Sky’s the Limit for One CCRC with Innovative Programs

In the heartland of continuing care retirement communities (CCRC), one Pennsylvania-based senior living provider is changing the landscape by offering out-of-the-box amenities for its residents. Not only does the retirement community, Garden Spot Village, have its own hot air balloon to delight residents, it’s become an innovation hotspot with a train club and the only Starbucks around.

As baby boomers continue to break down previous notions of retirement, senior living providers are trying to stay ahead of the curve with the amenities they offer, and they might want to take a page from Garden Spot Village’s book of offerings.  

Here are a few of its extravagant amenities:

Flying high in the sky

If there’s one thing to know about baby boomers, it’s that many of them don’t plan to slow down in retirement. That’s just what Garden Spot Village, a non-profit continuing care retirement community (CCRC) based in New Holland, Pennsylvania, has discovered, and why it offers several out-of-the-box amenities.


Garden Spot Village introduced hot air balloon rides for residents a few years ago, and the activity has taken off. With just under 1,000 residents, about 100 have taken advantage of the hot air balloon, which is also open to the public and flown by local professional balloon pilots.

“It came out of a discussion we were having about ‘what do I want to do before I die?’” Steve Lindsey, CEO of Garden Spot VIllage, told SHN. “Out of that came this idea to do a hot air balloon. It has our logo on the side and some imagery on the balloon canopy. It’s available for residents if they want to go up at a steeply discounted price, and it will fly away from our campus. [The residents] just love it. It’s a wonderful opportunity to check an item off a bucket list. And it has turned out to be an effective way to create brand awareness.”


The innovative offering not only gives residents a unique experience, but has helped the community create a name for itself. To residents, a ride costs around $159, compared to $259 for nonresidents, says Lindsey. Residents frequently take advantage of the balloon rides with family members and friends, and also gift rides booked ahead of time. A chase van follows the balloon’s journey and brings riders back to the community after their flight.

Bringing the coffee house in house

For more than half of Americans, waking up with a cup of joe is the only way to go. Instead of trucking out for a specialty latte from Starbucks or other high-end coffee shop, senior living communities are adding these services right in their buildings, and cashing in on the $40 billion spent on coffee each year in the U.S.

Since Garden Spot Village opened a Starbucks in its community, it has become a hub for locals looking to get their caffeine fix.

And Garden Spot Village is not alone. The Clare, a high-rise CCRC in Chicago, is also looking to add a coffee shop to its high-rise building, though it would only be available for residents, guests and staff. The in-house coffee shop is also a vision of CA Senior Ventures, a Chicago-based development firm that recently jumped into the senior housing space in the last few years. 

Creating a hub for people of all ages to gather and enjoy a high-quality coffee product is a brewing trend likely to continue gaining steam. 

All aboard the wellness train 

Amenities that focus on wellness are commonplace in senior living, such as fitness centers and spa services. But the true value of extravagant amenities might be in the relationships that thrive when residents participate. Such is the case at Garden Spot Village, where roughly 30 residents have taken a model train hobby and turned it into an attraction for locals in the surrounding area.


What started out as a couple of guys wanting to continue their hobby has expanded so much that the community opens its door each year for others to take part and view the trains. Their open houses around the holiday season attract between 4,000 and 5,000 people, according to Lindsey.

The space offered to the train club is an appealing amenity for men, who sometimes feel left behind in activities available to them at retirement communities, says Lindsey.


“With people who are looking around and making a decision about moving to a community, if they find a place with a wide variety of amenities and options with something that piques their interest, that strikes a chord with them and gives them an opportunity to act, it ticks off a box in their mind that it’s a place that has something for them,” Lindsey says. “Then there’s a whole sense of community that exists in the train room and within these opportunities around. [It’s] a great amenity, but really it’s a means to get to those deep, meaningful relationships.”

Written by Amy Baxter