A Retired Couple Finds Their Ideal Home Along the River

A Retired Couple Finds Their Ideal Home Along the River

Cullowhee River Club - One Couple's Dream DestinationLocated along the banks of the Tuckasegee River in the North Carolina mountains, you’ll find a quaint mountain haven of Cullowhee River Club with phenomenal views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and close proximity to numerous small towns. This is exactly what Dr. James Spirito and his wife, Cher were looking for. A home on the river in the heart of the Blue Ridge.

“For us, it was like all of the stars fell in line. We wanted to live in North Carolina on a river, where there was a continuity in neighborhood design, and we found it at Cullowhee River Club,” said Cher. They are currently building a cottage that should be ready by late June, just in time for summer months in the mountains.

The Spiritos will use this home as a vacation home as a nice getaway for “fun, casual, relaxation.” It will enable them to have more free time to enjoy their “antiquing” hobby. From this mountain location, Cher says its an easy day’s drive in any direction for antiques with all of the historic towns in neighboring states.

Cullowhee River Club is designed as a respite from the world with a Grand River Lodge and the River Park Pavilion where residents can enjoy one another’s company or simply relax along the river. The Property Owners Association even rents boat racks monthly on a first come, first served basis. And, because 60% of the land surrounding the Cullowhee River Club will be perpetually protected open space placed in a conservation easement, the community will have groomed hiking and biking trails for its residents to enjoy. The trails will also connect to the planned Jackson County Greenway Trail System.

While the Spirito’s primary home will remain in Florida, the Spiritos love to travel the world and have been to just about everywhere except the Middle East. “I have recently retired from Delta Airlines and am still in the stage of missing it very much. There is a reason there is a club called Clipped Wings … you never quite get over the longing for taking to the skies,” says Cher. They even own a condo in Thailand, from where they travel about. With Cher being a former flight attendant, the Spiritos have been able to take advantage of world travel, even many times to her favorite country of Japan, where the people are known for their honesty and respectful nature.

The Spiritos just celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. Dr. James Spirito (Dr. “J”), a retired engineer, inventor, defense contractor, and professor still has much to offer the world. He is currently building a 1933 Hot Rod. For Dr. “J” life and retirement have taken him down many roads, some straight and some curvy but always an adventure. He is a refreshing example of work hard and play hard.

The Spiritos have a great love and admiration for one another, have built an enviable life, and are looking forward to enjoying their next phase in the mountains of North Carolina.

Visit Cullowhee River Club

Cullowhee River Club on the Tuckasegee

Cullowhee River Club on the Tuckasegee

A place where adventure meets the arts, Cullowhee River Club is nestled in the mountains of Cullowhee, North Carolina, less than 55 miles west of Asheville, NC. This mountain riverfront community boasts 1.3 miles of river frontage to the Tuckaseegee River, known for its superior fly fishing that makes Jackson County the Trout Capital of NC. Cullowhee is also home to the largest university west of Asheville, Western Carolina University, bringing fine & performing arts, sporting events, and life-long learning opportunities, all within walking distance! Read More...


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Innovations at Cambridge Village

Innovations at Cambridge Village

This couple enjoys a glass of wine in the Cambridge Village Courtyard.

Cambridge Village, A New Kind of Retirement

At a time when many seniors are as fit and well as some in their 30s, one retirement community is staying a step ahead of the game.

The design and functionality of retirement apartment complexes have changed almost as much as the senior population in recent years. Retirement facilities are now typically as vibrant, socially active, and wellness-centered as the average active adult.

But, Cambridge Village has taken things a step further by making their facilities both indiscernible at first glance from a fine resort hotel and spa, and simultaneously as comfortable, friendly, and social as a full-service college campus apartment complex. With locations in Apex, Wilmington, and a future location in Raleigh – Brier Creek, senior living innovation was well primed in these areas. The economy and health and wellness industries are booming in both cities, attracting young families and retirees from across the country and around the world. Then, of course, in Wilmington there’s the beach, which tends to be pretty popular among, well, everyone.

As we all know, where there are young grandchildren, grandparents are likely to follow. So, a high population of young, growing families tends to attract more seniors to an area by default.

Why Cambridge Village

Cambridge Village is intended to offer a low-maintenance, wellness-focused, resort-style living experience to seniors busy living some of the best years of their lives. And, this feeling is immediately conveyed when one enters the lobby at Cambridge’s Wilmington location. There’s a feeling of ease, and a sense of well-being that feels deliciously contagious. And, given that Cambridge Village in Wilmington is less than five minutes from Wrightsville Beach and a stone’s throw from Mayfaire Town Center, it’s in the mix with everything that tourists and residents flock to. Cambridge residents can take morning walks to nearby cafes and shops, or an evening bike ride to their favorite Wrightsville Beach restaurant.

What’s to Love

Community activities are integral to everyday life at Cambridge Village. Many residents have children and grandchildren in the area, and have moved to Cambridge to be close to them while maintaining autonomy and independence. Others simply chose Cambridge Village for the location, or to stay close to the town and an area they know and love. But, all residents chose Cambridge partially from a desire to surround themselves with people they can relate to, and to develop a sense of community.  

Cambridge Village has a resort hotel quality that adds a touch of luxury.

“Our residents come from all over,” said Katie Manning, Chief Marketing Strategist at Cambridge Village. “We have snowbirds who came down for warmer weather, people who moved to Wilmington to retire, and lifelong Wilmingtonians.”

And, with such diverse backgrounds comes the perfect environment for community building. Residents meet up for lunch at the Village Restaurant with Chef Charlie Blake, or for shuffleboard at the pub. They play pool, walk at Wrightsville Beach on Friday mornings, organize dances, put together wine & cheese neighborhood socials, play Mahjong and poker, and watch movies in the theater. And, many hop on weekly group bike rides and shuttle trips around town.

The Center for Optimal Living

Not only is the Center for Optimal Living impressive in its own right, but the structure implemented therein also helps residents to “achieve optimal wellness in body, mind, and spirit.”  The optimal living center at Cambridge Village is state-of-the-art.

Dozens of machines line the windows in a bright sunlit fitness room. There’s an extensive weight room and a yoga and fitness room across the hall that’s super-spacious and beautifully designed. And, the grand finale is an indoor five-lane lap pool with glass lining one wall and an industrial but elegant ceiling that adds specific interest and inspiration. But, behind all the fancy fitness rooms and equipment is a physician-led concierge approach to living a healthy lifestyle. Trainers, instructors, and a physician all come together to design the optimal plan for each resident.

Cambridge Village Fitness Facility is Second to None in the 50+ Category.And, because nothing is optimal without a smoothie bar nearby, Cambridge Village hasn’t forgotten. The Village Smoothie Bar is just beyond the pool.

Cambridge Village resident, Ed Drew, is not alone when he says that the Center for Optimal Living is what sold him.

“We’d already visited several places. But, when we got to Cambridge, and I saw that wellness center downstairs, and that beautiful, magnificent pool, that did it…I said, ‘I love this place! Then I said, ‘Okay, now, let’s look at the rest of it’,” Drew said with a chuckle. “So we did. And, we totally fell in love with it.”

Center for Optimal Living memberships are available to the general public for those over the age of 45, and will soon be available to all adults, with a maximum of 350 total memberships available.

 

Medspa at Cambridge

If the Center for Optimal Living is going a step beyond, then the Medspa at Cambridge is a giant leap. Walking into this full-service Medspa is instantly as sensual and relaxing an experience as it is in any spa. From massage therapy, facials and mani/pedis, to botox, laser treatments, and more, residents can treat themselves, and take care of themselves, as often as they need or would like to. The Medspa also includes a full service hair salon frequented by residents as well as the general public. Families, children, and friends are beyond welcome at the Village. Cambridge Village is designed to accommodate and nurture such connections. “We love to see our residents spending time with their families, enjoying a nice dinner or holiday meal in the Village Restaurant, and enjoying our relaxing outdoor space by the fire pits,” said Manning.

Life comes together at Cambridge Village and it all meets seniors where they are. Just when folks are ready to say no to cooking and maintaining and yes to visiting and enjoying and exploring, Cambridge Village staff steps in to make that happen.   

Innovations at Cambridge Village include resort-style room design.

In addition to lavish 1-2 bedroom apartments (some complete with a sunroom), residency at Cambridge Village includes an extensive list of amenities.

Here’s a quick list:

  • Library, chapel, media room, and game rooms
  • MedSpa & Salon
  • Cafe and Pub/Lounge
  • Fitness Center Membership
  • Professional Directed Optimal Living Program
  • Sauna
  • Cable TV/Phone/Internet
  • Housekeeping and linen services
  • Emergency response system
  • Washer and dryer in all apartments
  • Fire sprinkler and smoke detection
  • Luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting
  • All maintenance and repairs
  • Resident mailboxes
  • Resident manager on site
  • Guest suites available
  • Individually controlled heat and air conditioning
  • Scheduled transportation by courtesy shuttle to appointments
  • Wireless internet access throughout

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The Philosophy of Design

The Philosophy of Design

“You don’t need a retirement home, you need a great home for retirement,” ~ Francisca Alonso

There is the passion of an artist, the preciseness of an engineer, and a profound empathy for the human condition that informs a conversation with architect Francisca Alonso, one that is as captivating as the transformative vision she has for residential design in the 21st century.

Francisca and her husband/architect partner of 30 years, Antonio, are co-founders of AV Architects + Builders, established in 2001 and based in Great Falls, VA, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Francisca’s father was the famous architect Melvin Villarroel Roldan, who has designed luxury resorts and hotels on the Mediterranean coast and all over the world. When Francisca and Antonio launched their business in 2001, they decided to carry on the legacy of resort-style living. The company’s mission is, “Building custom dream homes designed around your lifestyle, that make you feel like you are on vacation, every day of the year.”

While there are many formative pillars of AV’s design philosophy, Francisca sums them up with the following tenets:

Removal of Clutter

Control of clutter is a key ingredient to a happy house. It’s rejuvenating. It’s like a detox. At the end of the day we don’t need so much. When have you ever walked into a luxury vacation home that had clutter? When you are staring at clutter, it creates distractions, so make certain that multiple storage solutions are a part of your home design.

Indoor/Outdoor Integration

Every indoor space that we design has a mirror image in an outdoor related space. A master bedroom has a patio. A great room may have an outdoor grotto. A front entrance will have a front porch.

A 2,000 sq. ft., home, for instance, should have at least a third of that – 700-800 sq. ft. – set for designed outdoor space.

Double the Windows, plus Limited Hallways and Doors

Our designs call for double the amount of window space in a standard home in our area. And there should be at least two viewpoints to the outdoors and nature in every spot in the house, all of which reduces stress and adds to your well-being. This requires broad open-concept floor plans, multi-use spaces, and the limiting of hallways and doors.

(Many of Francisca’s window designs, especially in bedrooms where windows have to provide egress in case of emergency, have an almost Mondrian quality, with offset panels virtually creating a piece of art in glass. The offset allows for one large casement window – facilitating egress and allowing for cross ventilation – while smaller windows of different sizes and shapes infuse design interest.)

Quality of Materials

We don’t want you to have a lifetime membership at the hardware store, so we build with materials that last. Instead of using pine trim we use PVC, which is rot-free. We use aluminum windows, so you don’t keep painting them, and engineered quartz or porcelain instead of granite so you don’t have to keep treating it. You should enjoy your home, not have to maintain it.

Smart Home Peace of Mind

Home security from your smartphone is so easy to do nowadays. We design a fully integrated system that controls lighting, alarms, temperature settings, and locking systems. The system can even detect moisture in specific areas and will send a message to your phone that will tell you if there is water under you dishwasher. It’s all about safety and energy efficiency.

But Francisca and her team have added another layer to the concept of stylish resort living, and it is outlined in a book she authored called, Nesting for Empty Nesters, The Vacation Style Living Approach to Aging in Place.

A magna cum laude graduate of The School of Architecture at The Catholic University, Francisca is also CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) certified, a prestigious designation bestowed by the National Association of Home Builders. It is with that training that she imagines a residence that uses smart design to prepare your home now for a better quality of life in retirement and beyond.

Francisca explains, “People are living much longer and more active lives these days. If we design or remodel a house for a couple in their 50s, they may live there until they’re 90. So why not build blocking now behind a wall that can anchor a grab bar or handrail in 20 years? Why not build a curbless shower with no doors that looks sleek now, but will allow disabled access in 30 years? There are hundreds of beneficial manifestations of Aging in Place design.”

In this regard, Francisca seems to think of everything. She is currently working with researchers at a Washington D.C. area university on building a sensor into a shower floor, or any space, that will detect an unusual compression of the floor that might be consistent with a fall, which can then be signaled to a family member for follow-up.

In addition to her father’s influence, Francisca admits to an affinity for Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, which is hinted at with some of her flowing horizontal rooflines. “Wright designed a home that was built for the end-user,” she describes. “Architecture is not monumental or ornamental, it’s designing for a person and how they will operate in their home.”

And like its co-founder, the company is passionate, precise, and profoundly empathetic in bringing trusted and flexible home design solutions to those of us approaching a fulfilling and active life as seniora. In Francisca’s sage affirmation, “You don’t need a retirement home, you need a great home for retirement.”

Inquiries:
AV Architects + Builders | Great Falls, VA
703-865-5065 | avarchitectsbuild.com