoods, golf-cart friendly streets, and a lively Town Center. Music will play an important part in all Latitude Margaritaville communities, and residents will enjoy live entertainment under the bandshell and dancing in the Latitude Town Square. Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head will also have an adjoining 290,000-square-foot golf cart-accessible neighborhood retail center that is being developed in partnership with Sutton Properties, Inc.
While eagerly anticipating the new amenities, residents find many ways to gather and celebrate their new community. There are walking, running, softball and pickleball groups, block parties and home parties, game nights, Tiki Bar Thursdays, and more. Group outings organized by the community lifestyle directors include fun get-togethers like Java Monday, Welcome Wednesday, Fintastically Fun Friday, Pickleball, Pins & Fins Bowling, Brunch Run Club, Chill & Fill dining outings, Pets in Paradise, and the list of creative Margaritaville fun goes on.
Who is moving to Latitude Margaritaville?
Residents Norm and Karen Goodwin wanted a vacation lifestyle and a home where they could entertain. They found both at Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach. “The people here are unbelievable,” says Karen. “When we moved in, we sent out a few ‘party at our house’ announcements, and by 6 p.m. that same day, we had 45 people!” Karen and her new friends at Latitude Margaritaville love to dance. At a recent party at the Goodwin home, the beautiful new furniture was moved to the walls and the music started. In moments, guests were showing their moves from the “Cha Cha Slide” to “YMCA” and rocking the moves to Jimmy Buffett’s song “Fins” while showing their interpretations of “Fins to the Left, Fins to the Right.”
Lisa and Ed Hickox selected a villa home at Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach and bought the adjoining villa for Lisa’s mother Judy Osmer. Ed is a major league baseball umpire, and Lisa is a 5.0 skill level pickleball player. Both enjoy the active lifestyle and friendly neighbors at Latitude Margaritaville. Lisa says they selected their new community because they wanted a place where they could relax, not worry about home and yard maintenance, have an active lifestyle, and—most importantly—have fun.
Among the first to move into their new home at Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, Terrance and Cathy Lyon selected the Parrot model for its overall openness and large great room that flows to the lanai and pool area to create one big party room. “We have always loved the Savannah, Charleston, and Hilton Head area,” says Cathy. “Driving by Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head for the first time, it really caught our eye. The whole thing was so different … unique. We looked at other communities and knew this would be the right fit for us. It gives off that whole feeling of fun. It’s not just another over-55 retirement community.”
Margaritaville and Minto — A recipe for success
“Minto’s partnership with Margaritaville already has proven to be a recipe for success,” says Minto’s Latitude Margaritaville Division President William Bullock. What is that recipe? “Margaritaville is synonymous with fun living which is a perfect match for Minto’s 60-plus year commitment to creating unique master-planned communities that take resort-style living to a new level,“ notes Bullock.
“There is nothing else like Latitude Margaritaville. The lifestyle offered is truly redefining active adult living. Interest has been phenomenal with more than 155,000 prospective home buyers joining the online Latitude Margaritaville Paradise Club to receive regular updates. “That number just keeps growing as we expand the Latitude Margaritaville concept into new areas. Currently, we are evaluating additional locations throughout the U.S.,” he adds.
Margaritaville’s unmistakable brand of no-worries island-style fun and entertainment is reflected at every level throughout the community. Jimmy Buffett music plays in the background at the sales center and model court, and transportation is provided via the “This way to Paradise” shuttle bus or limited edition Latitude Margaritaville golf carts complete with shark fins on top.
Charming and colorful coastal-style single-family and villa home designs have bright, cheerful interiors that create a happy beachside atmosphere. You often spot residents cruising down Island Breeze Drive, Coral Reef Way, Margaritaville Avenue, and Latitude Drive aboard their limited-edition Margaritaville golf carts. As a housewarming gift, each new resident receives a Margaritaville Key West Frozen Concoction Maker, complete with Margarita Mix to get the party started. In addition, each Latitude Margaritaville community has a dedicated lifestyle director to make sure the fun never stops.
The nine model homes at each Latitude Margaritaville community capture the “no worries” tropical vibe of the community with three distinct villa and single-family home collections—the Caribbean, Beach, and Island. These include four villa home models—the Antigua, Barbuda, Jamaica, and Nevis—ranging from 1,503 to 1,862 square feet under air. All include two bedrooms, den or hobby room, two baths, covered lanai, and two-car garage. Villa pricing starts in the $200s.
Five single-family home models include the Coconut, Parrot, Breeze, Aruba, and Trinidad. Single-family homes range from 1,684 to 2,564 square feet under air and feature two to three bedrooms plus den, two to three-car garages, two to three-and-a-half baths, and a covered lanai. Pricing for single-family homes starts in the high $200s. A wide selection of additional floor plans are available.
Residents Bill and Kelley Serantis were counting forward to age 55 with anticipation so that they could become Latitude Margaritaville residents. “We moved in when we turned 55,” says Kelley. “Bill is retired and I still work as a realtor because I love what I do and love selling in this community. We were looking for a nice new community with top-notch amenities, and Latitude Margaritaville certainly delivers. What we did not expect was the sense of community and camaraderie. It has blown us away and is something very special. To quote a Jimmy Buffett song, ‘I have found me a home.’”
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The Lake and Hills Garden Club Celebrates 30 Years
Keowee Key’s Lake and Hills Garden Club celebrated their 30-year anniversary this year, and it’s stories like this one that have helped hold it together.
Laura Havran has roots at Keowee Key; a fairly rare phenomenon for residents living in 20th century-born master-planned communities. Havran’s mother, Jeanette Dodge (known as “Parky”), and her father, J.T. Dodge, settled in at Keowee Key in 1989, 14 years after the community formed. Laura and Dick Havran and their three children spent summers on the Lake and fell in love with the lifestyle there. So much so, that when they started exploring retirement options, they consistently compared communities they visited to Keowee Key. And, nothing measured up.
“Finally, my husband said to me, ‘Remind me again why we’re not considering Keowee Key?'” Havran said with a chuckle. “It was then that we realized that this was where we really wanted to be.”
Not long after they moved to Keowee Key, Havran followed in her mother’s footsteps again when she joined the Lake and Hills Garden Club.
“My mother was a 27-year member and a former garden club president, so when I moved here it was sort of expected,” Havran said. Not to mention, Havran, one of eight children, grew up with vegetable gardens, freshly cut flowers from front yard gardens in vases on every table, and good weeding and harvesting skills.
“Gardening is sort of in our blood,” Havran said. “Both of my parents grew up on farms, so growing things was just a way of life for them.”
The Lake and Hills Garden Club, of which Havran is now president, was formed by seven women residents at Lake Keowee in 1988 and has since made a name for itself in the region. 2018 marks the club’s 30th anniversary.
“People come from all over the region to attend our annual October auction. We have several that come from Clemson every year,” Havran said. “The garden club is kind of known in the region for the work we do. So, supporting it at the auction has become a tradition that people really look forward to. Everyone gets all dressed up. It’s quite an affair.”
Due to the auction’s success, the Garden Club is able to host community programs and initiatives, such as seminars presented by Clemson professors and area authors, planting 100 dogwoods near the clubhouse, the nursing home project, and the National Wildlife Federation Certification program. The Club’s goal is for the entire community, including the clubhouse gardens, to become a Certified Wildlife Habitat®.
Members like Alice Guzick (head of the National Wildlife Federation project), Barbara Shaver, Irene Feber, and Edna Mallamed have been with the club since its inception.
“They’ve done what it takes through the years to rejuvenate membership and to keep the club alive and vibrant,” added Havran
Garden Club members take their skills and big hearts into nursing homes to work with residents. They allocate funds raised to support relative local and national initiatives. And, they spend time together at floral arranging and planning workshops, and working on planting and preservation projects.
Havran says that while she loves all the work that they do together, she loves the fellowship almost as much.
“We have such a great mix of ladies with so many different skills and backgrounds. It’s just a whole lot of fun, and we’re able to do a lot of good and learn so much in the process.”
And, as for her mother’s legacy, Havran carries it with her.
“I’ll just be going on about something, and one of the club members will say, ‘oh, that’s so something Parky would say,'” Havran said with a laugh. “And then,
I realize that they’re right.’
Dog parks are a top amenity on the ideal lifestyle list for many dog families.
A quick scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed will prove that 21st century dogs are officially in the limelight, right where they belong. Many who are looking to relocate consider an area or community as much for the sake of their dog(s) as they do for themselves. Dog-friendly hiking or walking trails – check. Dog-friendly beaches – check. Leash-free dog parks? More and more checks guaranteed. As people become aware of the benefits of having a pet, they’re also coming to the realization that, in essence, “pets are people too”. Roaming outdoors, getting plenty of exercise and staying social are all as important to a dog’s health as they are to our own.
Master-planned communities across the country are heeding the healthier living calls of canines and their humans by creating spaces for dogs and their owners to mingle with other dogs…and their owners.
Here are a few communities that have gone above and beyond for their canine residents:
Keowee Key, a lake community just outside of Clemson, SC in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is full of parks. But, its latest addition may be one of the busiest. Residents are thrilled to have a place where they can plan doggie dates or schedule daily or weekly visits to so that dogs can play off-leash both on and off the “agility equipment” with new and old canine companions. Owners can also sign up for dog training sessions held at the park.
At Lakewood Ranch, the three acres of fenced-in, leash-free space at the Paw Park is every dog’s preferred stomping ground. Also a resident favorite, the Paw Park is a popular spot for neighbors to mingle. A doggie drinking fountain, a separate small dog and puppy area, benches and a bag dispenser are on site.
The folks at Hampton Lake in Blufton, SC are convinced that pet companionship can be vital to health and well being at all ages. So, they went all out for resident canines and their families. Sand pits, earth mounds, and grass fields allow dogs to do more than just stretch their legs. And, the six ft. fire hydrant and handheld shower is a hit with dog owners not so fond of mud-covered paws. The picnic shelter with tables and benches is a great space for neighbors to become friends and for good friends to spend time together.
The Villages at Citrus Hills on The Nature’s Coast in Florida has decided to integrate two and four-legged exercise spaces. At Rockwood Park, you can play basketball, bocce ball, run with your dog(s) on the fitness trail, or let them run free at the Rockwood dog park. Aside from the standard dog park amenities, bone-shaped sand traps and water-play features like the spraying fire hydrant keep dogs digging and diving, providing the ultimate in doggie aerobics.
At St. James Plantation near Southport, NC dogs are everywhere – hanging their heads out of golf carts, running with their owners, and paddling alongside swimmers in the surf. But running leash-free, socializing and relaxing at one of St. James two dog parks – Woodlands Park and St. James Drive Park – are dog and owner favorites. If access to a restroom is essential, then Woodlands Park is your best bet.
Master-planned communities are integrating parks and ample spaces for dogs to roam because a dog’s life is the good life. And, given the benefits of having them in our lives, communities and their residents want to do whatever they can to make a dog’s life even better.