At this time of year, the shorter days, frigid temperatures and falling snow in the northern states tend to keep older people indoors for the winter months. Meanwhile, their Florida cohorts are still enjoying a round of golf, a day on the tennis courts or a relaxing picnic. For those stuck inside for the winter season, GL Homes offers a permanent solution to the winter blues, according to Marisa Lufkin, project manager and vice president.
"Our Guest House program allows buyers to test drive Valencia Lakes, our 55+ community in South Hillsborough County, and its amenities," Lufkin said. "It's the perfect time for our buyers to escape the freezing temperatures and snow and come to sunny Florida to check out their options for retirement. We make it really easy by offering buyers the opportunity, for $99, to stay in Valencia Lakes for two nights and three days to experience the lifestyle first hand."
The resort feel and the amenities within the community encourage an active lifestyle. Valencia Lakes' 27,000 square-foot clubhouse features a complete fitness center, resort and resistance pools, spa, cabana bath, aerobics studio, art studio and gallery, wine bar, social hall with raised stage and dance floor, gaming room, multi-purpose room, internet cafe, locker facilities with steam room and saunas.
Residents also can enjoy such amenities as tennis courts with shade pavilions, pickle ball and bocce ball courts, a basketball half court, a horseshoes area, community gardens, a dog park and a tot lot for when the grandkids come to visit. The community's full-time lifestyle director organizes clubs, activities and events to ensure that residents have plenty to keep them active.
"The lifestyle is certainly the focal point of Valencia Lakes and the reason why our buyers really can't wait to retire in this community," Lufkin said. "It's a time for them to enjoy the second part of their lives. They reinvent themselves, take up new hobbies, meet new friends and change the way they live. They are having so much fun that many of our residents have nicknamed the community Camp Valencia, because they feel like they are living in a resort seven days a week."
For local buyers, a trip to Valencia Lakes is easy enough, since the community is convenient to I-75, Highway 301 and I-4, but for out of state buyers, it is a bit longer trip. Brochures and the GL Homes website offer accurate and appealing views and descriptions of Valencia Lakes, but it's a lifestyle that has to be experienced in person, according to Lufkin. Borrowing the stay-and-play concept from other developers, GL Homes offers buyers the chance to stay in a furnished home that is as close to what they want to purchase as possible.
"It is an exciting time for buyers to come visit because our season is in full swing," Lufkin added. "We have our Broadway show series on the weekends, with entertainers coming in to perform. We have our holiday parties, including our New Year's Eve party at our clubhouse, where our residents get dressed up to enjoy dinner, music and dancing to ring in the new year with all their new friends and neighbors.
"We have a Guest House concierge who works to make our guest buyers' stay as comfortable as possible. Once a stay is booked, the concierge confirms the dates and spends time learning the interests and hobbies of the guests to arrange for them to participate in those activities. Guests receive an orientation that includes local restaurants and shopping opportunities so that buyers can make the most of their stay."
Single-family homes in Valencia Lakes range in size from 1,597 to 2,770 square feet of air-conditioned space, while the popular villa homes range in size from 1,321 to 1,800 square feet of air-conditioned space. Single-family homes are priced from $191,900, and villa homes are priced from $154,900.
"We know that every person who stays with us is not going to purchase a new home that weekend," Lufkin admitted. "We want them to feel that Valencia Lakes is the right choice for them. The Guest House program makes purchasers feel at ease that they are making the right decision. They meet other homeowners, meet potential neighbors, and spend time with them and even form friendships. They may not buy right away, but for those looking for this sort of active lifestyle, we will be at the top of their list."
To reach Valencia Lakes, take I-75 to exit 240 (State Road 674 East Sun City Center). Travel east on State Road 674 to Highway 301 and turn north. The Valencia Lakes entrance is on the right. The sales center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday from noon to 5 p.m.
For information, visit glhomes.com, or call (800) 875-2176.