Real Estate News, National

Best Community of the Year 2012 Bliss Awards

Published on January 25, 2012

After evaluating over 100 master planned communities in the Southeast, it is an honor to announce our 2012 BLISS AWARD winners. These communities achieved our award the old fashioned way, because they earned it. Master planned communities on our website are hand selected. They are located in the top 25 cities of where to retire in the Southeast. We wish these communities continued success and applaud their accomplishments:

HAPPIEST COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Dataw Island Beaufort South Carolina

Dataw Island was chosen based on the number of high scoring report cards we received from Dataw Island property owners expressing a high quality of life and close sense of community. A “wonderful place to live” is the most common comment. This island community on the coast of South Carolina has deep water ocean access, a marina and is located in one of the Best Small Art Towns in America, Beaufort SC. Keeping community amenities up to par, both golf courses are under going a $5 million renovation. Dataw Island is affordable, with patio homes priced under $200k. The average sold price is $399k. Ask us about Dataw Island’s Discovery Package so you can experience a taste of happiness for yourself at the Happiest Community of the Year - our  2012 Bliss Award Winner.

BEST BEACH COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Wild Dunes Charleston South Carolina

Wild Dunes Resort is located on the Isles of Palms, about 15 miles north of downtown Charleston. With two miles of private white sandy beaches, you will feel your blood pressure drop as a sense of tranquility takes over approaching the boardwalk. Beach sports include bicycle riding on the hard sandy beach, jet ski rentals, parasailing and waterskiing. Or maybe you’d rather chill poolside. One of the swimming pools is oceanfront. The pastel colored beach condominiums and The Grand Pavilion Cafe and Bar remind me of resorts in the Bahamas. If you have grandchildren, Parenting Magazine named Wild Dunes Resort as one of the Top 10 Beach Resorts for Families. But Wild Dunes Resort has more than Charleston’s cleanest beaches. Two golf courses designed by Tom Fazio, Intracoastal Waterway access and Wild Dunes Resort is named one of the Top 10 U.S. Tennis Resorts. If you want to live on the beach or within walking distance to it, Wild Dunes Resort is a must see in Charleston SC. Ask us to send you information about being our guest at the Best Beach Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.

BEST INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY OF THE YEAR - St. James Plantation Southport North Carolina

With the Outer Banks as a barrier island along almost the entire coast of North Carolina, it is hard to find quick ocean access master planned communities. St. James Plantation is just south of Wilmington North Carolina and has been winning awards for years. We chose St. James Plantation as the Intracoastal Waterway Community of the Year because of the comprehensive marina facility, its safe harbor and quick ocean access. St. James Plantation has 155 wet boat slips, 320 dry dock boat slips, a fuel station and the Harborside Marketplace. Boat slips are available for sale. Wet slips range from $65k - $150k. Dry boat stacks range from $17,500 to $80k. Boat slips can also be rented from property owners, depending on availability. The social calendar at St. James Plantation includes events hosted by the St. James Fishing Club, fishing camps and a fishing derby. Celebrating 20 years, St. James Plantation is truly a resort style coastal community. With four signature golf courses, three tennis facilities and the St. James Beach Club on Oak Island, property owners can live life on vacation year round at St. James Plantation. If you enjoy salt water boating and want to live close to the Intracoastal Waterway when searching where to retire, this is the place to be. Ask us about their Plantation Preview Package, so you can experience the Best Intracoastal Waterway Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.

BEST GOLF COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Kiawah Island Charleston South Carolina

It’s hard to dispute the number of award winning golf courses at Kiawah Island, seven championship golf courses in all. In August, the 2012 PGA Championship event is being held on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island designed by Pete Dye. The River Course is a Tom Fazio Signature Design paralleling the Kiawah River and is certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. The Cassique Course was Tom Watson’s first solo designed golf course, a beautiful Scottish links-style golf course. Turtle Point is a Jack Nicklaus design hugging the Atlantic ocean and loggerhead turtle nesting areas. Cougar Point is an easier golf course designed by Gary Player with views of the Kiawah River. Osprey Point designed by Tom Fazio is naturally home to exotic bird wildlife, scenic lakes and nesting areas. Oak Point was designed by Clyde Johnston and was the first of the Kiawah Island golf courses. Where else can you live with seven championship golf courses in your neighborhood? And Kiawah Island offers far more than golf. An award winning spa, tennis facilities, beach club and fantastic restaurants are a few more of the community’s many first class amenities. Until the end of February, Kiawah Island is offering a Golf or Gourmet Escape Discovery Package. Ask us to check on space availability so you can see the Best Golf Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.

BEST LAKE COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - The Reserve at Lake Keowee South Carolina

There are six lakes we recommend in the Southeast, listed on our website. The Reserve at Lake Keowee was chosen because of the complete lake lifestyle this master planned community offers property owners. Lake Keowee is an 18,500 acre wide bodied lake with 300 miles of shoreline. The lake is nicknamed the Garden of Eden, recognized as one of the purest prettiest lakes in the Carolina’s. Life on the lake includes fishing, waterskiing and jet skiing. Anglers catch largemouth bass and trout in this fresh water mountain lake. During the summer months, the water is warm making the lake a wonderful natural swimming pool. The Blue Ridge Mountains in the backdrop will compete for your attention at this master planned community. The Reserve at Lake Keowee has a marina, 200 wet boat slips, a fuel station and provides water sport rentals. Boat slips are available for rent on an annual basis. Marina Park was named Best for Boating by Links Magazine. Speaking of golf, Jack Nicklaus designed their scenic signature golf course. The Reserve at Lake Keowee offers a unique feature called Multi-Generational Membership. This extends membership privileges to property owner’s parents, children and grandchildren. The Reserve at Lake Keowee is a classic example of southern hospitality, offering a generous Discovery Package to serious buyers. Ask us for details about being our guest at the Best Lake Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.

BEST MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Kenmure Hendersonville North Carolina

With so many quality mountain communities to choose from, Kenmure stands out in our mind as the Best Mountain Community of the Year located in Hendersonville North Carolina. Its location is important because the community has a true mountain feel, yet is only 15 minutes from Flat Rock’s fantastic restaurants and performing arts important factors when considering where to retire. Beyond the gated entrance, The Kenmure Mansion dating back to the 1800’s is seated at the top of the valley, overlooking the award winning golf course. The Kenmure Mansion is a popular wedding location and is where the community’s active social clubs congregate. Adjacent to the Antebellum clubhouse is an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a fitness center. Paved roads wind up through the community reaching an elevation of 3,000 feet at the mountain summit. Long range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains provide scenic beauty to the mountain side homes. New and re-sale homes average in the $300k’s. The grandeur of this community combined with the overall affordability and maintenance of the amenities define Kenmure as the Best Mountain Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner. Ask us about being our guest at Kenmure, if you are searching for a quality mountain community.

BEST EQUESTRIAN COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Balsam Mountain Preserve Sylva North Carolina

We have six equestrian master planned communities on our website. Although Balsam Mountain Preserve is best known for its scenic mountain golf course, property owner and celebrity Andie MacDowell describes Balsam’s Equestrian Center best saying “ You won’t find flat trails in the mountains like you’ll find at Balsam. The trails are phenomenal”. Their Equestrian Center is a full service facility offering boarding, riding lessons, practice arena and club horses for trail rides. There are 30 miles of horseback riding trails inside the gates of Balsam Mountain Preserve. The trail system connects further into the 531,286 acre Nantahala National Forest. The Equestrian Center is a great hang out seated in the rocking chairs overlooking layered mountain views of Blue Ridge Mountains. Balsam Mountain Preserve built Dark Ridge Creek as a community amenity, a family camp catering to horseback or hiking overnight adventures. The family camp has a horse paddock, bunkhouses and restroom facilities. Some people prefer to call it “glamping”. Buyers at Balsam Mountain Preserve have the opportunity to purchase larger land parcels to build their own equestrian barns next to their homes. The country western theme is a thread which runs through the entire community. Ask us about being our guest in one of The Boarding House cottages to see the Best Equestrian Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.


Location. Location. Location is what first comes to mind with Grand Haven. Located on the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway, this established waterfront and golf community is only 10 minutes from the award winning Flagler Beaches. Celebrating 10 years, 23 neighborhoods have been substantially built out at Grand Haven featuring all types of home products, the average price at $250k. The community’s curb appeal and parks on the Intracoastal Waterway enhance the bicycling and walking experience. The Jack Nicklaus golf course and Grand Haven Golf Club were recently acquired by Escalante Golf taking the financial stress away from property owners. Community amenities include tennis, bocce ball courts, fitness center, resort-style swimming pool and children’s playgrounds. Grand Haven has one of the most active social club environments we seen, providing plenty of opportunities for residents to meet new friends and share common interests. Tucked between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Grand Haven is in the northern part of Florida. Ask to be our “Guest for the Day” at the Best Florida Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.


Spread across nine mountains, Big Canoe celebrates its 25th year in 2012 and is still building new energy efficient homes, about an hour north of Atlanta. The new golf clubhouse overlooks Lake Petit, one of three lakes at Big Canoe. This trout stocked lake is one of the prettiest place to photograph and is where the Reinhardt University Symphony Orchestra perform outdoor concerts on the lawn during the summer months. Developer Bill Byrne and Greenwood Communities and Resorts have done an amazing job creating unique amenities like the Big Canoe Rock Slide along with a championship mountain golf course. 10 tennis courts, racquetball courts, a modern state of the art fitness center and two swimming pools are more amenities at Big Canoe. To give you an idea of the size of this gated community, there are over 100 miles of paved roads in Big Canoe. The community has a mix of homes built from the 1990’s to new cottage homes in the Twin Creek neighborhood. Property owners at Big Canoe weren’t afraid to tell us how much they love their mountain community. We chose Big Canoe because of the affordability and the big bang for the buck this mountain community delivers. Ask about being our guest at Big Canoe so you can experience this resort-style Best Georgia Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.

BEST NORTH CAROLINA COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Brunswick Forest Leland North Carolina

Ten minutes south of downtown Wilmington is one of the fastest growing, well designed, debt free master planned communities in the coastal region of North Carolina. It is amazing what Brunswick Forest has accomplished in 4 years and during a recession. The majority of the community’s amenities are built including the award winning Cape Fear National golf course. The River Club on Town Creek is planned. The 18,000 square foot Fitness & Wellness Center is impressive and is adjacent to the Community Commons. The Community Commons is where property owner’s meet for concerts on the lawn overlooking the flowering rose garden. The developer of Brunswick Forest is busy building even more, The Villages making it convenient for property owners to shop walking distance from home, a common request from folks searching for where to retire. The Villages is a 500,000 square foot retail shopping complex at the entrance to the community with anchor tents such as Lowes Food, CVS and New Hanover Regional Medical Center. When comparing new master planned communities, we find Brunswick Forest very affordable. New home prices are in the $200k’s. Ask us about being our guest so you can see a role model real estate development and the Best North Carolina Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner.


Music lovers, lifelong learner’s and skinny people love the city of Nashville. It’s true and what better place can you live in Nashville than Westhaven. Southern Land Company who developed Westhaven has a track record of building quality master planned communities in Tennessee and Texas. If I had to describe Westhaven in one word, it would be ‘playful’. There are so many fun things to do. The community feels like a resort although it would be better described as neo-traditional urbanism. Families are drawn to Westhaven because Westhaven has built their own school and town center. Pearre Creek Elementary is also part of the neighborhood. The curbed streets have park-like squares and in between them are fountains, walking paths and decorative street lighting. Westhaven built a private golf course and their new golf clubhouse is under construction. The 15,000 square foot Resident’s Club has three resort-style pools and a 119’ water slide along with a fitness center, movie theatre, studios and tennis courts. Westhaven could be a stand alone town in of itself. Positive comments from property owners added to our decision in choosing Westhaven as the Best Tennessee Community of the Year - our 2012 Bliss Award Winner. Ask us for the most recent energy efficient floor plans for Westhaven.

UNHAPPIEST COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR - Tennessee National Loudon Tennessee

Tennessee National was chosen based on the number of low scoring report cards we received from Tennessee National property owners expressing disappointment with management, HOA fees, the unbuilt marina and lack of lake access. Tennessee National is located on Watts Bar Lake. Golfer Greg Norman joint ventured the project with Macquaire Bank. In December 2010, we discovered Tennessee National was listed for sale by broker CB Ellis. To the best of our knowledge, the property as a whole has not been sold. Tennessee National’s Scottish-style golf course is beautiful. Located 30 minutes west of Knoxville Tennessee, this master planned golf community has the potential to be a good project. A permanent clubhouse is also proposed. We thank the property owners at Tennessee National for their honesty.

Let us know if you feel there is a community we missed, by leaving a comment.

If you would like to be our guest while searching for where to retire and touring one of our 2012 BLISS AWARD winners, write This is how we help folks in this real estate market.

Photo courtesy of celebrity photographer Larry Singer