Spa Business issue 2 2017

Page 66



EUROPE In Part 2 of our series, Jane Kitchen takes a look at wellness communities in Europe and profiles

he Global Wellness Institute has estimated wellness real estate to be a US$118.6bn (€107bn, £95bn) sector that’s growing at a rate of nearly 20 per cent, with communities cropping up worldwide. This has spurred a GWI Initiative on wellness communities, as well as the first-ever dedicated research report on the subject, to be released at this year’s Global Wellness Summit at The Breakers in Palm Springs, Florida in October. “There’s a big shift in the growth of wellness communities, but they’re not evenly distributed around the world, and there are many different drivers and value systems for them,” says Ophelia Yeung, GWI’s senior research fellow, who will be co-authoring the report. The GWI Initiative put together a white paper last year, which helped to define the category. The committee determined that at a minimum, in order to deem a community “well,” it must feature some kind of environmental consciousness, with

sustainable development and operating practices; have a commitment to holistic health and wellness through programmes and facilities that encourage residents to proactively take care of themselves; and must foster social connections.

Return on investment Wellness communities are ultimately real-estate assets that are designed to generate a return on investment. Research and experience suggest that people will pay more for healthier, sustainable living options if they’re designed and positioned correctly. “We’ve seen not only an increase in consumer demand for health and wellness-related products and services across all segments of the economy, but also an overall willingness to pay a premium, particularly when it concerns where one lives,” says Mia Kyricos, chair of the GWI Initiative on wellness communities and founder of strategic advisory firm Kyricos & Associates.

There are many different drivers and value systems for wellness communities OPHELIA YEUNG, GLOBAL WELLNESS INSTITUTE 66 issue 2 2017




some of the biggest projects in development

Ingo Schweder, CEO of GOCO Hospitality, which is developing several wellness communities around the world (see Kaiserhof Rügen, p 72), says that properties in wellness communities can sell anywhere between 7 to 25 per cent more than average – but that there are also higher costs in building them. Putting aside more land for walking trails, building with green materials and setting up on-site organic farms all add extra benefits, but they also add extra expense. Kyricos notes that while most real estate is positioned somewhere between luxury address and value for money, wellness communities are instead set to be positioned as unique. “Market disruptors sell uniqueness first, and we believe that wellness communities – real estate ultimately developed with the optimum health of our planet and its citizens – are indeed disruptive,” she explains. Steve Nygren, founder of US-based wellness community Serenbe, says his