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162-unit upscale senior community covers bases from living areas to play spaces

Set among oaks high atop the rolling hills north of Santa Rosa overlooking Fountain Grove Lake, Varenna is a gated retirement community offering residents beauty, comfort and security within a complex of Mediterranean-style buildings combining a classic wine country architectural motif with a hint of Italian influence.

Varenna is truly a world-class residential community for seniors. It takes its name from a small town in northern Italy located in a similar setting noted for its ability to catch the first rays of morning sun and capture panoramic, breath-taking sunsets.

The 29-acre site is adjacent to the Fountaingrove Golf and Athletic Club, with an 18-hole championship golf course, where special reduced-fee memberships are available to Varenna residents on a limited basis. The private neighborhood features resort-style living complete with concierge, valet services, massage room, spa and salon as well as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, fine dining and weekly housekeeping.

The new construction includes a three-story main building with 75,000 square feet of community area plus two additional two-story apartment buildings and detached homes nestled among rock out-croppings, live oaks and landscapes commanding vistas of the surrounding countryside.

“Phase I of Varenna opened last May 15, and today all four phases with a combined total of 162 units are complete,” said Sam Faye, executive director of Varenna and Villa Capri, a companion property located at 1397 Fountaingrove Parkway designed as an assisted living and memory care residential community that opened in 2007.

“One hundred and thirty five of Varenna’s units are apartments ranging in size from 850 to 2,800 square feet. All apartments feature high ceilings, spacious kitchens as well as decks or patios. There are also luxury casitas and custom homes with two-car garages – some with golf cart garages and expanded floor plans. Fully detached single-family homes have from 1,400 to 2,900 square feet of living space. Currently about 54 percent of Varenna is occupied and more than 75 percent of the complex has firm commitments,” Mr. Faye added.

Varenna is a community unto itself with a gift shop, box office, computer and business center, a movie theater, bank, library, salon and day spa. The community offers a fitness center (yoga, pilates, water aerobics), a wellness center, bocce court, arts and crafts, pet parks, card room, along with trails to a nearby park, a garden club and tram down to the lake and private dock with boating.

The Great Hall in the main building was designed for entertainment, dancing and special occasions that bring Varenna residents and guests together for a variety of social events, fellowship and good times. Varenna’s three activity and social directors Jenny Latourette, Liz Green and Pegeen Code, plan popular monthly events, tours and excursions and prepare a monthly calendar listing a variety of options.

Other amenities include the formal Lakeside dining room seating 100 guests, plus a Garden Room for lunch and a private dining room for groups of up to 24. Residents can dine on the terrace, visit with family and friends during happy hour at the cocktail lounge or stop by the Bistro, Rotisserie Pizza Oven or the Wine Cave to appreciate the ambiance and sample the culinary diversity found on the premises.

All of the cuisine is under the direction of Culinary Institute of America Chef Phillip Kaufman, who presides over an exhibition kitchen ready to cater parties and gatherings as well as provide daily meals and snacks.

Included in the monthly fee are weekly maid services, twice-a-year thorough house cleaning, maintenance of public areas, buildings and grounds along with residential maintenance as well as safety and security systems. On-site staffing is provided 24 hours a day, and all utilities are included except telephone service. Continental breakfast and 21 meal credits for lunches, dinners or guest meals are also included. There is a 24-hour emergency call system, valet service and a fitness program. Limited in-home tray service is also provided. Chauffeured town car transportation is included in the monthly fee.

“Our founders Bill and Cindy Gallaher anticipated the growing need for exceptional retirement living more than two decades ago. Varenna, an Aegis Signature Community, is the crown jewel of the founders’ shared vision, drive and enthusiasm and is the culmination of nearly 25 years experience dedicated to the development of senior communities,” Mr. Faye said. “Today people remain active well into their senior years and can move into Varenna as completely independent residents and later transition to Villa Capri or obtain light assisted living services when and if they are needed.”

Aegis was recently profiled as a Top 10 Percent Company by the national Assisted Living Federation of America. The company now manages 29 communities, with two under construction and three more under development.