As people continue to live longer, healthier lives, the idea of senior living is changing. This population doesn’t just want nicer living spaces and more dining options—they want to live in a truly active community that provides an environment of total wellness, encompassing physical, mental, and spiritual health through a variety of activities that connects them not just where they live, but with the greater community as well. Ovation Heartwood Preserve by Avamere is developing that vision right in the heart of West Omaha.
The concept for Ovation mirrors that of many luxury hotels—a high-touch, customer service-oriented environment. But it’s never been done before in the senior living industry and is Avamere’s “Ovation,” culminating 25 years of the company’s experience. Ovation’s President, Nicolette Merino, said it combines everything the company has learned about senior living and is the first approach to developing a community for the next generation that takes the consumer’s perspective into account in every aspect.
Headquartered in Wilsonville, OR, Avamere is currently building two Ovation communities in the country: Omaha and St. George, UT, with 17 additional markets undergoing studies. The current markets were selected after conducting extensive market research studies and focus groups. Hundreds of Omaha residents participated, and the responses were all similar: people ages 55+ want a complete wellness environment that enables them to build an entire engagement-based lifestyle right where they live. Omaha also has a thriving community at large with entertainment, attractions, sports, and most importantly, a philanthropic culture, and Ovation will incorporate opportunities into its programming to promote residents’ desire to give back.
Avamere ultimately chose the Heartwood Preserve development for Omaha’s Ovation in part because of all the parks, walking, and bike trails that were already planned for the development. Scheduled to open its 150 independent living apartments in the fall of 2020, followed by 90 assisted living and 60 memory care apartments, Ovation will be much more than typical senior living housing. Most communities have a 28% ratio of apartment to common space, but Ovation’s ratio will be 40% in its independent living property. It will include five different restaurant options, open teaching kitchens for cooking classes, a concierge, valet, yoga studio, pool, hot tub, massage room, salon and barber shop, full fitness center with more than a dozen classes, rooftop lounges and outdoor BBQ areas.
Ovation currently has a walk-in showroom located off 156th and Dodge Streets, and some of the amenities they are incorporating are based off discussions they’ve had with future residents. For example, one inquired about bike storage and outlets for electric bikes, so those have been added to the plan. Another mentioned soft drawer pulls/closes so that has been included in the apartments. Merino said after being with the company for 11 years, it’s exciting to see their dream finally come to life. “We want to meet seniors’ expectations, all with a heavy focus on hospitality.”
Technology is another area that is critical to engagement. Ovation Connect is the community’s app that is available on personal smartphones or tablets. The app includes apartment temperature control, automatic lighting, daily menus from all the restaurants, private video, talk, and text with friends and family as well as photo sharing and calendar reminders. Residents are also given wearables to track health stats that can be recorded and shared with family members. “Staying connected is a big component of that overall wellness philosophy that Ovation supports,” Merino said.
About a dozen early adopters have already put deposits on apartments and are part of the founders “Ovation Club,” which will be the first 20 residents. They were able to see a 3D virtual tour of each individual apartment to pick out which unit they wanted and their view. They will also be given special perks and have monthly club member events. Anyone is welcome to stop by the showroom Monday-Saturday from 8:00am-5:00pm, or Sunday by apartment to see a virtual tour that includes apartments, lobby, restaurants, and common areas.
Ovation hopes that it’s campus will not only meet seniors’ needs, but exceed their expectations. “Not only do we want to offer an amazing lifestyle for seniors, but we also want to help connect them with the type of environment they want and need,” Merino said. “Ovation will simply be an extension of the existing vibrant, urban Omaha community that makes it a top 10 city for retirement.”