It was a picture-perfect October weekend in 2001 when Charlotte and John Tripoli traveled to South Carolina from their home in Michigan in search of a place to retire. As part of their discovery package to The Cliffs, they stayed at La Bastide (now Hotel Domestique) and played golf at The Cliffs at Glassy. At that point, they had searched all over the country but nothing had met all their criteria, so they were surprised when they fell immediately in love with The Cliffs at Glassy. “Defying our normal business practices, we made a purchase that weekend,” John recalls.
They started building their 5,800-square-foot home on Raptor Way the following year and moved in late in 2004. “One of our quests when we left Michigan was to find a retirement location that could become a gathering point for our five children,” says John. And gather they did, especially for Glassy’s annual Black Bear Member-Guest tournament. Most years, the Tripolis all come for the member-guest (this past year was the first year they’re not all participating). Charlotte has won the ladies tournament twice—once with one of her daughters—while John has won a flight with two of his three sons.
When John and Charlotte moved to the Upstate, their daughter Janelle decided to move south with them. She bought a house in Simpsonville and her parents lived with her until their home at Glassy was completed. In 2004, John B., the oldest of the Tripoli siblings, followed suit, moving his wife, Kelli, and their one-year-old daughter, Sofia, to Greenville from Huntington Beach, California. It’s with the younger John that the Tripoli family’s legacy at The Cliffs begins.
After John and Kelli moved to Greenville, their introduction to The Cliffs lifestyle was spending time at John’s parents’ home at Glassy on weekends and holidays. “We’ve experienced a ton of memories at The Cliffs with my parents,” John says. “We are big fans of The Cliffs staff. They do an amazing job taking care of their membership. I’ve always felt like we’re part of a first-class experience.” Kelli agrees: “The Cliffs does a really good job of putting together unique opportunities, whether it’s wine tasting, yoga, spinning. What’s really great is there’s something for every age group.”
When their children were young, Kelli and John found the location of his parents’ house, across the street from the pool and near the playground, to be ideal for entertaining little ones. And when John wasn’t golfing with his parents and brothers, both he and Kelli could enjoy The Cliffs amenities as legacy members. They enjoyed it so much, in fact, that in 2014, they purchased a second home at The Cliffs at Keowee, developer Jim Anthony’s original community on the lake.
“That was a whole new chapter for us, once we were able to get our own place [at Keowee],” says Kelli. “It’s like Shangri-la—you can’t ask for anything better.” The home came included membership at Keowee Vineyards and going to the lake in the summer has been an integral part of the family’s lifestyle. “We enjoy golf and boating, and we love the Lake House dinner venue,” John reports. “One of our favorite things on a Friday after work in summer is to head up to the lake and take the boat [to the Lake House] for a quiet dinner.”
When their daughter and son were younger (Sofia is now 18, and William is 15), Kelli and the kids would spend five out of seven days at The Cliffs during the summer. Although the two teens are now both busy with activities in high school, the family still heads to the lake every chance they get. William loves to fish, wakeboard, and play golf with his dad, while Sofia enjoys swimming in the lake, relaxing by the pool, and eating at the al fresco pizza kitchen at Keowee Vineyards. “The Cliffs is a respite for me,” admits their dad, who has a demanding full-time job in Greenville as the managing director for Northwestern Mutual. “I feel like my blood pressure comes down the moment I get there. It’s my go-to place.”
The entire Tripoli family—all 23 of them—convene at least a couple of times a year at The Cliffs. (John’s two sisters also live in the Upstate, while one of his brothers lives in North Carolina, and the other in Michigan.) After the member-guest tournament, the family gathers at John and Kelli’s house for what they call the “Patriot Games” over the 4th of July. A Tripoli family tradition for the last four years, the Patriot Games consist of a series of whacky competitions. “The family splits up into teams,” Kelli explains. “There’s always some kind of relay race, like a paddle board race on the lake or taking a greased watermelon into the lake and seeing who can get it back to shore the fastest. We do ladder ball and balloon tosses and there’s always a food-related game, like who can eat popsicles the fastest.” Such variety means that all ten cousins, ages 5 to 21, can participate in something. The games are a treasured annual source of family memories—not to mention hilarious photos. Case in point is the year they put shaving cream on people’s heads and held a competition to see who could stick on the most cheese balls.
Over the years, the Tripolis have celebrated many family milestones together at The Cliffs, including the wedding of John’s youngest sister, Jolene, who got married at The Cliffs at Glassy Chapel with a reception afterwards at the clubhouse. Thanks to their parents, all five Tripoli siblings are legacy members, meaning that as children of a primary member, they enjoy all the amenities of The Cliffs for a nominal one-time fee. “We’ve been very blessed to be able to share our retirement with our kids in a way they can enjoy the activities and enjoy each other,” shares Charlotte.
All the Tripoli grandchildren have experienced the weeklong Kids Camp at Glassy, from the time they were eligible to attend (age 5) to when they aged out at 14 (the youngest grandchildren participated in their first Kids Camp last summer). “I remember going to Glassy Kids Camp Adventure Circle when I was 11,” John and Kelli’s son, William, reminisces. “We camped overnight in cabins and played Capture the Flag.”
For John and Kelli and their children, the best part about being a member at The Cliffs has been spending intentional time with family. “We’ve had such a great time as a family on the lake and attending events with my grandparents,” exclaims Sofia. Her brother equally appreciates his time there: “I’ve made a lot of memories at The Cliffs, like learning to fish and golf, and spending time with my cousins.”
“Sometimes it’s just the four of us, what I call ‘the core four,’” John says. “Having a place to go in a venue like The Cliffs has created a lot of intention for us to come together for extended periods of time. When we’re at the lake, we play games and take walks, we read and do puzzles. That type of togetherness has been very special for us.”
“We are so grateful that the many aspects of The Cliffs communities are available to the third generation of Tripolis,” John says. It’s a journey he hopes will continue through future generations of his family.
Both of John’s children share his desire to further the family’s Cliffs’ legacy. As William puts it: “The Cliffs has so many activities to do, and [someday] I want my kids to have the same fun experiences that I have had.”
This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.