Sunday, December 12, 2021
Saturday, October 23, 2021
|The Porsche Design Tower in Miami|
|Palazzo Versace, Australia|
|Cyrela by Pininfarina, Sao Paolo, Brazil|
The Appeal For Companies, Developers and the Consumer
|A "sky garage" in the Porsche Design Tower|
What the Future of Non-Hospitality Luxury Residences May Look Like
Sunday, October 3, 2021
Graduate Hotels is a brand that is quickly becoming quite familiar in the United States, at least in university towns. Created and owned by AJ Capital Partners (the AJ is short for Adventurous Journeys), Graduate curates its American hotels to match the atmosphere of the college campus by which it exists.
Every property celebrates the heady optimism of the good old school days and cultivates the spirit of each community through cultural and athletic nods to a university’s heritage and history.
Since its beginnings in 2014, Graduate has opened 30 hotels across the country, in such notable college towns as Columbus, Ohio (Ohio State University); Ann Arbor, Michigan (the University of Michigan); Berkeley, California (University of California, Berkeley) and Providence, Rhode Island (Brown University).
|Graduate Hotel Columbus|
According to Phillip Allen, Chief Development Officer, International Markets for AJ Capital Partners, Graduate was developed because the company discovered a wide-open niche in the market. It appeared that many sizable college towns lacked lodging options in terms of high-quality, boutique hotels. “Supply had traditionally been constrained, and focused on lower quality products,” said Allen.
University towns were particularly attractive because typically in the United States, new businesses and research facilities locate themselves near major campuses in order to take advantage of the academic talent pool Plus, there are those alumni who are always coming back for special events.
Of course, the American approach to university life (think football, tailgating and fraternities and sororities) is very different from most college experiences outside of the United States. So can a brand based, in part, on all-American rah-rah nostalgia, translate to other countries?
|Graduate Hotel Oxford|
In 2018, Allen, not yet working for AJ Capital Partners, nonetheless approached Graduate executives with the idea of expanding the brand into Europe. He discovered the company had already been considering the idea, and so he was brought on to manage the international development side of the business.
The whole Graduate concept design is based on fabulous university communities and their history. That’s why England’s Oxford and Cambridge universities were the logical places to start looking.
“We are certainly aware of the fact that U.K. campuses are not sports-focused like in America, so we take pains to stress other college-related themes at these properties,” he said.
Having chosen the site of their freshmen efforts, Davis started looking around for existing hotels that could be transitioned into Graduate’s zeitgeist.
The first acquisition was in Cambridge. Set on the River Cam, the property has been designed with nods to the university’s architecture and to on-campus discoveries like the DNA double helix.
In 2019, AJ Capital Partners purchased its property in Oxford, now called The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels. The design also parallels the architecture found on campus, and adds in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland touches (author Lewis Carroll lived in Oxford and matriculated at Christ Church College). After a few years of renovations, both hotels opened under the Graduate banner this summer.
Once the Cambridge and Oxford properties were acquired, Allen started looking north to Scotland. There, he discovered McDonald Hotels & Resorts was looking to sell some of its assets. But the locations didn’t necessarily match the Graduate modus operandi.
“We went to the U.K. to expand Graduate and stumbled into a new concept, a golf concept,” said Allen. “It was a bit of dumb luck and a bit of strategy.”
Rusacks St Andrews, overlooking the 18th hole of the city’s famed Old Course, was just “too perfect as a golf hotel. So we kept it as a golf hotel, and then started planning to expand a golf concept (since dubbed Marine & Lawn) in the United Kingdom right away.”
The golf-focused Marine & Lawn brand now has outposts in Troon and North Berwick in Scotland.
As for what’s next after this swirl of activity, Allen said: “Throughout the last year, we pushed pause on new international acquisitions as we were launching a totally new brand and the Graduate in a new country and acquired five hotels in a relatively short period of time.
“We had a lot on the plate in the midst of the pandemic. So, we want to get everything up and running and launch both brands in the most impactful way. And then, by fall, we’ll be back in the investment market.”
For Graduate Hotels, that will largely mean focusing on UK markets that are home to Russell Group universities. For Marine & Lawn, that means looking around the British Isles for existing golf hotels that are operating below par under current ownership.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
|Brown Hotels is undergoing a major expansion |
|Brown Beach House, Croatia|
|Brown Acropol Athens|
|Villa Brown Ermou, Athens|
Friday, September 3, 2021
Glamping is defined as an elevated form of camping that allows travelers to stay in unique accommodations (tents, treehouses, tiny houses) with services and amenities more often experienced at four or five-star resorts. Certainly, the pandemic helped glamping leap from niche to more mainstream. Glamping-style resorts have witnessed explosive demand due to their ability to provide socially distant, stress-free and secluded sojourns with immersion in nature.
|Glamping in the bush in Australia|
During the past year, numerous scientific studies have highlighted the inherent mental and physical benefits of being outside. At the same time, the use of outdoor wellbeing experiences to improve the quality of life has been increasing exponentially. In a forecast released prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the global glamping market size, valued at $1.8 billion, was predicted to expand to $5.41 billion by 2028. Grandview Research’s Glamping: Market Size & Trends also forecasts an annual growth rate of 14.1 percent from 2021 through 2028.
Sunday, August 8, 2021
The Covid-19 era ushered in with it the realization that home is where the health is. Post-pandemic, interest in buying healthy homes and real estate in wellness communities is likely to grow as more people take greater consideration of how their living environments impact their physical, mental and emotional well-being. As a result, low-density communities designed to cater to wellness needs will become increasingly desirable.
|Access to nature is an important|
feature of wellness real estate communities
Currently, most of the traction in the wellness residential community space is coming out of the upper-upscale end of the market and from the active agers (55+) sector. The latter provides a potential model for age-agnostic wellness communities. In the United States, the active adult (55+) community market size was valued at $523.4 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of around 4.3 percent from 2020 to 2027.
Newly or soon-to-be retired generations have different perspectives on aging than previous generations. Instead of looking for retirement homes that focus on health care, many are increasingly attracted to active adult (55+) communities, where the focus is on a wellness lifestyle. Those communities are filled with single-family homes or condominiums designed with wellbeing features. Often located near a nature asset, these developments place a strong emphasis on community spaces, programming and activities.
|Carillon Miami Wellness Resort|
The main movement in the development of under-55 wellness communities sits at the highest end of the market. Right now, most high-end wellness communities are located in mixed-use residential/resort complexes, such as Carillon Miami Wellness Resort and Canyon Ranch Residences. In this arena, there’s a great deal of overlap with the second home sector. In terms of dedicated wellness communities largely serving full-time residents, right now, there are but a few. However, given the likelihood of heightened concern about wellbeing post-pandemic, the concept of dedicated wellness residential communities is a real estate trend whose time has come.
*This post is adapted from a Wellness Hospitality Real Estate report I wrote for RLA Global.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
My most recent piece, which appeared in Hospitality Insights in June. Given that the publication is based in England, British English is used throughout.
|One&Only's property in Montenegro|
The Money Trail
|Zermatt, Switzerland is one of the European mountain regions|
of interest to luxury hospitality developers
Over to Iberia
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Apologies for being relatively silent on this blog recently, but May and June have been abuzz with activity. I am currently developing a Wellness University curriculum for travel advisors, and penning a 2021 Wellness Hospitality Real Estate Report. Stay tuned for more.
In between, it's back on Zoom. I recently shared my thoughts on growing and promoting wellness tourism during the Eco Hotel Restart Summit.
Here's the link. My main sections are 11-22 minutes and 52-56 minutes into the video. There's also a pithy wrap-up 1 hour in. Forgive the slight time delay and the technical difficulties. Enjoy.
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Ask people what wellness real estate means and you get a variety of misinformed answers, due to misperceptions about what wellness itself actually entails. Wellness is more than simply a physical construct. True wellness incorporates physical wellness, yes, but also mental wellness, environmental wellness, social wellness and access to nature, the latter of which plays a part in all the other aspects of wellness.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, wellness is having its moment. Perhaps for the first time, people have paused and reflected how the environment around them, whether built by man or Mother Nature, impacts their feelings of well-being.
|Real estate should reflect nature|
At the same time, scientists are sounding the alarm about how our environment, both outdoor and indoor, impacts our overall health. According to the World Health Organization, “Whether people are healthy or not is determined by their circumstances and environment. To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health.”
The real estate industry is taking note of both the science and the wellness awakening that has evolved during the COVID era. In the past, when the term “wellness real estate” was bandied about (if it was bandied about at all), it usually referred to the building of a spa, a fitness center, or maybe even a healthcare facility. But now, developers in almost every key sector of the real estate business, including hospitality, residential, retail or commercial, are paying heed to how health and wellness ingredients can be baked into a project.
While those ingredients may vary depending upon the type of developments, among the ones that should be considered universal are:
Access to Nature
Energy-Efficient Lighting/Light Sensors
Indoor and Outdoor Green Spaces
Indoor and Outdoor Water Elements
Natural/Non-Toxic Building Materials
Preservation of Green Spaces
Sustainability (including energy-saving technologies)
Third Spaces for Social Interaction
Use of Natural Light
Ventilation/Air Filtration Systems
Water Filtration Systems
All of these ingredients contribute to wellness, in at least one of its forms. And while, in the past, some of these elements were overlooked or omitted due to budgetary concerns, given the interest in wellness, today, most are no longer optional.
Friday, March 19, 2021
Having been stuck in one place for more than a year, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of “third places” and their role in social wellness.
Third places, as defined by Ray Oldenburg in his 1999 book The Great Good Place (and its follow-up called Celebrating the Third Place), are neutral territory; public places where people gather, exchange ideas and have a good time. Third places, writes Oldenburg, "host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work." Such places, he argues, are crucial for building community vitality, democracy and civil society. In my own less lofty terms, third places promote the types of interactions that have the potential to sprout friendships and meaningful social relationships.
According to the National Institutes of Health, there is growing evidence showing that social networks and community involvement, the building blocks of social wellness, have positive health consequences. Persons who are socially engaged with others and actively involved in their communities tend to live longer and be healthier physically and mentally.
So clearly, there’s a need to create structures to enhance social wellness. Enter third places, where people can regularly socialize in unprogrammed and informal ways. Those places might be community gardens and parks, neighborhood pubs, or for the fortunate few, country clubs. Whatever form they take, third places should serve as forums for social interaction. The most popular third places tend to be easy to get to, either close to home (your first place) or to work (your second place). The quality of propinquity encourages both spontaneity and regularity.
In recent years, Starbucks has bastardized the concept of the third place. Theoretically, a local coffee shop could be a third place. But the key to being an authentic third place is social interaction. What I see when I enter a Starbucks (flashing back to 2019) is a bunch of cappuccino-sipping cosmopolites who are basically alone together. They are all ensconced in their own little worlds, typing away at keyboards while further cutting themselves off from the world with their earbuds.
This scene is diametrically opposed to the social construct of a third space. Alone together does not cut it. A true third place encourages informal conversation and shared experiences on a frequent basis, thereby building a sense of social cohesion. After all, it is only by repetition that we build up relationships.
Our pandemic year forced our first place to become our second and third place as well, and we know how that’s been. Our homes have been converted into places of total retreat from the outside world. With second and third places largely confined to virtual realms, we have quickly discovered that the online world is no substitute for in-person interactions, particularly when it comes to building social relationships.
There’s a pent-up desire for IRL human interaction. When things get back to whatever normal is going to be, people will be seeking out third places where they can reconnect with others. That’s why, in a post-COVID world, there is a real opportunity for those in the real estate realm, whether working in retail, residential or office space, to build third places into their development or retrofit plans.
Look, after a year of being conditioned to work and shop at home, businesses are going to be struggling to convince consumers and employees to do their things away from home. Meanwhile, people are reconsidering where they live, as more jobs become virtual and the value of knowing your neighbors comes back into vogue. Knowing that demand for third places is strengthening, architects, developers and urban planners will all have to start factoring in third places that encourage social wellness. In upcoming posts, I will examine these ideas in greater depth.