Practically every builder and developer throws big bashes to celebrate grand openings, new models, and other milestone occasions. But the Bonita Bay Group has taken the southwest Florida party scene to a new plane.

Instead of friends, local government officials, subcontractors, and the media, the Bonita Beach, Fla–based developer invites upscale clientele to exclusive events held inside million-dollar model homes. And to pump up the guest list, it partners with other businesses that cater to the same high-end customer. The affairs have been so successful, the company is now looking into teaming with one of Naples, Fla.'s finest resorts to use its sample homes as venues for swank dinners for visiting boards of directors and conventioneers.

“It's a new way for us to find new prospects in a very competitive market,” says Cheryl Garn, marketing director for two of the Bonita Bay Group's high-end communities, Mediterra in Bonita Springs and TwinEagles in North Naples. “We can't show that their first contact was at one of our events, but we know of a lot of buyers who came to one of them.”

Not only that, says Garn, the parties have “turned into social events for people who are our market. We get complaints when people aren't invited.”

A DIAMOND IS FOREVER: The Bonita Bay Group provides the venue and jeweler Tiffany & Co. brings the bling to an exclusive high-end promotional party that the showcases the developer's million dollar homes in Florida. The idea of joining with car dealers, jewelers, and lifestyle magazines–all non-competing businesses that target the same affluent customers–is an extension of alliances with local nonprofits and universities that have held soirees at the Bonita Bay Group's communities. “After working on other events, we thought we should try one for prospects,” the marketing director says. “We thought that if we partnered with certain businesses, it might give us better access to our potential customers than our normal advertising.”

During southwest Florida's 2005 “high season”–January through April–the developer held four partner events at Mediterra, a master planned property that was named “Community of the Year” by the Collier [County] Building Industry Association for four consecutive years. This past season, TwinEagles hosted a more lavish function.

AFFAIRS TO REMEMBER At Mediterra, a 6-year-old, 1,700-acre property planned for up to 950 residences, four builders held one party in four fully furnished custom home models, ranging in price from $2.1 million to $2.6 million. Each partner's merchandise was on display in each of the four houses: Rolls-Royces, Jaguars, and BMWs lined the driveways; pearls, diamonds, and watches sparkled in exhibits inside; and models wore the latest fashions from several upscale stores nearby.

Guests enjoyed vintage wines and delicious hors d'oeuvres prepared by the Club at Mediterra as they toured the decked-out homes that highlighted the latest architectural and interior design trends. “The extraordinary [home] models showcased this evening,” the takeaway said, “provide a glimpse into the gracious lifestyle enjoyed by our residents.”

The 2006 event at TwinEagles, a 1,115-acre community planned for 716 houses, took the party concept to the next level.

As guests arrived at the guarded entry, valet parkers greeted and escorted them to a stretch limo that transported them through the property and to a tour of the estate model homes, which had price tags ranging from $3.2 million to $6.6 million. To appeal to the philanthropic nature of Naples's upper-crust community, the affair featured a silent auction in each model home to raise funds for a local children's hospital.