A Special Dinner Party at Rinconada Hills—The Best Kept Secret in Silicon Valley

“Heaven is a little closer living in a home by a lake in the heart of a natural setting.”

As my wife Cecile and I walked down the winding path from our town home, alongside one of the three cascading ponds and tennis courts leading to the “Clubhouse” for dinner, we felt a deep sense of gratitude for choosing to downsize over two years ago from our large estate home in Saratoga to this natural refuge of easy-living known as Rinconada Hills.

Several times throughout the year, the Rinconada Hills Homeowner’s Association (RHA), organizes theme dinner events for it’s residents. This time it was BBQ Bonanza Tri-Tip dinner with fresh salads, awesome side dishes, fresh fruit and ice cream for the first 100 residents who RSVP. Board member Russ Gillum, who marinated the steak in a cup of soy sauce, minced garlic and beer clearly knew what he was doing. Russ and assistant manager, Ray Ramirez, seen here skillfully cutting the tender meat. All the food was graciously prepared and provided by volunteers.

There was an open wine bar tended by Stewart Ives, a former president of the RHA and the evening's entertainment was provided by Gary Carnes, the Singing DJ. Many guests danced to their hearts content, including board member Connie Palladino and her husband John, who we bump into on the trails from time to time while walking the dogs.

The ambiance evoked a welcoming atmosphere. Everyone was in good cheer. Seating was not only available in the brightly lit main room of the “Clubhouse,” but on the side and back patios overlooking a stately grove of palm trees. The tables were decorated with Italian checkerboard type tablecloths. We were joined by friends, Nelson and Susan Bye who have lived here for over 20 years. Susan saw us walking near the lake one day, got out of her car and said, “Oh my God, you guys are living here now?” That fated day rekindled the friendship.

This peaceful gated community, offers its residents several walking trails, natural landscapes, a wide variety of trees including plum and cherry fruit trees, and spectacular views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley. There’s also ten neighborhood pools, a two-acre pristine lake inhabited by black turtles, and large koi fish, and frequently visited by geese, ducks, and large orange koi fish, and egrets and cormorants.

This unique planned development sits on over 100 acres of land and includes 394 town homes, 40 single family homes and the “Clubhouse" with room enough to throw dinner parties such as the evening’s event. If a developer were to build a community like this today—and have it be profitable—it would require double the density of housing structures. The spaciousness of the grounds is one of many reasons we love it here.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people we meet on the walking trails like Susan and Nelson mentioned above, that we actually knew during an earlier phase in our life when our kids were in school. Then there's Dee Blumenthal and Kathy Ramos whom we took yoga classes with for many years at Bay Club Courtside. We didn’t know they were long time residents of Rinconada until we were contemplating making the move.

Life has a way of making things interesting and fun by bringing people together in very whimsical ways. Like, Barry Gotlieb seen in the photo with me. Barry and I used to engage in spirited conversations in the poolside Jacuzzi at Courtside. One day, we bumped into him and Sue, his significant other on the walking trails. 

We feel a deep sense of community here, and are more connected with nature than ever before. As far as I’m concerned, Rinconada Hills (often confused with La Rinconada Country Club) is the best kept secret in Silicon Valley. So please, shhhhh!!! Don’t tell anybody!