The once-prolific “resort lifestyle” is now a top focus for only 18% of developers we surveyed for our March Master-Planned Communities Trend Report. The newcomer appearing to take its place? Health and wellness, which is now second only to long-time frontrunner, Family Friendliness.
It is for good reason: 76% of homeowners report they are taking more steps to promote their physical health than last year, creating a surging emphasis on connection to nature, fitness, sustainability, and local food sources. The standard health offerings (e.g. trails or a lap pool) have become ordinary, pushing innovative developers to take health and wellness to the next level with deep immersion into nature, integration of healthcare into the community, a focus on mental health, and reinvestments in sustainable healthy food sources.
1. Immersion into nature
Just as with pre-pandemic travel trends, active and bold experiences are on the rise, with a premium placed on full immersion. Master plans are following suit, increasingly offering exciting outdoor adventures that bring wilderness to suburbia. Favorite examples include: the “Fish Camp” dock in Pomona, a stargazing amphitheater built by the ruins of a ranch home in Headwaters, and The Campout in Esencia (below).
2. Integrating healthcare into community
Consumers want health to be convenient. Even before the pandemic, the American Medical Association found that telehealth was growing faster than any other place of care. Lake Nona—a futuristic smart city on the leading edge of wellbeing and technology—makes a healthy lifestyle easy with purposeful integration of collaborative health care, research, and academic establishments into the community.
3. Connection and community
In addition to physical health, 69% of homeowners are now taking more steps to promote their mental health than they were last year. One contributing factor to poor mental health is loneliness, which is now increasingly being addressed through community design that fosters connection. Developers have pivoted to include welcome centers that support interaction between current and future residents (e.g. a coffee shop setting) and plenty of “connection nodes” that allow for frequent, informal gathering.
4. Reinvestments in sustainable healthy food sources
Homeowners are scrutinizing the products they consume, shifting food preferences from processed to natural. A 2020 study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that a “Natural” label is the most influential when selecting food and beverages.¹ The push toward local, natural food sources has increased the value of amenities that support a healthy diet, like community crop-share programs and farm-to-table dining options.