Willard Mears freely admits that he and his wife Rochelle carefully researched 20 independent living facilities when they decided to open a new chapter in their retirement years.
El Dorado of Sun City checked every box on their list of needs and wants, and they became residents in May of 2018.
The top of their wish list happens to be one of El Dorado’s signature features.
“We were looking for a homeowners association; condominium-type complex,” Mr. Mears said, during a sunny summer afternoon on the grounds at 10330 W. Thunderbird Blvd., in Sun City AZ. “We were wanting to be in a facility whereby the homeowners themselves determined the amenities, instead of having it being dictated by a corporation.”
That way, he explained, the couple could design their home the way they wanted to with all their personal touches and styles.
“You own the Condominium,” he said. “You can remodel the inside any way you want to. We took out all kitchen appliances and put in new kitchen appliances and new countertops. Other remodeling like that inside, which you can’t do in a rental facility in independent living.”
The Mears came to Arizona after living a number of years in Odessa in west Texas. Mr. Mears was raised in Odessa, while Ms. Mears originally hails from Michigan.
Neither location seemed quite right to them for retirement, and they decided to make their home in Arizona.
More than the services El Dorado provides, Ms. Mears added, it’s also the people on site that make the difference.
“The people are friendly, the food’s good, and they do a lot for us,” she laughed. “And we’re getting too old to do it for ourselves.” Nik and Judy Brown retired to Arizona in 1997 from Texas, and after living in Sun City West for 20 years, became El Dorado residents in December 2018.
“We tried a senior place in Sun City West and another senior place in Sun City, and they just didn’t suit us,” said Mr. Brown, who calls El Dorado of Sun City “a godsend.”“And we found El Dorado and it’s really been a pleasurable thing. We really enjoy it here.”
Amenities include weekly housekeeping with flat linen service, chauffeur services, valet service, room service, covered parking, golf car parking, golf club storage, exercise classes designed for seniors and fitness center, billiards and card rooms, a TV lounge, lakeside lounges, beauty and barber shop, storage bins, emergency call system, in-house television channel, Cox high definition cable TV, water and garbage, Wi- Fi in common area, 24 hour on-site security and an R.N, on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which Mr. Mears, for one, calls “very reassuring.”This is a feature unique to El Dorado of Sun City.
The round-the-clock nurse also was very reassuring to Barb Kappes. She and her husband Don are relative newcomers to El Dorado, now in their third month living here. They have been in Arizona for 10 years, and are originally from Iowa.
“We had friends here and we had heard about it when we were living in Sun City Grand when we were thinking about living in a senior community,” Ms. Kappes said. “The most important things to us were the fact that there’s a nurse on duty 24 hours a day, and being right across the street from (Banner) Boswell (Memorial Hospital) is a real plus.”
The Heart Center at Banner Boswell, which is located literally across the street from El Dorado, has been nationally recognized for its care and expertise in cardiovascular preventive care, diagnostic services, medical and surgical treatment and rehabilitation. Banner Boswell Medical Center was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics, a leading national health care research and quality assessment organization.
The on-site nurse is also a big plus for the Browns.
“It’s not that they take the place of a doctor. But there’s so many times when you have an ache or a pain and you don’t know whether you really ought to go to a doctor or not,” Mr. Brown said. “They’re very helpful in guiding you.”
At El Dorado, Mr. and Ms. Kappes lease a condominium right alongside sparkling Viewpoint Lake. El Dorado does offer some condominiums for lease besides ownership. Among their favorite available amenities, Mr. Kappes regularly attends exercise classes, and Ms. Kappes plays bridge.
“Everyone has been very friendly,” she said. “The library here is tremendous.”
Rates at El Dorado are determined by the community board comprised of homeowners, and there are reserve funds in place for requisite maintenance of all common areas, all to avoid unexpected costs to residents. El Dorado residents have never had a special assessment.
El Dorado food services department and its Executive Chef prepares thousands of meals each month. The dining room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Outdoor dining next to the pool is also available, weather permitting. There is also a private dining room available for residents’ use.
“The food is pretty consistent,” Mr. Brown said. “The food is always a problem in these kinds of places because they just have a tough time serving a lot of people in a short time and they don’t get the trick down. And
El Dorado has got it pretty well figured out.” And for residents looking to venture off the grounds, El Dorado makes that easy as well.
“They have good transportation most of which is complimentary and some is available at a reasonable fee,” Mr. Mears said. “So if you can’t drive a car, you can get transportation.”
The Mears’ keep active. As photography enthusiasts, the couple decided upon retirement to take up the hobby, and have since amassed a vast personal collection of images of their world travels. Framed photographs they have taken line the walls inside their condominium to add their personal touch throughout. The two even recently took a four-night trip away from home to photograph rich Arizona landscapes.
When they stay home at El Dorado, however, there is no shortage of options to keep active.
“We enjoy going to the musical entertainers that they bring in,” Mr. Mears said. “They bring in quite a range: country western, classical pianists, things like that.”
And the peace of mind living at El Dorado is always with them.
“The staff are all very courteous and responsive and are aware of our age and our lack of capabilities of what we used to do,” he said.“They’re enjoyable.”
All El Dorado residents are members of the Sun City Recreation Centers and have access to enjoy seven recreation centers, eight golf courses, two bowling alleys and a wide array of clubs and other activities.
Located on 7.5 acres, El Dorado includes a pool and spa for residents. There are also two gazebos in the center courtyards, and one in the Secret Garden. Other El Dorado amenities include a newly-decorated exercise room, a library, art gallery, emergency call systems in the condominiums, an airport shuttle service, a koi pond, and even fishing on Viewpoint Lake is available.