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Make no mistake, Tom Fazio created quite the golf cathedral amid this magnificent, high Sierra mountain landscape at this planned North Lake Tahoe community.

But down at the Martis Camp sales office, what’s driving a surprisingly brisk sale of lots and homes is the immense amenities that can keep a family busy and hanging out together from sun up to sun down in the summer months.

“Golf is the third or fourth reason that people want to buy at Martis Camp,” explains sales executive Jeff Hull.

Conveniently located in the shadow of Northstar ski resort, Martis Camp resides at 6,100 feet and is a winter playground as well. An impressive ski lodge has been built exclusively for Martis residents. A private shuttle bus runs throughout the day, dropping skiers and snowboarders off at lodge within close proximity to the Martis Camp Express lift, which is available only to Martis Camp residents. Cross country skiing and snow shoeing are also active winter considerations.

However, what most Tahoe newcomers realize in their first year in the region, absolutely applies to Martis Camp. People initially come to Tahoe for snowy winters and the access to great ski resorts. But they stay because of the summer months. The perfect weather, access to the immense lake, the tall pine trees and scenic mountains, all combine to make the Lake Tahoe region a summer paradise.

For any child who loves to stay physically active, Martis Camp is ideal. And that was the game plan when lots began selling at 2,177-acre Martis Camp in 2006. In hindsight, that launch was incredibly bad timing, considering home prices were at a peak and the second largest financial downfall in this country was about to unfold, decimating the U.S. economy and the housing market.

Despite the economic turmoil, Martis Camp has survived, avoiding pitfalls that hit other luxury communities in the Tahoe region. According to Hull, Martis Camp has approximately 228 of its 653 lots remaining and expects to sellout sometime in late 2015 or early the next year.

Primarily bought as second homes by Bay Area residents with Southern California a secondary market, Martis Camp has 85 completed homes, 115 under construction, and approximately 65 more in a design phase.

As one might expect, the lots are relatively large and pricey as well. A cabin lot ranges from 1/3 to 1/2 acre and estate lots are 1 to 5 acres in size. The cost of a lot ranges from $525,000 to $2.8 million.

Unlike other Tahoe luxury communities that are more golf oriented and use the names of architects Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf to entice home buyers and build golf memberships, the lure at Martis Camp is more family than Fazio.

The tree-lined property, which includes a creek that winds through it, features a distinctive red “Family Barn.” The 18,000-square-foot facility includes a huge outdoor pool; stocked fishing lake; amphitheater for concerts and events; half-court for basketball and floor hockey; two-lane indoor bowling alley; art loft; game room with pool tables, pinball machines, shuffleboard; and an old-fashioned Soda Fountain that serves burgers, floats, shakes, baked goods and specialty meals.

And the “barn” isn’t the only place to stay active. There is a not-yet completed 26-mile system of hiking and biking trails throughout the property, a community garden, a children’s playhouse, and the “Lost Library,” a serene place to read or simply mellow out.

Other family-friendly amenities include:

  • 4 tennis courts, including two clay courts
  • Arts & Crafts teaching area
  • Park pavilion that includes sand volleyball, soccer and lacrosse fields
  • 60,000-square-foot, 18-hole putting park
  • 44-seat movie theater
  • Large fitness center
  • Full-service Spa

Although it can get lost in the immensity of activities to pursue, the golf is top notch, and was rated as the third best new private course in 2009 by Golf Digest. It’s beautifully situated among the many Ponderosa pines, enhanced by the numerous white-crushed limestone sand traps, and the meandering Martis Creek on the back nine.

Martis Camp plays to a whopping 7,766 yard from the tips. Don’t get frightened off by the outrageous distance, there are five additional tee boxes, including one for juniors. And what’s great about the layout is it’s not a fear-factor course. On practically every tee box a safe landing area is easy to identify. As a rule, the fairways are rarely narrow and the rough is kept short. But the course is hilly, which means the uneven lies can really challenge one’s iron play.

The mostly two-tiered greens are well bunkered and extremely fast (my caddy said they were rolling about an 11 on the stint meter). That’s right, caddies are available for members and required for newcomers. It’s a nice luxury and the advice can definitely help on this high-elevation course. Martis Camp can be tricky on club selection since the ball travels further. How much further is always the great unknown!

Fazio definitely avoids any cookie-cutter holes – no hole mirrors another. The layout is a fun test, featuring long and short par 5s and par 3s, and a couple of short par 4s that demand accuracy. Several elevated tee boxes add even more variety to a wonderful golfing experience.

There is no public play at Martis Camp and he member rounds don’t come cheaply. A golf initiation fee costs $120,000 and membership dues are $15,000 per year. The golfing privileges do extend to the entire family.

The golf experience was first rate and so was the dining at Martis Camp. For a formal setting, there’s an elegant dining room (long pants are required for men) with its unique dรฉcor that will have you as focused on the furnishings, decorations and magnificent view as what’s on the menu. A revered chef offers plenty of unique offerings of fish, beef, poultry and pasta that patrons will savor. Make sure to save room for an unusual selection of delectable desserts.

For a less formal experience, dining in the bar area or outside deck is an option for both lunch and dinner. Outdoor dining overlooks the 18th green and provides one more opportunity to gaze at the scenic course and the cavernous 50,000-square-foot lodge.

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