Once, the affluent passed free time driving fine cars to and from lavish country clubs, there to be coddled from the first tee to the last bottle of wine. Now, foresighted developers are bundling luxurious amenities and offering them closer, much closer, to home.
Not just any home, mind you—nobody’s parking a double-wide next to the tennis court. But outside Houston and Dallas and other still-prosperous cities nationwide, large parcels of land are being carved into multi-faceted, resort-style enclaves that eliminate that drive and redefine the private club lifestyle.
“It’s a trend,” said Charlie Hill,general manager of Cordillera Ranch north of San Antonio. “Families these days are so busy. There are so many other things folks want to do.”
Cordillera Ranch is a prime and perfect example of that movement. It covers 8,700 acres of Texas Hill Country, bisected by several miles of Guadalupe River. Residents here are encouraged to “play” at home, and they have access to a variety of first-class outdoor (and indoor) experiences.
“Not many communities have all that we have,” Hill says. “We’ve got fly fishing, an outfitters center, sporting clays course, equestrian center…the spa, and of course, our Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.
”Like most neighborhoods in its class—the number is on the rise in Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado and Florida—access to the clubs and amenities isn’t limited exclusively to residents.
“You don’t have to live here to join,” Hill said, “but it sure makes it nice to be right here.”(Importantly, also: you don’t always have to join the clubs to live within these developments.)
With a phone call at Cordillera Ranch, resident members can be picked up at home and delivered to an already floating kayak, saddled horse or a golf cart, with clubs and a favorite cocktail already in place.
A second example in Texas, only fewer than 10 percent as many acres but nonetheless impressive and enticing, is Houston Oaks Country Club and Family Sports Retreat northwest of Houston. Developed to their own tastes by a group of highly successful local families, its amenities include several dedicated fishing lakes, a beach nearly 100 miles from the nearest real one, and a big-league quality Little League baseball field. By design, residential offerings here are limited; only a few dozen lots within its boundaries are or ever will be sold.
The serenity, exclusivity and amenities of these neighborhoods generate hefty price tags. Nearly everyone who justifies the investment and makes the move eventually will tell you they didn’t get what they paid for—they got more.