Face the sun: New horizons for Qestral retirement living communities


Qestral are taking retirement living to a new level with bespoke multi-storey homes at a Nelson coastal view village

“The modern retiring couple has much more sophisticated requirements than those of previous generations,” observes Simon O’Dowd, Managing Director of Qestral, who operate and develop premium retirement villages in Christchurch and Nelson. “People want contemporary living reflecting their lives, with individuality in their homes.”

In response, Qestral’s Coastal View Village, above Tahunanui Beach near Nelson, offers a range of home options and uses the best urban design principles, with small neighbourhoods providing a sense of community.

Qestral works with top Christchurch architectural practice, +MAP (founding partner Kerry Mason is also a Qestral director). Kerry and MAP+ architect Huia Reriti have designed bespoke homes, known as Clearwater homes, within Coastal Village.

“These two-storey homes with lifts and upstairs living offer decks for views and all-day sun. There are two- and three-bedroom options,” says Simon.

“Sun orientation is a crucial factor in people feeling happy in their environment at any age, so much care is taken to maximise morning and late-afternoon sun. The Clearwater houses also have unique gardens and an opportunity for residents to be as involved or not in their gardening.”

Some people like to garden; others enjoy the freedom from garden maintenance. The less people are responsible for, the freer they feel to do the things they want.

“We run a strong and varied schedule of activities providing travel to and from events outside the village and actively encourage people to maintain their club memberships — that’s why you don’t see a bowling green right in the middle of a Qestral village. We make it possible for our residents to go out to play bowls where they always have. Our villages are not inward-looking places.”

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Today’s retirees are busy, active and wish to interact with other stimulating people from various ages and backgrounds. “We want a range of ages. The truth is that older people don’t want to be exclusively with other older people. They want to meet a variety of people.”

Building will soon begin on facilities for Coastal View Lodge, including a cinema, restaurant, bar, indoor heated swimming pool and spa, a café and wellness centre. These facilities, within walking distance of all the village homes, will be the beating heart of the village, a place for residents to stroll to for an evening drink, to catch up with friends or go to the movies and dinner.

Already operating is hospital and rest-home care, provided in a 59-bed single-level care facility, and rest-home dementia-level care in a 20-bed standalone dementia facility.

Simon says that while fewer than 17 per cent of retirement-age New Zealanders live in retirement villages, the most common comment he hears is, “I wish we’d done this 10 years ago”. “Our villages are vibrant places, with residents self-directing in how much they want the village to serve them — that is how they’re set up to function.”

One of the unique aspects of a Qestral retirement village is the use of technology developed by the group specifically for use in its homes by residents. Spritely is a simple-to-use one-screen system that’s an effective communication and health management method.

What are the most critical aspects of successfully choosing the best retirement option?

“People look for security, companionship, and meeting changing needs for medical care. Whether they are choosing a retirement village themselves or helping a relative to do so,” says Simon O’Dowd, one of the country’s most experienced leaders in retirement living and the Managing Director of Qestral, an innovative player in the premium healthcare and high-end
retirement village market.

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“Today, more and more, people seek the security of knowing that they’re set for the future. They don’t have to worry about things changing on them. Our fixed fees mean that when someone moves into one of Coastal View’s homes, that weekly fee is guaranteed to stay the same for the whole time they live in that house. They could be there for 10 years, and they will still be paying the same. That means, effectively, they know how much money they need.

“Yes, people want the use of all the recreational facilities and onsite medical facilities. But also very important is the surety that they are not vulnerable to change, such as inflation, eroding their ability to live there.

They want certainty and comfort that they can live the way they want for the time they are in the village.”

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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