Culture / Travel

The Rich and Famous’ Secret Beach Escape

This Small Town Has Plenty of Rules, and Few Mansions Available

BY // 06.19.16

Under-the-radar heiresses. Hollywood types. International swells. Southern millionaires. One of the few places in the country where the aforementioned mix is Alys Beach, a small town on the white-beached Florida panhandle near the chic Rosemary Beach community.

Here, these top-tier types are neighbors, with private houses built in a mandatory Bermuda style that oozes, in the most subtle way, moneyed beauty. At Alys, a majority of the manses are custom-built with prices starting in the low millions. And while homeowners are allowed to select their own design team — noted architects Robert OrrGary Justiss and Bobby McAlpine have designed homes here — every detail must be approved by Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury-Vogt, the husband-wife urban planners and architects who conceptualized the community’s design and layout in 2003.

Inside info for future residents: Your house must include a courtyard with a fountain, similar to those found in Antigua and Guatemala, and the exterior must be finished with a three-coat, hand-troweled stucco and mineral-based paints similar to what was used in some of Europe’s most storied masonry buildings. Among the current residences, scarce few are available for rent, so there’s a sense of privacy and laid-back, beach-town casualness.

There is Charlie’s Donut Truck, where homemade pastries and coffee are served from early morning until they sell out. The neighboring Piper’s Kitchen serves beach fare, from fish tacos to burgers. And for dinner, there is the charming George’s, which offers fine, fresh seafood in a beachy setting, and Caliza, a scene-y poolside spot. Pale blue beach cruisers are the go-to mode of transport — few of the Bentleys and Range Rovers leave their parking spots.

Early morning, the quaint Fonville Press is packed — if not for its zippy lattes then for its expansive patio. The property’s first bar, Neat, recently opened, serving classic libations. Once you open your summerhouse at Alys, there is absolutely no reason to leave.

Featured Properties


Like PaperCity Dallas on Facebook

Beyond the magazine. Get more of Dallas’ top restaurant, real estate, society, fashion and art in your news feed.