Anyone who’s ever stepped into The Gatesworth, not to mention dined, watched movies or played bridge there, would find it hard to believe that the tony retirement community could get any better. But that is just what’s happening this spring when The Gatesworth unveils its new west wing.
The 38-apartment addition was undertaken to meet a growing demand among local seniors for even more lavish housing, according to director of operations Bob Leonard. “Currently, we have 260 apartments, and we always have a long waiting list, especially for the larger units, so it made sense to expand our offerings,” he says.
The space was designed to have a resort feel, Leonard explains. “When you walk in the lobby, you can see clear through to the large terrace and lake. The common spaces are open, and the patios and balconies are much larger than in our original apartments.” Floor plans in the west wing range from 1,500 to 1,850 square feet, and upscale amenities abound. “Our kitchens are full-sized with granite countertops and raised-panel cherry wood cabinets. Bedrooms are large with oversized walk-in closets. The patios are stamped concrete and bathrooms are well appointed,” he says.
Common spaces are also posh. “Although it is connected to the rest of the campus, the west wing has a separate entrance and its own courtyard with a lake. It also features a veranda for drinks and dining, and a lakeside party pavilion that can be rented for special occasions.” Inside spaces include a wine bar and dining room, media center, and card room. Seventeen of the units are already leased, and interest has been high, says Leonard.
As with every other aspect of life at The Gatesworth, if there is something residents want, all they need to do is ask. “Just like with our other apartments, when a resident has a request, we make it happen. If they want a certain color scheme or another design element, we arrange it. The same will hold true in the west wing.”
That ‘can-do’ attitude is what has set the senior living community apart from its peers, he says. “We just celebrated our 20th anniversary. Many factors have contributed to our success, but overall I think it’s because from the very beginning, we made a commitment to go above and beyond in serving our residents,” he says. “We provide very beautiful surroundings and amenities, but it’s our staff and services that take life at The Gatesworth to the next level. We have double the number of employees than are probably needed, a doorman at each entrance for 16 hours a day and three limos with drivers. Other facilities have tried to recreate what we have but often fail because they aren’t willing to spend on staff,” says Leonard.
Martha Kessel, executive director at The Gatesworth, interviews every potential employee and has done so since it opened. “Their qualifications are important to us, but along with that we need to know that they will say a warm hello to everyone they pass in the hall,” says Leonard. A carefully hired staff has led to little turnover in two decades, especially in upper management. “The four top executives myself, David Smith, Charles Deutsch and Martha Kessel, have all been here since day one. I think that has helped really ingrain our philosophy from the top down.”