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Villas By The Sea, North Topsail Beach, NC

Luxury homes that provide buyers and renters with every convenience imaginable, from elevators to private Jacuzzis to oceanfront balconies, have become increasingly common along the fast-growing Carolina coast.

Communities that can still offer these amenities amid a serene, unspoiled stretch of the tranquil Atlantic Ocean are to be treasured. Villas by the Sea consists of six duplex buildings facing the Atlantic in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, the least-populated of Topsail Island's three towns.

Though its dozen five-bedroom, four-bath units were built with luxury oceanfront living in mind, the community is prouder of what it doesn't offer than of what it does. "The pristineness of this area is its claim to fame," says Richard Baker of Treasure Realty, which handles sales and rentals for Villas by the Sea. "We've got what people can't get. We offer them what they can't find anywhere else."

Baker points proudly to the fact that you won't find a gas station or a traffic light in North Topsail Beach and that all the town's restaurants are located inside its resort communities. He adds that those who seek the bright lights of commercialism can find them easily enough. It's only an eight-minute drive to Surf City, the island's largest town, and it takes even less time to reach the high-rise bridge that leads to the fishing village of Sneads Ferry and, eventually, to Wilmington, 45 miles to the south or Jacksonville, 25 miles to the north. Those who journey from Raleigh to Topsail Island can do so almost entirely on four-lane roads. However easy the trip, in the case of Villas by the Sea, getting there is nowhere near half the fun.

Each of the 12 units offers 2,050 square feet of living space that includes a master bedroom and balconies on each of three levels, a private elevator, a Jacuzzi that can accommodate four people comfortably, an outdoor shower with hot and cold water and private parking for up to four vehicles. The fire door between the two units of each building can be opened, permitting the owners of both sides to rent a huge home for large gatherings such as family reunions. "A lot of people want to have their whole family, which might be four or even five generations, under one roof," Richard says. "You can fit quite a few people in 10 bedrooms."

He says only the two units near the community pool are available for sale but adds that he will soon begin pre-selling phase two of Villas by the Sea. The expansion will include six more duplex buildings, with each 2,600-square-foot unit featuring six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a screened-in porch and a private pool. The balconies will face both the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.

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