Cambridge Village, A New Kind of Retirement
At a time when many seniors are as fit and well as some in their 30s, one retirement community is staying a step ahead of the game.
The design and functionality of retirement apartment complexes have changed almost as much as the senior population in recent years. Retirement facilities are now typically as vibrant, socially active, and wellness-centered as the average active adult.
But, Cambridge Village has taken things a step further by making their facilities both indiscernible at first glance from a fine resort hotel and spa, and simultaneously as comfortable, friendly, and social as a full-service college campus apartment complex. With locations in Apex, Wilmington, and a future location in Raleigh – Brier Creek, senior living innovation was well primed in these areas. The economy and health and wellness industries are booming in both cities, attracting young families and retirees from across the country and around the world. Then, of course, in Wilmington there’s the beach, which tends to be pretty popular among, well, everyone.
As we all know, where there are young grandchildren, grandparents are likely to follow. So, a high population of young, growing families tends to attract more seniors to an area by default.
Why Cambridge Village
Cambridge Village is intended to offer a low-maintenance, wellness-focused, resort-style living experience to seniors busy living some of the best years of their lives. And, this feeling is immediately conveyed when one enters the lobby at Cambridge’s Wilmington location. There’s a feeling of ease, and a sense of well-being that feels deliciously contagious. And, given that Cambridge Village in Wilmington is less than five minutes from Wrightsville Beach and a stone’s throw from Mayfaire Town Center, it’s in the mix with everything that tourists and residents flock to. Cambridge residents can take morning walks to nearby cafes and shops, or an evening bike ride to their favorite Wrightsville Beach restaurant.
What’s to Love
Community activities are integral to everyday life at Cambridge Village. Many residents have children and grandchildren in the area, and have moved to Cambridge to be close to them while maintaining autonomy and independence. Others simply chose Cambridge Village for the location, or to stay close to the town and an area they know and love. But, all residents chose Cambridge partially from a desire to surround themselves with people they can relate to, and to develop a sense of community.
“Our residents come from all over,” said Katie Manning, Chief Marketing Strategist at Cambridge Village. “We have snowbirds who came down for warmer weather, people who moved to Wilmington to retire, and lifelong Wilmingtonians.”
And, with such diverse backgrounds comes the perfect environment for community building. Residents meet up for lunch at the Village Restaurant with Chef Charlie Blake, or for shuffleboard at the pub. They play pool, walk at Wrightsville Beach on Friday mornings, organize dances, put together wine & cheese neighborhood socials, play Mahjong and poker, and watch movies in the theater. And, many hop on weekly group bike rides and shuttle trips around town.
The Center for Optimal Living
Not only is the Center for Optimal Living impressive in its own right, but the structure implemented therein also helps residents to “achieve optimal wellness in body, mind, and spirit.”
Dozens of machines line the windows in a bright sunlit fitness room. There’s an extensive weight room and a yoga and fitness room across the hall that’s super-spacious and beautifully designed. And, the grand finale is an indoor five-lane lap pool with glass lining one wall and an industrial but elegant ceiling that adds specific interest and inspiration. But, behind all the fancy fitness rooms and equipment is a physician-led concierge approach to living a healthy lifestyle. Trainers, instructors, and a physician all come together to design the optimal plan for each resident.
And, because nothing is optimal without a smoothie bar nearby, Cambridge Village hasn’t forgotten. The Village Smoothie Bar is just beyond the pool.
Cambridge Village resident, Ed Drew, is not alone when he says that the Center for Optimal Living is what sold him.
“We’d already visited several places. But, when we got to Cambridge, and I saw that wellness center downstairs, and that beautiful, magnificent pool, that did it…I said, ‘I love this place! Then I said, ‘Okay, now, let’s look at the rest of it’,” Drew said with a chuckle. “So we did. And, we totally fell in love with it.”
Center for Optimal Living memberships are available to the general public for those over the age of 45, and will soon be available to all adults, with a maximum of 350 total memberships available.
Medspa at Cambridge
If the Center for Optimal Living is going a step beyond, then the Medspa at Cambridge is a giant leap. Walking into this full-service Medspa is instantly as sensual and relaxing an experience as it is in any spa. From massage therapy, facials and mani/pedis, to botox, laser treatments, and more, residents can treat themselves, and take care of themselves, as often as they need or would like to. The Medspa also includes a full service hair salon frequented by residents as well as the general public. Families, children, and friends are beyond welcome at the Village. Cambridge Village is designed to accommodate and nurture such connections. “We love to see our residents spending time with their families, enjoying a nice dinner or holiday meal in the Village Restaurant, and enjoying our relaxing outdoor space by the fire pits,” said Manning.
Life comes together at Cambridge Village and it all meets seniors where they are. Just when folks are ready to say no to cooking and maintaining and yes to visiting and enjoying and exploring, Cambridge Village staff steps in to make that happen.
In addition to lavish 1-2 bedroom apartments (some complete with a sunroom), residency at Cambridge Village includes an extensive list of amenities.
Here’s a quick list:
- Library, chapel, media room, and game rooms
- MedSpa & Salon
- Cafe and Pub/Lounge
- Fitness Center Membership
- Professional Directed Optimal Living Program
- Cable TV/Phone/Internet
- Housekeeping and linen services
- Emergency response system
- Washer and dryer in all apartments
- Fire sprinkler and smoke detection
- Luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting
- All maintenance and repairs
- Resident mailboxes
- Resident manager on site
- Guest suites available
- Individually controlled heat and air conditioning
- Scheduled transportation by courtesy shuttle to appointments
- Wireless internet access throughout
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“You don’t need a retirement home, you need a great home for retirement,” ~ Francisca Alonso
There is the passion of an artist, the preciseness of an engineer, and a profound empathy for the human condition that informs a conversation with architect Francisca Alonso, one that is as captivating as the transformative vision she has for residential design in the 21st century.
Francisca and her husband/architect partner of 30 years, Antonio, are co-founders of AV Architects + Builders, established in 2001 and based in Great Falls, VA, just outside of Washington, D.C.
Francisca’s father was the famous architect Melvin Villarroel Roldan, who has designed luxury resorts and hotels on the Mediterranean coast and all over the world. When Francisca and Antonio launched their business in 2001, they decided to carry on the legacy of resort-style living. The company’s mission is, “Building custom dream homes designed around your lifestyle, that make you feel like you are on vacation, every day of the year.”
While there are many formative pillars of AV’s design philosophy, Francisca sums them up with the following tenets:
Removal of Clutter
Control of clutter is a key ingredient to a happy house. It’s rejuvenating. It’s like a detox. At the end of the day we don’t need so much. When have you ever walked into a luxury vacation home that had clutter? When you are staring at clutter, it creates distractions, so make certain that multiple storage solutions are a part of your home design.
Every indoor space that we design has a mirror image in an outdoor related space. A master bedroom has a patio. A great room may have an outdoor grotto. A front entrance will have a front porch.
A 2,000 sq. ft., home, for instance, should have at least a third of that – 700-800 sq. ft. – set for designed outdoor space.
Double the Windows, plus Limited Hallways and Doors
Our designs call for double the amount of window space in a standard home in our area. And there should be at least two viewpoints to the outdoors and nature in every spot in the house, all of which reduces stress and adds to your well-being. This requires broad open-concept floor plans, multi-use spaces, and the limiting of hallways and doors.
(Many of Francisca’s window designs, especially in bedrooms where windows have to provide egress in case of emergency, have an almost Mondrian quality, with offset panels virtually creating a piece of art in glass. The offset allows for one large casement window – facilitating egress and allowing for cross ventilation – while smaller windows of different sizes and shapes infuse design interest.)
Quality of Materials
We don’t want you to have a lifetime membership at the hardware store, so we build with materials that last. Instead of using pine trim we use PVC, which is rot-free. We use aluminum windows, so you don’t keep painting them, and engineered quartz or porcelain instead of granite so you don’t have to keep treating it. You should enjoy your home, not have to maintain it.
Smart Home Peace of Mind
Home security from your smartphone is so easy to do nowadays. We design a fully integrated system that controls lighting, alarms, temperature settings, and locking systems. The system can even detect moisture in specific areas and will send a message to your phone that will tell you if there is water under you dishwasher. It’s all about safety and energy efficiency.
But Francisca and her team have added another layer to the concept of stylish resort living, and it is outlined in a book she authored called, Nesting for Empty Nesters, The Vacation Style Living Approach to Aging in Place.
A magna cum laude graduate of The School of Architecture at The Catholic University, Francisca is also CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) certified, a prestigious designation bestowed by the National Association of Home Builders. It is with that training that she imagines a residence that uses smart design to prepare your home now for a better quality of life in retirement and beyond.
Francisca explains, “People are living much longer and more active lives these days. If we design or remodel a house for a couple in their 50s, they may live there until they’re 90. So why not build blocking now behind a wall that can anchor a grab bar or handrail in 20 years? Why not build a curbless shower with no doors that looks sleek now, but will allow disabled access in 30 years? There are hundreds of beneficial manifestations of Aging in Place design.”
In this regard, Francisca seems to think of everything. She is currently working with researchers at a Washington D.C. area university on building a sensor into a shower floor, or any space, that will detect an unusual compression of the floor that might be consistent with a fall, which can then be signaled to a family member for follow-up.
In addition to her father’s influence, Francisca admits to an affinity for Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, which is hinted at with some of her flowing horizontal rooflines. “Wright designed a home that was built for the end-user,” she describes. “Architecture is not monumental or ornamental, it’s designing for a person and how they will operate in their home.”
And like its co-founder, the company is passionate, precise, and profoundly empathetic in bringing trusted and flexible home design solutions to those of us approaching a fulfilling and active life as seniora. In Francisca’s sage affirmation, “You don’t need a retirement home, you need a great home for retirement.”
AV Architects + Builders | Great Falls, VA
703-865-5065 | avarchitectsbuild.com