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Real Estate
Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 3 years ago

Luxury redefined

A new home on Longboat offers every amenity.
by: Robert Plunket Staff Writer

There is a small handful of homes in Sarasota, crafted by the same architect and the same builder, that in the eyes of many people approach perfection. 

They are not the modern icons people usually equate with our town, but rather classically inspired mansions that delight the senses with motifs and proportions that have been around for centuries.

Two of them are the homes built by fashion designer Adrienne Vittidini on Westway Drive. Another is the Melk mansion on Siesta Key.

 This month’s home joins that select group. It’s called Acqua Vita and it’s on Longboat Key.

It’s a mansion mostly in the Georgian style, but the hyper-refined sort of Georgian found in Palm Beach.  It’s large — 7,250 square feet — and faces the bay. There are five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths. The interior is white and blue, the atmosphere calm and quiet and fashion-shoot ready.

The creative force behind Acqua Vita is the team of architect Clifford Scholz and builder Rich Perrone. When they build a house for the right client — super rich and super sophisticated — the result is Sarasota at its best. 

And it’s expensive. Acqua Vita is listed at $8.4 million. (The sale of the Melk house a year or so ago set a Siesta Key record — more than $10 million.)

Acqua Vita is an unusual property for Sarasota at the moment. It’s a spec house built not for a particular client but rather to be put on the market. This can be a risky proposition on any price point, but at this level, where potential buyers have the ways and means to build their own dream house and spare no expense, you have to give them things they don’t know they want. As builder Ricky Perrone puts it, “We want a buyer who walks in the door and falls in love. Only then does he ask about the price.”

And Acqua Vita has a lot to fall in love with. Perrone and his father, Rich, have learned much from their decades of building custom luxury homes in the area. The input from many of their clients, in particular fashion legend Vittidini and her husband, Gigi, has sharpened their skills and provided the equivalent of a master class in sophisticated European design. 

Acqua Vita also provides a blueprint for what luxury buyers are looking at the moment. One “must have” is a spectacular outdoor living area. Acqua Vita’s features a shimmering pool with spa surrounded by a large terrace, with an adjacent covered living and dining area with a pickled cypress ceiling. There’s a complete but unobtrusive outdoor kitchen nearby. Walk down a stairway toward the water, and you’ll find another seating area — this one with a fireplace and outdoor television. 

A second necessity for ultra-wealthy buyers is a lavish master suite, and here Acqua Vita pulls out all the stops. It comprises the entire second floor of the house — don’t worry, there’s an elevator — and consists of a bedroom that’s 25-by-17 feet, with a covered balcony overlooking the bay. An alcove with a coffee bar leads to two room-sized closets and a bath with a sculptural tub from which you can take in the view. There’s also a large study and a loft-style bonus room that would be perfect for a home gym.

On the first floor, you’ll find four guest rooms, each with bath. The property — about an acre in size — has a canal on one side, providing even more light and views for several of the rooms. One of the guest suites is self-contained with its own entrance. 

The circular living room, staged by Stephanie Nolan of Distinctive Interiors, has a color palette of blue and white that emphasizes the crisp, clean lines of the home. The landscaping, by Stephen Hazeltine, has a touch of French formality. 

Realtor Lynne Koy has begun showing the home to prospective buyers and reports that they are younger than you might expect — couples in their 40s and 50s who have sold companies they started and are now looking for new ventures to pursue. “That’s why the large office upstairs is such a plus,” Koy says, “along with the guest rooms for visiting kids and grandchildren.”

In addition to its glowing good looks, Acqua Vita signals the turning of a page in Sarasota residential architecture. The Mediterranean look that dominated the market until recently is now officially over. Gone are the excessive gimmicks of home theaters and heavy, overwrought ornamentation. Now things have a simpler, yet more sophisticated touch.

There’s a lightness of being to Acqua Vita that augers well for the future of the area’s luxury homes.

5050 Gulf of Mexico Drive is priced at $8.4 million. For more information, call Lynne Koy of Coldwell Banker at 544-5117.

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