Let's All Just Move to the Spa

a bathroom with a large mirror
How to Live in a SpaCourtesy of THE WELL

Imagine waking up as your curtains, synched to your specific circadian rhythm, automatically draw back from your floor-to-ceiling windows exposing the morning light. You pad past your hydroponic garden to make yourself a tea from a built-in filtered hot tap in your sleek kitchen of quartzite (a grounding, healing stone). You migrate to the meditation corner on your outdoor terrace to set your intentions for the day. As you fix yourself breakfast, the recipe developed by your in-house dietician, you peruse your calendar. You can fit in a massage between meetings today, so you text your wellness concierge who quickly confirms they can send your favorite therapist up to your apartment at your requested time. You slide into your workout clothes and head downstairs for a private training session, then decide to roll a few calls while walking along the canal connected to your home by a private park. That’s just the first few hours of the day.

a building with glass windows
The Well Bay Harbor IslandsCourtesy of THE WELL

It may sound like something out of an ayahuasca-induced fever dream, but soon it will be a reality. The opening of the first residential building from pioneering wellness company The Well, projected for the end of 2024 in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, promises to be the most fully-integrated wellness living concept in the country, allowing residents 360-degree top-of-the-line wellness amenities all the way down to the crystal-infused foundation. “One of the things we hear people say most often at The Well is, wow, I wish I could live here,” says co-founder and CCO Kane Sarhan. Now you can, but with over 50% of the 65 residences, which start at $1.25 million, already sold as of January this year, you’ll have to get in line.

a well lit room with a fountain
Miami’s first caldarium—for residents of The Well Bay Harbor IslandsCourtesy of THE WELL

Wellness residences are rapidly becoming one of the biggest trends in real estate for one simple reason. “We have found, with technology and research, that your physical environment has an impact on your health and wellbeing,” says David Martin, CEO of Terra Group, the real estate developer behind The Well Residences at Bay Harbor Islands. Today’s true health enthusiast wants to be completely immersed in wellness 24/7—and is willing to pay for it.

In the case of The Well Residences, that immersion includes everything from the sustainable materials used to build the actual structure to the integrated water and air filtration systems (including built-in aromatherapy) to standard-inclusion travertine bathroom counters, lymphatic drainage showers, skincare refrigerators, built-in therapeutic LED panels and in-home gardening services. There is also unlimited access to The Well’s club, housed on the first floor of the building, as well as a 24-hour wellness concierge to help book your treatments, two gyms (one for residents only), in-home private treatment options, a borrowable “wellness library” featuring gadgets like percussive therapy guns and other cutting-edge wellness tech, and regular complimentary appointments with the in-house medical and nutrition staffs. When they move in, each new resident receives an energetic cleansing ceremony (for both their home and their bodies).

a staircase in a building
The steam room at The Well.Courtesy of THE WELL

The Well at Bay Harbor Islands is perhaps the most complete example of the wellness residence concept, but it isn’t an anomaly. For all new buildings, there is a WELL certification, which grades new buildings on factors such as air, light and sound quality, movement and communal spaces, and even pro-mental health amenities. Certification is in high demand for both residential and commercial spaces. Martin calls a WELL certification the “hardware,” meaning that theoretically the building has been conceptualized from the ground up with wellness in mind. But just as important as the hardware is the “software,” he says, meaning the actual wellness amenities offered to residents and how they are being managed in both private and communal spaces. It’s what makes residences backed by tried and true wellness companies so attractive. At the new Costa Mujeres, Mexico location of iconic European wellness clinic SHA, for instance, the Sordo Madaleno-designed building contains 35 residences. Owners have unlimited access to the clinic's vast menu of wellness services and famous detox programs, not to mention fully-integrated lifestyle perks like home automation connected to their circadian rhythm and in-residence chef cooked meals. By opening in January of this year, all residences had been purchased.

The luxury aspect of a wellness residence cannot be overlooked—hefty price tag included. Case in point: The Well Residences sits across from Indian Creek, where homeowners like Jeff Bezos and Giselle Bunchen can regularly be spotted paddleboarding. But the idea is already trickling down in more accessible ways. Life Time Fitness, the national chain of luxury gyms, debuted Life Time Living, residences in the same or neighboring buildings to their gyms in Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida. Not only are these rental units designed with top of the line fixtures that mimic the luxe-minimal aesthetic of the gyms themselves, but residents enjoy free gym memberships, priority access to group classes and personal training, private wellness seminars and, in some locations, meal prep services, grocery shopping assistance from Life Time nutrition staff and private fitness instruction and spa treatments in their apartments. What’s most attractive about these fitness-focused residences, says Jennifer Duran, Lead General Manager of Life Time Stamford Downtown, is “people want to be surrounded by others with the same interests and priorities.”

And really, the crux of any wellness residence may not just be what you have or do in your own private space; it’s the community that’s fostered by living together under the wellness umbrella. “Community is the most underrated aspect of wellness,” says Kane. “Studies show that you are 200% more likely to achieve a goal, including wellness goals, if you have a community supporting you. It’s also one of the reasons we believe people in Blue Zones live so long. We actually look at community as the starting point of wellness.” The community spaces at The Well Residences, like the outdoor courtyards, rooftop gardens, communal thermal suites and state-of-the-art caldarium are designed to bring people out of their homes, not keep them in. And that just might be the most attractive part of a wellness residence beyond even the design, access, convenience and status. Even in the lap of luxury, are you really “well” if you’re alone?

A version of this story appears in the April 2024 issue of Town & Country in a package titled "26 Rooms Shaping Culture." SUBSCRIBE NOW

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