The Loxahatchee Club News

January 29, 2008

What's not to love?

Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post

'ROOM TO BREATHE': Loxahatchee Club homes are set back from the golf course - no golfers teeing off in your back yard. The club's chef will cook up whatever you and your guests - or your block - prefer, and the hotel-like concierge services - rides, groceries, laundry, even an in-house massage - will handle most any request.

Bryant Gumbel can afford to live just about anywhere - Park Avenue, Millionaire's Row, The Hills of Beverly.

But guess where the multimillionaire news and sports hound landed for his golden years?

Jupiter.

Not just anywhere in Jupiter.

He bought in Loxahatchee Club, an upscale hush-hush residential community of about 240 homes that is becoming one of the most sought-after addresses in the state. The swank development, which doesn't advertise, sits on 340 sleepy acres, with 71 acres of fresh water lakes and 41 acres of greenbelt, centered around the Jack Nicklaus-designed 7,147-yard newly renovated private golf course.

"It's super safe, super clean and the course is very new," says Re/Max real estate agent Sandy Pitchford, who shows homes in the club. "For a golfer, this is heaven."

We wanted to find out more about Gumbel's new digs, but when we came calling, we ran smack into the celebrity protection brigade.

"I don't want to talk about this," explained Loxahatchee Club golf pro Wilson Zehner. "I don't want to upset Mr. Gumbel."

The club's marketing director also was tight-lipped about the newest star resident.

"We don't talk about who lives here," said B.J.

Fortunately, Gumbel didn't mind raving about his new pad.

"What's not to love?" he told The Palm Beach Post, about the 3,000-square-foot, $850,000 winter home he'll share with his wife of two years, Hilary Quinlan.

Other club homes currently on the market include a $7.5 million "old world" Mediterranean estate on the Loxahatchee River, a $5.9 million estate with lake and golf views, and an "immaculate" three-bedroom/four-bath estate going for $2.4 million. The clubhouse itself looks like a grand old (gigantic) home, plopped in the middle of rolling fairways and swaying palm trees.

But those who live and work at Loxahatchee Club say the biggest draw may have nothing to do with the lavish homes, the luscious links or the spa-like concierge-type services. They say the people at Loxahatchee Club are the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet.

People like ABC/ESPN play-by-play sportscaster Brent Musburger, ex-CBS Inc. CEO Peter Lund, and former RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson, the food and tobacco magnate whose efforts to buy out his own company spawned the bestseller and movie Barbarians at the Gate. (Johnson failed, but wound up with $53 million anyway.)

"The members are very accomplished people, but all very down to earth and extremely friendly," says Purdum. "They think of this place as a second home. They're the reason I came here." Again, she declined to name a single resident.

She doesn't really have to. Since arriving, Gumbel hasn't exactly been low-profile. He's been making the rounds of the Palm Beach party and restaurant circuit, schmoozing with the likes of Breakers president Paul Leone at Zegna Par-Tee. He still jets back north to churn out his award-winning HBO series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Gumbel's home is modest by club standards - high-end properties are in the $7 million range - but Gumbel also had to plunk down the $135,000 fee to be an equity member of the golf club. The course is ranked as one of the top 100 in North America and the 26th in Florida by Golf Digest.

Gumbel, an avid golfer, won't be alone on the links.

NFL great Joe Namath and Nicklaus have been spotted on the course. Gumbel also has played a few rounds with his good buddy Matt Lauer, the man who filled his seat next to Katie Couric on NBC's Today when Gumbel split for CBS.

The signature hole is No. 11, a 399-yard, par 4 featuring fairway bunkers and water running the length of the right side of the fairway.

"It has always been a great place to play," says Dave Burke, marketing guru at The Breakers and one of Gumbel's best friends. "It's comfortable, challenging, but not unfair. It's very playable." Naturally, Burke is partial to The Breakers' own newly redesigned Rees Jones course. Over their 20-year friendship, he and Gumbel have played "about a thousand times" and "95 percent of the time it comes down to the last hole."

"We've had some good matches," Burke says. "He loves the game of golf. And he's pretty good - about an 8 handicap."

One big plus: The homes are set back off the course, unlike places such as Mirasol. "It's nice not having someone teeing off in your back yard," says Pitchford. "This place gives you room to breathe."

Other than great golf and the star-watching, what's so fabulous about Loxahatchee Club?

For one thing, the chef will cook up whatever you like, for you or your guests, or the block, and bring it on down to your door. Hotel-like concierge services will handle virtually any request.

Need a ride? No problem. Groceries? Done. Laundry? They'll pick it up and bring it back. Spa? Check. In-house massage? You've got it.

Turn a deaf ear to a reporter's prying questions? Absolutely.

But in the end, Gumbel is here for much the same reason as all the other snowbirds.

"The weather, the golf, the people," he says. And that pretty much covers it all.

 

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