In southeast Orlando is Laureate Park by Lake Nona, where residents live in bungalows, townhomes, cottages or multi-story homes that are surrounded by community gardens. Resort-style pools are situated in the neighborhood, as well as big grass lawns for community yoga and movie nights. Restaurants, coffee shops, a daycare and more are available throughout the community.
This is just one example of master-planned lifestyle communities, which are growing rapidly with some of the biggest names in hospitality and real-estate development investing in their future. The Walt Disney Company, for instance, has Golden Oak, a resort-style community with single-family homes at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. It also has Cotino, a Storyliving by Disney community in the greater area of Palm Springs, California, which it plans to expand. These communities are designed to attract residents who love the signature Disney hospitality experience, which will permeate throughout the communities.
At its core, lifestyle communities are designed to attract residents of similar interests and can range from senior-living communities to country clubs to wellness resorts — industries that are all booming. The global wellness tourism market alone in 2022 was valued at $814.6 billion, according to market research firm Grand View Research. With the launch of a new lifestyle community management degree at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, students can be at the forefront of managing and designing these lifestyle communities.
“Disney Signature Experiences is excited to see the Rosen College of Hospitality Management launch its new lifestyle community management degree program,” says Thomas Mazloum, president of Disney Signature Experiences. “As an innovator in the lifestyle communities space through our Storyliving by Disney communities, we see the industry’s tremendous growth potential and recognize the value of this degree. The training that students will receive in this program will prepare them well to step into exciting new roles that support the delivery of exceptional experiences.
“Given that UCF is one of the first schools to offer a formal degree in lifestyle community management, we expect graduates of this program to be in high demand.” — Thomas Mazloum, president of Disney Signature Experiences.
“At Disney, we know the key to our success is our employees. It’s critical we be able to tap into a well-trained, diverse pipeline of talent to support our rapid expansion plans. Given that UCF is one of the first schools to offer a formal degree in lifestyle community management, we expect graduates of this program to be in high demand.”
Applications are being accepted to begin the undergraduate program this fall. Students will take courses that teach them about managing a luxury resort, creating engaging wellness programs and providing high-quality hospitality services. And because of Rosen College’s location in Central Florida, students will have access to numerous big-name industry players for internships including senior-living communities Tuscan Gardens, Sonata Senior Living, Holiday Retirement, Legacy Pointe, HarborChase Senior Living and Westminster Communities of Florida, and hospitality companies like Disney, Tavistock Group, and Boca West Country Club, says YunYing “Susan” Zhong, assistant professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. .
“The lifestyle community management program aligns with Rosen College’s strengths in hospitality management and entertainment, as well as students’ interest in wellness and resort management,” Zhong says. “Certainly, the location in Central Florida gives students an edge because this is the region where many senior living and hospitality companies are located. Students have the opportunity to meet, network and have employment opportunities with lifestyle community employers while they are studying.”