‘Much More Active’: How Memberships Help LifeStar, Holbrook Attract Industry’s Next Generation of Residents

As the cost of senior living operations remain high, wellness-based membership models are helping senior living operators supplement their bottom lines.

In anticipation of an expected surge in demand from the baby boomers , operators have pivoted to offering hospitality- and wellness-focused initiatives in their communities with an overall focus on lifestyle.

Doing so is rarely easier said than done, and adding new services and programming also typically requires bolstering budgets.


Through membership-style programs and bringing in outside partners, senior living companies including LifeStar Living and Holbrook Life are finding ways to both facilitate and pay for the wellness-focused lifestyle that incoming residents seem to want. They are also offering amenities and services to buying members of the general public as a way to expand their reach and gain visibility among local consumers.

And they are undertaking these plans with residents across the acuity spectrum in mind, from active adult to memory care.

“Our focus is really on extending that independent life cycle of residents,” said Jack Miller, vice president of business development at Holbrook Life, during a panel at the recent DISHED/WELLNESS conference in Atlanta.

Pictured: Jack Miller, vice president of business development at Holbrook Life

Membership models extend services

One of the things setting LifeStar and Holbrook apart from many of their peers is the fact that they offer membership models that, in some cases, extend services beyond a community’s four walls.

Venice, Florida-based LifeStar has a small but growing portfolio, with an independent living and assisted living community being built in St. Petersburg, a traditional CCRC in Venice and a standalone assisted living and memory care community in eastern Florida.

The company also is the exclusive professional services provider for Convivial Life, a nonprofit senior living company also based in Florida, for whichLifeStar provides services that include community management, marketing and development.

LifeStar has worked to rebrand and market its three operational communities and one under construction to highlight a more “distinguished” model for life plan communities, according to Jessica Kraft, the company’s executive vice president of marketing and sales.

At its Manhattan St. Petersburg in Florida, LifeStar had sought to charge membership fees ranging from about $300,000 to $1.4 million in order to reflect exclusivity and luxury. LifeStar seeks to offer its members concierge services, health benefits and access to experiences beyond the walls of the community including box seats at a Tampa Bay Rays game or taking part in a boat club.

“It’s an opportunity to really be able to thrive and have communities on-site, but also be able to engage and connect with the greater population outside of the four walls,” Kraft said.

Pictured: Jessica Kraft, LifeStar Living’s executive vice president of marketing and sales.

Holbrook has two membership programs — one for residents and one for the general public — with various tiers of programming, services and amenities and a focus on health and wellness. Members of the “Holbrook Club” can take part in activities including circuit training, balance training, aquatics classes and tai chi classes and also get $800 to spend at dining, drinking and service venues within the community.

“Having the country club-style membership model to extend that lifecycle of our prospect and eventual resident is how we’ve kind of pivoted,” Miller added.

The goal is to emulate the sort of top-flight, exclusive experiences and perks one might see in a country club.

“One of our residents said it’s like living on a cruise ship with no port destination, and that’s something that we strive for within all of our amenities, structures and hospitality offerings,” Miller said.

And he added that offering these sorts of packages can help residents feel like they are getting the all-inclusive treatment.

“I think that’s one of the directions of active adult,” Miller said. “The market right now is selling all-inclusive packages as much as possible.”

Maintaining that value-add between a resident who has paid for a unit and a member of the public is a delicate balance, according to Miller.

But despite that challenge, Holbrook has through its membership model been able to tap into the wider active adult market and get more eyes on the company’s brand, Miller said.

Holbrook offers similar amenities as LifeStar at its four communities. The company currently only offers Holbrook Club memberships at its Woodstock, Georgia, community, but plans to extend memberships to its communities in Acworth and Decatur in the latter part of the year. Miller noted that club members who live outside the community also have to community amenities including a full-service spa, heated saltwater pools and a fitness center with options for training such as weightlifting.

The Holbrook Club’s activity calendar includes events like complimentary wine tastings, community mixers and courtyard concerts.

In the membership program’s initial run, census at Holbrook Woodstock was pushing 88%, with a growing waitlist.

“We sell the Holbrook Club as that pre-transition for the prospect to get situated with the amenity structure [and] make friendships before even moving into the community,” Miller said.

‘We’re looking at a much more active individual’

The need to differentiate and get creative through offerings including memberships is firmly rooted in the fact that older adults are arriving in communities looking to do and experience many of the things they did before moving in — no matter their place on the care continuum.

Across all care levels, LifeStar Living looks to infuse hospitality, character and other high-end touches. That extends even to finer details, such as “signature scents” that help greet residents when they walk through the door. signature scents used in each building

While amenities such as full-size pools, fitness classes, and daily happy hours would fit right in at an independent living community, LifeStar extends those services and amenities to its other care types

Kraft noted that 10% of the company’s residents were couples where one needed a higher level of care and the other person remained independent, and that having varied activities both could participate in was important to many of them.

“These offerings keep people engaged and build their quality of life,” Kraft said. “Our residents are busy doing things and we’ve been able to help increase the value there to craft that sales message.”

Holbrook differentiates its amenities through standalone social and events calendars, with some crossover of events.

Technology integration has been key to supporting both organizations and their membership models. For example, LifeStar uses a system that allows residents to make reservations in restaurants, which is further integrated into the company’s point of sale functions.

“It really gives residents the ability to have everything at their fingertips,” Kraft said.

After months of searching, Holbrook found a POS system that fits the company’s criteria that allows for residents to view their dining balances and make reservations through a customized application built by Holbrook.

“It’s been a challenge but we found the right system and it’s a very important part of what we do and how the Holbrook Club operates,” Miller added.

To prepare for the future senior living customer, Kraft said LifeStar Living focused new development on biophilic design and creating opportunities for residents to gather outside.

“We’re looking at a much more active individual,” Kraft said of the next round of consumers in senior living. “I think it’s really a matter of making sure that you have a combination of amenities and partnerships.”

Miller said Holbrook is focusing on hiring food and beverage experts and those with hotel operations backgrounds to further its focus on lifestyle and wellness. pivot towards wellness and lifestyle.

“You can have all the experience in the world in food and beverage but you have to put our residents at the forefront of everything you’re doing. So that’s a big part of our interviewing process and our onboarding process, identifying and making sure that they are servant-hearted,” Miller said.

But it’s been harder to find those with passion for senior living in recent months, Kraft noted. To stay competitive with regard to staffing, LifeStar conducted wage analysis studies and increased pay for various positions to incentivize workers.

“Sometimes finding the right person is a little bit harder,” Kraft said.

In the future, Miller said he envisions more wellness and lifestyle offerings than ever before and the development of more full-time resident staff for various areas. In the last year, Holbrook also studied medication management to better understand resident health. That’s done by offering DNA testing for residents to help identify more personalized care plans.

“It’s a whole picture from social engagement to the medication management, food sensitivity, and the wellness programming,” Miller said.

In the coming years, Kraft said communities must prepare for an increase in mental health awareness and help struggling individuals navigate through common issues like social isolation.

“As we continue to see those populations age we continue to see those be topics that are much more publicly accepted. I think they’re going to bring with it that demand,” Kraft added.

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