Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate was, in 2015, valued at USD $119 billion. That’s according to the Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) Global Wellness Economy Monitor. Many will no doubt recall the famous Bubble Chart produced by GWI as part of that report. (see below)
As you can see, it’s certainly not the biggest bubble. Still, a $119 billion market is nothing to be sneezed at. At that time, GWI suggested if the sector met expected growth rates, by the year 2020 the market size would be in excess of $150 billion. As of January 2018, they’re now expecting $180 billion by 2022.
Now, all that is well and good. (pun, partially intended) But Wellness Real Estate was not really something that I was hearing much about, outside of the Global Wellness Summit conversation. It wasn’t. But it is now.
Tell me about this Wellness Real Estate thing
In the first few months of this year, I have had multiple people, both within and outside the spa world, broach the subject with me. One person was a developer, working on a hotel/residence project in the Middle East. He wanted to understand more about how this concept of Wellness could add value to his residential sales. Another was a senior executive from an international hotel management company. He was curious about applying the principles of Well Building and Living to a new staff accommodation compound in Asia.
I even had a call from an executive recruiter who was looking for a Wellness Real Estate Executive. This person was to head up a new division for a big private equity firm. He referred to it as a Unicorn Candidate that they were looking for. Why a Unicorn? Because they were looking for something that didn’t exist. There were simply no other job roles out there like this.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) put out a press release sharing some numbers of what they’re seeing. The most interesting revelation to me was…
‘To date, WELL has enrolled more than 780 projects encompassing over 147 million square feet of real estate in 32 countries worldwide.’
And what is the IWBI?
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world through its WELL Building Standard (WELL).
The Business of Wellness Real Estate
In addition to creating the WELL Building Standard which basically gives guidelines on how to build a WELL building, they’ve also created a WELL Accredited Professional (AP) program. Under this program, anyone can register for a course that teaches them all about WELL building and living.
As a business strategy, the WELL Building Standard and the WELL AP certifications are smart. The WELL AP program is especially interesting as it will effectively make the whole Wellness Real Estate pie even bigger. The fact that IWBI is willing to offer such a program is also perhaps an indication of the potential size of this market they see. So large that no one organization can handle it all. Of course, by creating this WELL AP certification, they are ensuring they can at least keep a finger or two in this growing pie.
Build Well – Live Well
And if all that isn’t enough to get your attention, GWI released a great report in January 2018 – Build Well to Live Well. The report provides some great information on the different ratings and certification standards for WELL buildings. It also does a good job of explaining the different elements of Wellness Real Estate and why these are important. Significantly GWI has broadened the discussion to include Wellness Communities, not just individual buildings.
The most compelling section of the Build Well to Live Well report to me is Chapter VI – Regional Trends & Pipeline List. Reading what the trends are on a regional/geographical basis provides an interesting insight. But then seeing a list of all the actual projects, including links to their websites, makes a real impact.
As I mentioned earlier, I always have a healthy skepticism when I read any reports like these. They can often tend to offer fairly broad interpretations of very macro data. However, when I start seeing similar information coming from multiple sources, albeit still from those that have a vested interest, I start to take a bit more notice. When I can see specific examples, such as in the Build Well to Live Well Pipeline List, I start looking pretty closely. Then when I’m getting approached directly, it becomes real. It’s time.