SPA LIFESTYLE COMMUNITIES HIT MAINSTREAM

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Destination spas are selling real estate, and residential properties are adding full service spas, according to new research by Spa Finder. The company has identified more than 75 spa lifestyle communities in various stages of development. 'When it comes to luxury living, spas are becoming what golf courses became 30 years ago—a must-have amenity, providing aging baby boomers with their most important lifestyle requirements, namely health, wellness and fitness, pursued in a spa setting,' says Spa Finder President Susie Ellis.

Ellis has been tracking the development of spa residential communities over the past few years. 'The idea of living in a community where the spa and spa living are central holds tremendous appeal, particularly for a new generation of health-focused vacation and second home buyers; it's an idea whose time has come,' said Ellis. In response from their readership for information on residential spa communities, Spa Finder has added a spa real estate section www.spafinder.com/spas/realestate, and is adding a 'Residential Spa Lifestyle Community' section to its 2006 Worldwide Guide to Spas.

All the big names in spa and hospitality have jumped on the bandwagon, including Canyon Ranch, Wyndham's Golden Door Spa, Greenbrier, Red Mountain, Miraval, St. Regis, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott. Here's a highlight of just a few:

• Slated for a 2005 opening, Canyon Ranch Living in Miami Beach is a six-acre oceanfront property with 151 condominium-hotel suites and 467 condominium residences. Scheduled for a 2005 opening, the residential community features a 60,000 square-foot spa with Canyon Ranch Health & Healing Center, beachfront walking and biking paths, and a Canyon Ranch Café.

• The famous Golden Door name will also be connected with residential spas when The Residences at the Wyndham Resort & Golden Door Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida finishes converting hotel rooms into two bedroom condominium units and adding a 48,000 square foot Golden Door spa.

• The Greenbrier in West Virginia formed a residential partnership called The Greenbrier Sporting Club for those who wanted to live in a spa community. The Greenbrier has extended this concept to other locations.

Spa Finder reports that various residential options are associated with many other spa properties, including Calistoga Ranch, The Carneros Inn, Coolfont, Kingsmill Resort & Spa, La Costa Resort & Spa, Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, Montage Resort & Spa, Regency Resort & Spa, Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, Sundara Inn & Spa, and Topnotch Resort & Spa, etc.

Pulling off a true spa lifestyle concept, however, is more complicated than developing real estate. Spa Finder's Spa Lifestyle Communities poll indicated that people expect more than just a spa facility from a spa lifestyle community. "Over and over again they told us they want programs, healthy cuisine, classes, and education,' said Ellis.