By Robyn A. Friedman
City & Shore Magazine
When you think of Orlando, what comes to mind? Theme parks, traffic, time-share resorts, seedy hotels?
While it’s true Orlando is all of those things, that’s not the whole story. Orlando also has a thriving luxury real-estate market attracting both vacation-home owners and full-time residents. Wealthy ones.
“We’re part of a region that is experiencing phenomenal growth,” says Cathy Williams, a real-estate broker with Lake Nona Realty in Orlando. “Orlando has beautiful luxury communities – and some great restaurants too.”
According to Metrostudy, a provider of housing-industry data, economic conditions in Orlando are strong. The Orlando MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) recently ranked first in the nation for job growth. The unemployment rate is low, and the population is swelling. All of those economic factors fuel demand for homes – and cause prices to rise.
Williams handles sales at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, a luxury community with a 30-year history and a championship golf course designed by Tom Fazio popular with the professional golfers and athletes who live there.
Prices at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club currently range from $988,000 to $6.59 million for both new homes and resales. Homesites range from $699,000 to $1.6 million. The most expensive home on the market now is a 12,000-square-foot, six-bedroom home at 9011 Mayfair Pointe Drive. The $6.59 million mansion has a two-story, glass-and-steel wine room that is the only one of its kind in the United States. Other features include a glass-tile pool and spa, an entertainment loft with gas fireplace and drop-down media projector, two offices and a summer kitchen with Viking grill.
Luxury homes are also common in Winter Park, particularly along the banks of the city’s lakes; and in Isleworth, a 600-acre golf community in Windermere that has been home to a number of professional athletes, including Tiger Woods and Shaquille O’Neal.
And then there’s Golden Oak, a luxury master-planned community developed by Walt Disney Imagineering just four miles from the Magic Kingdom. Consisting of 980 acres and set in a natural conservation area, Golden Oak is a mixed-use development of both residential – detached single-family homes – and commercial areas.
The community is centered around the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, a 443-room hotel that has a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, restaurants and a spa. Residential offerings include approximately 300 custom homes at Golden Oak that start in the $2 millions and have unique Disney flourishes such as Hidden Mickeys throughout the homes.
“The most unique aspect of the community is that it’s Disney – the Disney brand and the quality that we put into the overall design and oversight of the community,” says Page Pierce, vice president, Disney Resort Real Estate Development. “Many of our residents are lifelong Disney fans. They could buy anywhere in America, but they bought at Walt Disney World because they want to bring their children and grandchildren together. That’s the magic of Golden Oak, which is bringing multiple generations together, and then passing your home down to generations so that it becomes a legacy buy.”
Golden Oak residents have unique benefits not available to anyone else. There are special programs, both on-site and in the theme parks, as well as concierge services and access to the Golden Oak Club, a private social and recreational club for members. The clubhouse, known as Summerhouse, was recently expanded and includes Markham’s, an exclusive private restaurant, Tyler’s and a newly opened casual restaurant called Bolton’s. Other amenities include fitness facilities, a pool and event lawn. Summerhouse is owned and operated by Disney, which oversees the daily operations and programming.
Of the 300 homes at Golden Oak, 30 of them comprise Four Seasons Private Residences Orlando, a one-of-a-kind residential community of custom-built single-family homes with the Four Seasons brand. They range from 6,000 to over 10,000 square feet and are priced from the $5 millions. Residents have access to not only the Golden Oak Club but also to all the services and amenities of the adjacent Four Seasons Resort Orlando, including multiple pools and the spa.
Oh, and about those seedy hotels that come to mind when you think of Orlando? While you’re house-shopping up there, whether for a vacation or permanent home, you now have the options of a Four Seasons, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek or Rosen Shingle Creek, too.
Photo: Golden Oak (Courtesy)