My wife and I decided to visit the Valencia Bonita community in Bonita Springs recently, and we want to share what we thought of it.

Stay and Play

We took advantage of the Stay and Play program which allowed us to stay in one of the actual homes for 3 days for only $99.  They give you food and beverage coupons for up to $60 bucks, so this was truly one of the best values ever!  I highly recommend visiting communities you may be interested in via this program.  If you want to learn more, I can register you for one of these special packages while they last. Builders offer similar packages around Florida.  I’ll let you know if there is one near an area that you may be looking in.

First Impressions – WOW!!!

First, Valencia Bonita is absolutely beautiful!  From the moment you pass by the front gate waterfalls until you pass through the humongous clubhouse and recreation areas, you know you are in a special place.  The design, layouts, community benefits are all top shelf amenities.  Living at VB is like living at the Ritz Carlton, everything you would want in luxury lifestyle, but remember, you get what you pay for and here you get a lot and you’ll have to pay the price tag for this luxury lifestyle.

What’s Bonita Springs Like?
Let’s look at the location first.  Bonita Springs is one of the most beautiful communities in the world. It is certainly among my top 10 places in Florida at this time.  The spectacular beaches, great restaurants and easy lifestyle are all among the top benefits of the area.  Bonita is just north of Naples; which is the golf capital of the world and with that comes a high end community that demands the best of everything.  Our family found that Naples was close enough (only 30 minutes) for a great night out for dinner.  We went to Tulia on 5th Avenue; which is a beautiful strip of stores and restaurants in the heart of Naples.  I consider this street similar to Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.  It’s not quite as vibrant with outdoor music, but there is something special about the sophistication in the air as you walk down the streets featuring Art Galleries and boutique stores.  We feel that Bonita is close enough to this strip that we are not so removed from everything like you might feel in some other Florida cities.  Close to Naples, Bonita Beach, Estero, and Ft Myers makes this a central location.  SWF Ft Myers Airport is only 20 minutes away and a quick in and out trip makes it that much more enjoyable.

Bonita Beach
The Beach at Bonita Beach is second to none.  We loved going to the main beach next to Docs Beach House where we were able to park and rent some chairs and umbrellas.  Who wants to carry all that stuff anyway? We ate at Docs and had the Chicago Beef Sandwich.  It was so good, that we came back the next day and had it again…Really!  You have to try it if you are there!  You’ll thank us!
When we were sitting on the beach we were graced with Dancing Dolphins no more than 8 feet from the shore…honestly, they were the closest I have ever seen!  The beach was crowded on President’s Day, but not uncomfortable at all.  The bathrooms were right up off the beach or at Docs which makes your day more comfortable and stress free.  In some other places in Florida, and in NY I might add, the bathrooms trip becomes a journey as they are not so convenient and accessible.

Now Lets Talk About The Valencia Bonita Community
The Valencia Bonita development is located on the far east section of Bonita Beach Road and is quite a bit away from the beaches.  For us, this was kind of a pain in the neck, as we prefer to live closer to the beach.  We did consider the fact that since the grounds of VB are so spectacular, you may not ever want to venture outside the community and enjoy days on site by the pool, hot tub, lap pool and fire pit.  The beach is about 12 miles away but when traffic builds up along Bonita Beach Road, it could take you 40 minutes to get to the beach.  Then, when you finally get to the beach, you have to make sure that there are enough parking spaces for you.  We left our hotel at 8:15AM to make sure we got a spot at the beach, and it’s a good thing that we did, as we were one of the last spots in the lot (Of course this was President’s Day, and this is not typical).

Pickleball Of Course

Valencia Bonita had great tennis courts and Pickleball Courts that were probably the nicest I’ve ever seen.  I visited the courts and watched a few matches.  I learned that they are friendly and very organized.  The pickleball group had a bunch of teams that played each other on the 8 courts.  The teams were grouped by skill levels and started at 2.5 beginners to 4.0 + top players.  If you wanted to get into an open play session, you could do that also everyday in the morning.  Guests can play after 11AM if they want to.  From what I was told, they also have a travelling team that competes against other communities in the area.  VB currently holds the FIRST PLACE title, Woo Hoo!

When we were there, there was Comedy Night on Friday and on Saturday we ate at the private restaurant ZEST!  The food was top notch quality, and the service was impeccable.  The restaurant also serves up lunch and cocktails by the pool should you be so inclined.  We were so inclined with our new friends that we just met, and we all enjoyed lots of beverages and some great food from Zest!  It really is nice to have a bar/restaurant at you pool.  We could get used to this feature!

GL HOMES – A Quality Builder
The homes are GL Homes; which I consider to be one of the elite builders in Florida right now.  The quality and creativity of design is something I would be proud to call my own.  We absolutely loved many of the model units that we saw during this trip and the homes are all large compared to our NY standards!  Our favorite models were the Charleston Grande and the Caroline, but these models are SOLD OUT at this time.  The community only has a few buildable homes left and the models are going up for auction tomorrow. The fully furnished models are proposed to fetch upwards of a few hundred thousand over the original asking prices.  They have pools, spas and firepits already with top appliances and finishes but the pricing makes them unaffordable for most.

I found a great resale there for the Charleston Grande that is about 400,000 less than the model home.  If I wanted to make a move today, this would be a great value for someone.  I think that resales in these communities will be coming up now and again, and if you want to live there, you should be ready to act.  The main goal is to become familiar with the styles of homes and then when one hits the market, you will be ready to pull the trigger quickly.

Action, Action, We Want Action…
The beauty of the place is that it has tons of activities geared to the 55+ crowd.  Besides the typical pool, clubhouse, fitness center, tennis courts, and pickleball, you will also find a ping pong room, a card room and a special cooking class room where cooking classes are held on a regular basis.  The main ballroom also has some great entertainment to keep the community together and excited.  I peeked at the calendar and there were comedy nights, concerts, game show nights, and dozens of other interesting events.

In addition to these activities Valencia Bonita has over 50 clubs that are sure to jive with whatever interests you may have.  Photography, Folk Singing, Poker club and Whisky Club would be ones I would choose. (Ok, maybe not Folk Singing for me, lol).  I’ll send you a list of clubs if you are interested, but take it from me…if it’s a hobby or something fun, there’s a club for that!

So, when we were by the pool on Saturday, we had a special day and were treated to a live band that played some really great tunes.  The members live at the community, and they tour all over Southern Florida area.  We actually made friends with them, and they invited us back to their home for cocktails.  It seems that everyone here is so friendly and welcoming!  That’s Cool!

This is the perfect community for someone looking to retire full time and live the luxury resort lifestyle.  We would have to sell our NY home in order to meet the price tag that they are asking, and we are not looking to do that right now.  So, the pricing when we first started looking was around 695,000 – 895,000 and now just eight months later, you have to pay 995,000 to 1,195,000 IF you can find the home style you’re looking for is still available.

Once again, we stayed at Valencia Bonita on their Stay and Play program which I highly recommend to anyone!  You stay for 3 days for only $99.  There is really no better way to dive in and see if a place is right for you. There was no pressure from the sales team, and we were able to go to the sales models whenever we wanted during our stay.

Now, we are looking to explore other communities as an option.  We believe that these new communities offer so much value if you can just find one that meets your needs and matches your budget. We’re figuring out what we like and what we don’t like about a community, in the quest to find the perfect place to call HOME!

Stay tuned as Sunshine Johnny explores other communities in Florida.

NEXT STOP:  WildBlue in Estero. WildBlue is not a 55+ community and it is located on a lake.  Homes here can have docks and boats in their backyards.  It is probably one of the best communities on the market today.  You’re going to love what we love about Estero and WildBlue!