Luxury retirement communities provide ‘the good life’

The Montecedro luxury retirement community in Altadena.

High-end continuing care retirement communities offer all the amenities of an upscale resort plus the security of knowing that future needs can easily be met.

Steve Dorfman lives at University Village at Thousand Oaks, a CCRC northwest of Los Angeles. He moved there about four years ago from a 4,000-square-foot home in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles near UCLA.

Dorfman and his wife decided move to the community to downsize and simplify their lives. At University Village, they have a 1,600-square-foot attached villa about 100 yards from the community tennis court. “It’s like having my own tennis court without the maintenance problems,” says Dorfman, who’s very pleased with the decision to move.

University Village also has a year-round pool, several dining venues, computer center, short golf game course, performing arts center, dog park and other amenities. The community is located across the street from California Lutheran University, where residents can attend classes.


Besides all the activities, Dorfman likes the fact that he and his wife have made a lot of new friends. “This is a better way of life,” he says.

High-end CCRCs are the ultimate in retirement living. Set on suburban campuses or in high-rises in urban centers, the communities cater to those seeking an active lifestyle coupled with five-star services.

The apartments and villas at upscale communities include the latest finishes and open floor plans with great rooms.

“Interior finishes are high quality,” says Warren Spieker, managing partner at Continuing Life, based in Carlsbad. The company operates University Village and three other con tinuing care campuses, with two more under development.


Residents at upscale retirement communities have access to hotel-style amenities such as salt-water pools, fitness centers, multiple dining venues, and spas.

Many services

Luxury communities also offer a wide range of services from housekeeping to parking valets and concierges. CCRCs typically charge an upfront entry fee along with a monthly fee. Entry fees vary widely depending on the location and the size of the unit.

Entry fees range from about $300,000 to more than $1 million. Most communities offer a partial refund once the resident leaves the unit and it is resold.

Just north of Pasadena, MonteCedro in Altadena is the first new CCRC to be built in Los Angeles County in 20 years. The ambitious project is under the auspices of Episcopal Communities & Services and is expected to open at the end of 2015.

MonteCedro will have 186 units for those who can live independently along with 20 suites for those who need assisted or memory care. The property includes villas and apartments, ranging in size from about 700 square feet to nearly 1,900 square feet.

Designed by the architectural firm of Perkins Eastman, the community has units with large windows and high ceilings. The hallways are short; residents pass no more than three apartments to reach their units.

Amenities will include an outdoor heated saline pool, fitness center, library, movie theater, salon, art studio, lecture hall and three dining venues. A home health center staffed with a nurse will be open around the clock.


The community will also offer life enrichment classes by Masterpiece Living, an organization that provides comprehensive programs for successful aging. “It’s a whole philosophy of life enrichment,” says Peggy Buchanan, director of sales and marketing at MonteCedro.

Dining in style

Meanwhile, upscale retirement communities are reinventing the dining experience. Multiple dining venues are typically available for formal meals or quick snacks. At University Village, dining is one of the residents’ favorite activities. Not only are meals enticing to the eyes and taste buds, but emphasis is also placed on health and nutrition. With multiple dining options, casual lounges and carryout options, residents can choose to socialize with others or enjoy an evening in.

The new Los Angeles-area community MonteCedro will have a flexible dining plan. There will be no set dining hours and residents have a choice of three dining venues, including a cocktail lounge.

“We believe people want that independence,” says Buchanan at MonteCedro.

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