The Positive Influence of Hospitality Design on Upscale Senior Living

The time is right to create a retirement community with an environment and ambience to match the level of sophistication, exclusivity and luxury found in world-class hotels.

walt miller in focustBy Walt Miller, Principal and Design Director for John Portman & Associates

The time is right to create a retirement community with an environment and ambience to match the level of sophistication, exclusivity and luxury found in world-class hotels. Today’s upscale, active seniors approach retirement as a permanent vacation, so why not offer them accommodations inspired by hospitality design principles and backed by unprecedented wellness and service offerings that allow them to “age in place”? These attributes coalesce to create a lifestyle and experience unique to only the most exclusive retirement communities. Let’s redefine the way people think about senior living.

The model is already successful in China, home to one of the world’s fastest growing senior populations. Our expertise in hospitality design was a motivating factor in the firm’s appointment to design Shen Yuan, a high-end CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) Project, being developed on the outskirts of Shanghai. Everything our firm has learned about delighting and taking care of hotel guests is translated into this singular living environment.

CCRC 1 thumbnailShen Yuan (Shanghai Garden) focuses on providing lifestyle retirement care, health care, education and comprehensive services in a unique landscaped environment with a strong connection to nature. The community offers several different housing options so that individuals may select the lifestyle that best suits their current personal needs. Accommodations range from active adult residences and independent living residences to full medical assistance options. Should their needs change, residents can be assured that the appropriate level of lifestyle support will be available within the community that they call home.

The project includes public restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and sports facilities that are intended to serve the retirement community as well as the surrounding Songjiang (suburban Shanghai) area, emphasizing community, vitality, participation and interaction. The advantage of such a dense development is that it provides the critical mass necessary to support additional amenities that increase activity, provide opportunities for social engagement and lead to relationships that extend beyond the community—which is vital to the creation of a true community.

Abundant landscaping and resort-style water features acknowledge the generous site, elegantly proclaiming the community’s identity as a place for all to enjoy. Walking paths, terraced social spaces and recreation areas are found throughout. Accessibility to residential neighborhoods enables residents’ extended-family members to live nearby.CCRC 2 thumbnail

Offering a similar experience in the United States would certainly be embraced by vibrant, contemporary seniors who wish to be well taken care of and live in elegance. We foresee the integration of classic beauty and the art of design into the residents’ everyday experiences, with the sole intention to pamper and please. Understanding of an individual’s desire to simplify his or her living experience to allow more time for travel and entertaining would be a key concept in the design process, as would the recognition that today’s seniors are more technologically savvy than ever before. We envision residences that feature a highly designed technology backbone with pre-wiring for state-of-the-art communication, security and entertainment.

Leveraging an intimate knowledge of the most appreciated aspects of hospitality, we propose residences designed with a sense of luxury, sophistication of materials and architectural detailing never before seen in retirement living. For those who desire to be well cared for in the most infinite sense, we see the need for a serene environment where residents can live out their days in dignity, underscored with elegance and urban sophistication.

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