New Trends in Retirement Communities
Last Updated: April 2, 2013
The starter at Wintergreen announced the next tee time,
including four generations of men from the Lewis family, including
the 75-year old patriarch. Last year, this septuagenarian golfer
recorded his fourth hole-in-one, this time on Wintergreen's
exceptional Stoney Creek Course, a Rees Jones design. Earlier this
year, his son, himself a grandfather, recorded his first
hole-in-one on the very same hole during Wintergreen's father-son
Today, however, the four generations are out for just a
leisurely eighteen. Four generations playing together is one of the
traditions they've created, since the great-grandparents moved to
RoseWood Village at Wintergreen, a retirement living community
built within the Wintergreen master planned community in the Blue
Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
"Wintergreen offers a four season resort, skiing through golf,"
explains Shareef Tahboub, Development Director at RoseWood. "So one
reason seniors move here is because they know their children will
want to visit."
Even in the Tiger Woods era, people still associate golf with
retirement. But the image of the older golfer, hitting the ball
170-yards over and over again, is beginning to fade, as people
retire earlier and wish to remain more competitive in the
"We've surveyed our residents about what they're looking for in
our new fitness center," Tahboub says, "And they are very clear
they want resistance equipment that increases their flexibility,
strengthens their core muscles, requirements of a traditionally
more active, younger generation. Our men want programs to
strengthen their core and back muscles, areas where chronic pain
often impedes or eliminates one's golf game."
"Our residents are interested in state-of-the-art movement and
fitness studios," agrees Claire Brimmer, Marketing Manager for the
Georgia North Division of Del Webb Communities. "They want pilates,
yoga and tai chi."
They also want golf. Unlike RoseWood, where residents have
priority, full-equity memberships at Wintergreen's 18-hole Devils
Knob and 27-hole Stoney Creek courses, Del Webb's Georgia North retirement
communities establish partnerships with area courses, allowing
residents to choose from multiple championships courses.
"We find it best to establish areas where golf is prevalent so
our residents can take advantage of diverse golf environments,"
explains Brimmer. "Because the residents here shape their
community, so they create their own golfing club, or their own
mah-jongg club for that matter.
"There are also a lot of social clubs. For example, our
residents create dinner clubs, which may include going out to eat
or hosting cookouts. They have bocce leagues, walking clubs, even
long distance bike riding clubs."
The image of a senior being shuffled from one activity to
another or, worse, told what social functions to attend, is a thing
of the past. Today's seniors are forming their own associations,
and moving to retirement living communities with the specific goal
of spending decades in their new homes.
Since those sheep farmers first turned their rooks over and hit
a round rock over the moors of Scotland, golf has been a social
game. Socializing also remains the primary goal of adults moving to
retirement living communities. That golf-based residences are
available in every state in the country is therefore not
"We have a small 18-hole course for our members," explains Tom
West, director of Raider Ranch, a retirement living community
located near the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
"But, what really brings the golfers to us is the opportunity to
play the university's Jerry Rawls Golf Course."
Golf Digest Magazine rates the Rawls course the 23rd
best course in the country with greens fees under $50. It is also
rated the 3rd best university course in the US. Raider
Ranch residents receive guaranteed tee times and great membership
"We built Raider Ranch to satisfy the desire of seniors who
longed to return to the towns of their alma mater upon retirement,"
says West, who explains that the idea of Raider Ranch actually
originated in the Texas Tech alumni department, though the
university has no formal association with the development today.
"What is fascinating is the number of non-Red Raider alums who have
moved to Raider Ranch and become avid members of the greater Texas
The west Texas city of 200,000 is routinely listed as one of the
best residential values in America, and the mild climate makes for
a perfect year round golfing community. Three major medical
facilities also appeal greatly to incoming seniors and their
children. Raider Ranch residents also enjoy the opportunity to play
eight other courses in the Lubbock area.
Like Virginia's RoseWood Village, Raider Ranch offers a variety
of housing options, ranging from freestanding two-bedroom villas to
studio condominiums. Though initially hesitant to market their assisted living
center, West has found that potential residents are happy to know
that an assisted living
facility is available should they be in need.
"We have a daughter who is in her seventies moving into her own
villa, while her mother, in her mid-nineties, will move into a
condo," says West. "This way they can have their independence from
each other, but also remain in each other's lives on a daily basis.
The transition to assisted living is much smoother should the
mother require more attendant care."
Home health care also enables individuals to live independently
"There are unique strategies of age restricted housing trying to
market to the larger and broader community," agrees Tahboub, "and a
lot of people 55-65 years old don't want to hear about [assisted
living.] But there is a niche of people who don't want to burden
anyone in the future."
Adult children appreciate that their parents are looking to
locate a community in which to dwell for the rest of their lives,
and some of them end up joining their parents. Tahboub cites
several master planned communities that, like Wintergreen, possess
an age-restricted retirement living environment where seniors live
alongside open-aged sections of the development where their adult
children also live
"Families want to spend time together on their own terms; they
want something to do," concludes Tahboub. "Imagine the typical
image of the teenager trying to get out of visiting the
grandparents. By offering activities like golf, going to see
grandma is no longer viewed as a burden but instead becomes a
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