Summer 2017—Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesville, North Carolina, Balsam Mountain Preserve boasts an Arnold Palmer golf course, a swim-tennis center, an equestrian facility, and a restaurant (plus a soon-to-be-built clubhouse)–all serving an intimate community of about 85 homes. But what’s most remarkable is what isn’t there. Some 3,000 of the development’s 4,400 acres have been placed in a permanent conservation easement. In fact, a trust operates an on-site nature center staffed with two naturalists. Member amenities include a creekside campsite.
“We were attracted to the undeveloped space that is going to remain,” says Linda James, an Atlantan who has owned a vacation home there for 10 years with her husband, Ed. In addition to golfing and playing tennis, the couple enjoys trail riding, fishing, and hiking–all activities they now share with their 10 grandkids.
And though the resort changed ownership several times during the recession, residents have remained a close-knit group, they say. During the summers, they meet for weekly potluck dinners or late-afternoon wine. “At the end of the day, it’s people who make the difference,” says Ed. “Balsam Mountain goes a step beyond. It’s family.”