Incorporating hotel amenities in older adult housing

Jami Mohlenkamp
Principal and senior living practice leader, OZ Architecture

As designers and architects of older adult residences, one of our primary goals is to create spaces that support integration and community. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to bringing different groups and generations together. Much depends on the location, the circumstances and the surrounding community. Yet one way to bring different groups and generations together and destigmatize the concept of aging is through the art of hospitality. If you think about it, amenities like a welcoming concierge, a cozy lobby fireplace and a contemporary on-site restaurant can do wonders for bringing people together and setting them at ease.

With that in mind, we wanted to know, what happens when an older adult community and a hotel are designed into the same building? This design concept would essentially introduce a hotel component to an older adult residential community.

This would be a true hotel attachment rather than a single room or one-off short-term rental, which would offer modern lodging and amenities for visiting family, prospective residents and even passing tourists or business travelers an onsite sleeping room for a short stay.

While this is largely unexplored territory, there are numerous benefits that might come along with creating a space where older residents and visiting hotel guests intersect.

For one, incorporating hospitality elements into an older adult living community also can increase the residential appeal of the building itself. This might include hospitality elements such as a warm and welcoming reception area, grand central stair or luxurious fireplace. Updated fixtures and modern finishes also can go a long way in making residents and visitors alike feel at home. Additionally, including grab-and-go cafes, upscale coffee counters and specialty restaurants can all add a welcome touch of class and conviviality.

Additionally, a senior living residence with an attached hotel component would likely offer opportunities to host different types of guests, with more or less interaction based on design, desire and security. This might include passing low-maintenance lodgers seeking a bed and a hot shower, family members visiting their older adult relatives and even prospective residents visiting the community who may want to see what the residence is all about.

These different groups can be filtered into three segments, which, for a hospitality-minded operator, could then be broken down into tiers of affordability and access. For the purposes of this example, we’ll call them three-star, four-star and five-star rates.

For example:

• Three-star access. A three-star room rate would offer limited amenity access and little to no crossover with the existing residential community. The room would be an affordable nightly rate – something like an AirBnB-style room and rental opportunity – that offers a simple option for guests and another revenue stream for the building owner or developer.

• Four-star access. The next level of hospitality experience would be opened to families and friends of existing residents, offering a room on-site in their loved one’s community to make a visit easier and more intimate. This tier would grant guests access to shared spaces such as specific dining areas, game rooms and a leisure pool, for instance. This is a big benefit to family and friends who don’t want to worry about where to stay when they come to visit, and encourages longer visits and more meaningful time on site.

• Five-star access. For prospective guests who want to get a good sense of all the amenities and services the community has to offer, this final tier would be something of an all access pass. These guests would get to experience the community for a night or two to get a sense of the rhythm and feel before committing to moving in.

Of course, a design like this requires a thoughtful approach as to the security of the space, and how much access is granted into the existing older adult community. This may involve security stations and key card access between the central common area and the hotel wing, and the residential wing.

With a careful approach and an eye for modern amenities, the introduction of a hospitality component to a senior living project has the potential for many benefits for the building owner, the visiting public and the residents themselves.

Featured in the April 2019 Health Care Properties Quarterly publication

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.