Luxury R & R

Second homes are skyrocketing. From urban warriors who made a mint "flipping" their starter homes to baby boomers planning their retirement abodes, everybody seems to have one thing in mind: Getting away from it all.

For log home lovers, it’s all about the great outdoors—crystal-blue lakes, majestic mountains and storied forests. Many envision themselves sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, simply enjoying the landscape. But plenty of folks are also looking for a little adventure, from rock climbing to fly-fishing.

Throw in a bit of pampering (think designer golf courses and top-notch spas) and you’ve got the makings of resort-style residential development. Here are 10 luxury home communities where you can live—and play—in style.

FORE SCORE RED SKY
Wolcott, Colorado • 877-973-3759
www.redskyranch.com
Imagine breathing in juniper-scented air, watching bald eagles fly overhead and scoring a "birdie" of your own on the 18th hole. That’s life at the Red Sky Ranch. Nestled on 700 acres 20 minutes west of Vail, this former sheep ranch has evolved into an all-inclusive resort community designed with reverence for the surrounding wildlife and historic Western architecture.

Custom homes must be at least 4,000 square feet with a ranch-style design (think wide, not tall) that utilizes indigenous materials and an earth-toned palette. Home sites range from approximately one to 10 acres, priced at $750,000 to $1.5 million.

Owners are invited to join the Bachelor Gulch Club, featuring on-mountain skiing (complete with ski valet), dining and athletic facilities, entree to the swanky Member Club Lounge and access to the spa and fitness center at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. Home owners may also join the Red Sky Golf Club, which boasts championship courses designed by Tom Fazio and Greg Norman, as well as Colorado’s first David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

CAROLINA CLASSIC MOUNTAINTOP GOLF & LAKE
Cashiers, North Carolina • 866-743-7353
www.mountaintopgolfandlakeclub.com
Families come first at Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club, which sits more than 4,000 feet atop the Blue Ridge Mountains. Discovery Land Company is developing the 730-acre community to include 251 custom home sites (from three-quarters of an acre to more than 11 acres, priced between $300,000 to $1.2 million) situated in an ancient hardwood forest dotted with natural springs and waterfalls. Nearly two dozen log homes are currently under construction.

A Tom Fazio-designed golf course will open this spring, with more amenities following in 2007, when the Lodge Clubhouse debuts. Look for a swimming pool with private cabanas, clay tennis courts, fitness center and a salon and spa. Mealtime options include outdoor picnics, formal Southern fare and an authentic Appalachian smokehouse.

The Outdoor Pursuits team plans activities galore, from pie-eating contests to mountain bike treks. There’s also Teen Cabin, where older kids can watch movies, play video games and do cool crafts. Dock your watercraft at the Lake Club, or rent one of the club’s jet skis, sailboats, canoes or kayaks. Need more energy? Get your latte fix at Buck’s Coffee Cafe in nearby Highlands, where you’ll also find upscale boutiques and fine dining.

STARRY, STARRY NIGHTS HIDDEN MEADOW RANCH
Greer, Arizona • 866-333-4080
www.hiddenmeadow.com
After a day in the saddle enjoying the Ponderosa pines of Hidden Meadow Ranch, residents relax in the community hot tub under starry skies. Tucked away in eastern Arizona’s popular White Mountains, the 151-acre community north of the quaint town of Greer knows how to pamper. Their motto? "Escape from everything but luxury."

Starting out as a lodge and resort, it’s now inviting devotees to buy into the dream. Fans can build on their own lot (from $300,000 to $450,000) or buy fractional ownership, starting at $275,000.

All residents have access to club amenities, like picking up the phone and ordering room service from the lodge’s seasonal gourmet dining room (the pan-seared trout and New York-style cheesecake are favorites). The concierge arranges everything from holiday sleigh rides to gourmet picnics, perfect for hikes through the property’s field of purple irises.

Families aren’t left out here: Kids keep busy in the Ranch Roundup program with arts and crafts in the barn, horseback riding lessons, fishing from the ranch’s spring-fed trout pond and S’mores around the campfire. The ranch celebrates its surroundings with Wild West Rodeo weekends in the fall. Cowboy poetry anyone?

For more on this home, check the December 2005 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.