Our ground-breaking village proves a resort for retirees
WISE words of advice from a former mayor set the wheels in motion for one of Warwick's most successful and revolutionary businesses.
Regency Park co-developer Marcus Barlow admits he and business partner Ed Barber had other plans for the grounds the retirement village now sits atop.
"To be honest, we didn't have any intention of opening a retirement village and we were going to do a sub-division," he said.
"One day we spoke to Ron Bellingham, who was the mayor at the time, and he said 'Warwick doesn't need another sub-division - it needs a retirement village'."
Mr Barber and Mr Barlow took the advice on board but were initially sceptical after a less-than-impressive tour of existing villages.
"(Mr Bellingham) encouraged us to do some serious research and consequently we inspected villages in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide," he said.
"We had a good look at dozens of villages and decided we could revolutionise retirement to some degree, with a focus on resort-style luxury at a good price."
With grand plans for their village in mind, Mr Barlow and Mr Barber carried out extensive market research in 2003 and 2004 to make sure they would be giving the people what they wanted.
Full architectural planning of the village was completed in 2005, with the construction of the 13 houses of stage one under way in May that year.
By December, the first of the Regency Park residents were now calling the village home.
Stage two was completed by December 2006 and local builder Todd Jeffries was enlisted to carry out the work for stage three.
Mr Jeffries impressed the developers with the quality of his work and was contracted to also complete stages four to eight and to build the dance studio, service centre and swimming pool complex.
Mr Barlow estimates about 95% of the total village infrastructure is complete and the community also boasts a residents' hall, beauty therapy precinct, village green, gazebo, workshop and caravan and boat storage.
Eight years after its first residents moved in, Regency Park is thriving and attracts retirees seeking luxury from all over the country.
There are two things Mr Barlow attributes to the success of the village.
"One is market research and the fact we undertook an enormous amount of research with retirement-aged people on what they wanted in a village.
"The other thing is there is a focus on village community building."
Although it has enjoyed overwhelming success, Mr Barlow said there are challenges to operating a business like this in Warwick.
"This was pioneering for rural areas and to some degree Queensland and we thought 'what could be so hard about a retirement village?' " Mr Barlow laughed.
"There are challenges and those are things like meeting the expectation of people."
Manager Chris Newley is the face of Regency Park for the residents and said the village is a family.
He said residents can often be spotted tending to communal gardens, handcrafting items to be used by the whole community and going the extra mile to make a difference in the community.
"The residents take ownership of this place because they love it here - it's their home," Mr Newley said.
"When they move in, our residents consider themselves to be buying into Regency Park - not just the house they will live in.
"When I show them the house, I say 'this is half of it and the other half is our activities calendar'."
Residents can engage in as many or as few activities as they like but are always spoiled for choice.
What's on offer includes such things as meditation, fitness, card games, beauty therapy, bus tours, painting, morning teas and computer courses.
About 130 residents now call Regency Park home, with 84 of the 91 houses occupied.
For more information on Regency Park visit www.regencyparkwarwick.com.au or phone Chris on 1800 101 454.