Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Monday, November 21, 2022
One of the things that is striking during a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is the relative lack of international franchise companies doing business in the country. This is especially notable in the hospitality sector, where the vast majority of hotels are independent and locally-owned. Currently, Accor and Marriott are the only major international hotel companies operating in the country. But the picture may be different in five years’ time, thanks to a number of initiatives being put in place by international organizations.
|Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Leonid Andronov/Getty Images)|
The Slow Winds of Change
Opportunities for Private Investment
Monday, May 23, 2022
My inspiration for writing this post was a meal I recently ingested at a restaurant located at a five-star resort. Note the phrase ingested rather than enjoyed or indulged in. Now, a much-hailed items at this eatery was homemade potato chips. Long overdue for lunch, I spotted a chicken salad sandwich, served on a croissant, served with a big heaping of said chips on a table nearby. It looked delicious; just the carb-filled sustenance that my body craved. I knew, as someone who is gluten-intolerant, that I would have to forego the croissant. But the chips--ooh, la, la.
|A facsimile of the meal I craved, courtesy of Trip Advisor|
But quickly, and sadly, I learned that those delicious homemade potato chips were not, in fact, gluten-free. My only alternative–carrot and celery strips. But listen, restauranteurs, I beseech you. If you advertise homemade potato chips, let all of us enjoy them. It's an easy fix. Just put 'em in their own dang deep fryer.
As someone who has been gluten-intolerant for more than 30 years, it flummoxes me that today, even with all of the science and education available about the allergen; the places where it can be hidden (soy sauce, soups and processed meats--here’s looking at you); and the dangers of cross-contamination; that so many food and beverage outlets still get it wrong.
Please understand that for a guaranteed 100 percent gluten-free experience, food would have to be prepared in a kitchen where there are absolutely no traces of gluten. But for most people, if food is carefully prepared with tools that have not touched a source of gluten (i.e., a toaster, a deep fryer, an unwashed mixing bowl), most people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance are going to be just fine eating out at a regular restaurant.
So, as a long-time travel and wellness journalist and consultant, let me provide a little tutorial on the ABCs of GF.
Lesson #1: A GF label on a menu should only reference Gluten-Free, not Gluten Friendly.
The *GF I often see on menus these days connotes, when one reads the very fine print, "gluten-friendly".....not gluten-free. As I once said to a server, isn't gluten-friendly like being a little bit pregnant? Something is either gluten-free or it's not, and marking it gluten-friendly doesn't help anyone, even the gluten-trendy wannabe.
Lesson #2: Wheat is Wheat, Even by Another Name
Durum, semolina, farro and farina are simply wheat by another name. Spelt is a species of wheat, and it contains gluten, albeit not as much as your classic variety. Therefore, it will likely “spelt” trouble for those with gluten sensitivities. On the other hand, buckwheat, aka kasha, is not wheat. However, the problem with buckwheat products is that the buckwheat is often mixed with gluten-containing flours. So, eater beware.
Lesson #3: Getting Granular with Grains
Grains that are gluten-free include millet, amaranth and teff, as are rice, corn and quinoa.
That's enough to digest for now. More lessons to come in an upcoming post.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
When the Global Wellness Summit once again asked me to contribute to its annual Wellness Trends Report, my pitch may have seemed a bit out of my usual travel/ wellness wheelhouse. That said, the idea of writing about "New Wrinkles in Senior Living" evolved out of the work I have been doing for the past two years in the wellness real estate sector. On the face of it, it's a subject matter that may seem to have limited appeal. But in actuality, as the trend report is more about the value of intergenerational living, it's something young, old and everyone in between should read. Here's a teaser.
|Click to Get the Full Report|
Summary: For years, it’s been said that 60 was the new 40. But now, according to leading aging experts, 90 will be the new 40 within a decade. The exponential jump in longevity means that people are retiring later, aging younger, and focusing on being active and engaged with self-care and personal growth into old age.
Healthier, more youthful, and more active than their cohorts in previous generations, this incoming senior class doesn’t “feel old” and doesn’t want to be defined by age, nor socially segregated by it. That’s why today’s age-segregated models of senior living communities are no longer cutting it with a new generation that doesn’t believe in the concept of being put out to pasture upon retirement.
To meet the changing expectations of aging adults, we believe “senior living” (a term that we would like to see retired) needs to focus more on intentional intergenerationality. This goes back to days of yore, when people were not so transient and communities stayed organically intergenerational. Such old-school intersectionality still exists in the world’s Blue Zones, places like Okinawa, Japan and Sardinia, Italy, which also happen to be among the places where people live the longest and age the healthiest.
|A multigenerational family living in the Blue Zone |
of Sardinia, Italy (franoi.com)
In this trend report, we examine new models for intergenerational living, environments that can set the stage for reducing age segregation, while increasing social connections and decreasing loneliness, which is an epidemic at this point. These new models have great potential for resulting in better health and wellbeing outcomes for all residents. We look at the development of pocket neighborhoods, innovative mutually-beneficial intergenerational co-living models, and strategies for designing for intergenerationality. These new models have great potential for resulting in better health and wellbeing outcomes for residents of all ages.
|An example of pocket neighborhood design|
Let’s point out that this concept of intergenerational housing goes beyond brick and mortar. There’s an overall ethos involved, in which a community is intentionally designed so that people of all ages have multiple opportunities for connection, collaboration and friendship. To meet this objective, a community must allow people of different ages to live side by side as good neighbors, so that they can share their talents and resources, develop relationships and provide mutual support.
Trend Introduction: They say that everything old becomes new again and so it seems to be going with the concept of so called “senior living” (a term that, frankly, we would like to see retired).
In days of yore, neighborhoods and communities were organically intergenerational. People rarely moved away from the community in which they spent their adulthood. Every kid on the block knew each other and grandparents often lived with their descendants. This idea of intergenerational intersectionality still exists in the world’s Blue Zones, places like Okinawa, Japan, and Sardinia, Italy, which also happen to be among the places where people live the longest.
However, in many industrialized countries, the days of yore ended with the rise of suburbia. Cue developer Del Webb, who introduced the now stereotypical version of a retirement community back in 1960. Webb pioneered the active adult concept, a self-sustaining ecosystem filled with amenities like pools, parks and dining areas, with the opening of Sun City in Arizona. Its success led Webb to replicate the concept in warm weather destinations across the US throughout the next few decades.
|This is senior living at Del Webb|
(image courtesy Del Webb)
Due to the popularity of Webb’s projects, standard home builders started getting into the act by the mid-1970s. They began designing active adult com munities, age-segregated developments that included amenities like fitness centers, walking trails, swimming pools and social clubs. Not only were these places age-segregated, but they were usually geographically segregated as well. To live in this type of community, people often had to move far away from where they spent most of their adult life.
To read the entire trend, click here.
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.