CITY GUIDES

ART + ARCHITECTURE

The inspiration and limitations of living in Alys Beach

The beauty of Alys Beach is pretty irrefutable.

Its homes, made of high white walls and Moroccan-style arches, grow out of the sand like a modern castle, fortifying the hilly beaches of Walton County, Florida.

Every cobblestone road is lain with precision, every tree is quaffed like a cloud, and everywhere you go, a polite waiter is asking if you want a cocktail.

I visited this modern oasis a few weeks ago for some much needed relaxation. And if I hadn’t been wary of the security guards, I would have chained myself to the white picket fences and never left.


I recently spoke with C.J. Adams, a Realtor for Sotheby’s International Realty and a property owner in the community. He told me that part of the Beach’s allure is its exotic aesthetic.

“What was initially interpreted as Bermudan with courtyard living has developed into a wonderful array of Moroccan, Turkish, Mykonos styling, and more,” he said. “Pulling inspiration from all of these locales provides for one of the most special coastal experiences in Florida.”

And by “special” I presume he also means “expensive.”

According to the community’s website, available homes in Alys Beach range from $2 – $7.5 million, and from what I was told by on-site staff, only about ten residents live in the community full-time. That means the majority of the residences are second homes and vacation rentals.

Not. Too. Shabby.

Now, since I studied architecture only for about a year before I switched my major to journalism in college, I was curious how someone might purchase one of these Moroccan-inspired properties.

C.J. explained there are two options.

“First, Alys Beach develops properties on their own and then sells those properties when they are completed or close to completion to homeowners,” he said. “With this option, homeowners may be able to pick out a few of the finishes, but for the most part, all of the hard work and decision making has already been done for them.”

For most people, this option makes sense. You can pick out your home like a new Buick and move in with your family of four, headache free. Sounds great, right?

“The second option is to purchase a lot and build a custom house,” said C.J. “This process is obviously much more time consuming but also allows for more collaboration and customization, so that the homeowner can hopefully get exactly what they are looking for in a beach home.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were forking over a couple mil’ for an idilic sandcastle on the beach, I would go the custom route. I’d make it five stories tall with a rooftop pool, fill all the closets with Tom Ford resortwear, and hire a wait staff of 10 because let’s face it, I’m not cleaning that house.

But or now, though, I will have to settle for staying in one of its vacation homes.

See more of my Alys Beach adventure on Instagram. 



Photo by Nicholas Trobiano and Dan Austin Photography

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