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September 2020

Flying in High Style at Bella Collina

By Scott Kauffman

When it comes to amenities and lifestyle at Bella Collina, a high-end private club community on the outskirts of Orlando, it is hard to beat the club’s signature clubhouse. 

Designed by renowned architects Marsh & Associates, and reminiscent of the clubhouse M&A did for prestigious Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego, the Club at Bella Collina is known worldwide for its award-winning 75,000-square-foot facility many affectionately call “The Castle.”

Featuring dramatic barrel tile ceilings imported from Italy, intricate stonework custom crafted from Italian experts and a labyrinth of eye-pleasing plazas, fountains, terraces and woodwork, the authenticity of this $50-million-plus masterpiece immediately takes members and guests to Old-World architecture found in Tuscany. The sprawling Italianate village is so compelling in character the club annually played host to more than 100 pre-pandemic destination weddings and regular photo shoots by locals.

The remarkable clubhouse notwithstanding, the current owners of this 1,900-acre residential golf and lake community are not resting on their laurels. For instance, members are now enjoying a newly created members-only dining venue called Cucina, and the 19th hole was reimagined for guests coming off the Nick Faldo-designed championship course or members seeking a more casual indoor-outdoor food-and-beverage experience overlooking the 18th hole, private Lake Siena and sweeping vistas of downtown Orlando and Walt Disney World.

Now, the jet-setting clientele and homebuyers Bella Collina attracts will be able to get to their home away from home even more quickly with a private helicopter landing pad approved by local Lake County commissioners earlier this year. Under construction on a one-acre pad just a short walk from the clubhouse, the newest amenity will accommodate both daytime trips and safe well-lit landings and takeoffs at night.

This will become particularly convenient for guests flying in for limited public-access tee times early in the morning or those staying overnight at the club’s recently opened 100-unit luxury condo lodge. Moreover, representatives from Bella Collina’s developer/owner DCS Investment Holdings attending the public hearing said the new amenity would give both residents and visitors the opportunity to bypass Central Florida’s increasingly busy roadways.

A couple of residents from neighboring developments in the tiny township of Montverde expressed safety concerns at the public hearing at the meeting, citing the tragic Kobe Bryant helicopter crash as an example. One homeowner from an adjacent equestrian community said it would spook their horses when residents are riding around in the trails.

But attorney Jonathan Huels, who represented Bella Collina’s ownership group, said helicopters already were allowed to land at Bella Collina, and have been doing so on a case-by-case basis or during emergencies. He noted it is something that happens about four to five times a month and compared the landings to local seaplane landings that occur dozens of times per month.

At the end of the evening, Bella Collina received unanimous approval for the helipad and gained yet another valuable new amenity – on top of the recently built 3,000-square-foot Sportivo Centro fitness center and adjoining resort-style pool complex with two 75-foot lap lanes, sun deck, whirlpool spa and covered terrace area with bar and grill for special club and/or family events.

The helipad also puts Bella Collina in some rare air, joining an exclusive collection of private golf club communities with a helipad or private runway access. Mountain Air Country Club in Burnsville, North Carolina, and Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, are two others currently on the list.

To be sure, one likely candidate to fly into Bella Collina on a future visit is Dwight Schar, whose West Palm Beach, Florida, private equity group DCS Investment Holdings owns and operates the club. Schar, who also has a home property in Palm Beach  and co-owns the Washington Redskins, made his wealth as the founding chairman of NVR Inc., one of America’s largest homebuilders.



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