If you’re seeking ultra-luxury living, Sarasota delivers a bespoke lifestyle brimming with top-notch treatment for the affluent. To ensure they are rubbing the right elbows, the rich can choose $175,000 golf club initiation fees—in some cases, only if you’re a man (like at Gator Creek Golf Club)—and memberships that demand in-person meetings and references from existing members (like at The Field Club). Condo packages, meanwhile, offer amenities like around-the-clock concierge services, spa retreats and pet pampering that puts pooches first. Then there are the homeowners who are going beyond automation and opting for systems and designs that set their spaces apart and above. Here, there’s no shortage of ways to blow the big bucks. Let’s take a glimpse at how money can buy, if not happiness, at least some easy living.
Purified water and air is nothing new, but thanks to the latest in wellness-trending home tech, those qualities can now be monitored and, if needed, corrected in real time.
“It’s a self-healing process,” says Mark Bolduc, the owner of Wicked Smart Homes. “If you had the windows open, that air gets automatically analyzed, triggering the HVAC system to respond to any detected impurities and purify that air. It also informs the homeowner of that process.” The approach with water purification systems is similar. Largely led by Delos systems, available through Bolduc’s home automation company, these data-informed systems generally start at six figures and go up from there.
Another example of pricey home tech geared toward wellness is lighting and its relationship to our natural circadian rhythms. Ketra lighting fixtures mimic natural light patterns and can “make food look fresh and vibrant” and provide “different lighting for each task” by creating “zones in a room to highlight artwork or set the mood,” according to the company’s website. The fixtures go for roughly $1,000 each.
“The packages we’re doing go from $40,000 to $200,000 a home,” says Bolduc. But you don’t have to do the whole space. “A master bedroom might have six or eight. They also have full RGB so you can create thousands of different colors, patterns and intensities.”
Most people are familiar with Alexa by Amazon, but its biggest problem is the perceived lack of privacy and security. Enter Josh.ai, a privacy-centric, voice-control product for home automation that uses little microphones around the home.
“It learns the owner’s voice and accent, so there’s no repeating yourself,” says Bolduc. The system can even perform nested commands like, “Turn on the lights, lower the temp to 72 and play this song.” Over time, it adapts to owner habits and preferences and can even perform future commands like, “Turn on the lights tomorrow at 10 a.m.”
Luxurious home materials like a blue agate wall that costs $250,000 not only require careful installation and a crane to deliver them to their final home on the seventh floor but panes are painstakingly matched for a seamless look. They’re also backlit by thin wallpaper-like LED sheets for a low-light glow that turns the wall into a work of art.
Pneumatic elevators are also among the latest additions to multi-level modern homes, says Michael Cocozza, owner of Trinity Construction and Design. Unlike traditional elevators that run on cables or hydraulic pumps, these new elevators are operated by air just like drive-thru bank tubes. Prices range from $40,000 to $80,000, depending on the number of floors—easily twice the cost of a standard elevator. They’re also made of glass or acrylic for a transparent ride that allows for “unobstructed views,” says Cocozza.
Another costly home design approach includes ditching the vision board for a vision house. These micro homes, often sized roughly 6 feet by 6 feet, are built prior to new construction to showcase different materials, colors and textures before an owner commits to the real thing.
Built out of the same materials planned for the future home, they can cost up to $60,000—more than a down payment on many people’s actual house. After the fact, they’re taken down or repurposed to house something else, like a pet.
The beach is free (unless a private chunk of it is included in your waterfront mansion’s address), but some water lovers spend thousands to elevate the experience. Seabobs, sold locally by Zeus, are one of the latest water toys on the market. Akin to a scooter that works above and below water, this roughly $20,000 bauble reaches 22 kilometers per hour over water and 20 kilometers per hour underwater, and can go as deep as 40 meters.
Gone fishing gets next level with yachts that rent for thousands by the hour. Shop for yacht days with the GetMyBoat app, where you’ll find rides for $2,259 an hour—captain included, of course. Keep it moored nearby if you book a short-term vacation rental with a dock, which can run you roughly $2,000 a night off season, or just book an inland rental in the same price range that comes with an amazing pool instead.
With so many new luxury condos hitting the Sarasota market, offerings need to be glitzier than ever to attract the type of resident poised to spend millions on their pad in the sky. Now, pool and gym access are the least of amenities.
“There’s a real focus on wellness,” says Moriah Taliaferro, an agent with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty who focuses on condo-minded clients. She enumerates a long list of the latest features that places like the upcoming St. Regis, Rosewood Residences and One Park offer, like hot and cold plunge pools, hammam Turkish spas, massage services, steam and Himalayan salt rooms, golf simulators and wine storage and tasting rooms. Obsidian Residences, yet to break ground, will offer its residents a bocce court and a cigar storage and smoking room, plus bragging rights for living in the tallest building in Sarasota.
Many condo packages consider furry friends, too. BLVD has a dedicated washing and grooming room and a dog park, and many buildings now offer dog walking and sitting services. If pets need cold laser therapy, acupuncture and nutritional counseling, mobile veterinarian Dr. Beth Hirsch does home visits with $80-an-hour traveling fees attached.
What really puts the icing on the cake is the around-the-clock concierge services at places like the new Ritz-Carlton Residences. “Some clients are looking for the town car driver and towel service while they’re at the pool,” says Taliaferro. “The staff makes reservations and recommendations, and if the check engine light is on in your car, they’ll coordinate a mechanic. It’s the next level of preemptive services.”
For car owners obsessed with their six-figure-plus rides, only the best will do, and even the priciest homes rarely have enough room or height to accommodate serious collections. That’s where car condos come in. That’s right. A condo. For your car.
Wheel Base Garage Condos has 46, all sold out, that range from 700 to more than 2,400 square feet. Like any condo address, they’re purchased outright, appreciate value over time and can be resold. Today, prices start at $245,000, or roughly $350 per square foot and up, depending on size and upgrades. They include full bathrooms and add-ons like second-floor mezzanines, hydraulic lifts, TVs and sound systems.
That might seem over the top for most of us, but “demand is strong,” says Scott Merriam, the president of the Wheel Base Garage owners’ association. “We have many interested people touch base with our owners on a weekly basis expressing interest in buying a unit. When one becomes available, it usually lasts only an hour or two before getting snapped up.” In fact, another similar concept has broken ground in Lakewood Ranch.
These air-conditioned, security-clad, decked-out units are more than just a place for storage or to work on your engine—they’re a gathering place for car enthusiasts. Perks include clubhouse lounge areas, an indoor showroom for cars, a prep kitchen and bar, a shower and laundry facility, a private office or conference room and concierge services during the work week, just to name a handful. Regular events keep condo owners connected.
“We look forward to the next event where we all share a barbecue and gather around someone’s new classic car, supercar or fully decked-out luxury camper van,” says Merriam.