Where can we live and also thrive in this era of extremes?
It’s not merely in a gated and guarded estate, underground bunker, or “remote” island. Even when luxurious, that’s just real estate.
Where and when sage innovators, creators and investors consciously design, build and hold empowering lucid spaces for cooperative communities to form and thrive, rooted in holistic health and well-being: that’s wellness real estate.
That might sound fanciful but at its core it’s about the correct intention. If you’ve got it, you get it.
Whereas owning real estate can be fragmenting, wellness real estate is about integration. To shift from investing in and owning real estate — to investing in and owning wellness real estate, we must expand our conceptual knowledge. We will put forward here the concepts of land stewardship and wellness, and then highlight some features of wellness real estate.
Property ownership comes with benefits. Beyond their precise contractual obligations, though, most real estate owners are unconcerned with the wider responsibilities of property ownership — which is actually stewardship.
With wellness real estate, owners must center on being a property owner and a steward of the land. This means caring for the property and land as well as reaping the benefits. It means carefully nurturing, restoring and conserving the land for current needs and future generations. In Europe, it is a concept upheld in the Christian tradition but of course it is also a concept recognized, embraced and practiced by Europe’s pagan societies and early human civilizations around the world.
Wellness is the “state of health and well-being featuring the harmony of the body, mind, spirit, emotion, and social relations through self-responsibility.” (Source: ISO). This is profoundly elegant and the inclusion of self-responsibility in the definition is enduringly significant.
Wellness + Real Estate
Simply put, wellness real estate is skillfully designed, developed, and built with the intention of respecting the holistic health and well-being of residents and guests. There are overlapping areas with existing green/eco-buildings, holiday homes, hotels and resorts. The spectrum is growing and evolving with each person who puts their attention into this area.
We will now highlight some features in four aspects: location, building, facilities & amenities, and community.
Properties can be located in cities or in nature. Inherent in their design, they always have good views of their setting: urban architecture, deserts, ranches, farms, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, oceans. Wellness real estate is harmoniously situated and constructed with health-supporting building materials. Biophilic design, when applied, connects residents and guests directly and indirectly with nature.
Wellness real estate has a clear connection with the land. The geology and cultural heritage are relevant; there is discernment when it comes to the energy dynamics and balancing required to build soulful human dwellings on/around the land. There are stories and traditions that are recognized and shared, offering symbolic nourishment. There may be thermal mineral waters — natural warm springs and pools — that support healing and preventative practices for good health. There is thoughtful, inclusive design for the specific uplifting experiences of single adults, couples, parents with children and/or pets, and groups.
When it comes to building holiday homes or hotels, the local building requirements and codes are fulfilled with a focus on return on investment (ROI). Buildings are constructed in ways that conform to the existing codes. The sense of responsibility generally does not go beyond what is considered “acceptable”.
In wellness real estate, (ROI) is considered along with “return on wellness” (ROW). Features of the building include: proper ventilation, air filtration and water purification systems, and systems to track the building data in real-time; oxygenated and sleep-optimized bedrooms with shields from electric and magnetic fields, chromotherapy and hydrotherapy showers; and dynamic circadian lighting.
Facilities & Amenities
Swimming pools are with geothermal spring water and/or natural salt water. Swimming areas, spas, saunas and locker rooms are cleaned with eco-friendly products. The spas offer products that are derived from local natural resources for health and beauty, e.g., thermal waters, mud, clay, honey. Other beauty and personal care items are carefully selected for their organic ingredients and brand’s integrity.
Yoga instructors are carefully vetted. When you encounter and practice with a service-oriented, humble and wholehearted yoga teacher, you will be inspired and guided to develop an authentic practice that will strengthen and sustain you, and increase your ability to serve others.
Restaurants and cafes offer locally-sourced organic food, and there are weekly and/or biweekly farmer’s markets. Farm to table production is highlighted. Residents and guests can also choose organic meals and take classes at culinary centers. There may be vineyards and wine tastings, golf courses, polo fields and dressage. Wellness real estate facilities and amenities range from simple to luxurious.
Wellness real estate also includes an appreciation for art and art galleries, libraries, music concerts, expert lecture series for lifelong learning, meditation spaces (rooms, courtyards, gardens), medicinal gardens with calming herbs, and aromatherapy. Powerful practices and techniques for well-being are offered, including Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
Staff are well-trained and able to consistently provide excellent service. Employee wellness is essential, too. Staff are included in wellness plans and programs.
Wellness real estate communities attract chefs, sommeliers, nutritionists, and other healthcare practitioners; spiritual guides and masters, and other well-being specialists.
Opportunities are also designed to allow residents and guests to meaningfully interact with local communities beyond shopping excursions. There are volunteering options, community service programs, social clubs, sports clubs, organized tours and local university lectures.
The Miami-based Global Wellness Institute (GWI) researched and published a report on the industry in 2018, bridging wellness perspectives and discussions with global business opportunities. Their research results included the following points:
- Wellness real estate was a $134 billion industry in 2017.
- In 2017, there were over 700 residential projects in the pipeline, across 34 countries.
- Consumers are demanding healthier environments and are willing to pay more for them.
Wellness Real Estate and Germany
In Germany, you’ll find deep-rooted innate wisdom about living harmoniously with nature — holistic health knowledge that has materialized in myriad ways, e.g., in European thermal towns, spa culture, and the Kneipp system of healing.
With vast experience in international real estate and finance, Berlin-based expert Carsten Heinrich has consulted on numerous holiday home development projects. He explains that there are outstanding regions in Germany — with properties from simple and cozy spaces to high-end luxury — along the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts, in the Bavarian Alps, in the legendary Black Forest and other inspiring natural environments and historic towns and cities. “In order to develop the significant potential of wellness real estate, we must have clear standards, precise criteria and reliable metrics. We also need new and viable ideas for the near future, post-Corona.”
As awareness of holistic health practices and sustainable eco-sensitive lifestyles grows — as stories, services and products come to the surface on Internet sites and modern markets and agoras, it is natural to seek out and connect with like-minded communities and heart-coherent architects, designers, developers, consultants and agents.
Higher consciousness and cooperative communities will matter more and more in this unfolding era. The time to make decisions, take action and to move is in the present. Let’s choose well and choose wellness.✪