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BW Businessworld

The Good Old Times Roll On

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You spent your thirties working hard, aiming for the stars and dreaming about all the good things in life. By the time you hit your forties, you had achieved most of your goals and now, in your fifties, you are basking in your success. You have it all — a sprawling bungalow in a posh locality, fancy cars, kids studying abroad in Ivy League institutes, holidays in exotic locales, and all the other trappings of success, from designer bags to high-end watches.

Now at 65, having retired from the board, all you want to do is hang up your boots and enjoy the golden years while still maintaining your luxurious lifestyle. Sure, you have the money, but life as a  senior citizen has its pitfalls — from security concerns to the paucity of trained staff to cater to your every need — and worrying about them can take the sheen off life after retirement that you had imagined for yourself.

If you were living in the US, you might have moved to a luxurious retirement home in Florida or California for a carefree life. But you wouldn’t dream of doing that in this part of the world. No surprise, considering the fact that, until now, retirement homes in India catered to the middle class where the focus is on keeping body and soul together; maintaining a luxurious lifestyle is nowhere on the agenda.

Not anymore. New players such as Antara and Aamoksh One Eighty are taking retirement homes to a whole new level of luxury. So, say goodbye to insipid food and dowdy décor, and welcome communities with designer interiors, state-of-the-art facilities, five-star food and activities that can keep even a teenager engaged.

Sample Antara Senior Living, a Max India project. At the Rs 520-crore retirement community under construction at Dehradun, retirees can relax in a 6,000 sq. ft spa or take a dip in an indoor swimming pool. They will watch movies in a 50-seat private theatre and work out in a well equipped gym. And when they are hungry, multi-cuisine chefs trained at some of the best hotels in the country will be on standby to whip up meals that are high on nutrition and taste.
 
TEE TIME: Aanandam, Aamoksh's retirement community in Kodaikanal, will have retirees living in villas next to a golf course
What’s more, to ensure your comfort, architects from New York and Spain have been hired to make the project senior-friendly. That means providing step-free access, eliminating tripping hazards, providing 15-20 per cent stronger lighting, creating larger, more open spaces for easy manoeuvrability and several other design elements that add up to a more senior-friendly environment.

And all this is done so subtly that you don’t realise you are being treated any different simply because you are older. “Antara is not a real estate project but a lifestyle choice, which in­de­pendent senior citizens will make willingly,” says Tara Vachani, the 26-year old CEO of Antara Senior Living.

Agrees Sanjay Lakhotia, founder director of Aamoksh One Eighty. “It’s a lifestyle choice and not a compulsion.” Lakhotia’s project is a joint venture between Aamoksh and US-based One Eighty, which manages over 40 senior citizen homes in the US, Canada and Mexico. “Earlier, in India, there was a stigma attached to retirement homes. People thought you moved into such facilities because you had uncaring kids,” he says. “But with the kind of facilities we offer, people realise that it’s more comfortable to stay here .”

At Aamoksh’s retirement community in Kodaikanal, Aanandam, retirees will live in individual villas overlooking a golf course. They will spend their days engaged in activities that will not only keep them physically and mentally fit but also entertain them. And when they decide to travel, trips will be organised keeping all their special needs in mind. Such a golden lifestyle, of course, comes at a price. “Our target consumer is an evolved, well-travelled independent ­senior citizen with a net worth of Rs 5 crore or more,” says Vachani. Apartments at Antara cost between Rs 1.5 crore (one bedroom, bath and living area) and Rs 4.4 crore (three bedrooms and bathrooms). There are also three penthouses priced at Rs 7 crore each. Monthly expenses will vary between Rs 60,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh per couple and will include maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, all meals, monthly doctor consultations, annual checkups, etc.

In fact, Vachani’s marketing team spends a lot of time with a prospective buyer’s chartered accountants to ensure that his finances are sound enough to maintain such a lifestyle for the rest of his life. “We have had instances where people have showed an interest but their finances did not hold up,” says Vachani.

While Lakhotia does not categorise his clientele in terms of net worth, he admits that the prospective buyer has to be reasonably well off. “It’s not just a one-time investment, but an ongoing cost. So you have to have enough of a post-retirement income to sustain a lifestyle for the rest of your life.” At Aamoksh’s Kodaikanal project (200 villas), a one-room villa costs Rs 40 lakh and three-bedroom villas are upwards of Rs 1 crore. Monthly expenses are between Rs 30,000-45,000 per couple.
 
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Both Vachani and Lakhotia are confident that there is a market for luxurious senior citizen homes in the country. Globally, senior living is a $25 billion industry with over 2,000 projects in the US alone. In India, there are less than 2,000 units for formal senior living and those too are in the lower- to middle-class category. With approximately 98 million elderly people in the country, there is enough scope for high-end luxurious senior living communities.

“Our research shows 515,000 households in India are the target segment for upmarket senior living, with nearly 165,000 households in north India alone,” says Vachani. No wonder she is convinced her 217 apartments, to be ready by 2016, will find takers. Vachani plans more such proje­c­ts in NCR and other north Indian cities. Aamoksh has already started an 88-apartment project in Kasauli and has plans for another in Pune.

Poonam Bahl, 54, a Delhi-based entrepreneur, is looking forward to moving into Aamoksh’s Kasauli project. “I’m a single parent and, in another three years, my daughter will move out for higher studies.” She says she does not want her daughter to worry about her living alone. “A retirement facility where I get to make new friends and pursue my interests makes a lot of sense,” says Bahl, who loves meeting new people, reading and is an art and history buff.
 
‘Our target consumer is an evolved, well-trave lled independent senior citizen with a net worth of Rs 5 crore-plus’  Tara Vachani, Chief executive officer, Antara
Then there are others such as a couple who are willing to give up their posh south Delhi address to move to Antara for peace of mind. “We would be able to lead a life of dignity and independence. It is important to have peace of mind and we believe Antara will give us that,” says the couple.

Ageing Comfortably
For active and independent seniors, luxury senior living facilities also offer a host of activities. At Antara, for instance, residents can engage in yoga, pilates, badminton, gardening, art and craft or take classes in cookery, art, photography or even learn a new language. Facilities aside, says Vachani, the calming atmosphere and care that Antara promises to provide will distinguish it from any other player in the market. “We know more medical care will be needed as residents age, so we are building a health centre just across the street from the community especially for the residents,” says Vachani.

The health centre will not only provide medical care, but also rehabilitation and wellness facilities, including occupational therapy and specialised dementia therapies, among others. Being just a short hop from a Max super speciality hospital also ensures that good medical care is close at hand.  Antara will also provide assisted living, complete with a 24-hour nurse, for those who require it.

Leasing Vs Buying
Different players have different norms for who can buy property and how. Aamoksh One Eighty allows you to buy the property outright and puts no restriction on the age of the buyer, but the person cannot be a resident until he crosses the age of 55. “So, you can buy it for your parents, but you cannot live there except for when you are visiting,” says Lakhotia. Also, it does not allow you to purchase the property and lock it up. “If half the properties are locked up, we won’t get a community feel. Either you rent it out or allow us to rent it out on your behalf,” he says.
 
‘Earlier, there was a stigma attached to retirement homes... now, it’s a lifestyle choice’ Sanjay Lakhotia, Founder director, Aamoksh One Eighty
For the model to succeed, it is very important that a community feel is maintained. And, for this, say experts, two things have to be kept in mind — the age group of the residents, and the number of residents. 

Antara follows a lifetime lease model that entitles the customer (55 years and above) and spouse to live in the property for the rest of their lives. On their death, the title terminates. The property is then auctioned and Antara pays the prevailing market rate to the deceased customer’s nominee after deducting a fee.

Similarly, if after having lived for a few years at Antara a customer wants to move out, the property is auctioned and the amount paid to the customer after deduction of a fee, which is approximately 3 per cent of value. “We don’t want people to invest in Antara as a real estate proposition and, therefore, have this model,” explains Vachani.

With more projects coming up in the future, there will be a lot more choice for seniors to spend their retirement years in a comfortable and carefree environment. 

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(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 07-10-2013)


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