Hotel living back in vogue as boomers look to aging-in-place alternatives
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published February 1, 2017
Harking back to the early 20th century when the practice was more common, hotel living is on the cusp of a renaissance in the Capital Region as retirees look for alternatives to traditional seniors housing communities.
Aging in place doesn’t have to mean living in a seniors home, says Lorie Taylor, a retiree who recently moved with her husband to Victoria from their native Calgary.
“We fell into a dream, to be perfectly honest, when we realized that living in a hotel had unique benefits that fit our lifestyle,” Taylor said, speaking to her and her husband’s decision to purchase a suite at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel (OBBH) back in 2012.
Taylor, who found herself traveling to Victoria multiple times a year to spend time with her grandkids, was moved to purchase a secondary home on the Island by one of her children who suggested the stately hotel as an option.
“Our daughter convinced us that we ought to look at the [Oak Bay Beach Hotel]. We never expected to immediately jump on the opportunity to buy one of the suites, we’re just not those people. But we toured the unit on Saturday, and by Monday it was ours.”
While the OBBH underwent its post-bankruptcy proceedings, Taylor and five other owners who had purchased six of the hotel’s 20 condominiums were protected from creditors, but like all parties involved with the property, they had no choice but to patiently wait on the sidelines while the financial situation was worked out.
“We waited for two years for the dust to settle, but that also gave us time to consider our options and to decide if retiring in Victoria was what we wanted. But I remember saying to my husband, that as soon as we can move up to a larger unit at the hotel we may want to jump on the opportunity,” Taylor said.
Just over a month ago the couple opted to purchase a three-bedroom luxury suite with sweeping views over the Juan de Fuca Strait, having made the decision to leave Alberta behind and relocate to Victoria full-time.
“When the remaining 14 suites at the hotel went on the market we didn’t wait, we bought our retirement home right away,” Taylor says, adding that “once we grew accustomed to the lifestyle, how much energy flowed through the place and that we belonged to something much larger, we knew that retiring in a hotel made the most sense to us.”
And the Taylor’s are not alone.
The trend of retirement living in hotels is on the rise in British Columbia as growing numbers of retirees forego more traditional housing options for the convenience and security of a full-service community.
Vancouver’s tallest building, the 62-storey Living Shangri-La tower, combines residences with a luxurious Shangri-La Hotel. The 48-storey Fairmont Pacific Rim along Vancouver’s Coal Harbour waterfront, completed several years ago, is also a high-profile hotel with full-time residences, as is the newly-restored Hotel Georgia with its 48-storey residential addition.
And if there is one certainty with boomers, Taylor says, when a trend takes hold, watch out.
“Boomers follow. There’s just so many of us that once a trend breaks through, and if you’re not one of the trendsetters, you’re going to end up paying more for something that only years earlier was a relative bargain. You can already see this occurring at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel where two of the 14 homes sold shortly after we purchased ours.”
As growing numbers of Canadian workers reach the age of retirement, the response from Victoria’s real-estate developers has been to build housing inventory focused on seniors homes, seniors communities and age-in-place condominiums. The hotel living trend, however, is only now starting to emerge as an option. And from an investment perspective, Taylor believes, now is the time to make a move.
“Once more people recognize the freedom and the lifestyle that living, or rather retiring, in a hotel affords you, demand will grow, prices will rise. For us to have been able to get into this segment of the market now, while the trend is relatively new to Victoria, we really feel was a decision that put us ahead of the curve. C
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