Earlier this month, news broke that the UK government is planning to build two new Garden Cities in the south of England to ease a housing shortage.
The original Garden Cities – conceived in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard – were planned, self-contained communities surrounded by green space, containing homes, industry and agriculture. Plans for the new settlements seem likely to be guided by this philosophy.
The Garden Cities movement was inspired by the utopian thinking of the Arts and Crafts movement and the radical novels Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy and Progress and Poverty by Henry George. Two settlements were built – Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, UK.
I responded to the proposal with a blog post calling for a more radical new approach and suggesting that instead of looking to the past for inspiration, we need to look to the future and to create the first wellness cities.
In many years of leader-writing for this industry, I’ve never had such a strong and positive response to a suggestion – it’s clear there’s a great deal of interest in redesigning the places we live and work and rethinking their design and function from the ground up.
The vision of building entire cities around wellness is a powerful one which most people can relate to and find compelling and attractive. And the exciting part is that such plans are within our grasp if the will is there.
And although the idea of wellness environments is not new, we’re approaching a time when the concept will reach a tipping point and enter the mainstream, with its own economic models and vernacular.
In this edition of Spa Business, we talk to Paul Scialla from Delos (page 28), which is building wellness accommodation – both domestic and hotel.
Delos has fitted rooms at the MGM Grand Las Vegas and its Stay Well® features have enabled the operator to command a 30 per cent premium on rack rates. Unsurprisingly, more are planned.
So many health problems arise from legacy issues such as car-centric urban planning, polluting building materials, lack of awareness of the value of exercise – that the opportunity to build afresh wherever new communities are needed (whether in the developing or developed world) and to retrofit health-enhancing features, is thrilling.
Liz Terry, editor twitter: @elizterry