August 2, 2012
Sicamous cottage resort a welcoming community for families
Project size/scope: Strata waterfront community with 81 residences (12 townhomes, 35 beach cabins and 34 park homes) on 9.5 acres.
Location: 8843 Hwy 97a, Mara Lake
Located near Sicamous on Swansea Point on Mara Lake, the resort community is right between Calgary and Vancouver with a five-hour drive each way.
Prices: Beachfront townhomes and cabins from 1,400-2,150 square feet are $760,000 to $929,000. Cabins from 994-1,008 square feet are $419,000 to $468,000. Creekside cottage (park home) sites are $191,000 to $269,000.
Fees: Monthly fees range from $203-$265 for a resident caretaker, and amenities such as a pool and 1.5-acre playing field and private marina.
Builder: Classic Builders, Sicamous
Developer: Mara Lake Estates Ltd.
BY SUSAN DOWN
Ken and Jacqueline Talbot both have happy childhood memories of cottage life with their own families (his near Winnipeg and hers on the Sunshine Coast). The North Vancouver couple wanted to give their two daughters, aged nine and 13, the same kind of experience. “We though, let’s make the investment, otherwise, if we wait too long, they will miss out,” says Ken, who purchased a unit in 2008 at Hummingbird Beach Resort, and was one of the first buyers in the new development.
What sold the couple was the attractive combination of a rustic lake setting and the built-in group of congenial friends. “We started out thinking of a traditional lakefront cottage with a land title, but my wife did a lot of research and sold me on the idea of a cottage in a community,” Ken says. “In a community setting, we can still have quality family time together that we never seem to get when we are back at home, but we also get a new circle of friends for both us adults and the kids.”
At Hummingbird, he’s noticed it’s easier to get a group together for activities, from card games to water skiing, because when they are up at the cottage, it’s playtime. “You don’t have to worry about whether people are free or not,” he says. Hummingbird Beach Resort’s idyllic location on Swansea Point was a popular campground when developer Steele Jordan bought it in 2006. The entire resort was rezoned as CD (comprehensive development), so the units can be used year-round as primary residences or rentals.
Purchasers get title to their property. Unlike some recreational developments, it is not a co-op or share purchase. The owners pay strata fees to cover the maintenance of grounds and the private marina, where everyone gets a boat slip with each unit. While the campground is gone, the spirit of community remains. A vote of confidence came when families who had been returning to the campground for years decided to invest in the new development, Jordan says.
The location halfway between major cities in Alberta and B.C. attracts cottagers from both provinces. Not surprisingly, about 60 per cent of the buyers hail from Calgary, with the remaining 40 per cent from Metro Vancouver. Families won’t be lacking for activity in the Shuswap region. Nearby there are boating and swimming lessons at the Mara Lake park, a drive-in movie theatre, golfing and the town of Sicamous a 10-minute drive away.
Summer isn’t the only time when owners can enjoy their Hummingbird retreats. The resort is 45 minutes from the Silver Star ski resort near Vernon. Exceptional cross-country skiing and snowmobiling is right outside the door. “It’s one of the greatest little four-season destinations this province has to offer,” Jordan says.
The Hummingbird community includes a mixture of three different types of buildings, offering a range of prices: townhouses, individual cabins and park homes (manufactured) called creekside cottages. Each one has its advantages. Townhomes have a huge basement storage space, upper and lower decks and hickory cabinetry in the elegant, entertaining-style kitchens. Cabins and townhomes have hardwood floors and air conditioning.
Creekside cottage sites are sold separately, allowing buyers to customize their own park homes, which can be ordered from local manufacturers, although there are some design guidelines. The lots vary in size from 2,000 to 3,500 square feet, similar to a small urban street. Once they are set in place (each one comes with a separate bunkhouse) with decks and finishing touches, this portion of Hummingbird goes far beyond the trailer park esthetic and offers a great buy for those on a budget.
Exterior finishes on the modern units are appealing at first glance, with a mix of siding styles from shingles to board and batten, all in a soft, rich colour palette to complement the sandy beach setting. “We checked out a number of established lakefront communities and settled on Hummingbird because of the quality of the build and the obvious passion of the developer to make sure that everything was done right, “Ken says. “The marina dock is top quality, stamped concrete sidewalks, retaining walls are well built, water treatment system is big and robust.”
Cottages can be purchased anywhere, but it’s the sense of community and friendship that sets Hummingbird apart, Ken says. “Everyone has a comfortable deck on which to socialize and you never know whose deck you will end up on and for how long, but for certain it will be fun and there will be laughter.”
Special to The Sun