Ventureout Interview Rock Barn

Ventureout Interview Rock Barn

Where the “fun” is Always Shining

Mary Ann & Bill Knox
Rock Barn Golf & Country Club
Conover, North Carolina

“Rock Barn is so wonderful. We feel so blessed. Everyday we sit on the patio and we say aren’t we the luckiest people in the whole world,” said Mary Ann Knox.

Over 12 years ago, Mary Ann and her husband Bill retired to Rock Barn Golf & Country Club from the Washington, DC area. The wanted to retire on a golf course and found the perfect place just outside the Charlotte, NC metro. Rock Barn Country Club & Spa is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Conover, NC, and features 36 holes of award-winning golf. The community boasts two challenging, picturesque, championship golf courses, a The Robert Trent Jones and a Tom Jackson course.

Mary Ann says, “We couldn’t have afforded this house in the DC area, it would have been $2 million plus in that area. I feel like the biggest cheerleader for Rock Barn. This community and the club are such an incredible value. We have more money to live the life we’ve always dreamed of. Rock Barn has vitality. We’ve lived in Rock Barn 12 years. The time goes so fast, it feels like we retired just the other day. It’s not a community, it’s a family.”

“I remember it was a culture shock to move from the DC area. But, at Rock Barn, it is living in a resort. They have everything we need here. We usually eat at the club. And, we have a world class spa that is currently being renovated to include a salt cave in addition already spectacular spa deck with jacuzzi, pools, and even a waterfall.”

The Spa at Rock Barn, is a European day spa featuring a mineral pool, a therapeutic waterfall, indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, saunas, essential oil infused steam rooms, and a bracing cold water pool. The spa also offers health and beauty treatments as well as poolside dining.

Mary Ann is the chairman of the membership committee. She says the whole culture of the club has changed. “New people move in and re-energize the community. That’s what makes the community so vibrant. Some old members have rejoined the club. It’s kind of an evolution. People are taking on new roles. We value our members. Since May 2018 we have added 72 new members and we offer a junior membership to encourage younger people to join. The staff at the club is excellent. They learn everyone’s name. They really get to know the people and the staff gets to know everyones’ name and drink.”

“When we lived in the DC area we didn’t have time to socialize like we do now. We have a club, “The Prime Timers” with over 100 people over the age of 55. Once a month we meet and even we went line dancing one time.”

The resort life, however, hasn’t been the only thing that Mary Ann has found at Rock Barn. she has now found her passion in helping others. Mary Ann volunteers in the local soup kitchen. She says “I didn’t have time when I was working. I have found my passion working with nursing homes. Just seeing the smiles on their faces is so rewarding. It’s good to give back to the community at large.”

Mary says, “Family and friends is what matters. My sister and her husband live down the cul de sac. We have created a family legacy— a tradition to pass on. My teenage grandkids want to visit. There are so many things to do. All of my grandkids and sister’s grandkids live to golf.”

“I stay so active. I never envisioned it would be so wonderful.”

2019 Spring Travel Guide

2019 Spring Travel Guide


2019 Spring Travel Guide

This ideal-LIVING 2019 Spring Travel Guide challenges you to take a step back and look at the big picture—not just a single place that might intrigue you, but an entire region that’s compact enough to comfortably tour in a week. Within each area, you’ll find popular destinations to explore, festive events to enjoy, and vibrant communities to visit.

Your mission is to design a trip that combines a great vacation experience with a journey of discovery to your possible new frontier. And, make sure has your e-mail address to receive updates on discovery travel opportunities.

2019 Travel Guide: Eastern Heartland

Eastern Heartland

2019 Spring Travel Guide: The Lowcountry

The Lowcountry

2019 Travel Guide: Florida


2019 Travel Guide: The Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands


West of the Mississippi







2019 Travel Guide: Coastal Carolinas

Coastal Carolinas

Coastal Carolina: 2019 Spring Travel Guide

Coastal Carolina: 2019 Spring Travel Guide

fishing on the beach

Coastal Carolina

An adventure along the Carolina coast can begin on America’s most beautiful barrier islands, include a tour of historic waterfront towns, and conclude at popular oceanfront destinations, with plenty of new residential communities to check out along the way.

Spring 2019 Travel Guide


A series of oceanfront islands with unspoiled beaches and laid-back seaside towns, The Outer Banks of North Carolina feature attractions like the inspiring Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, hang gliding over Jockey Ridge State Park’s gigantic dunes, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. You can drive the entire 150-mile stretch, explore the National Seashore at your leisure and linger in oceanfront hamlets, then take the ferry ride from Ocracoke to the mainland.

new bern marina NEW BERN
This historic riverfront town in North Carolina’s Inner Banks region features a delightfully walkable downtown with cafes, galleries, antique stores, gardens, and the drug store where Pepsi-Cola was invented. Tryon Palace tours, boating, and kayaking on the surrounding waterways, and hiking on the nearby Croatan National Forest nature trails are among the New Bern area’s most popular activities.

Beaufort is the hub of the Crystal Coast area and was named “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Traveler magazine. The North Carolina Maritime Museum is located on the Front Street boardwalk, along with restaurants, bakeries, galleries, and pubs, while water taxis take nature lovers to the wilds of the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve and the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The historic riverside city of Wilmington and nearby oceanfront towns from Wrightsville Beach to Southport make this area one of North Carolina’s most diverse destinations. Stroll, shop, and dine along the Wilmington Riverwalk, visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, or tour the battleship North Carolina and the 67-acre Airlie Gardens. Historic sites and interactive museums, scenic cruises and watersports, amusement parks, and day trips to the beach are among the most popular vacation activities. Area accommodations range from downtown Wilmington hotels and inns to beach houses and condos overlooking the ocean.

14th Avenue Pier in Myrtle BeachTHE GRAND STRAND
A 60-mile arc of South Carolina oceanfront that stretches from the town of Little River south to Winyah Bay, The Grand Strand includes a dozen distinctive seaside towns with the high-rise hotels and condos of Myrtle Beach right in the middle. Vacation attractions include 100+ shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues each at Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach, and more than 90 championship golf courses that are open for visitor play year-round. For an all-day family adventure, enjoy the outdoor sculptures and nature exhibits at Brookgreen Gardens in the Murrells Inlet-Pawleys Island area.


Azalea Festival Wilmington, NCAPRIL 3-7
A Wilmington tradition since 1948, this year’s event includes garden and historic home tours, a juried art show and sale, a downtown parade and fireworks display, a street fair with 300+ vendors, musical theater presentations, a shag-dancing contest, and performing artists including 2019 headliner Hank Williams, Jr.

APRIL 22-28
The 15th annual celebration of great food and drink in the coastal town of Beaufort will feature wine-themed dinners in restaurants and private homes, a champagne brunch, a fashion-show luncheon, the Grand Reserve tasting and auction, and the signature Vin de Mer Culinary Village with live music.



A Wilmington tradition since 1948, this year’s event includes garden and historic home tours, a juried art show and sale, a downtown parade and fireworks display, a street fair with 300+ vendors, musical theater presentations, a shag-dancing contest, and performing artists including 2019 headliner Hank Williams, Jr.

MAY 16-19
The region’s finest restaurants, wineries, and distillers combine forces to welcome visitors and locals alike to historic Bellamy Mansion with music, art shows, and unique ticketed events like the Southern Smoke BBQ Cocktail Party, the Corks & Forks Grand Tasting Event, and the Bubbles, Brews & Street Eats finale.


West Villages Florida | Move Closer Together


JUNE 6-9

Take in three days of the best in country music on four stages along the oceanfront Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, with more than 30 performing artists, family-themed events, a Battle of the Bands, and 2019 featured acts that include Alabama and Dierks Bentley.

Cape Fear Blues FestivalJUNE 23-25
Featuring big-name artists and talented up-and-coming performers for the 22nd year, this summer’s event will feature a sunset blues cruise, nightly shows at The Rusty Nail in Wilmington, NC, a blues workshop, an acoustic blues gathering, a day-long blues jam, and a Saturday night concert finale.



Encore at Briar Chapel (Chapel Hill, NC) features single-story residences for age 55+ active adults by David Weekley Homes, with clubhouse activities, racquet courts, and nearly 25 miles of fitness trails in the Research Triangle area near Chapel Hill.

Carolina Colours (New Bern, NC) features social and fitness activities at the Pavilion Clubhouse, an on-site golf course, racquet courts, woodland trails, and distinctive neighborhoods with water, wetland, and fairway views.

Summerhouse on Everett Bay (Holly Ridge, NC)Summerhouse on Everett Bay (Holly Ridge, NC) offers custom-quality homes and flexible floor plans, as well as community amenities like boat docks with Intracoastal Waterway access in a seaside location near Topsail Beach and Surf City.

River Bluffs (Wilmington, NC) has with single-family homes and sites on the North Cape Fear River, plus healthy-lifestyle amenities that include a fitness center, hiking trails, kayak launches, and community gardens.

Brunswick Forest (Wilmington, NC)Brunswick Forest (Wilmington, NC) is now home to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in The Villages center. Just minutes from Wilmington, the Cape Fear National Golf Course, tennis/pickleball courts, biking trails, and kayak docks top the list of amenities.

Compass Pointe (Wilmington, NC) is a close-knit community of neighbors in southeastern North Carolina that features the award-winning Compass Pointe Golf Club, wellness programs, and social gatherings at The Grand Lanai Amenities Center.

The Bluffs on Cape Fear (Wilmington, NC) offers waterfront building sites and custom homes with on-site resort amenities and a beach club on nearby Oak Island. A new fitness center with pickleball courts and the Riverfront Park & Boat Launch to open soon.

St. James Plantation (Southport, NC) is located near the seaside town of Southport and has a private Oak Island Beach Club. On-site amenities include an Intracoastal Waterway marina, fitness centers, and member access to four 18-hole golf courses.

Palmetto Creek (Bolivia, NC) features single-family residences by preferred builders and a resort clubhouse, tennis courts, kayak launches, and a unique boardwalk trail. The Southport location is just 10 minutes from the beach.

McLendon Hills (West End, NC) features a full-service Equestrian Center with a new covered riding arena and nearly 10 miles of bridle trails, plus the region’s best fishing and boating on Lake Troy Douglas in the golf-rich Pinehurst-Southern Pines area.

Cresswind Charlotte welcomes residents age 55 and older who appreciate a location that’s convenient to the Uptown area and international airport, with amenities like tennis/pickleball courts, miles of walkways, and numerous interest clubs.

Cresswind Myrtle Beach is an active-adult community with homes that have big porches and open floor plans, plus a huge pool complex, sports courts, and fitness facilities in the popular Common Market area near the beach.

Logan Homes has been building luxury residences on the Carolina Coast since 1986. Their Build Smart process takes every buyer from design-center consultation and construction-team reports to energy-efficient home satisfaction.

Bill Clark Homes is a featured builder in the finest North and South Carolina communities. For more than 40 years, the family-owned company has offered fully customizable floor plans and total peace-of-mind warranties.


Southern Hills  Country Club Living from the mid $200s
On the Move  |  Noble’s Pond in Dover, DE

On the Move | Noble’s Pond in Dover, DE

Mike and Lorie McKelveys, Noble Ponds Residents

Low Taxes, Low Maintenance, and More Time | Nobles Pond, DE

“I’m from New Jersey and I have to remember we are now on Delaware time. It’s all so laid back,” said Mike. “Noble’s Pond reminds me of resort living. There is a beautiful clubhouse, and the gym is perfect for me.”

Moving to Delaware in August of 2018 from southern New Jersey, the McKelveys are just getting settled in to their new lifestyle and they couldn’t be happier about it. They started looking at multiple states about two years ago and were pleased to find that their ideal life could be found only an hour and half away from their two daughters. As new grandparents of twins, they decided that they wanted to be close enough to see their family, but still wanted to move to start a new life for themselves.

The McKelvey’s enthusiasm is contagious. They are exuberant about their new community and all it has to offer. They love the saltwater pool at Noble’s Pond. They always had a pool at their homes and now enjoy using the community’s facilities and that means they don’t have to clean and maintain their own. And, they have met a lot of new friends at the pool. Mike says, “People here are all from somewhere else and we all get along very well. We look out for each other. Everyone just stops and talks to each other. It has a different vibe. No one is in a rush.”

“Colleen, the Noble’s Pond lifestyle director is always smiling and always helpful. There’s always something to do—you can’t get bored,” said Lorie. They attend community-sponsored events like monthly happy hours and Sunday barbecues. They insist that there are always parties going on in this 55+ active adult community. Mike and Lorie plan to take advantage of planned trips with other community residents in the future. The McKelveys’ longest vacation pre-retirement was eight days, now they plan to take longer trips. They are also excited to explore Delaware beaches.

Mike concludes, “Everything is cheaper here from gasoline to insurance to no sales tax. Property taxes are a quarter of what we paid in New Jersey. Our new house is so energy efficient that all of the bills are incredibly low. The home is all on one level. We tried to think of our future as we picked out things for the home. And, all of the maintenance is taken care of. Did I tell you I don’t have to cut the grass? Now, I’m spoiled.”

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Noble's Pond

Noble's Pond

Delaware 55+ Community Situated on 293 acres with wooded areas and natural habitats Low Tax Living - Delaware taxes for retirees are ranked #1 in the NE Read More...

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A Family Legacy Embraces Traditional Neighborhood Design

A Family Legacy Embraces Traditional Neighborhood Design

Hartness Development Homes

A Gem in the “Hart” of Greenville, South Carolina | Hartness Development

“We’re building inheritable homes… that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”

Just a few short miles from downtown Greenville, SC, named #3 Small City in the USA by Conde Nast Traveler and “One of the South’s Best Cities” by Southern Living Magazine—you’ll find the charming community of Hartness. Named for the family that owns the land on which the community sits, Hartness is designed according to the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development—walkable streets, a wide range of homes built to last, and a Village Center, complete with restaurants and shops. Within five minutes’ walking distance from every home, you’ll find an amenity worth visiting—whether it’s a thoughtfully-designed park, a hardscaped plaza, or the Village Center itself. The community also features 180 acres of nature preserve threaded with 15 miles of trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, or just getting lost in the beauty of Greenville’s countryside.

Hartness Development Dining Room

The Hartness family could have chosen many different paths for the 400+ acres of land they’ve called home for decades. In fact, Thomas “Pat” Patterson Hartness and his wife Mary Lou Hartness still live on an estate located on the property that Pat began acquiring in the 1970s. Instead, they chose to develop the land themselves, to create an idyllic retreat just 15 miles from the heart of downtown Greenville.

“We are fourth-generation Greenville folks, and we saw so much development going on around Greenville—other than the downtown area, which was revitalized in a very thoughtful way,” says Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Development. “There’s a lot of sprawl going on, traditional suburban development … There’s clearly a better way to develop property in a sustainable way where we preserve special places and the natural landscape. We really want to give back to Greenville and show that there is a better development pattern.”

Hartness Development Greenville, SC wonderful kitchen

The Hartness’ Greenville legacy began in 1940, when Pat’s father, Tom, purchased the local Pepsi-Cola bottling rights—an endeavor that led to the evolution of a successful packaging company with a wide network of global contacts. Pat became the CEO of Hartness International and Sean served as a senior executive before the family decided to sell the company and pursue other avenues—and they are on track for the Hartness community to be just as vibrant a venture.

“It’s naturally an attractive piece of property. There are two streams running through the land and 13 fishing ponds that have been here for generations. People used to pay to bring their boats out here,” Sean says. “The property used to be a large cattle farm. It was really countryside until the time that my father started to acquire the property. To his credit, he has literally planted hundreds—if not thousands—of trees.”

Hartness Greenville, SC beautiful living room

Sean gives a great deal of credit to architect Lew Oliver, who has worked with Hartness Development on land planning as well as vertical architecture. “We’re building inheritable homes, homes that you would see in downtown Greenville or downtown Wilmington. They’re multigenerational assets that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”

Currently, Hartness Development has a boutique hotel that’s about to break ground—but, like everything in this community, it’s unusual in the best of ways. The home where Sean grew up – and where his father and stepmom still live until they move into their new home in Hartness – will be integrated as part of the hotel’s welcoming front entrance and main lobby area. “My parents could have sold it, but it represented the heritage of our family, and the fact that my dad has lived there for almost 50 years,” Sean says. “We saw this as a great opportunity to repurpose a family asset into something that would be desirable not just for the family, but for the greater community at large.”

Hartness Development in Greenville, SC

Hartness Development is a true family affair. Sean’s brother, David, works in the real estate industry and has been an active part of the development process. Pat and Mary Lou are involved on a strategic level, working with Sean on a regular basis and driving through the property to witness as their vision of an intimate, walkable, beautiful mixed-use community becomes a reality. “Our intent is to take certain aspects of the preserve, have gardens, and grow food for the restaurants in the Village Center,” Sean says. “We have a real desire to curate this project in a way that’s world-class. People will hopefully come here to see this project and say—wow, these guys really did something special.”

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Hartness Greenville

Hartness Greenville

The community will feature a number of defining amenities including a central park, sidewalks and pedestrian greenways, unique streetscapes, a commercial center with restaurants and shops, a clubhouse with fitness center, a swim complex, tennis and pickleball, a boutique hotel with spa and a 180 acre nature preserve with 15 miles of trails. Come see 450 acres of beauty in Greenville, SC. Read More...

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Caribbean Teal Waters Are Calling

Caribbean Teal Waters Are Calling

Belize Beaches

Belize: An Adventurer’s Paradise

For a couple interested in residential offerings, it’s fun and instructive to rent a private water taxi for several hours and tour the coast, stop for lunch, and maybe pick out your favorite oceanfront lot.”
— Matt Brown

As Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula stretches toward the Caribbean Sea, it signals the southern edge of the country, where it then shares a border with Belize. An otherworldly place of sultry beauty, ancient Mayan relics, and flourishing culture (and eco-tourism!), it’s all framed by the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and dotted with luxury resorts and communities tucked on tropical cays and islands.

Belize Cyrstal Blue WatersBelize is an adventurer’s paradise, with the teal waters of the Caribbean Sea beckoning on the east and a fascinating rain forest ecosystem in the highlands to the west. The country is only 68 miles across, so it’s easy to spend the morning drifting with sea turtles on the reef and the afternoon exploring the ruins of the ancient Mayan pyramids of Caracol and Xunantunich.

But most importantly, Belize is a place intently balancing its emerging and bountiful popularity with its boundless commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. National Geographic recently released its list of “Best Places to Visit in the Upcoming Year,” and Belize received high praise for its protection of the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve coral reef by banning all offshore drilling, passing a law to phase out single-use plastics, and taking steps to protect mangrove forests, home to the endangered manatee and countless other aquatic species.

That commitment will have to be girded as resort operators like Marriott, Wyndham, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville have plans to build resort communities in Belize within the next several years. Even Leonardo DiCaprio and a business partner have purchased a private island called Blackadore Caye for $1.75 million with plans to sensitively develop a restorative, 68-villa eco-resort.

Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, gained its independence from the crown in 1982. But, Queen Elizabeth still graces the dollar, English is the official language, and the government is a parliamentary system that believes in contract law like Australia and Canada. Unlike some other Caribbean countries, real estate purchases are fully titled and deeded (rather than leased for 99 years or not allowed at all). There is no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, and residency is relatively easy to gain.


Grand Highlands Banner


The country is easily accessed (just a four-hour flight from Chicago and two hours from Miami or Houston) through the international airport in Belize City (BZE). The islands are reached by a short 20-minute airplane ride or water taxi.

Much of the popular resort and residential activity resides on Ambergris Caye, a long narrow strip of land (you’re never further than 500 yards from water) and the largest of Belize’s offshore islands. And although the Belize mainland is essentially a rain forest, the island only gets about 1/5 of the rain as inland (to be safe, the dry season runs from January to May). Ambergris Caye also restricts cars and trucks to commercial purposes, so everyone drives a golf cart or ATV.

Ambergris Caye, Belize Among the existing island resorts is the opulent Grand Caribe just north of San Pedro, the main city of Ambergris Caye. The waterfront Ramon’s Village Resort in San Pedro is an elegant slice of thatched-roof heaven, and the Grand Baymen Condo Resort also beckons on the Ambergris beachfront.
Local Coldwell Banker realtor Matt Brown suggests a creative idea for exploring Ambergris Caye. Brown reveals, “For a couple interested in residential offerings, it’s fun and instructive to rent a private water taxi for several hours and tour the coast, stop for lunch, and maybe pick out your favorite oceanfront lot.” Matt Brown moved to Belize in 2011 from Canada and saw the potential in this English-speaking country for an easy transition into an incredible new life in a pristine location.

On the mainland, the family Coppola (as in Francis Ford) offers two embracing resorts: the waterfront Turtle Inn near the charming Creole fishing village of Placencia in south Belize, and the Blacaneaux Lodge, which actually was the Coppola’s tropical paradise hideaway in the rain forest from 1980 to 1993, when they opened it to the public as a 20-room luxury resort.
Perhaps the most valuable asset for all of these resorts is their relationships with trusted dive shops, fishing boat captains, and interpretative eco-guides who help Belize’s wonders come to life.

One of those wonders is the Great Blue Hole, the largest aquatic sinkhole in the world that spans three football fields in diameter and over 400 feet deep, located about 40 miles off the Belize coast on Lighthouse Reef. The Great Blue Hole came to modern attention when Jacques Cousteau explored it in 1971. Just this last December, Cousteau’s grandson Fabien joined with billionaire Richard Branson to fully map the hole and discover its coral fringes and ancient stalactites. Needless to say, the Great Blue Hole is on many a recreational diver’s bucket list. Search the Discovery Channel to view the December exploration.

Belize Marine LifeAnother wonder was stumbled upon in 1989 when the rain forest revealed to researchers the Actun Tunichil Miknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulcher or ATM), a Maya sacrificial burial site hidden nearly a mile underground and the resting place of the “crystal maiden,” a complete skeleton of a 20-year old woman that sparkles from crystal calcification. Accessing the cave requires precarious rock climbing and underwater swimming and is accordingly highly regulated. National Geographic ranks ATM at the top of its new list of “Sacred Places of a Lifetime.”

You will also want to explore the Altun Ha and Lamanai Mayan sites, visit the tidy Belize Zoo, where its lush landscaping will have you thinking you’ve stumbled into the jungle. There is also cave tubing on rushing underground rivers, plus myriad zip-lining options. Try hiking the lush jungle trails of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the only jaguar reserve on the planet. Or, just luxuriate in the old-world charm and secluded stretches of beach on Caye Caulker.

For more information and travel details, visit online at

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