In today’s developments, promoting lifestyle amenities in a more nuanced way can speak to what homebuyers want.

In today’s developments, promoting lifestyle amenities in a more nuanced way can speak to what homebuyers want.Lifestyle amenities offered by a new community will attract homebuyers and residents, but the most successful developers and builders know there’s an art to what they offer. A well-sculpted golf course or luxurious clubhouse on a prospectus might help, but designing and promoting lifestyle amenities in a more nuanced way can speak to what individual homebuyers want. Developers and builders can increase chances for success by incorporating an experienced management company early on, gaining from their expertise, research and resources. We asked Michael Mendillo, president of FirstService Residential Mid-Atlantic, and Judy Julison, senior vice president of lifestyle programming for FirstService Residential (, to share their perspectives. 

What are the lifestyle trends and amenities shaping communities in 2016?

Julison: The level of amenities typically varies and is influenced by overall community size and planned scope of infrastructure. Take the active adult community. As active adult buyer demographics and lifestyle programming trends evolve, age-targeted residential properties offer a host of new amenities geared toward an increasingly more active, health-conscious and youthful generation of older adults. Full-service spas with massage, skin care, hair and nail salons, indoor walking tracks, wireless Internet cafes and demonstration kitchens are just a few examples. Zero-depth swimming pools, infinity edge hot tubs, sand entry beach areas, canoeing, kayaking and small boating facilities also attract active adults.

Mendillo: The rise of the multigenerational lifestyle community is also influencing amenity planning. These communities attract residents of all ages, so there needs to be a mix of activities and programming that can enhance their lifestyles, both now and in the years to come. For example, families will look for many of the same amenities as the active adult set, but also appreciate more contemporary amenities such as indoor climbing walls, teen centers, birthday party rooms, skateboarding parks, nature preserves, dog parks and even zip lines. The fact is that many dual-income families just don’t have time to go out and meet people. They seek these community-based activities that can become a vehicle for them to socialize and find connections with fellow residents.

Does that vary by region?

Julison: There are commonalities across all geographic regions, but amenity planning and design should also address interests and features unique to the local market. Communities with lakefront access may feature swimming beaches, canoe and kayak facilities and fishing venues. At one of our communities located in a mountainous region, homeowners even have access to a local ski hill amenity on-site. Mendillo: The emergence of lifestyle communities developed near urban areas is another determining factor. Community living in these cases means extending the experiences and amenities beyond the property walls and integrating with the surrounding city. For example, developers may partner with a theater company to produce exclusive shows or provide passes at a discount for residents instead of building a big clubhouse with a theater in it.

What is the process behind catering community lifestyles and living spaces to resident demographics and still sticking to the distinct personality of each community?

Julison: The ultimate strategy is to plan amenities that deliver exceptional living experiences that residents and new homebuyers genuinely
appreciate. Early planning of amenities that addresses overall community size, budget and economic feasibility/ROI is essential. Insightful market research and consideration of existing amenities outside a new community are critical, as are secondary amenities phased in over time that reflect the evolving needs of a community. The goal is to leverage features, activities and services that align with a community’s distinctive character.

Any thoughts on how the architectural elements of amenity spaces can affect residents’ experience?

Julison: Architectural elements can enhance the aesthetic appeal of amenities and the overall visual integrity of the local community.