Top 5 Luxury Retirement Locations

By Jean Folger | July 21, 2011 AAA

Deciding when and where to retire can be difficult decisions. For some, remaining in the same home, close to friends and family, is the only choice. Others may choose a remote corner of a developing country to call home during the retirement years, perhaps opening a small shop selling ice cream to the locals.

However, there is a small group of retirees interested in extravagance - opulent homes and gardens, spas and pampering, world-class golf courses, fine dining, and all the other amenities that go along with luxury retirement communities. Here is a look at five of the more luxurious retirement locations, from pristine waterfront communities to spectacular mountainside properties and a unique, private community-at-sea. (To help you determine if you can afford to have this luxury retirement check out Will Your Retirement Income Be Enough?)

TUTORIAL: Retirement Planning

Isleworth, Florida (www.isleworth.com)
Windermere, Florida is home to Isleworth, a 6,000-acre gated community situated on seven and a half miles of shoreline on the Butler Chain of Lakes. The Isleworth Golf and Country Club has an 82,000 square foot clubhouse and golf course originally designed by Arnold Palmer.

Other amenities include tennis; a wellness center with fitness equipment, classes and club spa; several restaurants with lake and golf course views; a full staff of security professionals; concierge services including at-home cleaning, maintenance and repair services; home opening and closing; personal services including errands and travel reservations; specialty services such as party planning, holiday decorating and hurricane preparation; and a childrens' playground. New and resale homes are available from $1.5 million to more than $8 million. (Do you know when you're going to retire? It might not be as soon as you think. Read The New Retirement Age.)

Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Kiawah Island is an unspoiled barrier island located 30 minutes south of Charleston, South Carolina. Ten miles of pristine beaches, coupled with seven world-class golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Gary Player, to name a few, make Kiawah an appealing retirement location.

The island boasts a highly-regarded tennis program featuring 23 Har-Tru clay courts and three hard courts, an exclusive oceanfront clubhouse with three swimming pools, and lavish fitness and day spa facilities. Situated on 10,000 acres, the resort is home to numerous cafes, bars, restaurants and retail shops. Various club memberships offer different privileges throughout the resort. Lots range from $300,000 to more than $5 million, homes from $700,000 to over $10 million, and villas and cottages are priced from $300,000 to over $2 million.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences at Vail, Colorado
Located at the base of Vail, and considered by many to be the number one ski resort in North American, The Ritz-Carlton Residences at Vail is comprised of 71 homes ranging in size from two-bedroom to luxurious five- and six-bedroom penthouses.

In addition to its prime ski-in/ski-out location, the complex offers a varied selection of fine dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities; a year-round pool deck with hot tubs and a fire pit; a fitness center; access to spa amenities; bell service; ski valet service; 24-hour maintenance; and a variety of concierge services. Two- to six-bedroom properties range in price from $2 million to over $8 million.

The Residences at The Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain, Arizona
Located in Marana, Arizona, The Residences at The Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain is nestled on 850 acres of luxury real estate in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains. Ownership brings residents access to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf course and The Ritz-Carlton hotel and spa. Other amenities include three fine dining restaurants with desert views; a poolside cafe; several pools with private cabanas; tennis courts, fitness classes and beach volleyball; valets, concierges, private cooks and housekeepers; and 25 miles of improved trails through the Tortolita Mountains and Wild Burro Canyon for hiking and mountain biking.

The World Residences at Sea
This private residential community-at-sea allows residents/owners to explore the globe in luxury aboard The World, the largest privately-owned residential yacht on earth. Onboard, residents are treated to world-class dining, Call-a-Chef private chef services; custom tours and cultural events; a 7,000 square foot spa; extensive library; concierge and housekeeping services; classes in dance, navigation, language, cooking, arts and music; and an onboard sports center with personal trainers. In addition, the ship has emergency medical facilities.

The World, which first set sail in 2002, has visited more than 800 ports in 140 countries. Each year's itinerary is created by the ship's captain and all of its residents, all of whom have a passion for travel and learning. In 2011, The World will sail to 53 countries including Barbados, Chile, France, Greece, Italy, Madagascar and Turkey, with an average stay of two and a half days in port. As of 2006, all 165 of the homes aboard The World have been sold, but resale properties are available. Homes range from studios to two- and three-bedroom apartments and a six-bedroom penthouse suite. Many homes are valued at more than $5 million.

The Bottom Line
People dream of retirement in different ways. For some, relaxing in the back yard sipping iced tea with friends and family is luxury enough. For others, retirement means golf, tennis, fine dining, spa treatments and general pampering. Following the financial crisis of 2008, many retirement plans have likely been derailed and though many retirees now face working during their golden years, a select few may be able to enjoy the luxury that these retirement communities offer. (For more strategies on how to save for retirement, read How To Save More For Your Retirement.)

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