Wellness Real Estate: Insights on Reopening, Resetting, Reimaging 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: Insights on Reopening, Resetting, Reimaging
Date of Discussion: July 21, 2020
Countries/Regions Represented: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, UK, US, Viet Nam.

Roberto Arjona, Rancho La Puerta Residences: Presentation Slides

  • Rancho La Puerta has developed the Residences at Rancho La Puerta in collaboration with a company that has developed land interlaced with vineyards in San Miguel de Allende. They build to a very high standard and are committed to the health and wellbeing of the land, as well as the social and cultural life of the residents in their developments.
  • Our joint venture is a village-scale community designed to harmonize with the existing ambiance of Rancho La Puerta to preserve agricultural traditions in our region and to enhance our human connection to the 3,000 acres of wildland and magnificent mountain scenery surrounding the residents.
  • Our vision is a community of like-minded individuals who find beauty in nature, develop long-lasting friendships, and take their health and wellbeing into their own hands.
  • The pandemic has given us a gift to recognize the imperative to care for our bodies and the body of the earth to restore physical, cultural and social environments that support health, resilience and kindness.
  • We began by sharing this opportunity with previous guests at Rancho La Puerta. As you may know, we’ve been around for about 80 years, and in June, it was our anniversary month, and that just seemed like the right time to make the announcement.
  • We have three different styles of homes with different floor plans. In total, there are 108 houses: 66 casitas, which are the smallest ones, and 27 casas, which are the biggest and grandest. Within the development area, we have 30 acres of vineyards, and there will be a winery and a small lake reservoir, which will be treated with reclaimed water from the city for our irrigation in the public areas and the vineyards.
  • The village center will be the heart of the community at the Ranch.
  • The casitas are two bedrooms, two baths, roughly 2,000 square feet. These casitas are done with the highest level of quality and care and attention to detail since this will be homes that many residents will live in year-round or for a minimum of six months.
  • The casas were essentially designed for families that want to share with older children that come to the Ranch. The floorplan includes three master bedrooms, out of which we have one on the lower floor and two on the higher floor. In some cases, they are double two-story buildings.
  • We have 40 houses right now that are on hold with deposits and under contract. That has happened in just four weeks. Most of those were sold over the Internet. We are just now having some people visit to see what they have purchased.
  • It’s just been amazing. We created three phases of pricing: the presale price, then another phase, and then what will be the final price. We’ve already jumped to the 3% increase in the pricing because we reached our goals for the presale portion.
  • There will be a rental pool opportunity, and we learned that size matters a great deal to people, especially for people who are looking for a second home that they can lock up and go away.
  • There are 24 acres of vineyards that are at the heart of the community, and there’s a wonderful village center.
  • There will be a rich array of fitness activities and a arts and crafts room, there will be community gardens, and there will be farm fresh delivered to your door. Later on, there will be a winery and a restaurant and cafe. They’ll be a juice bar on-site early on and evening presenters.

Veronica Schreibeis Smith, Wellness Architecture: Presentation Slides

  • We’ve actually seen an incredible uptick in business these last eight weeks—really since May. It seems that people are ready to pull the trigger on projects they have been considering.
  • We’re going to look at resetting, and what we need to do is to change the expectations we have of our built environment. Currently, we are all accepting a pretty low bar right now. We all need to reimagine spaces so that they can impact healthy lifestyles for people.
  • Our company has noticed shifts, and the top one is that human health really is important.
  • We have the ability to intentionally design elements that optimize our biological function.
  • An example of that is our environment that has a huge tendency to either increase or decrease our stress levels. Stress can shut down how we detoxify, affect our digestion, and our mental performance. It creates cortisol in our bodies and even toxins. What a lot of people don’t realize is that if we go into a conventional environment that has these toxins in it, it’s not just poisoning the planet, it actually is directly impacting our health.
  • Other examples of things that optimize biological function are acoustics and light. We’ve touched in the past on circadian rhythm, but the other important takeaway on light is, light can actually be a nutrient to us, which essentially impacts our energy levels.
  • We are also seeing people ask for help to boost immune systems. An example of that is integrating UV lights.
  • I think that this coincides really beautifully with the wellness trend that the Global Wellness Summit has identified for 2020, energy medicine; I’m seeing a lot of parallels. They’re coming into architecture.
  • Also, a lot more people are interested in sacred geometry.
  • What we’re seeing is people don’t want to give up their amenities or their luxuries. But they do want to do it in a responsible way in kind of what we’ve called a green way. They’re looking at it with a little bit more of a wellbeing focus, as opposed to simply an environmental focus. What that means is, they’re really focusing on the local economy, culture.
  • And when we say energy and resources, we don’t just mean planetary; we mean human as well. So, wellness architecture really starts at sustainable and goes up from there.
  • In building codes today, they are really addressing issues at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, such as safety.
  • These are people that are looking at self-actualization, they’re in a new age or position in their life, and they are striving to become their best self and meet their highest potential.
  • That materiality and what we put in our buildings really does bring it soul.
  • Japanese traditions of wabi-sabi is an example of something that is starting to matter more to people. (In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.)
  • It’s really important that you have a holistic approach to the power that architecture has on you.
  • Really, the big thing is how do you help people eat more nutritiously. For example, with leafy greens, you know, 50% of their nutrients die in 30 minutes. How can we support growing gardens? How can we have climate-controlled cabinetry that actually extends the nutrient value of the food as opposed to pantries and refrigeration?
  • How do we make chopping, preparing vegetables, whole foods easier, and then compost it and bring it back?
  • Q&A:
  • You mentioned nudge architecture. Can you tell us where that came from?
  • So, nudge psychology is something that’s been around for a long time. And it stems out of that. And really, this idea of nudge architecture has been around for a while. The term and the popularization of it have really been, I would say in the last decade.
  • An example would be when you design a lobby, and there’s a beautiful stair that invites you to go up the stairs, and the elevators are around the corner. Or in workplace wellness, for example, there might be frosted glass on the lower part of the refrigerator and the upper part and then right where your eye level is and where it’s easy to reach in—that’s where you keep the water, fruits and vegetables.
  • The important thing about nudge architecture is you’re not taking away an option from somebody. But you’re just making the easy choice, the right choice.
  • At the Residences at Rancho La Puerta, might you elaborate on what kind of access residents might have to the destination resort’s programming and meals?
  • We created several strategies. One of them is that all of the resident owners and their families and people that stay with them will have access to booking treatments and therapists at the Health Center in Rancho La Puerta at no extra cost other than the treatment itself. Residents will be able to go back and forth to that particular area. The second thing we created was a date pass program. You’ll be able to just pick up the phone call and say I want to go to the Ranch for the day today. That does have an extra cost, but it’s a very reasonable cost. We make sure that we are able to manage how many day passes we make available, depending on the occupancy at the Ranch.
  • But most importantly is bringing in the Rancho La Puerta community experience out to the village center and ensuring that those guests have a very similar experience that they would if they were guests at RLP.
  • We are hearing that the sector is booming now at a time when a lot of businesses are contracting. What is the ROI when it comes to wellness built into the built environment to homes, to destinations, etc.?
  • What are people willing to pay to have those things that have been mentioned that make their space healthier? Is this just a result of this horrible pandemic? Is there a silver lining for how we’re going to live in the future?
  • I’m not sure I have the answer to how much people will be willing to pay. I have some historical figures. People have easily been willing to pay 10% more, even 20%, 25% and 30% more. But what I’m seeing from the owners and developers right now are projects that might include a healing sanctuary and holistic hotel. One example is seven-unit multifamily apartments that are intentionally being branded and communicated as a multifamily wellness community.
  • The bottom line does matter. Making money is important to keep it sustainable, and also we all recognize that financial wellbeing is a real consideration. But what I’m seeing to actually make these shifts is a huge mindset change where the bottom line isn’t the first conversation we’re having. It’s how do we input all of these features, or certainly, at least, make sure we don’t have any of the problems that do cause stress and inflammation? Thereafter, we start looking at the numbers.
  • I’d like to say something about our RLP guests because they’re a pretty enlightened group. As you may know, we started in 1940. And we have had many multiple generations of guests. Many have invested many weeks of their lives at the Ranch. Our pre-offer was to guests who had come to the Ranch more than 30 times, and by the way, we’ve had guests who have come to the Ranch more than 50 times.
  • One somewhat surprising revelation to us was that so many of the conversations we are having with people who are purchasing or are in the process is how important view is!
  • There was this very strong desire to have a feeling of where they were going to be on the land. And I think the fact that we have 3,000 acres of wildland that wraps around this development is showing us this hunger for nature.
  • I think that the nature connection is fundamental to human health and is certainly a key to our development.
  • We are selling our homes from $680,000 to $1.5 million in Mexico. That speaks to the value that people are putting into Rancho La Puerta, our wellness resort, and their trust in us and our programs. It also speaks to the need that they are seeing of getting out of their own environments into a place that will fulfill their biological needs and their connection to nature.
  • We’re breaking ground at the end of August, and the turnaround in terms of the delivery of the homes is anywhere between 18 to 34 months.
  • Regarding rating systems, there are a lot out there, and we don’t have time to get into all of them, but WELL is one of the most recognized, as it is administered through the US Green Building Council. And then there is LEAD, and they have been in effect for about 20 years.
  • What’s the difference between WELL and WHIT? It’s totally different. WHIT is not a rating system. It stands for Wellness Home Built on Innovation and Technology. And so, it’s a prototype home, where through the Lake Nona Institute in Lake Nona, Florida, they have been inviting partners like Technogym, Delos, Deepak Chopra, Priya Institute, and others to kind of partner and look at different spaces within the home.
  • For example, that appliance garage that we showed. We have integrated UV light into those. So again, when your mess goes down, you don’t have to also worry about microbes, viruses and such. Things like that UV light kills RNA and DNA. And so, it’s also really important that we as humans never get exposed to it and that it’s just killing the things that we want it to kill essentially.
  • CHAT:
  • Where do the buyers of Rancho La Puerta come from? And what are the demographics of future buyers?
  • Wellness Kitchen: Global Wellness Trends
  • You mentioned light and sound. How much are vibrational frequencies playing a role in the way you access biomodulation?
  • Kitchens are important places to start! Although the single home context (or “smart” homes) requires neighborhood-scale regenerative resiliency in our opinion.
  • Are there any WELL built sheds in existence?
  • The migration of NYC urban dwellers to the Hudson Valley in the past four months has increased real estate values by 30%. There is an emphasis on clean country living and the abundant resources that are prevalent in this agricultural oasis.
  • Here is a great introduction to “nudge” behavioral change explained by Dr. Richard Thaler and Dr. Cass Sunstein: Nudge: by Richard H. Thaler
  • What is the difference between WHIT and WELL, the Well Building Standard through the IWBI? https://www.wellcertified.com/?
  • Examples of applying sacred geometry? How would you nudge a master bath? How to integrate personal sanctuary/meditation space in smaller footprints? What does WELL accomplish?
  • Pre-COVID (new build subdivision housing), we’ve seen a 15% higher value proposition. Now demand is exceeding 22–30% on the market value properties.
  • The key word is now “exodus” from cities.
  • We have seen a big uptick in folks wanting to come out and enjoy amenities in nature—luxury with social distancing at Valle de Los Senderos. Particularly from city dwellers. If there are any investors out there interested in San Miguel de Allende, please check us out Valle de Los Senderos. Valle de Los Senderos
  • Wanted to share this link about ReGen Villages initiative: ReGen Villages
  • At 2020 CNU (Congress for new urbanism) conference, CNU, new architecture was encouraged for creating more private personal space for each bedroom for a retreat. Example, separating bedrooms with private porches. Even the small home becomes a mini-compound. Also confirmed the move toward nature-oriented communities.
  • Looking forward to another time to present the case for neighborhood-scale regenerative resiliency, with critical life support systems of food, water, energy and circular nutritional flows.
  • We just interviewed an exec from Lake Nona about the WHIT home and more on the Global Wellness Summit Leader Livecast last week. You can find it on the GWS Instagram Page. Include link please Podcast link.
  • Check out Green Mountain Farm. It is the world’s first certified Quiet Community.

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