Making the most out of retirement without actually retiring
Bob and Catherine Michael recently arrived on site of one of Goodyear’s newest choices in upscale retirement living.But you won’t see them on a golf course.
Instead, the affable couple will be wearing pre-rental manager hats and marketing Estrella Estates Gracious Retirement Living to prospective residents.
It’s what they do.
Employed by the Hawthorn Retirement Group out of Vancouver, Wash., the couple travels around the country opening new retirement communities. Over the past ten years, the Michaels, who call Michigan home, have successfully opened eight communities in seven states, the majority in the southeast and southern United States.
Estrella Estates Gracious Retirement Living located at 14930 West Wigwam Blvd., is expected to open on or before Sept. 1, 2014. The three-story independent living structure will feature 124 units—including studios, one-and two-bedroom suites, as well as four casitas.
It will be the Michaels’ challenge over the coming months to fill the approximately 140-person community. Their sales trailer is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday thru Thursday; and 9 a.m.-noon on Friday. It is closed on Saturday and open 12-5 on Sunday.
“The response has been great,” said Bob, a former insurance executive. “There aren’t a lot of communities like this one around here.”
Both Bob and Catherine have extensive marketing backgrounds.
Their goal is 100-percent occupancy rate by the end of 2014.
“The buildings sell themselves,” he said. “Our (Hawthorn) occupancy rate is one of the highest of this type in the country
The overall concept among the communities is the same, Bob added, except for Arizona which has a different exterior building design.
“Walk into the dining room and it’s similar to one at any of the Hawthorn properties.”
Estrella Estates Gracious Retirement Living is pet-friendly.
Hawthorn Retirement Group also offers a traveling program. Residents are invited to visit other Hawthorn properties and stay for up to a week at no charge.
Expectations for more elaborate amenities have grown in recent years with the baby boomer generation leading the way.
“Now we have an in-house theater, more upscale, state-of-the-art exercise equipment and a wider range of activities for residents. There’s a café, a pool and soon there will be putting greens on the property.”
But it is the “Hawthorn Heart” Bob referred to that he feels sets the property apart from its competition.
“I believe resident care starts from the ground up,” he said. “Above all else, people really don’t care what you know; they want to know how much you care.”
Estrella Estates is the second new, upscale senior living option scheduled to open in Goodyear this year. Hawthorn Retirement Group operates retirement senior living communities in Canada, the United Kingdom, and from Maine to California.
The for-profit, privately held management and consulting service offers retirement, personal care, assisted living, and memory care services.
All-inclusive retirement living at Estrella Estates includes the following amenities:
- Three chef-prepared meals served each day
- Caring on-site managers
- Scheduled transportation
- Planned activities, events and day trips
- Weekly housekeeping and linen service
- Library and exercise room
- All utilities, except phone
- Free laundry facilities
Unlike other properties that require a major buy-in or long-term lease, Estrella Estates is set up month-to-month with a 30-day notice required.
The Michaels have retired from at least two different careers already but have no plans to retire from this job.
“Hawthorn is a wonderful company to work for,” Bob said. “We have opportunities to travel around the country, meet super people and assist residents into their new lifestyles.
“It really is a pleasure providing a service to someone who needs it. And we can choose where we want to go next and, if we feel we need a break, we can take one.
“Retirement isn’t in our genes.”
For more information, call Bob or Catherine Michael at 623-535-9195.
By Pat Whitney