LAKEWOOD RANCH -- If you want to live in a community that feels more like an upscale resort rather than a neighborhood, the Esplanade Golf &Country Club at Lakewood Ranch is the place for you.
One of the newest Taylor Morrison additions to the growing, master-planned community, the Esplanade, soon to start its third phase of development on White Eagle Boulevard at Rangeland Road, lives up to the slogan on its welcome sign: "Live where you play."
Just ask Patty May, one of 270 homeowners who moved to the Esplanade last year from Las Vegas to be closer to her grown children and grandchildren. May, a petite, physically fit retiree, said she can't say enough good things about the 12,000-square-foot
amenity center, the focal point of the community, which features a state-of-the-art fitness center and enough health and wellness classes to satisfy anyone.
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"Here, you can pick and choose and take as many classes as you want," May said. "There's something to do all the time. It's always fun and there's always somebody to go with. It's just great."
There are a variety of events and activities coordinated by a full-time lifestyle manager, who directs a year-round social calendar filled with catered, themed dinner dances, holiday parties, concerts and classes.
Residents can swim in the heated, lagoon-style pool or in a resistance pool, play billiards, cards, grill at an outdoor barbecue or try more strenuous activities such as pickleball, bocce, tennis and an 18-hole golf course.
Lifestyle manager Ed Cone said he tailors events for residents and provides monthly newsletters.
"We do cater to what the resident profiles are. They love to dance; it's one of their big things. They like fine wines, enjoy really great food and good entertainment. So we make sure to put all those things into our events," said Cone, who also makes sure the Zumba, Pilates, yoga, core training, stretching and toning classes at the amenities center run smoothly six days a week.
"Our luau this past summer was incredible; real orchids, hula dancers, Ed's volcano. My favorite phrase is, 'I can't do it all,'" added resident Don Seagar, who like May, is a member of the Esplanade's Health and Wellness Club.
The maintenance-free, all-ages community has not yet been turned over to a homeowners association, and is managed by Pope Golf Management, a Sarasota-based country-club management firm.
"Pope most likely will stay involved even after Taylor Morrison finishes building the community. They still need management companies, but we have a way to go," according to Linda Gross, who represents the developer.
With five sets of tees, the semi-private new golf course, which is open to the public, can be enjoyed by players of all different abilities. Golf director Brad Compton said players and residents like the layout, the natural surroundings and mature trees.
"The course is in excellent condition, and being the 'new kid in town,' creates great exposure for the community," he said. "The course is one that can be enjoyed by players of all different abilities. Most of the holes are designed to give players the ability to swing confidently without going out of play. There are not a lot of forced carries unless the player would like to be challenged from the back tees and the bunkers are also designed to be player friendly."
The Esplanade Golf & Country Club, guarded at the entrance by day and gated in the evening, will eventually accommodate up to 1,250 single family homes, detached villas, and condos spread along the golf course and miles of walking trails crisscrossed with gazebos, a dog park, an adventure playground and a canoe/kayak launch. Another clubhouse is also planned along with a pro golf shop at the grand campus, which also houses the community's 3 championship har-tru tennis courts to be completed this month.
For May, the Esplanade is definitely the right choice at the right time.
"The setting is really beautiful," she said. "My villa overlooks a lake and I can see everything. They take care of everything very well and I have wonderful neighbors."
Information: Go to esplanadelwr.com.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.