The active, upbeat lifestyle that adult residents enjoy at GL Homes' Valencia Lakes in southern Hillsborough County is unlike any other community in the Tampa Bay area, says Valencia Lakes' lifestyle director Cassandra Leopold. People who just come to investigate are often very surprised by all they offer at this new community, built just for active adults age 55 and older.
Resident Frank L. Cavalier, 68, completely agrees with that sentiment.
"We came here because of the lifestyle itself," says Cavalier, a real estate agent who did his homework before choosing a community in which to live. "I went through all the new developments and found this place. It's like being on a cruise ship, but on land. There's something to do every day."
Cavalier and his wife, Judi, moved to Valencia Lakes in March and he's already joined the Fishing Club and Finance Club, and speculates he'll join the Garden Club and possibly the Knitting Club. He's also looking forward to learning to play pickleball, a popular sport at Valencia Lakes. The couple especially enjoys attending the shows GL Homes brings to the 600-seat social hall, such as "A Neil Diamond Tribute," "Smirnoff/Kane" and the patriotic "I Hear America Singing."
Clubs have been organized in everything from needlepoint to photography to horseshoes. If you haven't already perfected a certain skill, you can even take lessons. Lessons are provided in just about everything, including Spanish, water coloring painting, sketching, quilting, tennis and personal training.
Residents seem to agree that it's easy to meet others at Valencia Lakes.
"Everybody I've met has been very nice. There are people from all over the country here," says Cavalier, who originates from Pennsylvania.
A welcoming committee of about 20 residents makes sure new folks feel at home from day one. In addition, a party is held by GL Homes every quarter for new and existing residents.
Leopold works hard to secure a friendly environment and makes sure a variety of entertainment is always available. Residents themselves have a dining event in which one household sponsors dinner for everyone on their circle.
"They've done a great job with bonding with all their neighbors," Leopold observes.
Judy and Michael Poorman moved to Valencia Lakes from Connecticut three years ago. Unlike Cavalier, they did not look at other communities and chose Valencia Lakes strictly because of the builder's reputation, Judy Poorman says.
"I think most of GL Homes' sales occur through referrals. They build quality homes, they stand behind them, and they're always quick to respond. That's what we've experienced here," she says, explaining that a former neighbor in Connecticut moved to a GL Homes community in eastern Florida and recommended the company.
"This is really a friendly community. When you move in, you meet people right away. Everyone is very outgoing and friendly so you don't feel isolated," Poorman said.
Poorman has taken up pickleball, which she describes as a cross between pingpong, badminton and racquetball. The community features four pickleball and six tennis courts.
"My husband plays euchre on Monday nights," says Poorman, adding that she sometimes participates in evening exercise classes. "You can do as much as you want or as little as you want."
A few other amenities include a massage therapist on the premises, professional ballroom dance lessons and tennis lessons. Some activities, such as jewelry design and poker night, take place in the 27,000-square-foot clubhouse that sports a café, full fitness center, social hall with dance floor and raised stage, card rooms, a billiards room and an arts and crafts studio. Other amenities include tennis courts, a resort-style swimming pool, a resistance walking pool, a spa with steam room and sauna and pickleball courts.
Homes come in a variety of styles and run from 1,321 to 2,866 square feet at a cost of between $154,900 and $331,900. One story and two story homes are available, each featuring a two- or three-car garage. Each home in Valencia Lakes features a tile roof, paver driveway, screen covered lanai and beautifully appointed interior with tile floors and Corian countertops.
"We'd never built a house from scratch; it was a great experience. They were so thorough and conscientious - watching for things as construction was going on," Poorman concludes.
Models are located at 4927 Sapphire Sound Drive in Wimauma. They are open for viewing Saturdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays, noon to 5 p.m.
While GL Homes has created nine Valencia communities on the east coast of Florida, the Valencia Lakes in Wimauma near Sun City is the first on the west coast.
For more information, including a video tour, visit www.glhomes.com/valencia-lakes and by calling 1-800-875-2176.