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Bringing the spa experience home

By Julie Clothier for CNN
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(CNN) -- Between his day job as a venture capitalist and as a father of 10 and 12-year-old children, Ravi Ugale fits the odd yoga class into his schedule when he can.

He wishes he had the time to practice yoga more often, as well as regular gym workouts and other things that would make him healthier.

The 42-year-old, who was born in India and is now a U.S. citizen, hopes a recent property investment will be the catalyst to bring his life in balance with the eastern philosophies of his homeland.

Although not open until 2008, Ugale is one of 80 people who have bought apartments at the Amrit Resort and Residences, on Singer Island, just north of Palm Beach in Florida.

The Amrit project is just one of several residential spas being built across the U.S., targeting wealthy investors who are interested in fitness and looking for a home that will help them to sustain a balanced lifestyle.

The idea is to bring the spa model -- normally reserved for one-off visits and holidays -- to everyday life, with developers taking advantage of the growing popularity of healthy living and the trend to delay the ageing process for as long as possible.

With prices ranging from $1.1 million to $4.9 million, the Amrit project includes three 20-story towers which house 189 condominiums, six beachfront villas and a 96-room boutique hotel.

Amrit has joined forces with the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy and cosmetics and spa company Aveda, both of which will help provide tailor-made treatments onsite, Dilip Barot, CEO of Creative Choice, the company developing the project, told CNN.

Residents will have access to an onsite center, which will offer Ayurvedic treatments, massages, diet and nutrition consultants, aerobics, yoga and meditation, he said.

Ugale told CNN that the property will initially be a second home for his family, and once his children grow up and move out of home, he and his wife plan to live there permanently.

"It's not your run-of-the-mill condo towers. There's a lifestyle component to it. Everything will be right there, so there'll be no excuse not to do yoga and practice a healthy lifestyle," he said.

People like Ugale are a growing breed, according to spa travel and marketing company Spa Finder.

It estimates the number of spa residential communities in the U.S. has grown from about 25 in 2004 to more than 100 in 2006.

Many hotel companies such as Marriott, Hyatt and Ritz Carlton are also branching into the residential spa business, as are traditional spa names, such as Canyon Ranch and Miraval.

Matthias Kammerer is general manager of Canyon Ranch Living in Miami Beach, also in Florida, which is due to open in spring 2007.

He said the resort was being built to meet customer demand.

"The feedback we've had from our customers is that they spend a week or two at a Canyon Ranch resort, immerse themselves completely, focus on balancing their life, and it's a wonderful experience for them," he told CNN.

"But once they get back to normal life, it highlights the void. The rat race takes over and the bad habits return. With a living facility, everything we have to offer is all of a sudden available on a daily basis."

The resort is partnering up with one of the U.S.'s leading hospitals, Ohio's Cleveland Clinic. Nutritionists, nurses, behavioral and movement therapists, as well as exercise physiologists are some of the experts who will be onsite to help residents.

Spa Finder launched a real estate section of its Web site more than a year ago to meet growth in demand for residential facilities.

It predicts that a 100 percent growth rate in U.S. residential spa facilities will continue for the next two years before leveling off.


Prices for housing at the Amrit Resort and Residences start at $1.1 million and go up to $4.9 million.


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