On Monday, January 13th, our friends, Chris and Bob from our yacht club in RI drove from their winter home in North Fort Myers to Labelle so they could see our “land yacht”. Since they leave RI to come down here in October, we hadn’t seen them in a while so it was a treat seeing them. We weren’t sure if we would be able to hook up with them – they lead very busy lives here. Upon their arrival, we gave them the grand tour of our huge 39 feet of space!
Chris brought me a jar of “Salts of the Suncoast” which is an organic, all natural salt scrub. It comes in a variety of scents – Pomegranate, Sea Foam, Orange, Jasmine, to name a few as well as Strawberry Daiquiri which is what she brought me. Chris claimed that it does a great job on softening and moisturizing your skin and after trying it, I totally agree. Thanks, Chris!
After the tour, we walked up to the Riverbend Restaurant at the clubhouse for lunch. This restaurant which serves a variety of sandwiches, burgers, salads, daily specials and home made pie is managed by the owners and is staffed by volunteers. We had not been there for lunch so I was expecting only a handful of people to be there especially on a Monday – boy, was I wrong! The place was packed! Luckily we were able to find a vacant table outside overlooking the Caloosahatchee River which was nice since it was a bright, sunny and warm day.
Although our lunch started out a little rocky due to initial slow service and a rather flustered waitress, in the end it turned out quite well. Bob and Chris each had a salad with pears, craisins and other salad ingredients topped with a poppy seed dressing and Rob and I each had the homemade meatloaf special. The food, prepared by the volunteers, was very good! And after our meal, there was no way we could pass up the promise of home made pie. Rob and I were going to split a piece of Key Lime Pie but they were down to their last few pieces so they brought me my own piece at no extra charge. Bob and Chris each had a piece of pecan pie. Yummy!
After lunch, we walked around the resort in the hopes of burning off a few calories after stuffing ourselves with all that food. Bob and Chris left around 4 p.m.
Then on Wednesday, the 15th, we drove to North Fort Myers to visit them at their home in a well established gated community. They bought the place in 2008 but even though we had been in Florida since then, we never had a chance to visit them. Right now they stay in FL from October until the April/May time frame but eventually they plan on living here year round.
Within five minutes of seeing the community and their house, we were so impressed we quickly realized that this could be a place where we would consider purchasing property once we sell our house. With over 1300 homes, it is a huge complex with a variety of homes at various prices ranging from a low end of $125K to a high end of over $500K – there’s a size and price range for everyone.
It is very well maintained, has a high end golf course, a beautiful club house with all sorts of activities, a beautiful swimming pool, a fitness center and a 24×7 manned gatehouse.
The golf course is not necessarily a benefit for us non-golfers but is a “no play – no pay” arrangement and is totally self sustaining, so no costs come from the residents except those who actually use the course – you definitely don’t need to be a golfer to live here as we had previously assumed.
All the homes here are concrete block stucco with tile roof, the oldest seem to be about 2000 vintage and there are still a few lots available for new construction. This is not a condo, you own your house and the land it sits on (no land lease). A reasonable (~200+/mo for Bob & Chris) HOA fee covers all common area maintenance as well as grass cutting for all the homes, basic cable, basic internet and I think some or all water. Bob claims since they upgraded their AC hardware, the summertime (no one living there) electricity cost has dropped to about $20/mo with the temp set to about 85 degrees.
Most homes here require the owners to minimally maintain the plantings and home exterior and this can be DIY or farmed out to on-site services at reasonable rates. The HOA appears to be very pro-active and diligent about ensuring all owners comply with restrictions and covenants and maintain the appearance of their homes.
One thing we were both very eager to see was Bob’s wood carvings. Since he built their current sailing catamaran and did all the beautiful cabinetry and wood working on this craft, we knew what a talented craftsman he was but OMG, the carvings he has done were totally awesome! The detail is just incredible. I took pictures but I’m afraid the pictures do not do them justice. He has entered several pieces into a few shows, has won prizes and is now beginning to sell his pieces at an art gallery in the nearby town of Matlacha (Matt-La-Shay).
Just a side note to our friends Joan and Jim – Laishley’s was basically across the street from the hotel that you stayed at in Punta Gorda last year when you visited us during our stay in Port Charlotte.
After dinner we drove back to their house where we hung out for a bit longer, finally saying goodbye and heading out for our hour long drive around 7 p.m.
What a great day we had – perfect weather, great hospitality, good food – all with very special friends! It doesn’t get any better than that!