Utah’s first private surfing community wants to get the details right, like hiring a surf instructor

Southern Shores developers will employ a professional wakeboarder with extensive surfing experience to teach residents how to use the resort’s UNIT Surf Pool

(Mark Eddington | The Salt Lake Tribune) Crews are working on a new waterskiing, wakeboarding and wakesurfing community called Southern Shore, a new project being built in Hurricane, Utah’s first private luxury surfing community. Each of the 34 lakefront homes will have its own boathouse to accommodate a boat.

hurricane • If frolicking in the sun, surf, and sand is the epitome of easy-going living, the developers of southern Utah’s first condominium watersports complex in Hurricane Valley apparently didn’t get the memo.

Jason Christensen, president of Immaculate Homes, who is building the $25 million Southern Shores resort with his wife Brittany and Cody Larkin, admits he doesn’t always sleep well. After all, there is so much to worry about and too much to do to put your mind at ease.

Take surfing slang for example. Before talking about “hanging 10,” “hang loose,” or “breaking out” with surf phrases like “that’s some sick kegs out there,” devotees of surf development need to learn how to surf. In other words, they have to walk the path before they can talk. After all, no one wants to be labeled a “kook” — in surfing slang for a beginner or a bad surfer.

That’s why Southern Shores developers will employ a professional wakeboarder with extensive surfing experience to teach residents how to use the resort’s UNIT Surf Pool, the revolutionary 52-foot-wide standing wave that’s among the most advanced in the world.

“We’re going to teach him how to train other people,” Christensen said. “We make sure that once everyone knows how to do something, they can train it themselves [guests or family members]. We’re sending a bunch of people over there for a couple of weeks to help us learn how to do it.”

Another issue is legal liability. No one wants to see someone fall into the alcohol and drown.

To this end, the only access to the main lake will be through lakefront homes on the property, which will have fenced-in backyards and gates that require residents or their guests to enter a code to gain access to the water. Because water sports of any kind involve risk, everyone must sign a waiver for insurance reasons.

Christensen said the fact that Southern Shores is a private development and not a public resort helps reduce risk. Residents may invite extended family and friends to enjoy the amenities of Southern Shores, but absenteeism is not permitted. They must be there in person to entertain and look after their guests. Homeowners are also not allowed to rent out their homes or convert them into Airbnbs.

Even with these safeguards, resort insurance doesn’t come cheap, he admits.

“We have to insure [almost] everything,” he said.

Cleanliness is another issue. To keep the water clean, the developers rely on fish and aeration by boats moving up and down the main lake. They will also add some dyes and other chemicals to the lake to prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom and photosynthesis from taking place, which could lead to algae growth and turn the water from blue to a cloudy green.

Another concern is the droppings of geese, ducks and other waterfowl that make their way.

“We won’t shoot them if they come by, but we won’t provide them with a food source,” Christensen said.

Owning a property in Southern Shores gives residents access to the resort’s three lakes and surfing and wakeboarding facilities, but does not grant them unlimited access. To prevent overcrowding, there will eventually be rules that limit how often and how long people can use the leisure facilities.

While those rules are still in flux at the moment, Christensen envisions residents making reservations online for use of the lakes or UNIT Surf Pool once the Homes and Homeowners Association is in place. He estimates that about 20 people can use the surf pool in an hour. As for the main boating lake, he estimates that there’s room for two boats every 30 minutes — one on each side of the island that bisects the lake. That equates to about 80 boats in a 10-hour day.

Sometimes it’ll be easier to chill out in Southern Shores than others, especially since water sports don’t stop there during the winter. Christensen said there will be enough water in the lakes to keep them from freezing. Still, no cold water or weather clothing is required.

“I don’t care if they wear a wetsuit or not, but I would,” Christensen quipped.

The UNIT Surf Pool will probably only be operational for demonstration purposes in a few weeks. Teams are expected to begin filling the main and smaller cable lakes with water later this month, and construction of the lakefront homes is expected to begin next year.

Christensen anticipates that the full development of the resort will take up to ten years.

Jose Mendoza, a Mesa, Arizona resident who enjoys paddling at Fire Lake Reservoir while visiting friends in St. George, is in no hurry.

“I don’t care how long it takes to complete Southern Shores,” he said. “It’s out of my price range. The only way to get in through those gates is to befriend someone who lives there.”

Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

Justin Scaccy

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