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Best of the Best 2005: Private Resort Communities

A residence within a private resort community is more than just a vacation home; it is an entrée into a vacation environment. Increasingly popular with those in the market for a second (or third, or fourth) home, such communities offer the conveniences and amenities of full-scale resorts, but on a more personal level. Not only will your refrigerator be stocked and your sheets cleaned before your arrival, but your property will be protected and maintained to your specifications while you are away. Despite a recent influx of new competitors in the field, the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Mont., remains the archetypal private resort community.

The world’s only private ski and golf club, Yellowstone covers 13,400 acres near the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. More than 2,000 acres of this mountain, meadow, and valley terrain are dedicated to the club’s ski area, which is managed by winter-sport filmmaker Warren Miller. The area has 10 lifts for the exclusive use of Yellowstone’s approximately 200 members and their guests (the club plans to cap membership at 864). No one ever waits in a lift line, and the mountain’s 60 trails are never crowded. (Click image to enlarge)


A similar sense of seclusion should be the norm at Yellowstone’s new Tom Weiskopf–designed golf course, the back nine of which is scheduled to open this summer. In addition to the course and ski area, Yellowstone offers dining and recreational facilities at the club’s four lodges.

Yellowstone’s facilities and amenities, and its protected yet accessible location about an hour south of the Bozeman airport, have attracted home buyers from 26 states, Canada, and Europe since property became available at the club in 2000. Membership is by invitation only, and the entry and review process is similar to that of a more traditional country club. Those accepted to the club can choose from homesites (beginning at $2 million for two acres), custom homes (starting at $6.5 million for 5,000 square feet), or soon-to-be-available duplex and triplex units. Club membership costs an additional $250,000, and annual dues are $16,000.




Yellowstone Club, 888.700.7748, www.theyellowstoneclub.com

Big Island’s Best

With acreage of more than 4,000 square miles, and a coastline that covers 266 miles, the Big Island of Hawaii has accommodated a recent surge in resort community developments. Of the vacation home communities, none combines location and amenities as well as Hualalai Resort on the island’s north Kona-Kohala Coast.


Hualalai occupies a gentle slope that grants vistas of lava rock formations, golf course fairways, and Pacific Ocean surf to nearly all of its homeowners. Spread across 865 acres, the property provides a sense of seclusion, yet has all of the benefits of a five-diamond resort. Owners have access to the facilities of the adjoining Four Seasons hotel (which includes a spa, four restaurants, and five swimming pools), and to Hualalai’s Jack Nicklaus golf course and members-only Tom Weiskopf course.

Golf villas and oceanfront homes at Hualalai begin at approximately $4 million and $15 million respectively, and range to about $29 million; homesites begin at about $3 million. A new, six-duplex development along the first fairway of the Weiskopf course features infinity-edge swimming pools and guesthouses, and is priced from nearly $4 million to more than $5 million per unit.


Hualalai is developing a members’ facility, the Mauka Clubhouse, which will accompany the new Weiskopf course and include a dining room, lounge, swimming pool, and events lawn. The clubhouse, along with the community’s other facilities, will be the exclusive domain of Hualalai’s anticipated 600 eventual homeowners and their guests.

Hualalai Resort, 800.983.3880, www.hualalairesort.com

Beautiful Barrier

Tidal marshes and wetlands compose half of the 10,000 acres on Kiawah Island, a resort community located 21 miles south of Charleston, S.C. Of the barrier island’s remaining, buildable terrain, much has been set aside for conservation or for Kiawah’s seven golf courses, where fairways are kept void of homes. Instead of hindering the community, however, Kiawah Island’s restrictions contribute to its appeal.

The absence of cookie-cutter homes along its golf courses has made Kiawah Island fertile ground for some of the South’s most architecturally stunning second homes. There are approximately 4,000 property owners on the island, and single-family residences range from $700,000 to more than $25 million. Currently, 56 homes—as well as 87 homesites ($240,000 to $9.5 million) and 36 condo-style villas ($339,000 to $1.18 million)—are for sale. The Kiawah Island Real Estate company releases an average of 50 new homesites annually, and residential development is expected to continue for 20 or 30 years.

As do the island’s homes, Kiawah Island’s amenities set it apart from the many coastal resort communities in the South. Ownership on the island includes membership at the Sasanqua Day Spa, the Beach Club, and two private golf clubs: the Tom Watson–designed Cassique Course and Tom Fazio’s River Course. Cassique features a 29,500-square-foot clubhouse with a formal dining facility and pub, while the Fazio course incorporates a more casual, Southern-style structure with dining rooms and separate lounges with locker rooms for men and women.

Kiawah’s five remaining golf courses, which include Fazio’s Osprey Point and Pete Dye’s famous Ocean Course, are open to the public, and non-owners may stay on the island at the newly opened Sanctuary (see Resorts, page 224). However, much of Kiawah has been set aside strictly for the enjoyment of the island’s property owners.

Kiawah Island, 843.768.3400,


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