A Very Sporting Existence

Set in beautiful natural settings, new communities offer baby boomers sports, spas, fine dining and more.
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When it comes to retiring in style, creative developers are giving baby boomers some very nice options that don't revolve around playing shuffleboard in Florida.

DPS Development Co., based in South Carolina, has been one of the leaders in offering "sporting communities," in which you can buy a home site and join a private club that offers everything from fly fishing, golf, spa treatments and fine dining in beautiful natural settings.

At the

Turks & Caicos Sporting Club in the British West Indies, DPS Development is transforming the 1,100-acre private island of Ambergris Cay is into a luxurious sporting and housing development with its own jet strip and marina. About 30% of the island will be preserved to keep the archaeological ruins and eight miles of pristine waterfront. Only electric vehicles will be allowed on the island.

Home sites range from $600,000 to $7 million. (All home prices in this article are for land only). Fishing, snorkeling and other water activities will be offered by professional guides. About 450 homes will eventually be built. Private members pay a one-time $75,000 fee and about $7,500 in annual dues to be a part of the club. The island is home to more than 18,000 iguanas, the seas are filled with coral reefs and turtles, and humpback whales migrate through the islands from January to March. One of the added benefits: no property taxes.

"The idea was, people want to own something. These are not time shares or vacation club projects," says Peter Pollak, a managing partner of DPS Development. "They're not in a resort with massive hotels and casinos and villa rental apartments. There's pride of ownership and they're stewards of the land."

The company's first development was

The Ford Plantation in Georgia, Henry Ford's old winter estate, which opened in the mid-1990s. The 400 home sites have since been sold out, so you can only buy resale properties. Homeowners can enjoy a Pete Dye-designed golf course, fly fishing and more than 10 miles of horse, biking and hiking trails, along with experts to help you figure out anything you don't know. There's also squash and tennis, a spa and fine dining.

The Ford Plantation

"People want to learn how to do all sorts of things today," Pollak says. "And they're also well-traveled, and they want good food; they want good spa services."

At the

Greenbrier Sporting Club in West Virginia, homes are built alongside the famous Greenbrier resort, which has long been a sporting and vacation destination for U.S. presidents. Land prices range from $1.3 million to $5 million per lot. The members-only club allows homeowners to enjoy 2,000 acres on which to fish, ride horse and clay shoot. An adjacent property offers hunting. The one-time membership fee is $120,000, with an $8,000 annual fee.

At the

Snake River Sporting Club in Jackson Hole, Wyo. -- DPS's newest community, along with the island development -- owners can enjoy 550 acres of mountains and rivers. Home sites range in price from $1.25 million to $2.5 million. As the website says, "Here you can be a pioneer, an adventurer and a cowboy, all in a single day." Activities are similar to the Greenbrier, a mix of outdoor adventure and spa pampering. The one-time membership fee is $150,000, with an $8,600 annual fee.

Snake River Sporting Club

"This will be the wealthiest generation of retired people that we've ever had. So you have people with a greater degree of disposable income than they had in past," says Paul Prescott, national director for Deloitte & Touche USA's residential development industry segment.

Today's retirees also have better health and are known as a more active bunch, hence the latest marketing term -- active adult -- for those 55 and older.

"When they retire, they're not looking to sit back on the recliner and watch TV," Prescott says.

These sporting communities aren't cheap. But if you have the dough, it's a nice to way to spend your golden years enjoying the good life.