By Patti Roth
City & Shore PRIME
Even if you adore South Florida, you probably flirt occasionally with the idea of living somewhere else.
Perhaps you’re eyeing a scenic site with resort-style amenities as your personal vacation retreat. Or you resolved to buy a boat and live on a lake in a quaint town after retirement.
You’ll browse the Internet. Maybe order some fancy brochures. If you want to delve deeper, you’ll be pleased to know various residential communities offer opportunities to experience the lifestyle directly.
Discovery packages, as they’re often labeled, put prospective buyers on the premises, where they participate in recreational activities, dine in restaurants and mingle with the residents. Guests often stay on-site in furnished resident-owned accommodations that are part of a rental pool.
“As we spent time on those discovery packages, we met more and more people, many who’ve been here for decades. They’re all happy. That makes a big impression,” says Robert Reeves, who relocated with his wife, Linda, from Delray Beach to The Landings on Skidaway Island in Savannah, Ga.
Immersing prospective buyers in the environment showcases property well beyond words and pictures, marketing and sales representatives say.
“It’s almost like you have that sensual magical connection once you step out of the car. You see the mountains, the views and the wildflowers. It’s really a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Charner Creecy, senior communications manager for The Cliffs, which features seven master-planned communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Discovery packages at The Cliffs are $495 in spring and summer and $395 in fall and winter. Exclusively for prospective buyers, the package includes two nights of accommodations for two guests with perks such as golf and a credit for a selection of restaurants. The visit includes a tour of the community with a sales agent and access to amenities and activities.
At The Cliffs, as with many other communities that offer similar packages, the discovery visit is typically tailored to guests’ interests. Visitors might hit the links on one of seven golf courses, go on a boat excursion at Lake Keowee, play tennis, join a yoga class or explore the sights by bike or horseback.
“It’s a two-day look at what your lifestyle would be like if you were at The Cliffs,” Creecy says.
On their discovery visits to The Landings on Skidaway Island, Robert and Linda Reeves played tennis and tooled around the island on bicycles. They loved the weather, the natural beauty, the people and a laid-back, unhurried ambience.
“It blew us away,” Robert says.
Scoping out the social scene during a discovery visit is important for some guests. The Cliffs residents, who are from around the globe, are active in a variety of pursuits, ranging from a group that sips Scotch in a mountaintop pavilion to a non-profit organization that raises money to support local schools.
“It’s a very, very rich sense of community and very welcoming.” Creecy says.
Denis Beaulieu, a resident of Boca Raton and The Cliffs at Walnut Cove in Asheville, N.C., shares his enthusiasm for The Cliffs when he’s introduced to prospective buyers. He and his wife purchased property several years ago and built a vacation home overlooking the ninth green on the golf course.
“It’s like a summer camp for adults,” he says.
The Cliffs, seven mountain and lake communities in North and South Carolina. Discovery visits are $395 and $495 for two nights for two. Amenities include seven golf courses, tennis and fitness facilities, marina, equestrian center, beach club on Lake Keowee and more than a dozen restaurants. The seven venues include some 1,600 homes and 1,000 lots. Most homes range from $240,000 to $6.5 million. Call 866-411-5771 or visit cliffsliving.com.
Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Ga. Lifestyle Package, $249 per night up to three nights, with accommodations on-site or at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, which is on-site. Package includes golf or boat excursion and dining credit. Community includes about 2,500 homes and additional lots, six golf courses, four marinas, tennis facilities and nine restaurants and snack shops. Lots range from $100,000 to $1.5 million. Most condos and homes range from $400,000 to $4 million. Call 800-800-5250 or visit reynoldslakeoconee.com.
The Landings on Skidaway Island, Savannah, Ga. Discovery packages are $249 for two for two nights or $375 for three nights, including golfing or boat ride, real-estate tour, access to pools, tennis and other club amenities. Community includes about 4,400 homes and 100 lots, two marinas, six golf courses, tennis, dog park and four clubhouse restaurants. Lots range from $100,000 to $1 million. Most homes range from $300,000 to $2.5 million. Call 800-841-7011 or visit thelandings.com.
Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla. Stay-and-play package is offered to prospective buyers and others; $325 per person to Oct. 31 for one night and $400 per night per home for additional nights. Community includes about 550 single family homes and 200 lots. Home prices range from $150,000 to $1 million. Two 18-hole golf courses and a nine-hole golf course are on-site. Call 352-234-8855 or visit blackdiamondranch.com.