Wellness Real Estate: What Does the Future Look Like?
Collaboration Takeaways

The Global Wellness Collaborations bring industry leaders together in meaningful dialogue to share ideas and best practices for navigating the COVID-19 crisis around a specific industry segment.

Topic: Wellness Real Estate: What Does the Future Look Like?
Date of Discussion: May 26, 2020
Countries/Regions Represented: Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curacao, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, UAE, UK, US, Uruguay, Viet Nam.

3 Presentations & Q&A and Discussion

Serenbe, Atlanta, Georgia: Presentation Slides

  • The land plan is a key thing in building a wellness community. There needs to be a lot of attention to the details from the very beginning.
  • For example, here, houses are pulled close to the street. There are sidewalks and porches.
  • It has brought people out of other communities that don’t have sidewalks and porches into communities like ours. It has really been a key thing because we already know our neighbors.
  • And then having places people can gather. Here, that is so natural. It just happens. You see the front porches but also little pocket parks, little places and spaces.
  • We are in big omegas, so every back door either opens onto green space or you are a short distance from green space. This is really important to be able to get into nature. We have some 17 miles of nature trails and various places like lakes and waterfalls to connect to nature.
  • And there are spontaneous places to play throughout the community. These are places for both children and adults to play. The infrastructure is set up to where people are having accidental connections.
  • One of the key things is where we put the mail stations. They are scattered, so people are going to run into each other.
  • We have the hospitality, the restaurants and the cafes scattered throughout the community, where people are going to be on foot and run into each other.
  • Another important aspect is the arts in our community. It isn’t only the beauty that lifts the spirits and the joy of experiencing the productions that we do, but it gives people an opportunity to become involved in groups, on boards, and other activities that take place.
  • Because of the connectivity, we maintained a natural bond during the pandemic.
  • The elderly people who live alone here, they’ve already bonded, so they don’t have to figure out who their neighbors are.
  • Many have compromised health due to poor diets. I think that this pandemic is bringing a focus to poor physical health due to lack of movement. We’re seeing people get out and move more.
  • Everyone knows the farmers in the community. One thing they created was a drive up so you could drive up to pick up all your fresh vegetables each week. All our restaurants remained open for to-go orders, and now we’ve reopened with social distancing.
  • This pandemic is really bringing light to a lack of access to fresh and local foods. It is encouraging that we have an agrarian economy here where we grow fresh vegetables. I mean, you see how broken the system is when we’re dumping fresh foods because of the problems in the supply chain. What hasn’t been exposed is that we’ve allowed 60 percent of our food to be grown on foreign soil.
  • My hope is that we become addicted to clear skies and fresh air and that we actually change a lot of our fossil fuel problems and inefficient work environments.
  • Hearing from those who live at Serenbe:
  • I think one of the big things as well will be wellness real estate might become the new norm. People are making lifestyle changes.
  • And our quality of life is going up dramatically. And the connection with neighbors and community is probably the richest attribute of living here.
  • I would say it’s a lifestyle, and it’s just immersive and I feel in rhythm with nature.
  • So, this isn’t a matter of sacrifice or preservation; it is just a balanced growth of nature and dense development.
  • And, of course, working from home is becoming a new reality. I think one of your trends is going to be what our at-home workspaces will look like.

Val de Vie, South Africa: Presentation Slides

  • There are approximately 2,000 families living here on a permanent basis. We’re quite close to the airport in Capetown.
  • We offer properties in the range from entry-level US$300,000 going up to what we call our gentleman’s estates. We have other properties ranging up to US$15 million.
  • We sold in excess of US$10 million this past month. The type of questions that we get from possible purchasers through our virtual office that is on our website shows us that we definitely have the opinion that our wellness lifestyle and real estate got a major turbo boost from this Coronavirus.
  • We cover 2,300 acres of property in total. In our last phase, we’ll go up to a total amount of 30,000. That is including presidential units, and that’s including our retirement village as well.
  • The primary residence location, in our view, is very important for these types of estates these days, especially if you focus on offering a product with good capital growth.
  • It was very important for me to differentiate the development from the other existing golf developments that were available.
  • So, basically what we focused on with the property from the start was a diverse amount of lifestyle activities and offerings ranging from polo and show jumping. We offer world-class, international standards, facilities for polo, showjumping, dressage, and literally almost all of the equestrian sports.
  • We offer a lifestyle for outdoor people. We’ve got a 20-kilometer mountain bike track on the property within the security parameter, a range of different facilities, tennis courts, squash courts, etc.
  • And so, I think the big thing was for us to offer diverse wellness lifestyle options. And I think, as we all know, that’s been a growing trend on a global scale all around the world.
  • I think a wellness lifestyle is becoming the norm. It’s going to definitely be a type of lifestyle that everyone on a global scale will be looking for.
  • We’ve got an art gallery. We do classical music concerts on a regular basis. We had Andrea Bocelli, a few months ago before the Coronavirus lockdown.
  • We have a little roastery that we’ve got on the site where we can buy coffee in the morning after exercise.
  • So, the peace of mind to have excellent security to have this whole family lifestyle within the country, but close to all the necessary amenities in the city, is a real draw.
  • There’s a professional aspect for many of these people here, especially people with medium size and larger family offices. They are looking for a little bit more of a professional environment, and so we added a nice office development within the perimeter of the property where they can have an office, and it has space for meetings, boardrooms, etc.
  • I think one of the successes is we offer a very sustainable lifestyle.
  • And on the environmental side, we firmly believe that you cannot establish a luxury development if you’re not involved in your community, so we give back to the community.
  • We are very big on the farm to table food production side.
  • People need to live a very natural organic type of lifestyle.
  • Can you share any mistakes you might have made?
  • I would definitely focus from the onset more on the sustainable aspect of all types of facilities because it’s very easy, especially with the scale of developments with the HOA, which is costing you money, that you end up with costs that aren’t contributing to the lifestyle.

Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences: Singer Island, Florida Presentation Slides

  • Our residences are located in Palm Beach, Florida, on an oceanfront location, which is kind of a prime destination for people from the Northeast.
  • Many celebrities live nearby. It’s considered to be a top luxury destination. Tourism in Palm Beach County generates about $5 billion and supports about 45,000 jobs.
  • 7.5 acres of ocean front – luxury location
  • 1,064,000 square feet
  • Two 20-story towers built on a 2-story podium
  • Mixed use real estate development consisting of 182 wellness residences
  • 2 to 4 BR’s from 1750 SF to 5845 SF
  • 155 destination spa resort guest rooms
  • 100,000 SF of indoor/outdoor wellness spa amenities
  • We are under construction with 80% completed, and planning to open up in the last quarter of this year.
  • It’s a two-story condominium and then we have a 20-story tower. One is named Peace and the other is named Happiness. And we have developed our own personalized wellness support system to help people to live healthier, happier and longer.
  • The development is 182 wellness residents (2-4 bedroom).
  • We needed to create a mixed-use development for our financial sustainability and viability, which is a really interesting concept for an urban area. Anyone who’s looking to set up this kind of development should think about that aspect because the mixed-use is something where viability will be increased compared to just having a residential community stand-alone.
  • The legal structure based upon what we understood in a mixed-use development is very, very critical and one has to have a different type of attorney’s expertise to create that structure, particularly here in South Florida, because the condominium laws are very, very strict.
  • And the zoning is very critical, so one has to get the right zoning in place. We had to work with the local community, as well as gain support from the political leaders, Palm Beach County and the local community.
  • It takes years to develop and reach this level of sustainability. So, anyone who thinks about developing an urban area high-rise wellness community must take into consideration that there is likely to be an economic downturn within the timeframe.
  • The branding, sales and marketing are critical for this type of new project. We had to really craft the message, engaging the help of a professional writer and keeping our customer as a focus for the sales strategy. We created a variety of alliances for services and programs.


Question & Answer and Discussion

  • My question is about the problems that were experienced by a previous entrant into the wellness lifestyle real estate sector in southern Florida. What were the learnings from that experience?
  • Go deep into your legal and financial structure. Think long term, particularly when you are doing an urban high-rise project. Their condominium documents did not allow them to operate the wellness amenities and services the way it should be operated. And each owner of the condominium became like a manager and was trying to tell the general manager what to do and what not to do.
  • You know, one of the things that has come up more often these days is about democratizing wellness—about the need to have wellness for all. There’s a prevailing question about whether or not wellness real estate is a model that could be feasible, for, let’s say, lower- to middle-income people. How do we get the world living this way? How do we make wellness Living and wellness communities for everyone?
  • I have done affordable housing, which is kind of considered to be low-income housing, where people don’t have enough money to even pay their rent and buy food. I think a global wellness community can be done with a program that can be for what I consider to be the lower-income, middle-income and the higher-income. It will require a lot of collaborative conversation to come up with the right model, but it can be done. I think each one of us needs to support this, and so it is doable, in my opinion.
  • But if you look at the key components of what a wellness community is, its connection to nature, connection to agriculture, connection to neighbors, etc. My goodness, we should all get back to learning how to grow our own food and harvest our own food.
  • The connecting with front porches—you know, these are all principles that are 100 years ago and should be worked into every community that is being built today.
  • In some cases, where we built, the last thing that was needed was affordable housing. Rather, what was needed was a level tax base and the provision of good jobs. So now people can ride their bicycles to work where before they were limited to the kind of work they could do.
  • I think it’s over and above the job creations thing. We find that the activities and the facilities that you can create, help you establish your wellness community on a much bigger scale.
  • I think just from a practical and commercial point of view, what we find and what we will see with the wellness community gains into the next few decades. It’s literally like everything. If you looked at that a hundred years ago, a motor vehicle was a very exclusive thing. And now it is democratized.
  • So, things will get more commercialized, including wellness real estate and communities. And I think it’s the job of those who are early into wellness real estate to get involved in the community and to help commercialize all the different aspects of a wellness lifestyle in the greater community.
  • You will see that there are ways to access wellness in your community without being in a wellness community.
  • It’s been very fascinating to all of us to learn what a booming business this has become. We are building the first wellness district here in Tampa. And I also work on the second well-certified collaborative workspace in Clearwater, Florida. So, it is beyond booming here, not just for a community but for collaborative workspaces to open up.
  • I found it fascinating to hear about the idea of creating a shared office building space among one of these communities. I’ve not heard of that before, but what a great idea. I can understand that we’re all working from home, and we’re finding that after a while, that can feel a bit confined and even intrusive for the family—especially if there are several family members working from home. The idea of going somewhere to an office—that is nearby—is likely to become a trend.
  • I am involved with the first project in Brazil. It’s a wellness real estate project and the center of creativity. We are helping in regards to the wellness ideas. It’ wonderful because it has certification by Leeds and another certification.
  • We are working on developing a wellness community in the south of France. When we mention wellness and real estate, all of a sudden, the mayor and the person responsible for zoning and the local partners—their ears perk up. There is such a big wave of wellness awareness in getting the local stakeholders involved in this project.
  • This is a good time for all of us to be cognizant of the importance of authentic, reliable and effective wellness facilities and programming. We need to be careful that this isn’t just about using wellness as a marketing term. It will benefit all of us if we can be committed to really doing wellness well.
  • Link to share that received a lot of coverage: GWI Research Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate & Communities

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