Image: Julian Cook, CEO Summerset Retirement Villages and Mark Cameron, CEO Bowls New Zealand
These days, most people know someone living in a retirement village. Not so commonplace 20 or 30 years ago, there are now nearly 400 retirement villages throughout New Zealand, which nearly 40,000 residents call home. If that sounds a lot, best bets are that with our ageing population we’re going to need to double that number in the next 50 years. And if to prove that point, there are already 100 villages in the development pipeline.
More than 5% of over 65 year olds now choose to live in a retirement village, and this figure jumps to over 12% of over 75 year olds. Retirement villages have become not only an accepted, but an increasingly preferred lifestyle for ageing Kiwis.
No one is a more passionate advocate of that lifestyle than Summerset’s Chief Executive, Julian Cook. “Life doesn’t stop when you move into a Summerset village,” says Cook. “It just gets better!”
Started just 20 years ago, Summerset now has 23 villages dotted throughout New Zealand with over 5,000 residents. “Often people tell me a retirement village isn’t for them,” explains Cook, “but I can tell you that almost everyone loves the lifestyle. In fact, as I get around our villages, the most common thing I hear is that ‘I should have moved here years ago’.”
Cook is clearly proud of his Summerset villages. And why not. They come with all the facilities of a resort: swimming pools, BBQ areas, cafes, gyms, games lounges and more. “Most of our villages also have all-weather bowling greens, as well as indoor bowls facilities.”
If that sounds like a bowler’s version of paradise, it is. There’s not many other places where you can do the dishes in the morning, then walk out the back door for a roll-up. What’s more, many Summerset villages are within drawing distance of a bowls club, offering the best of both worlds.
“We’ve found that our residents love both,” says Cook. “So we’ve renewed our partnership with Bowls New Zealand allowing us to support a resident-preferred sport. Which in turn allows a favourite pastime of our residents to grow and flourish.”
Chief Executive of Bowls New Zealand, Mark Cameron, is equally effusive. “We’re really appreciative of Summerset’s involvement with the game of bowls. It’s a real win for us. And we’re working with Summerset to make sure it’s a real win for them.”
If the 500 or so bowling clubs in New Zealand and the 35,000+ registered bowlers aren’t too familiar with the ‘Summerset’ brand, then the new year’s bowling calendar will put it firmly in their sights. “The year kicks off with the Summerset National Singles & Pairs in Auckland,” says Cameron, “And continues with the Summerset National Fours at the beginning of March at Naenae in Wellington.”
Cook is looking forward to the competitions. “Both tournaments will not only create great awareness of our villages, but strongly reinforce the view that a Summerset village allows you to live the life you choose.”