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Second Home Sanctuaries

Local Families Find a Place of Refuge From Daily Noise

Article by Bethany Wiley, MPH

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

In a world competing for our attention, it is easy to feel scattered, distracted, or burnt out. For our well-being, it’s important to find moments to disconnect from busyness and bathe in quiet. The following families have found their second homes to be a sanctuary - a place of refuge from daily noise, hustle, and stress – and fostered an intentional connection with all who gather there.

Kissimmee, Florida

Tony and Lynette Belfiore first owned a condo in Grand Lake, Colorado which they enjoyed for several years. But as the kids grew up, got married, and had kids of their own, the space was a little tight for their growing family to comfortably gather. Tony, Lynette and their three grown children and spouses decided to join efforts to buy the next home that would offer the group a refuge.

Now, the Belfiore Family owns two getaway homes: the Grand Lake home and the other in Kissimmee, Florida. Their Grand Lake home is exclusively for the family, whereas their Florida home, which is located minutes from Walt Disney World, serves as a vacation rental.

Both getaway homes help the Belfiore family unplug from daily responsibilities. Sonja Belfiore, daughter-in-law of Tony and Lynette, is a local Real Estate Agent with Sears Real Estate and has practiced real estate for 10 years in Greeley. Her husband, Sean Belfiore, is an entrepreneur and, alongside members of his family, owns four Hiroshi Teriyaki Grills and four liquor stores in Northern Colorado.

“We started going down to Florida to escape the cold and get a little further away from the businesses,” says Sonja. “When an opportunity popped up to purchase a rental there, since we had already been working well together on the first property, we decided to go for it!”

The retired family members of the Belfiore family enjoy frequent trips to the vacation homes. Sonja and Sean try to vacation to the Grand Lake and Florida home once to twice per year with their two kids. While the getaways might not be as frequent as Sonja and Sean would like, they love having friends and family make use of the properties. “We love knowing that someone is getting to relax and be in a comfortable home away from home,” says Sonja.

Sonja and Sean coordinate trips with other family members so they can enjoy sharing meals and staying up late playing games. “It’s such a blessing to gather together,” says Sonja. “There is a different level of relaxation and communion that happens when you don’t have anywhere to be, and you don’t feel like you are intruding on someone’s home or overstaying your welcome.”

Being parents of young children, Sonja and Sean appreciate that the routines are simpler at their homes away from home. “Bedtime is so much easier,” says Sonja. “It’s different from being home because you don’t feel the pulls of your to-do list.”

While their second homes have provided cherished memories, the Belfiore family admits that owning an additional home can come with challenges. “You have to check on it from time to time or have someone you trust check on it,” says Sonja. “But that’s so minute compared to all the other benefits.” Sonja recommends that if you’re considering a second home, be sure that you are comfortable with the worst-case scenario. She says that if you can budget and plan for that, everything else seems manageable and enjoyable.

If you find yourself near Walt Disney World and need a vacation rental, you can consider the Belfiore Family rental in Florida by visiting: EncoreReunion.com/Stay/7578-marker/.

Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

As the perfect location for a bachelor, fishing getaway, Greg Holmes fell in love with Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. So much so that he decided to design and build a cabin there. When he and his wife, Jonde, married, she too made it her home away from home. A few years later, Jonde’s parents, Tim and Jo Kramer, and her older brother, Kaleb Kramer, designed a family cabin in Red Feather Lakes – named The Kramer Family Cabin – and built it next door to Greg and Jonde.

Prior to buying the land for The Kramer Family Cabin, Tim and Jo visited Jonde and Greg’s cabin and fell in love with the scenery and tranquility, prompting them to become neighbors. The Kramer Family Cabin was built by Big Horn Buildings, owned by Kaleb, and the exterior was completed by Independent Roofing, also their family business.  768 sq/ft with 3 side wraparound porch, post frame construction, 7/8” corrugated metal roof in Western Rust/azp, reclaimed pro panel wainscot, 1.5” core ten standing seam reclaimed, upper walls 1 ¼” galvanized corrugated, walls and soffit reclaimed barnwood and standing seam interior as well.  Built for durability, longevity, and virtually maintenance free, the Kramer Family Cabin is truly a family cabin from the ground up.

Tim loves the serenity he experiences when he visits the cabin. “The mountains are absolutely gorgeous, the wildlife is amazing, and you seldom see anyone,” says Tim. “It’s a restful getaway from daily stress and a great place to sit and do nothing.”

Jonde says the cabin is a place where the family can experience absolute quiet and clear their minds. “It takes a minute to disconnect, to hear nothing, to just be quiet; it can be hard to wrap your head around, but absolute quiet does still exist!” says Jonde. “We don’t have TV, and at best we have spotty cell service. It’s wonderful!”

At the cabin, the Kramer and Holmes families like to immerse themselves in simple pleasures like finding the paths the animals make or watching for bears. As a habit in daily life, the Holmes usually keep their phones within reach. But at the cabin, they’re sure to keep the binoculars close by. “It doesn’t take long to figure out that we’re in their [the wildlife] territory and to be respectful of that,” Jonde says.

From the comfort of their cabins, they have viewed magnificent sunrises and sunsets, watched a mountain lion battle with coyotes, seen countless bears, moose, elk, spotted wolves, and even witnessed a dog tangle with a weasel. “It’s wild and isn’t for everyone, but we love it!” says Jonde.

The Kramer and Holmes families are thankful for a few days where life is simple. “Day to day, it’s easy to see the mishaps, everything that didn’t go right, or schedules that didn’t pan out,” Jonde says. “But when we can take a day, a weekend or just a moment to look over this intricate creation, it’s easy to see that our blessings truly do rival the stars.” 

The Kramer and Holmes families agree that they are glad they took the leap to buy a second home. Whether you have a second home or not, it gives you something to consider – finding a sanctuary of your own that helps you unplug from the busyness of life and rest in the quiet.

Granby, Colorado

An unexpected opportunity appeared for Aimee Huston and her siblings in 2020 after receiving an inheritance from their Aunt Helen upon her passing. Aunt Helen was a big influence in Aimee’s life and always told her to “make her money work for her.” Aimee was determined to invest in something that would make her Aunt Helen proud, so in October 2020, Bob and Aimee Hutson purchased a two-bedroom condo in Granby, Colorado. Looking back, Aimee is forever grateful they followed the advice from her Aunt Helen.

With the success of the rental market, and the enjoyment of their previous purchase, Bob and Aimee caught the real estate bug in March 2023 and purchased an additional property - a studio unit - in the same complex as their condo. Aimee says the complex offers great amenities with a steam room, outdoor pool, hot tubs, and a workout facility; plus, the studio unit is cozy and great for young families.

Bob and Aimee rent out both units in Granby and find that one of the biggest challenges is trusting that the renters will respect and love their home as much as they do. Although the condo and studio are available for rent, Bob and Aimee often reserve a few days for themselves to rest and reset. And in order to maintain their home away from home, they visit every few months for upkeep.

Aimee and Bob are the owners of Aunt Helen's Cafe and Wine Bar and Aunt Helen's Express. They have been operating the businesses for seven years in downtown Greeley. Although the Hutsons have lived in Greeley for 27 years and love calling it home, they appreciate having a second home to give them a reprieve from everyday life.

Granby offers simplicity, time away, easy access to hiking trails, boating in Grand Lake, skiing in Granby Ranch or Winter Park, breweries in Fraser, but most of all – time to unwind. “We have a very simple life in Granby and feel relaxed when we’re there,” says Aimee. “Our biggest decisions are: hot tub or sauna.”