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Blurring the Lines Between Senior Living and Hotel Design.jpg

By Shannon Kim, Vice President, Hospitality

February 15, 2024

As you stand at the crossroads of retirement, the script of your life unfurls before you—a captivating drama or a well-worn novel, each chapter brimming with choices.

Will you find yourself nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscany, an old house steeped in history? Or perhaps you’ll trade your spacious family home for a cozy downtown condominium, where every convenience is within walking distance. Alternatively, the allure of a hotel residence beckons, promising a life of luxury and globetrotting adventures. Then there’s the option of senior living—a community-oriented space that fosters companionship and support.

My recent travels in Spain prompted deep contemplation on the pivotal decisions that will shape our near future. A conversation with a lifelong friend, now retired and residing in Spain, offered valuable insights. He eloquently depicted the romanticized dream of living in a beautiful old mansion while also reminding me of practical realities. With age we can expect, for example, driving to become more challenging, dietary habits to change, and health concerns to arise. His vivid description led me to ponder: What truly matters as we retire and age?

The answer lies in balance. Imagine a life where you can walk to essential places—your doctor’s office, the local hospital, and even your pet’s vet. Access to affordable medication and nourishing food becomes paramount. Yet, amidst these practical considerations, we must safeguard the quality of life we’ve diligently built over the years. It’s a delicate dance—one that nods to both practicality and well-being.

As a seasoned hospitality designer with a global footprint, I’ve had the privilege of shaping luxury hotels across diverse locales. Naturally, my discerning eye extends beyond transient accommodations to spaces where people ultimately find themselves. In recent times, I’ve seen a remarkable shift within the landscape of senior living design. Traditionally confined to sterile, institutional aesthetics, these spaces are now undergoing a huge transformation—one that blurs the boundaries between them and the world of hotel design.

Central to this discussion is the profound connection individuals have with their homes and communities, a sentiment that remains pivotal for active seniors navigating transitions from their previous residences. Today, we’re seeing the focus shift towards a convergence of Senior Living and Hotels ideologies, each endeavoring to accommodate the evolving needs of this influential demographic. There is tremendous opportunity to harmonize elevated living standards, comprehensive amenities, and personalized services with an authentic sense of belonging and independence within a physical space.

Imagine a space that you’d be proud to call home—a place that doesn’t just meet your needs but also celebrates your lifestyle. This paradigm shift underscores a growing awareness: the significance of crafting vibrant, cozy, and socially enriching residential environments for our aging population. At Figure3, we specialize in crafting tailored environments, leveraging a profound understanding of the target demographic and extensive expertise in designing residential developments and luxury hospitality properties.


Let’s explore some of the key factors of this evolution and how it’s reshaping the way we approach the design of Senior Living spaces.


1. Holistic Wellness and Lifestyle Amenities: In modern senior living spaces, you’ll find amenities reminiscent of high-end hotels, coupled with an upscale feel of residence. From spa facilities, spaces for healthcare services, and fitness centers to gourmet dining options, these offerings go beyond mere necessities. They’re carefully designed to enhance residents’ overall well-being, promoting physical and mental health, balance, and promote social connections.

2. Luxurious and Comfortable Interiors: As we reimagine interior spaces, the clinical feel of dated senior residences transforms into the pleasant and inviting feeling of a hotel lobby, with the warmth of home. Rather than using the term “sterile senior living facilities,” let’s elevate the design journey that caters to the unique needs of our older self? We should consider every detail meticulously—the size of seating, the height, the type of cushion, and even the curvature of banquet seating. These elements are thoughtfully calibrated to accommodate the physical limitations and movements of seniors. The result? An environment that not only exudes elegance but also envelops residents in comfort, ensuring their well-being into "Well-living".

3. Personalized Services and Concierge Care: The concept of concierge services, often associated with upscale hotels, is gaining ground in senior living communities. Residents benefit from personalized care plans and on-demand services that exceed the norm and support a safe, yet elevated lifestyle. This tailored approach not only meets individual needs but also fosters a sense of autonomy and dignity.

4. Technology Integration for Convenience: Advanced technologies are reshaping senior living spaces. Smart home features, telehealth services, and interactive communication tools are becoming standard. These innovations enhance convenience for residents while facilitating better communication among residents, staff, and families.         

5. Social and Recreational Spaces: By emphasizing the vital role of social connection, Senior living spaces need to enhance the experience of “Exclusive Community”. Communal areas—ranging from shared lounges and game rooms to expansive outdoor spaces—are thoughtfully designed to encourage interaction and foster a strong sense of community among residents. The goal is to combat feelings of isolation and promote an active, fulfilling lifestyle.            

6. Architectural Design for Aging in Place: Universal design principles are gaining prominence in senior living architecture. These spaces prioritize easy navigation for individuals with varying mobility levels. Features like wider doorways, accessible bathrooms, and well-lit environments contribute to an atmosphere that supports aging in place, allowing residents to maintain independence as they age.


7. Culinary Experiences and Dining Options: Dining experiences within senior living communities are evolving to rival those found in upscale hotels. Gourmet chefs, diverse menus, and restaurant-style dining options are becoming the norm. This shift not only caters to residents’ nutritional needs but also elevates the overall dining experience, turning meals into delightful social events.

The convergence of senior living and hotel design creates an elevated residential experience for seniors, marking a transformative phase in how society views and provides care for older adults. By emphasizing holistic well-being, personalized services, and visually appealing surroundings, eldercare landscapes are being reshaped. As these trends continues to gain momentum, a fresh era in senior living emerges—one that places residents’ comfort, autonomy, and enjoyment at the forefront, ultimately challenging and redefining conventional notions of aging and living. In this blurred boundary between hospitality and senior living, we find a canvas where comfort meets elegance, and where the golden years are painted with dignity and vibrancy. Undoubtedly, there are numerous other considerations surrounding this vitally important topic. I anticipate sharing further insights in the near future as our team delves deeper into the possibilities.

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