Though Celine Dion is pretty private, David Sun knows when his Lake Las Vegas neighbor is around. The clue? “Golf balls embossed with her name on them” land in his yard, says the Shady Canyon resident who, six years ago, bought his Vegas-adjacent second home, which faces fairways on two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses.
Sun and his wife, who have two young children, started coming to Las Vegas primarily to play golf about ten years ago and liked it so much they bought their 3,700-square-foot Mediterranean-style vacation home 15 minutes after seeing it. Originally the Suns did the four-plus-hour drive out to the desert about once a month. Now they spend about a quarter of their time at the 2,600-acre residential and resort community 17 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, with its 320-acre lake, three private golf courses, a marina, and four- and five-diamond hotels, the Hyatt Regency and The Ritz-Carlton, respectively.
“We feel spoiled out here,” says Sun. “It’s very beautiful and relaxing with the golf courses and things to do on the water, but we can also be on The Strip in 20 minutes.” It’s that close-but-not-too-close aspect of luxury developments like Lake Las Vegas that evidently appealed as well to Dion, who lives with her husband and manager, Rene Angelil, and their 5-year-old son, Rene Charles, in a stylish three-bedroom villa across from hole 11. Their house’s contemporary design, in muted beiges and grays, is replicated in the private apartment dressing room at Caesars Palace, where Dion of ten performs. With the short commute to The Strip, she can be home before 11 p.m. after her 90-minute show.
Comedienne and playwright Rita Rudner has an even shorter commute to work. From her residence in Turnberry Place, one of the first luxury high-rises built near The Strip, she could walk to the New York-New York casino where she has been performing in the Cabaret Theatre since 2002. One of her neighbors, Carol Russell, of Newport Beach, does too, sometimes. But part of the appeal of Turnberry Place is free limo service to The Strip or McCarran International Airport three miles away. “We tend to take the limo,” Russell says.
The cosmopolitan aspect of Turnberry Place, which includes a European-style spa and fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis complex, and the Charlie Palmer-directed restaurant in the private Stirling Club, was such a hit that most of the million-dollar-and-up units were sold out before construction was completed. “It’s about 90 percent second or third homes,” says John Riordan, Turnberry Place’s sales and marketing vice president. And most of those buying have been from Southern California.
Luxury tower residences like Turnberry Place are literally on the rise in Vegas. The W Las Vegas hotel, casino, and residences (opening in 2009) and the George Clooney and Rande Gerber $3 billion condominium, resort, and casino project Las Ramblas (first phase slated for 2008) appeal in their proximity to all things Vegas-shows, dining, shopping, and, of course, gambling-and the fact that Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax. “More and more people are making Vegas their primary home and their residence in Brenrwood or Palm Springs their second home to take advantage of the tax situation here,” says Riordan. “Luxury condos in Vegas are a bargain, particularly compared to Southern California.”
Developers of Turnberry Place are now building Turnberry Towers, where residences will have the same elegant amenities-Italian cabinetry by Snaidero, Gaggenau appliances, and marble bathroom floors and showers, as well as access to his-and-hers spas, pools, tennis courts, and gourmet restaurants-but will come in smaller packages of 1,400 to 1,500 square feet at the Towers compared to 3,000 square feet and up at Turnberry Place. “The desire, regardless of income, is for smaller places,” says Riordan.
Meanwhile, Vegas realtors like Gene Nonhup, who moved to Lake Las Vegas from Southern California, believes the real growth in Las Vegas vacation homes will continue in nearby communities outside the city. “I take people out to Lake Las Vegas or out to MacDonald Highlands, near the mountains at the southern end of the valley, and they don’t believe that they’re in Nevada. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with everything to do, but at the same time, there are all the resort services to manage everything for you, from stocking your fridge with wine and cheese to heating the Jacuzzi before you arrive. I mean, what more could you ask for?”
Cary Krukowski, director of marketing for Lake Las Vegas, agrees. “We look at ourselves as the candlelight to the neon of The Strip.” Which makes Lake Las Vegas the perfect solution to living close-but not too close-to Sin City. Within walking distance to The Strip, Turnberry Place, with its private Stirling Club for residents, is popular with Southern Californians.