fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

La Crème de la Crème

Alys Beach Is Perfection on the Gulf Coast

Interview by Lisa Burwell | Intro by Jordan Staggs | Photography courtesy of Alys Beach

If you grew up visiting the coastal South, particularly the area that is affectionately called “30-A” after the eighteen-mile scenic highway that runs parallel to its white-sand beaches, you might have marveled over the pristine town of Alys Beach when passing through. Alys Beach is a gorgeous example of New Urban town planning, created by Miami-based firm Duany Plater-Zyberk in the late 1990s and realized in 2004. The community was designed to combine “the harmonious forms of Bermudan architecture with the gracious character of courtyard living,” according to the town’s website. “The vision for Alys Beach embraces a commitment to architectural excellence and a deep respect for the natural environment.”

Elton B. Stephens had a dream of creating a community like no other when he purchased the land just north of the Gulf of Mexico that would become Alys Beach—(the community was named for his wife, Alys). Years later, his son Jim, along with town founder Jason Comer, and many others made that dream a reality. “Creating Alys Beach was large,” Comer told The Alys Gazette on the town’s tenth anniversary. “We were trying to create a place that was all about those highly formative and memorable events in our childhood. And when you approach something with that sort of love in your heart, you give it everything.”

Today, Alys Beach is a thriving beach community moving into its final development phases. Town Architects Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury-Vogt oversee the design of beautiful courtyard, compound, and villa homesites along with common areas and amenities to fill out the community. Visitors might claim that strolling through the town feels like you’ve stepped into a magical fourth dimension. A place where the salty sea breeze makes fabric curtains ripple from the private courtyards and balconies that line streets with whimsical names like Nonesuch Way or Sugar Lump Lane. And, perhaps surprisingly, even in the midst of a global pandemic, people can’t wait to have a piece of that magic to call their own. In fact, Alys Beach just closed its most profitable off-season in the real estate market.

VIE took some time with Alys Beach’s vice president of sales, Tom Dodson, and director of public relations, Diana Lane, to talk about this phenomenon and the growth of Alys Beach moving forward in 2020.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL
The Gulf Green at Alys Beach offers unparalleled views and stunning event space for weddings and more. | Photo courtesy of Alys Beach

VIE: The town planners at Duany Plater-Zyberk have said that Alys Beach is their favorite community they have envisioned along Scenic Highway 30-A, and many would agree. What sets Alys Beach apart? Its ethos, its architecture, its way of life?

Tom Dodson: Two things truly differentiate Alys from others: the architecture—the number one driver of our buyer’s interest—and the sense of community. With only 22 percent of our homes in the Alys Beach Rental Program, the 78 percent of true second homes and primary residences have formed lasting relationships in Alys Beach. I was speaking with a second-home owner who said they have their old friends where they have their permanent residence, but they have their special Alys Beach friends that they look forward to spending valued time with while at the beach.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL
The unique rooftops, towers, and architectural accents found on every home and public space in Alys Beach reinforce the town founders’ and planners’ exquisite taste and desire to create an exceptional destination along Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast. | Photo by Jeremy Harwell

VIE: How has the real estate market in Alys Beach been affected by COVID-19, if at all?

TD: The COVID-19 pandemic is a very difficult time and one that no one was expecting or prepared for. It has made people rethink what’s important and what we were meant to do. It has caused a pause in peoples’ lives, an opportunity to remember the value of spending time with family. Having a beach home in Alys Beach offers this escape to a place where one can spend time in the outdoors and share memorable times with family.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL
Many award-winning architects have left their imprint on the townscape of Alys Beach, including Town Architects Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury-Vogt. They oversee the design of each beautiful courtyard, compound, and villa homesite. | Photo by Brenna Kneiss

VIE: You’ve just experienced your strongest off-season sales record—congratulations! Why do you think this is?

TD: Partially thanks to the mind-set of our customers and also because Alys Beach is now becoming a real town with the delivery of our town center (where shops and restaurants will soon open), the opening of ZUMA (a state-of-the-art wellness and fitness center), and the realization of the private owners Beach Club at Alys Beach, which will be completing construction later this year. These have been differentiators for Alys Beach in our marketplace.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL, Christ & Associates, Cindy Meador Interiors
This gorgeous courtyard home in Alys Beach, known as the Bond residence, was designed by architect Tom Christ of Christ & Associates, with interior design by Cindy Meador Interiors. | Photo by Chris Luker

VIE: What have been your most significant achievements in real estate so far in 2020?

TD: Alys Beach took a strong position during the downturn of the real estate market from 2008 to 2012 in that the founder did not drop pricing in Alys Beach to what the current market prices were at the time. This was to ensure owners that we were not going to negatively impact their pricing as well. I believe we benefited greatly from this both as a developer and as a town. We have continued to see the vision of Alys Beach become a reality with the delivery of the town amenities and town center, as well as with the continued growth of developed homes. It has been the realization of the vision and the growth of the town that has been quite rewarding.

The setting alongside the Plaza with The Beach Club to the west and the exceptional sunset views to the beach make this a very prominent site in Alys Beach.

VIE: You have just announced The Selene & Easterly, two new Gulf-front condominiums in Alys Beach. Can you tell us a little about these new buildings and what makes them exceptional investment properties?

TD: We are most excited with the offering of The Selene & Easterly, which will complete the Beach Club complex, comprising the private owners Beach Club, the Beach Plaza, and The Selene & Easterly. We wanted to complete the Plaza, which is flanked by The Beach Club on the west and The Selene & Easterly on the east. We wanted Scott Merrill and his team from Merrill, Pastor & Colgan Architects to lead the design direction for this important neighborhood, the only Gulf-front condominium neighborhood planned in Alys Beach. The setting alongside the Plaza with The Beach Club to the west and the exceptional sunset views to the beach make this a very prominent site in Alys Beach.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL, Christ & Associates, Cindy Meador Interiors, E.F. San Juan
The main entrance of the Bond residence shows off the clean lines and pristine materials chosen by architect Tom Christ, modern coastal decor elements by Cindy Meador, and a beautiful custom Invincia impact-rated door created by the local craftsmen at E. F. San Juan. | Photo by Chris Luker

VIE: How did the architects work with the existing Alys Beach town plan to ensure a seamless integration for these new condos?

TD: Scott Merrill and the team from Merrill, Pastor & Colgan have worked with Alys Beach for several years. Scott had collaborated with Andrés Duany in the very early visioning years of Alys Beach. We worked with Merrill, Pastor & Colgan on the design development of a prominent Town Center residential and commercial building, The May, and were extremely pleased with the attention to detail and felt that they would be the best architects for the design of The Selene & Easterly.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL, Christ & Associates, Cindy Meador Interiors
The Bond homeowners’ minimal yet bold style is reflected in sleek lines and exciting accents, such as multiple staircases by Christ & Associates and mid-century modern–inspired elements, decor, and lighting accents carefully selected by Cindy Meador Interiors. | Photo by Chris Luker

VIE: What news can you share about commercial real estate and new retail and restaurant offerings coming up in Alys Beach?

TD: We have worked on the casting of our Town Center to ensure a good mix of tenants to offer a memorable experience for our owners and guests in Alys Beach. The liner building, located on North Castle Harbour across from George’s Restaurant, is currently occupied by commercial tenants offering experiences from specialty cocktails, wine, spirits, and a variety of cuisines at NEAT Bottle Shop and Tasting Room to specialty boutiques of curated pieces, household furnishings, and accessories. A new restaurant, The Citizen, will be opening in late fall of 2020 in The May, and the majority of the commercial spaces in the newest buildings being delivered to the Town Center, The Camden & Whitby, have been leased.

The Beach Club will be the iconic place in Alys Beach that will optimize the beach experience and the unforgettable views the Gulf Coast provides.

VIE: How is progress coming along on The Beach Club at Alys Beach, and what makes this such an exciting new amenity for owners and guests?

TD: We are extremely pleased with the delivery of The Beach Club at Alys Beach and anticipate opening in late fall of 2020. The Beach Club will be the iconic place in Alys Beach that will optimize the beach experience and the unforgettable views the Gulf Coast provides. This is a place where every detail is designed with homeowners in mind; it is here where owner relationships will be strengthened, friendships formed, and a community gathered in defining life at Alys Beach. The Beach Club will be a true differentiator for Alys Beach thanks to its private nature, providing an exclusive oasis for our owners.

The Beach Club has been a part of the fabric for Alys Beach, part of the discussion and visioning for many years. With the downturn in the market in 2008, the Beach Club was put on hold but is now becoming a reality. Many have waited patiently, while others are now being driven to purchase based on this and other amenities, including ZUMA, recently delivered in Alys Beach.

Alys Beach, Alys Beach Florida, Alys Beach FL, Christ & Associates, Cindy Meador Interiors
As evidenced by inspiring homes such as the Bond residence, Alys Beach has honored its commitment to magnificent architecture and storytelling through design. The beautiful coastal setting, a one-of-a-kind blend of Bermudan and coastal Southern style, and high-end amenities have put this New Urban community on the map for affluent homebuyers, vacationers, celebrities, and the press. | Photo by Chris Luker

VIE: Congratulations on the first edition of The Alys Journal! How is this different from the existing (and beautiful) newspaper, The Alys Gazette? What can readers expect with this newsletter’s On the Market section in the future?

Diana Lane: We’ve created this new digital publication as a way to keep our Alys Beach friends and family close in spirit, a way to reach out to readers more regularly to offer a virtual gateway into our beautiful town. The Alys Journal will be a casual, visual way to keep us connected, and to update readers on town news and developments—a bridge between our social media channels and The Alys Gazette (neither of which will be going away). Readers can expect to see regular highlights of new sales releases in the On the Market section, which will be a regular feature of The Alys Journal.

VIE: Do you expect to see more homeowners turning their Alys Beach properties into primary residences this year as a result of COVID-19 and the changing workforce environment?

TD: We have seen many of our second-home owners living in Alys Beach for the past sixty days. They have been extremely pleased with their experience while living here and many are planning more time in Alys, especially those who are empty nesters. In the month of May, eighteen properties were contracted for purchase. Most of these new owners will split time between their residences and beach homes, with many claiming primary residence in Florida for tax purposes.

DL: We genuinely feel that people are looking for communities where family, neighborhood, and connection are integral and where they have access to amenities for wellness, life’s luxuries, and fun. The desire for a safe and secure environment has also come more into focus over the last several months and, while our Gulf beaches are a natural lure, the fact that our town is built to FORTIFIED Standards offers even more security and longevity to owners.

— V —


To learn more about Alys Beach and real estate opportunities in the community, visit AlysBeach.com or contact the sales center at sales@alysbeach.com or (866) 744-9958.



Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
Summertime!
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail

X

A LIFESTYLE