The newest, Sun City Festival, invited Betty and me for a weekend stay in one of their villas. We were invited to use the facilities, talk with local residents, interview marketing folks, and write about our experiences for Satisfying Retirement.
If your image of a retirement community in the sunbelt is just people spending all their days golfing, you need to readjust your mental picture. This community is home to quite a few non-retired folks, or those who work at a second career or capacity. Yes, there is a beautiful 18 hole golf course, but so much more to keep the not-quite retired and those done with their working lives busy and productive.
At last count there are 42 clubs featuring all sorts of activities, everything from wine tasting and dancing to pickleball, bridge, and quilting. A life-long learning center affiliated with Arizona State University offers classes to keep one's mind sharp. Betty and I sampled the fitness center, ate several meals at the on-site restaurant, and even enjoyed a happy hour. We spent a very pleasant evening on an outside patio overlooking an enormous pool and spa complex.
Friday night was the community's Holiday desserts party that featured an excellent choral group as entertainment for the 200 or so folks in attendance. In front of the activity center were a few brightly lit cars and golf carts.
On Saturday we were invited to visit the 9,000 square foot pottery and glass studio along with a huge woodworking shop. Always the artist, Betty fell in love with these facilities. She says they are absolutely on par with anything she has ever seen. Hundreds of residents learn and practice their artistic skills in this state of the art facility.
|Linda - instructor at pottery studio|
|Clyde and Barbara at glass kilns|
Jacque Petroulakis, Corprate Communication spokesperson for the Pulte Group (owner of Del Webb) notes that one of the most important approaches the company takes is to actively research the wants of today's home buyers. Last year they actually built prototype models inside large warehouses and asked potential customers to walk through and critique the designs and layouts.
The results are obvious. Today's models have elevated dishwashers and lower microwaves. The entrance from the garage does not involve any steps up or down, doorways are wider, and showers can include a place to sit.
If there is a downside, it is Sun City Festival's location. Since only a gas station and mini mart are located here and being 12 miles west of the nearest town, trips for groceries, additional dining options, or medical appointments are bit of a jaunt But, residents we talked to didn't see this as a problem. In fact, several mentioned they like the quiet and lack of city lights. A fire department, police, and EMT operation in town means one is not far from immediate emergency help. The nearest full service hospital is about 25 minutes away.
Sun City Festival is designed for active folks who want to live independently. There is no provision to provide assisted living or nursing care at this time. But, community representatives told me when the time approaches for more help with daily living, residents are likely to move to Sun City Grand or Sun City West, both of which offer such services.
Thanks to the folks at the Pulte group and Del Webb for inviting us to spend some time at Sun City Festival. It was a much needed break for Betty and me, and a perfect chance to see the changing face of retirement communities. The residents we talked to were very happy with where they live and extremely friendly. We didn't meet anyone who didn't welcome us with open arms.
|Our villa home - very comfortable|
Note: Betty and I were provided with free lodging, dining credit, and facility use during our stay. Sun City Festival did not have control over or prior approval of the content of this post.