Insurance Firm, Canadian Operator Plan $90 Million Senior Living Community in Barbados

A global insurance company is linking up with a Canadian senior living operator for a $90 million resort-style community in Boarded Hall, Barbados — the first of its kind to come to the Caribbean island nation, according to the project’s partners. If successful, the model could expand to other parts of the region as well.

Wildey, Barbados-based Sagicor recently commenced infrastructure work on The Estates at St. George, a community slated to have 176 independent living condos, 40 assisted living units, 28 rehab/respite studios and 84 skilled nursing suites when all three of the project’s construction phases wrap up.

The community — which will be managed by Toronto-based operator Origin Active Lifestyles — will come with upscale amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, fitness center, wellness spa, multiple dining venues, convenience store, organic fruit and veggie garden, doctor’s office with urgent care facilities and a pharmacy.

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Sagicor is also exploring with a group of doctors and a U.S. university the possibility of building a medical complex on land that it owns across the street from the community.

Sagicor was founded in 1840 as a mutual company. Today, the publicly listed company primarily sells life, general and casualty insurance to customers in 22 countries across the globe, including the U.S. The company held almost $7 billion in assets as of the end of 2018.

‘First of its type’

With The Estates at St. George, the company seeks to bring a different kind of senior living project to Barbados, according to Richard Kellman, director at Sagicor.

“In this part of the world … provision of care for seniors is either dealt with by their family or commercially by a number of very small caregiving homes which don’t always offer the best of service,” Kellman told Senior Housing News. “This community is going to be the first of its type in the Carribbean.”

While The Estates resembles a senior living community one might find in the U.S., there are some key differences. For example, residents will own their independent living condos, and the community won’t be restricted to just older adults — though it will be marketed as such.

For condos, prices start at around $175,000 for a studio floor plan and go up to about $375,000 for a two-bedroom residence. There is also an additional resident fee of about $750 per month. Rates have yet to be worked out on the assisted living and skilled nursing side.

Sagicor expects its resident population will consist of local Barbadians, people who live in neighboring Caribbean islands and some who come from outside the region, like the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada.

If all goes well with The Estates at St. George, Sagicor could even look to expand its model to other parts of the Caribbean, though it’s still too early to tell on that front, Kellman said.

“This is the test case, and we deliberately pitched it [in Barbados] to prove we can make something of quality,” Kellman said. “But in time, this could be a line of business that could make a good contribution to this company’s bottom line.”

U.S.-style senior living is gradually spreading to global markets. Houston-based Belmont Village, for instance, is pursuing ambitious international development plans, with a community in Mexico City and more on the way. In South Africa, Auria is developing a $300 million pipeline of high-end communities. China and India are other hotspots, with U.S.-based firms such as Columbia Pacific Advisors, Merrill Gardens and Watermark Retirement all involved in projects..

International insurance companies diversify into senior living more commonly than is the case in the United States, with Chinese insurance firms in particular making notable deals in recent years. Eclipse Senior Living CEO Kai Hsiao pointed this out recently, but he believes that a U.S. insurance company will take a major ownership stake in senior living within the next decade as the two sectors come into closer alignment.

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