While most seniors housing is sterile and institutional, The Conservatory at Alden Bridge, a 237-unit independent living community in The Woodlands, Texas, allows seniors to live in luxury. “We had the opportunity to break the mold of standard independent living,” says Donald Meeks, principal of Meeks + Partners Co., the Houston-based architectural firm that designed the project. “Most independent living facilities are well managed but feel institutional. We wanted people to walk into our project and feel as if they're checking into a five-star hotel.”

The sense of luxury is carried throughout The Conservatory, which was developed by Dallas-based Conservatory Senior Residences. Reflecting the elegance of Mediterranean grand villas, the community celebrates the classic style of the 19th century Italianate buildings that dot the Italian Riviera. It features a resort-style entry with a porte cochère surrounding a water fountain; a concierge welcomes residents and guests into a three-story atrium with a grand marble staircase.

Reproductions of renowned works of art by 18th and 19th century artists such as Francois Boucher and Thomas Gainsborough dot the property, while plush furnishings in luxurious fabrics, antiques, statues, and numerous flower arrangements embellish the space. “The interior design is very opulent,” Meeks notes.

The community's master plan called for an assortment of amenities, so the units are situated around a 26,014-square-foot community center that offers a multi-purpose game room, crafts center, beauty/barber shop, fitness and therapy center, a 40-seat movie theater, as well as a dining hall with a bistro and lounge area. The community is also the first in Texas to offer residents a brain fitness program designed to improve thinking, understanding, and memory—that includes a custom-designed space called the “brain spa.”

Outdoor amenities were also important, Meeks says. The project features four lushly landscaped courtyards with a resort-style heated pool and spa, gazebos, gardens, sitting areas, and a putting green.

All apartment homes include spacious bathrooms, walk-in closets, granite countertops, and kitchen islands. “There's not a downgrade anywhere you look,” Meeks says. “We've created a community that is all inclusive of body, mind, and spirit.”

Fast Facts Developer: Conservatory Senior Residences

Architect: Meeks + Partners Co.

Builder: ESL Construction

Opened: March 2008