Feature Home: Living La Vida Encantada

May 16—When a piece of property costs $28 million, it's not as though its real estate agents will be showing it every weekend until it sells. Not hardly. And while it's not exactly the case that it'll sell itself, whoever shows any interest in a multimillion-dollar listing has to first show that they can even afford a look around. That means that before any agent will entertain prospective buyers, said buyers have to prove they can afford the price tag. That right there eliminates pretty much all the pretenders, most of the tire kickers and any-one eager to gawk so they can later brag to their friends about the swanky house they just saw.

But however much that might shrink the suitors' list for someone like Tim Van Camp and John Rigatti, the Sotheby's agents handling just such a property — the $28 million family compound known as Vida Encantada ("Enchanted Life") — it also reduces by a lot the number of prospective buyers with the kind of capital such a price demands. And that can make for a very short list.

"The quality and design [of the property] are universal, and the style appeals to a lot of people," says Rigatti. "It compares to any properties in other markets that cost a lot more — Aspen, Vail, Malibu."

What also sets it apart, aside from its 3.7 acres and 18,000 square feet of living space, is that it is counterintuitively modest — perhaps even subtle. That may seem odd to say about a property with a heated swimming pool just off the 7,000-square-foot main house that sleeps eleven and has a wine cellar with a 600-bottle capacity, expandable to 1,000 bottles; a 5,000-square-foot second house (Bella Vista) that sleeps twelve; a 4,000-square-foot third house (Cielo) that has a complete gym and salon, as well as lockers (complete with name tags), a dry sauna and a ski locker room with boot warmers and racks, a two-person massage room and storage rooms for furs and art. And that's not to mention the 2,000-square-foot fourth house (Verano), the outdoor paved parking big enough for 24 vehicles, the greenhouse and edibles garden, the 25-chicken coop, the retract-able covers for all the built-in areas (a feature for the three bigger houses), the retractable outdoor rear-projection movie screen, the perennial cutting gardens, the commercial grade chef's kitchen and the private roof-top patio ... among the many other features.

Maybe it's the low-key Mediterranean style that keeps the property from coming off as showy or over the top. Maybe it's the 360-degree views and the airy portals and the expansive outdoor area in the center, which feels more like a miniature park than just a "backyard." Or maybe it's because the owners renovated and added on to the original main house with their children and grandchildren very much in mind. (There's nothing like little ones to turn a precious mansion into a practicable living space lickety-split!) So as accommodating as the property is for large-scale dinner parties, it is also entirely kid friendly, from the garage that houses up to a dozen electric scooters to the bunk beds for up to eight in both Cielo and Bella Vista, to the swimming pool and the outdoor movie screen.

Each house is self-contained but at the same time connected to every other house and structure. Credit Santa Fe architects Mark L Mortier Architects, Plan A Architecture and Steve Shaw Architecture, as well as Richard Wilder and his team at Wilder Landscaping for creating this dual feeling of autonomy and cohesion — and restraint. Or, credit the current owners, who shall remain anonymous for now.

In most anyone else's hands — say, if overseen by filmmaker and oenophile-turned-"hideaway"-owner Francis Ford Coppola, for example, who likely would've turned these acres into yet another impressive but designed-to-impress compound a la his luxury properties in Belize, Guatemala, Italy and Argentina — Vida Encantada could have easily been so grand and ostentatious as to be, well, great for photographs in Architectural Digest, but hardly livable on a daily basis.

The current owners purchased the property from the estate of the late Santa Fe sculptor Glenna Goodacre, whose pieces can be found through-out the property. Goodacre lived in what is now the main house and had her studio in what is now the Cielo house, as one might guess from the huge windows facing the Ski Basin. The original two houses were built in 1946, but everything has been renovated. Bella Vista and Verano were built in 2014 and 2017, respectively. The property is also gated and, with three backup generators, more or less self-sufficient.

But as much interior space as there is, what's equally stunning and liberating are the many gardens, the stream, three water fountains and dozens of fruit trees, berry vines and bushes.

As Rigatti observes, "There's nothing not to like here."

Featured home: Living La Vida Encantada