Great expectations: Qestral’s new retirement village in Nelson combines scenic views with pioneering aged-care technology

Never has retiring looked so exciting as it does from Coastal View overlooking beautiful Tāhunanui Beach, wondering which of Nelson’s many options to pursue today.

Few people know more about the retirement industry than Christchurch businessman Simon O’Dowd and Coastal View village directors, John Ryder and his brother Jeremy. Among these three is more than a century of knowledge and experience coming together to power Qestral Corporation in its mission to create the best retirement villages in the country.

The hallmarks of Qestral facilities are the embracing of leading technology, highly trained staff, beautiful locations with magical outlooks and design by a top architectural firm that focuses on quality urban environments.

“We sort of grew up in the industry,” says Simon who, as a young man and along with brother Jeremy, helped his parents in their retirement home Bowden House in New Brighton.

Simon, who spent 30 years chairing the Aged Care Association, and John (whose many commercial roles included being a founding partner of Ryman Healthcare) were founding members and trustees of Health Ed Trust New Zealand, which established aged-care qualifications and helped more than 25,000 workers to qualify in NZQA-approved courses. With all this knowledge, they are well-placed to understand the needs of their clients.

“The key things people look for in making these decisions, whether for themselves or relatives, is security, companionship and an environment that will meet changing needs for medical care as they, or their relatives, age and become frailer.

“People want lovely homes to live in, whether they’re independent houses or apartment-style living options, residential care or hospital facilities. They want to interact with interesting and stimulating people, and they want the security of knowing every level of care will be available if required.”

Qestral pioneered and now works alongside cutting-edge technology called Spritely, a simple-to-operate one-touch electronic tablet that gathers a wealth of medical information such as blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, temperature and weight, and is super-easy to use. Spritely, initially only available in Qestral villages, is currently being looked at by the government for wider use. It was found to be an excellent social tool during periods of lockdown to keep up inter-personal and social contacts as well as the necessary medical monitoring.

“Loneliness is a big factor for older people, and maintaining social contact is crucial to ongoing health,” says Simon. “Our goal is to make it easy for residents to interact with a range of people of different ages and backgrounds. Many studies identify social connections as key to good health. For this reason, we encourage residents to join local clubs such as bowls and tennis and keep those connections into the wider community.”

The latest Qestral development is a new village called Coastal View on purpose-sculpted land overlooking beautiful Tāhunanui Beach in Nelson.

“The Coastal View location is exceptional and took a long time to find, and then a huge amount of effort went into creating the building platform, so residents could have views and an outlook that brings magic into their lives More than 650,000 cubic metres of soil was reshaped, and it has taken a good few years. It is a magnificent site with a superb outlook and yet very close to Nelson city and hospital. Creating the environment for good health, happiness and magic is at the heart of everything we do,” says Simon, who knows that making the right decisions about retirement living mean having access to good information.

Coastal View is designed by renowned and award-winning architect Kerry Mason, also a Qestral board member, and his practice, +MAP Architects. “We want to provide maximum indoor/outdoor flow for our homes with outlooks, and an opportunity for residents to garden if they wish (or not) [even the 40-square-metre care suites have a 13-square-metre outdoor patio]. It takes years of master planning to ensure all these requirements are met.”

Coastal View opened in March this year with the care facility (offering rest home/hospital-level care) and some independent houses already built. On completion of the village, the Yacht Club facility will house the heated indoor pool, cinema, restaurant, private apartments and a bar, among other facilities. The completed village will include houses, serviced apartments, a care centre and boutique dementia centre.

“It is an urban community with residents having an evening out by going to the bar for a drink, then to the cinema to see a movie before having dinner at the restaurant and going home.”


Pen, the village manager for the newest Qestral Village, understands all the angles when planning for the best retirement. Coastal View is especially close to her heart, and she should be the first person to call if you are thinking of making the village your new home.

Register your interest today by ringing Pen on 027 257 9324.; 50 Clarence Drive, Tāhunanui Hills, Nelson

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