Golf has been a major anchor for attracting residents to resort communities since a construction boom in the 1960s. Now, developments around the world are adding adrenaline-spiking pursuits in addition to signature golf courses.
“I’ve certainly seen a trend toward adding adventure-oriented amenities to resort developments, which used to be a fringe concept,” said Thad Layton, a senior golf course architect and vice president at the Arnold Palmer Design Company.
Across the globe, resort communities are doing more than just adding golf courses to entice people. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of four such places, from a Brazilian development with its own wave pool to a Mexican club that’s home to an ax-throwing and archery range.
Fasano Las Piedras, Uruguay
Last year, Mr. Layton designed a sustainable 18-hole course at Fasano Las Piedras in Punta del Este. The 180-acre golf course is part of a 1,186-acre master plan from JHSF, a luxury real estate development company in Brazil.
While working at the resort, Mr. Layton would spend his free time kiteboarding the Maldonado River, which flows through the property until it joins the nearby Atlantic Ocean. (Private kitesurfing clinics are offered on the river for residents and their guests for $150 per lesson.) Other water activities at the resort include fly-fishing, windsurfing, canoeing, paddleboarding and sailing. Those who want to enjoy water sports in the ocean can take electric boats down the Maldonado River to Fasano’s beach club in La Barra.
“It’s an incredible place,” Mr. Layton said by phone, from the property. “I could easily see myself retiring here one day.” More than half of the golf course is preserved wetlands and riparian areas that function as wildlife corridors for capybara and native birds like southern lapwing and the crested caracara.
Rodrigo Diz and his family moved from Buenos Aires to Fasano Las Piedras in 2017, and purchased a 7,500-square-foot Isay Weinfeld-designed home overlooking the golf course.
“It’s much easier to focus and be productive here versus the city, so I have much more free time for activities,” Mr. Diz said. “I do a lot of canoeing with my friends and family from a small town around 10 kilometers up the river. It takes about two hours to row home, and we finish the day at the Fasano River Club with a private barbecue.”
A new polo field designed by the famous Argentine polo player Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras is scheduled to open in November, near the development’s equestrian center. A range of home styles are being constructed, including polo houses designed by Mr. Figueras and the architect Carolina Proto of Estudio Obra Prima. Prices for a three bedroom polo house start at around $1.1 million; monthly homeowner association fees range from $1,800 to $3,000, depending on the size of the property, and include access to all the amenities.
Fazenda da Grama, Brazil
The real estate developer Oscar Segall in 2018 purchased Fazenda da Grama, a countryside golf community in Itupeva (about 43 miles from São Paulo). To complement the par-72 18-hole championship course designed by Brian Costello, Mr. Segall added a six-and-a-half acre wave pool, fringed by a kilometer-long white-sand beach that can accommodate up to 6,000 sun seekers.
“To get to the beach from São Paulo, a city of 21 million people, you can sit in traffic for three to four hours on the weekends, and most of the beaches are super crowded for surfing,” Mr. Segall said.
The 815-acre community — 40 percent of which is conserved farmland and forest — has more than 488 homesites, with 18 lots, ranging from roughly 24,000 square feet to 35,000 square feet, still available for purchase.
“In 2019, we raised prices from $50 per square meter to $500 square meter, which began selling quickly during the pandemic due to a combination of increased demand and the allure of the beach,” Mr. Segall said. Monthly homeowner association fees run $1,400 a month.
To recreate a coastal beach vibe, Mr. Segall added palm trees, beach volleyball courts, a 25-meter lap pool, and bars and restaurants for residents and their guests to use. People can also go wakeboarding, kitesurfing and windsurfing on the property’s freshwater lake.
“The average age of homeowners dropped from 65-70 to 45-50 since the wave pool was inaugurated in 2019,” Mr. Segall said, adding that many residents who are avid golfers are now spending more time surfing.
Otávio Carneiro, a native of Rio de Janeiro and longtime surfer, relocated from São Paulo to Fazenda da Grama with his family in 2019.
“I taught my son how to surf in the wave pool,” said Mr. Carneiro. “There are beginner, intermediate and advanced waves, depending on the time of day. He rides about 12 waves in 30 minutes as opposed to two or three waves in the ocean in the same amount of time.”
With the press of a button, waves can be modified from easy to difficult, a foot to six-feet high, slow to fast, left to right, and barrels to point breaks.
“In the ocean, everyone is fighting for a good wave,” Mr. Carneiro explained, adding that, at Fazenda da Grama, “there’s a nice spirit of community.”
Twin Dolphin Club, Mexico
The Twin Dolphin Club in Los Cabos, Mexico, offers a smorgasbord of adrenaline-fueled activities in addition to its Fred Couples signature golf course, which is Audubon certified for its environmental practices and overlooks the Sea of Cortez.
The 1,400-acre private club is home to two developments, Montage Los Cabos and Maravilla, along with a bounty of activities. There’s an archery and ax-throwing range, a paintball course, a 5,000-square-foot mountain biking skills course, and 10 miles of hiking terrain through Baja California’s canyon-like arroyos (dry stream beds). Membership fees include an initiation fee of $175,000 and annual dues totaling $26,000, which include access to the golf course and most adventure amenities.
Residents at Montage Los Cabos, a 39-acre enclave within Twin Dolphin, which includes 52 residences and a 122-room hotel, have access to those amenities, as well as other adventures organized by Montage’s in-house outfitter, Compass Sports.
“Our whole team is trained to provide our residents and guests with white-glove service, so the experiences we offer have a level of curation and luxury service that appeals to them,” said Patrick Dolan, corporate director of recreation at Montage International, the property’s parent company.
For example, the outfitter has organized guided surf safaris where residents drive off-road vehicles along the beach, stopping at little-known point breaks. They also offer guided expeditions through mountain arroyos to hidden waterfalls. “Ninety-nine percent of the people that come to Cabo would never even know they could experience something like this,” Mr. Dolan said.
Marco Ortlam, managing director of Montage Los Cabos, moved to the development in 2018 with his wife and young son. “We’re part of the community here,” he said.
Two- to three-bedroom residences ranging from 4,100 square feet to 7,800 square feet of indoor and outdoor space start at $3.95 million. The development’s location, right on the Sea of Cortez, gives residents direct access to water activities, including sunrise kayaking with humpback whales (from November to April); night snorkeling with manta rays; Seabobs (electric-powered underwater scooters); two brand-new private yachts available for charter; and eFoils (an electric-powered board that flies above the ocean’s surface).
Mr. Ortlam is part of a group of residents from the Twin Dolphin community that meets frequently to eFoil. “We’ll sometimes take a two-hour trip to the Arch and come home along the coastline, which gives you another perspective of Cabo,” he said.
Moonlight Basin, United States
In Big Sky, Mont., Moonlight Basin is a veritable outdoor playground all year round. One of the biggest draws for home buyers in the 25,000-acre community is skiing. The community has sold 400 homesites, condos and homes with ski-in, ski-out access to the adjacent Big Sky Resort and its 300 pistes threading 5,850 acres of skiable terrain.
Kurt and Lynn Kelley, who live in Texas, bought a second home to use primarily as a ski residence. “We like this mountain because it’s very challenging if you’re an advanced skier and it’s not typically busy,” Mr. Kelley said. “It’s like Colorado was 25 years ago. More big animals and fewer people.”
In summer, the Kelleys play the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. “It’s a difficult course, but it has spectacular views with lots of wildlife spotting, including moose, eagles, bears and the occasional wolverine,” Mr. Kelley said.
“Also, members’ dogs are allowed to join them while they play; it’s such a friendly community,” added Ms. Kelley, who has also taken fly-fishing lessons through the community’s Moonlight Outfitters.
The couple owns one of the condominiums, which start at a little under $2 million, while vacant lots are priced from $3.4 million and single-family homes are on sale for $7.5 million. New One&Only branded residences range from 3,700 square feet to 5,700 square feet, and — due to their size and architectural features, and the privileges homeowners get at One&Only properties worldwide — start at $9 million. Club memberships with golf require a $150,000 deposit and annual dues of $16,500.
“We pretty much have all the animals you would find in Yellowstone National Park with the exception of buffalo,” said Greg Wagner, assistant general manager at Moonlight Basin. He added that 17,000 acres of the development is protected by a conservation easement.
Mr. Wagner said that in winter, snow tubing, ice skating, fat-tire biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are popular among residents. During warmer months, golf, archery, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, mountain biking and a 15-station clay-shooting course keep residents busy.
“We often hear from our homeowners that there are so many activities they can share with their children and grandchildren,” he said. “There really is something for everyone, in every season.”
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