Personal health and well-being is front and centre these days and Toronto’s luxury real estate developers are exercising great care and attention when it comes to creating spaces where buyers of all ages can live their dream of an active, healthy lifestyle.
Daria Smith, interior design coordinator at Canderel, one of Canada’s leading developers and property management companies, says she’s seeing a desire for wellness spaces that allow residents a much-needed sanctuary from daily stressors. Canderel’s DNA3 condo development on Toronto’s King Street West, for example, features a rain room where water sprinkles from numerous rain heads, providing an extra-large shower for cooling off after a workout that gives one the sensation of being in a rain shower. It’s thought to be the first of its kind in Toronto. Smith says many developers are offering state-of-the-art fitness centres within their projects, allowing buyers to work out from the comfort of their own building.
“These fitness areas are designed to offer all the equipment you might find in a typical gym facility,” Smith says. “Some amenity fitness areas even offer specialty equipment such as Peloton-branded bikes and treadmills, TRX Suspension Training and Echelon Reflect mirrors,” she adds.
Canderel’s 900 St. Clair West condos will feature a fitness studio overlooking St. Clair West with a TRX suspension training system and top-of-the line cardio equipment. Smith says she is also excited about the amenities at Canderel’s newest boutique project, Bayview at the Village, near Bayview Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East in North York. There, residents will be able to exercise their minds and bodies in a yoga/movement studio located on the mezzanine level with a view overlooking an outdoor terrace. With more people staying close to home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frank Mazzotta, president of Armour Heights Developments, says that many of his buyers want home spas and their own private oases with steam rooms, saunas and massage areas.
“They don’t want to go out to a spa; they would rather people come to them,” Mazzotta says. “We also have buyers who want their own exercise space designed into their suites. When you consider that these are people moving to Yorkville from places like Forest Hill, Rosedale and the Bridlepath, they have very exacting expectations, and there are no limits to what we will customize for them.”
Whether designing in-home gyms or creating shared exercise spaces where owners can feel safe, Armour Heights makes almost anything possible at 89 Avenue in Yorkville. Tucked away off Avenue Road with no retail or commercial space, the small community of residents can enjoy the crystal-clear heated pool that looks up through massive skylights to the skies above. Private cabanas extend out from the pool with exclusive access to an outdoor patio. It is an ideal place for a private and safe workout swimming laps, or doing aqua yoga or aqua pilates. Developer Shane Baghai of Baghai Development Limited has been studying lifestyle trends for more than 45 years.
“I started my career designing large-scale homes ranging from 30,000 to 40,000 square feet. I came to understand that moving from one of those large homes to a smaller condominium could be difficult,” Baghai says. “I decided to concentrate on things that meant a lot to these people such as space. I try to make the common areas, like fitness facilities and wellness areas, as large as possible.”
Baghai’s Leaside Manors at 3 Southvale Dr. features a fitness facility that is twice the traditional size. Custom-built and designed by a specialist, the facility lets residents connect their smartphones and tablets to large-size screens, allowing them access to built-in exercise programs or to work remotely while exercising.
“Many of our residents tell me it’s wonderful. They have their breakfast on the terrace, then go to the lobby to exercise,” Baghai says. “They tell us it feels like living in a hotel.”
Robert Ng, principal and co-owner of NAK Design Strategies in Toronto, has been designing landscapes for the luxury real estate market for more than 30 years.
“Today one of the main priorities for developers is the creation of spaces not only indoors but outdoors where people can be active and interactive,” Ng says.
This move to creating outdoor spaces where health and wellness take centre stage aligns with Canadian public health guidance that continues to recommend “going outside to exercise but staying close to home” while maintaining physical distancing from others. Ng’s latest project is Aoyuan’s M2M Phase 2 in North York, which is launching this year. He talks passionately about the vertical parks he and his partner have created that span three levels of outdoor green spaces. Embracing nature and the outdoors, the parks feature private outdoor nooks for quiet meditation, as well as a yoga space and gym equipment nestled among stones, trees and grasses.
“Clearly the focus is about wellness for all ages and bringing residents back to nature,” Ng says. Families can play the outdoor mini-putt course together. Natural materials and native plants help give residents a relief from chaotic city life and a soothing place to unwind.
On Toronto’s downtown waterfront, Sugar Wharf Condominiums by Menkes Developments offers the ultimate outdoor space, where residents can enjoy an active lifestyle close to home. Sugar Wharf’s beautifully landscaped outdoor space, also by NAK Design Group, features a reflective pool, a children’s play area, a basketball court and access to a 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness centre equipped with cardio machines and free weights. Owners can walk along the waterfront boardwalk connected to Sugar Wharf while maintaining social distances. Menkes has given careful thought to buyers with a passion for cycling, incorporating dedicated on-site parking spaces in one of the largest bicycle parking lots planned for the Toronto area.