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Top Ten Tips to Inject Hospitality Design into Your Senior Living Community

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Written by: Gary Koerner and Rocky Berg, three: Living Architecture



You’ve probably been reading and hearing about how “hospitality design” is near the top of everyone’s “top ten trends” now reshaping the senior living industry–especially as we all gear up for the “silver tsunami” of Boomers and proto-Boomers (ages 65-75) now looming on the horizon.  Importantly, hospitality design–the design sensibilities learned from the global hotel industry–is really rooted in a culture of service supported by design that often appears very expensive to achieve.  But much of hospitality design is about creativity–and simple fixes.

Some aspects of adding hospitality design do involve restructuring your campus–and others are more about restructuring your personal service.  The good news is that you can incorporate hospitality design features at any stage of your community life–from early planning through current status–to future expansions. The one thing you can never afford is a dull community.

To that end, I offer you our Top Ten Tips for bringing hospitality design home to your community. They all take some effort and investment but everyone will pay off in transforming your culture from business as usual to a transformative experience that makes every resident truly feel like an honored guest. There is no better, faster way to reposition your community for the next generation of seniors who won’t settle for anything less. Your staff will love it too!

Top Ten Tips to Inject Hospitality Design

  1. Bar/Concierge Services all in one: It happens here!
    That friendly inviting face to the left can do it all. She can serve you the best red wine in the house with a snack, arrange for your dry cleaning or make sure your mail is picked up for the week while you are away.  It’s the little things that separate good from great—and add up from end to end.

  2. Elegant Room Services: From food to exercise equipment.
    New levels of service and presentation for room service. Whatever you want, whenever you want it.  From lamb chops to bar bells, happy to bring it up to the room for you.  We all love to be where we feel special.

  3. Out of sight services: The hidden services circulation path
    Delivery systems that hide the hustle and bustle of the services being delivered, making them appears effortless, out of sight, out of mind.  Seamless serenity.

  4. Resort Transportation: Carts instead of footsteps.
    Sites that are more resort like; have a sense of adventure, a path of wonder and beauty. You can walk the walk, or valet golf carts allow you to breeze to your internal destination. Something about a golf cart just says, “We’re having fun now.”

  5. Connectivity:  It’s a small thing, but band width is huge! Technology “nephew” onsite.
    Connectivity, entertainment and education are streaming throughout our communities.  Being able to accommodate the river of connectivity is a bigger and bigger consideration.  Having a friendly tech savvy “nephew” who makes house calls doesn’t hurt also.  Staying connected to love ones means I never left “home.”

  6. Comfortable for two or 30: Transformative rooms.
    Rooms that change during the course of the day, through lighting, acoustics and movable fixtures can be personalized to encourage private interpersonal communication or flamboyant meeting events. Ambient change stimulates brains. Click the image below to see larger graphic.

    hospitality design
    *Graphic courtesy of three-Living Architecture.
    One distinctive feature of the new model is highly creative use of “functional” space to incorporate multi-purpose and multi-sensory experiences. This meeting area includes an open area bar or kitchen line that allows continual use and a richer overall experience.


  7. Living on both sides of the glass: Outdoor rooms.
    Sunshine is everything, especially when there is the relief of shade. A great view to the outside can be as rewarding as sitting with friends around a fire with good friends.

  8. But what about the children?
    Designs that attract the kids. Inclusivity. Spaces that are programmatically thought through to attract the grandchildren and children of residents. It could be in the garden, wander paths, pool or theatre areas or game spaces.  Providing a venue for intergenerational contact—priceless.

  9. Living for the ages: Multi-generational living.
    Urban living solutions that locate active adult living opportunities in the heart of market relative retail and civic centers. Restaurants, shops and theatres are great catalysts.  Providing transportation to such venues expands your “community.”

  10. Food is king: Food concepting.
    Total food concepting from the beginning design brush strokes. The community design revolves around the various food venues. The total food concept from “presentation” to “calories” is integral to the conceptual design process.

Sure, unless you’re developing a brand new community, you’ll need to take a phased approach to making your community a “hospitality destination.”  But when you catch the spirit of hospitality you find it wears a thousand faces—each one with its own distinctive smile. 

Gary Koerner, is founder and principal of three-Living Architecture, based in Dallas, Texas, and has been integrally involved in design solutions for hospitality properties recognized among the top designs in the world—including the Peninsula Beverly Hills, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, Fairmont Mayakoba, and The Mansion on Turtle Creek.  Koerner is also involved with the senior living design group at three-Living Architecture, which is headed by co-author Rockland (Rocky) Berg—also a principal at three.  Berg has been instrumental in design of numerous senior living communities, including Edgemere in Dallas, which was featured on NBC Nightly News. See www.threearch.com


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