The wellness zeitgeist has permeated our culture during the past decade. People run around the world in search of wellness practices, and spend thousands of dollars a year on SoulCycle and smoothies. Yet, what has been largely overlooked as the wellness movement has exploded is what’s happening right in our own backyards.
As most of us have been spending 24/7 inside for the last few months, the realization that home is where the health is has become foremost in the psyche. Suddenly, there is a realization that the home environment itself should be healthy and healing, from the quality of the air to the availability of sunlight to the materials used in furnishings. And, as we take short jaunts around our neighborhoods, we are increasingly appreciating the lure of outdoor features like water, green spaces and walking trails.
Many experts are predicting that this pandemic will change the way people choose to live. Even before COVID, there were studies indicating that genetics may account for just 10-15% of health outcomes, and lifestyle and environmental factors account for the rest. Now, there is a belief that many committed urbanities will flee to suburbs and wide open spaces. At the same time, though, in isolation, people are realizing the importance of IRL connection and community.
That is why we at Hawkins International believe that wellness real estate is only going to continue to explode. The wellness real estate sector was already in a nascent state pre-COVID. But we believe that post-pandemic, the trend toward buying healthy homes and real estate in wellness communities will grow as more people will be taking into consideration how their living environments support their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
We’ve recently had conversations with industry leaders pointing to an uptick in sales calls regarding purchasing in wellness communities – especially from young families. Consumer anxiety is certainly one of the leading reasons for this renewed interest, the idea of wanting to feel safe should a health crisis happen again.
The Global Wellness Institute has been watching this trend develop for the past five years. The organization created the Wellness Communities Initiative back in 2015. According to its 2018 report titled Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities, wellness real estate was a $134 billion worldwide industry in 2017, and, at the time of the report, was expected to grow to $180 billion in 2022.
Now more than ever, people are considering their next home purchase to be in a community that is low-density and designed to fit wellness needs. Abundant outdoor spaces, access to nature, biophilic elements, and built-in wellness activities will all be appealing.
An innovative concept that currently has our attention is Wellpoint, a first-of-its-kind “planned wellness community” for seniors that is looking to revolutionize how local populations live, work, play, grow and age together. Currently slated to open in fall 2020 in Huntsville, Alabama, this wellness-centric community will feature everything from onsite healthcare consultations with doctors to a full menu of spa services. While filled to the brim with community services, Wellpoint will be designed to feel like a real neighborhood with villas, townhomes and apartments.
Low-density wellness communities aren’t just for seniors or retirees. One of the most well-known planned wellness communities is Serenbe, nestled in a rural setting outside Atlanta. The community has 750 residents who live in cottages and townhomes. Featuring gourmet restaurants, galleries, boutiques, horse stables, a 25-acre organic farm, and 18 miles of nature trails, a community like this allows residents to live in comfort and have access to necessities. It’s interesting to note that Serenbe’s residences are set 6 to 19 feet from the sidewalk – perfect for social distancing – and during the pandemic , the seasonal Saturday Farmer’s Market quickly initiated drive-up capabilities for pre-order and takeaway of fresh produce.
The vision for residential wellness will evolve in a post-COVID-19 world. These communities are able to adjust quickly in pandemic situations, with an abundance of outdoor space and designed to be able to social distance quickly, and now there will likely be even more protocols in place from cleanliness to air filtration. Many real estate and landscape architecture companies have already started to pivot. For example, EDSA, a Fort Lauderdale-based landscape architecture firm, is exploring opportunities to put its global experience in hospitality design toward fashioning landscape concepts for wellness communities.
Tourism May Introduce Clients to the Wellness Lifestyle
Blurring the lines between wellness, real estate and tourism, many developers around the world have had the foresight to build with both wellness and hospitality in mind. This has provided consumers with the option of getting a taste of the wellness living lifestyle through vacations before investing in it. Take Palmetto Bluff., The 20,000-acre community in South Carolina not only has the abundance of space and nature for those looking for an active, well lifestyle, but it includes a resort component. Montage Palmetto Bluff welcomes travelers to experience the walking trails, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, and more that area residents use all the time.
In Florida, Carillon Miami Wellness Resort is a wellness oasis for full-time residents and resort guests. The property attracts a health-conscious audience with access to a 70,000-square foot spa, private beach, and about 180 free fitness classes a week. The property partners with renowned medical professionals to provide services to guests and residents to enhance their well-being from every perspective. Professional services include Oriental medicine doctors, plastic surgery consultants, age management through functional and integrative medicine, sex and relationship specialists, executive coaches for financial wellbeing, and more.
Hawkins International will continue to keep a close eye on this growing interest in wellness communities, along with adaptations that existing hospitality companies can make to cater to this new curiosity. If you have any questions about this trend, or any other inquiries regarding the future of hospitality, connect with us on Twitter.