Grand Vie is Out, and Lake Tahoe is Very Much IN

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A few years ago some savvy brokers figured out that, rather than pay astronomical prices for luxury print advertising in local glossy magazines, they could take their dollars and create their own magazines. This way they could offer ads to every one of their agents at affordable, wholesale prices, create a beautiful product they had 100% control of, and mail it to the wealthiest households in Dallas. The venture was so successful all the top brokers in Dallas — Ebby, Dave Perry-Miller, Allie Beth Allman, and Briggs Freeman — now have their own coffee-table worthy publications.

I contribute to some of them. The fall/winter 2016 issue of Ebby’s Grand Vie: Luxury in Living, is out and being read in more than 60,000 homes across Dallas-Fort Worth. That’s about the equivalent of the total net circulation of our local city magazines. Of course, magazines are touched more than once and I see Grand Vie in homes and offices everywhere, both east and west. East is Dallas and northern properties, west is Fort Worth and the delectable offerings of Williams Trew Real Estate.

My specialty, of course, is vacation home properties and I am currently be smitten with Lake Tahoe. I get crushes on vacation home communities all the time, from Calistoga Ranch in California’s wine country to the Bahamas and Costa Rica.

But Tahoe! Jump for the full version of my Tahoe report that runs in this month’s Grand Vie. The issue also has fabulous fall decorating tips from our very own Shay Geyer of IBB Fine Furnishings. Then jump over to SecondShelters.com to see some of the stunning homes of Martis Camp, the vacation home playground of Silicon Valley. Oh oh the places we will go!

Tahoe beach

Fairway Mardis Camp

WE usually spend the summer in Maine. But with one child now living in Silicon Valley, we finally got to the northwest paradise I have so longed to visit – Lake Tahoe.

Considered the playground of Silicon Valley (and other) billionaires, I immediately understood why: a huge crystal clear lake the most beautiful shade of blue; clear, dry weather; sand beaches; quaint villages with little commercialization on the north shore; snow-capped peaks surrounding it all.

Lake Tahoe is located in both California and Nevada: the partition was created in 1864 after a dispute that included gunfire. The dividing line runs through the center of the lake, but technically California gets two-thirds, Nevada one-third.

Lake Tahoe is also a very strictly protected environment. When development exploded after the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley, California, something had to be done to preserve the clarity and beauty of that water: limit development. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) was formed, a bi-state agency charged with the environmental protection of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“It would take me five days,” says veteran Tahoe agent Sue Lowe, Senior Vice President/Corporate Broker at Chase International, when I asked her to tell me about the vast building restrictions. Basically, to protect the beauty and purity of the largest Alpine lake in the U.S. third largest in the world, there is very little permitted in the way of new development. What is permitted is thoughtful limited re-development of existing older properties.

Tahoe is the perfect vacation home environment. Honestly, I love the beach, but tire of schlepping up to Maine to be rained out 5 of 7 vacation days. Mountain homes are great in the summer and winter, but where is real water?

Only Tahoe offers the best of everything: water – lots of it, with rocking waves, a beach, and mountains for summer hikes or rock climbing, and plenty of winter skiing. Water surface temp in July is about 65 degrees and the lake is so deep it could hold the Empire State Building upright. And if you like to gamble, well, let the games begin in Nevada.

And so yes, I’m smitten and shopping because… Tahoe real estate is not untouchable. And actually, the luxury market there is a little soft right now. And many Texans are already well planted.

Tahoe long

In fact, Sue just sold a home to a Dallas family who has had a vacation home in Tahoe for years: with offspring in Silicon Valley (like us), they needed more square footage. Verushka and Tom Dundon (Drive Financial Services, huge house on Northwest Highway with swim park, indoor-outdoor tennis courts, baseball diamond, batting cage, putting green, go-cart track, indoor and outdoor slides including one in the family room) own a penthouse condo at Northstar, 3170 skiable acres located between Truckee and the lake.

South Tahoe is the most affordable real estate, because there is more of it.

“There are 25,000 full time residents in South Lake Tahoe,” says Sue, “Plus golf courses, homeowner’s beaches, and tons of summer recreation from a zip line to rock climbing.”

In South Lake Tahoe, prices are better on the Nevada side. The southern shore offers Zephyr Cove, Stateline, and South Lake Tahoe, where you can find homes starting at $350K.

Chase International is marketing Zalanta in South Lake Tahoe, a mountain modern design that is the first whole-ownership luxury condo development on Tahoe’s south shore (Cali side) in 30 years. Phase I construction is expected to be complete January of 2017. Designed to facilitate walking, Sue says the property will minimize the hassles of second home ownership with zero maintenance and a carefree, outdoor-loving experience.

“You can park your car, and never use it,” she says.

Heavenly Village and the Gondola are a quick walk, as is Lakeside Beach. Pricing at Zalanta begins at $895,000 and sales are strong.

Mardis Camp

On the north shore, Nevada side, is the famous Incline Village, once home of the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company that dropped timber on the “incline railway” to be delivered down a 3000 tunnel to Carson City. Warren Buffett, David Duffield, and Michael Milken all once lived here, and Larry Ellison is building yet another one of his spreads on the east end. I always thought Incline Village was untouchable, but Sue Lowe says you can find a basic older home here for about $650,000.

Speaking of untouchable, there is the east shore of Lake Tahoe where Chase International has a $35 and a $29 million listing.

The most expensive home on the market in Tahoe right now is a Sotheby’s listing for $59 million.

Outside of the strictly controlled Basin is 2100 acre Martis Camp. Ranked by Barrons as “the best place to own a second home in Tahoe”, Martis Camp is one of the most vibrant and year round luxury communities in the U.S. There is a private ski connection to Northstar, a stellar Fazio golf course, and the most elaborately fun family activity centers I have ever experienced. Drop your kid at the “Family Barn”, 18,000 square feet where they can bowl, shoot pool, enjoy a full indoor basketball court and floor hockey, two lane bowling alley, game room, Art Loft with kiln, 44 seat theater, popcorn machine, family restaurant and old fashioned soda fountain plus an outdoor water world of pools, jetted tubs, soaking tubs, sun bathing decks and even a catch and release fishing lake loaded with trout.

Mardis Camp BBall court

shoe clock

Mardis Camp art studio

Mardis Camp art kiln

Mardis Camp art storage

 

 

And then there’s the golf clubhouse.

Martis Camp starter homes are $2 million and the sky is the limit, though I toured some stunners at $4.5. Sales are so brisk they barely even advertise.

“37 homes closed in Martis Camp since January of this year, ranging from $2 to $9 million,” says Sue. “Dollar volume is up 148%, units sold up 129% in Truckee, which includes Martis camp.”

Another activity we discovered in Lake Tahoe this summer: gliding. The atmosphere is perfect for engine-less flying, and so my husband crawled into a glider, got towed up into the air, and swooped over the lake for one hour: pure aerodynamics, wind energy and enjoyment. While I waited, a private plane left about every twenty minutes.

Speaking of lift, it couldn’t be better to get to Tahoe from Dallas. First trip we drove from the Bay Area, a pleasant four hour drive that took us through Donner Pass, now a popular summer and winter resort haven just west of Tahoe.

This past summer, however, we flew to Reno, Nevada, one of the easiest flights ever (direct, 2.5ish hours) to a completely delightful airport and zero hassle. It was literally one hour to cocktails. Got luggage, got in the car and found a luxury Reno community called Montreaux within one hour.

Montreaux

Our quarters in Montreaux: one of the best designed homes I have ever encountered.

There we discovered Parc Foret in Montreaux, one of the area’s most luxurious gated communities, only 20 miles from Lake Tahoe. I was totally smitten. While most of the owners of these luxury homes live here full time (many California transplants), some are also vacation home owners. You are thirty minutes from the lake but at Montreaux you get a world class 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course with two extra holes, a clubhouse with gourmet dining, bar, exercise rooms, pools (lap pool, spa and children’s pool) children’s park and swing set, and the kind of sunny 80 degree weather that just makes you want to push your grand-daughter on the swings forever.

Even though the homes are nestled in the soaring pine beauty of the Tahoe National Forest, Montreaux is seriously gated, much like Martis Camp, so your vacation home will be protected. And the kids can wander everywhere they please on bikes or to fish.

Montreaux garden

The homes were beautifully finished with high quality touches such as wide hand-scraped hardwoods, travertine and porcelain tile, gourmet kitchens with granite, stainless appliances, huge pantries; luxurious masters with large spa baths and vessel tubs; large laundry rooms and super energy efficient construction. Prices start at only $1.1 and upwards to $3 million plus, for new construction ranging from 2600 to more than 5,000 square feet. The home we stayed in was so well-designed for extended family privacy (master at one end, three en suite bedrooms downstairs circling a media room and bar), I stole the plans.