On episode three of Lowndes Law’s “Client Corner” podcast, Waterman Village CEO Andrew Dujon joined host Dan McIntosh to discuss how Lakeside at Waterman Village will reinvent retirement living in central Florida.
Editor’s note: The following excerpts of the podcast have been edited for length and clarity. You can listen to the entire podcast here.
Dan McIntosh: Today we’re interviewing Andrew Dujon, President and CEO of Waterman Village, a retirement community in Mount Dora that is expanding by building 159 independent living units and 24 memory care units across Donnelly Street from the existing Waterman Village community. This $100 million expansion dubbed “Lakeside at Waterman Village” will be located on 37 acres surrounding beautiful Lake Margaret.
Andrew, give us a little history, backstory on Waterman Village. How long have you been there? How long has it been operating in Mount Dora? Any interesting information you can tell us to bring our listeners up to speed on what Waterman Village is all about?
Andrew Dujon: Waterman Village was established in 1989 as part of a Waterman Hospital system here in Mount Dora. This is our 30th year in business, and so it’s pretty exciting to be around for 30 years helping seniors. But, at the same time, now we’re also in the throes of this expansion, and from that perspective there are a lot of exciting things going on here at Waterman. I’ve been at Waterman going on 18 years; love it here, great company…We really enjoy helping seniors live their best lives, so that’s what our motto is here and that’s what we try to do every day.
DM: And when you talk about living your best life, what’s your objective for this new expansion? What are you looking to actually achieve at Lakeside at Waterman Village?
AD: Well, just to give you an idea, we have on our existing waitlist more than 250 people who want to move into our existing property…So, we decided that if we have that much interest in people wanting to be a part of what we’re doing here, maybe we should consider expanding what we do. So that’s exactly what we did. We decided to expand our environment. We had some vacant land directly across the street from our existing campus, and we said, “What better way to help [central Florida seniors] live their best lives [than to] create another environment very similar to what we have here?” You know, it’s still going to take some time, but at the same time we’re going to open up more opportunities for [seniors in central Florida].
DM: How do you plan to interconnect this existing community with the new community?
AD: Well, the primary thing that we’re checking out right now is to put a bridge in between the two campuses…So we’ve been working with some bridge consultants to be able to connect the two communities with a golf cart and walking path. We want all the residents, no matter where they’re located, whether in the existing Waterman Village campus or moving into Lakeside, to be one family. So, we want all the residents to feel like they can take advantage of the amenities that are at both locations. This gives us a great opportunity to put in some new amenities [at Lakeside], and we have plenty of amenities already [on the existing campus as well].
DM: Tell us a little bit about the on-site care. I know there are various stages of care that are available at the existing Waterman Village campus. How will the expansion add to this?
AD: Well, right now we have skilled nursing, independent living, assisted living and a home health company as well. We also have a pharmacy on-site. What [Lakeside at Waterman Village] it’s going to bring to us is memory support, which I think is a very much-needed service and part of a service line that we don’t offer right now. So, from a healthcare perspective, we believe this will give us a more broad-based spectrum of services that we’re going to be able to offer…[We’re also adding a] state-of-the-art wellness center with a pool that’s going to overlook the lake, so the setting is going to be tremendous. [Lakeside at Waterman Village will also offer] various new dining venues for [residents] to experience different types of cuisine, whether it be at this location or the new [Lakeside] location. We’re [also] looking at adding pickleball courts because that seems to be one of the most popular senior activities right now.
DM: There are a lot of retirement communities in central Florida and quite a few in Lake County where you’re located. Tell us a little about how Lakeside at Waterman Village will be different from other retirement communities in central Florida.
AD: At the end of the day, what it comes down to is going to be how you provide service. Plain and simple…I believe we’re hospitality, and I believe that’s what our seniors are looking for…they’re looking for that opportunity to live [well] every day and that’s what we’re going to help them do.
DM: If I’m a senior living in Lake County or living in central Florida and I’m trying to evaluate where might be a good place for me to settle, do you have any advice, thoughts, or any ideas or recommendations for seniors who are considering this type of community? What should I be looking for? What should I not be looking for? How realistic should I be?
AD: I’d say what seniors need to do is they need to be looking at an environment where when they first come onto the campus, it impresses them. Many of the folks that come to Waterman Village, when I meet with them or discuss what made them decide to move to Waterman Village, a lot of them just say they get a sense of peace when they come onto our campus…A lot of seniors are still going to say, “Oh, I don’t know if I should move right now,” and in our world we call that “whenaphobia” – where they pretty much can’t decide if it’s the right time to move or not. Well, once they do move into a community, whether it be Waterman Village or some other, then usually what you get out of them is, “Man, I should’ve done this sooner!”…Because moving into a retirement community like Waterman Village is not about giving something up. It’s about taking an opportunity to do more of what you want to do. Home ownership can be a real pain because you know if something breaks in your home, now you have to deal with somebody coming out, taking care of it, getting it resolved. Whereas, if you’re in a community like this and your hot water heater breaks in the middle of the night or your AC goes down on a 90-degree day, on a Saturday night you’re going to have somebody that’s going to come out and resolve that situation for you immediately, and the worry is now gone. You want to hang a picture because you went to the store and found something, you’re going to have somebody [here] to do it…The purpose [is] trying to create an environment where you’re amongst your peers and you’re just enjoying life every single day, not having to worry about the challenges of what life brings, but [doing] the things that are most enjoyable to you.
DM: Well, Andrew, this has been fun. It’s been interesting hearing about your project, most importantly hearing about your passion to serve seniors through Waterman Village. Thank you for your time!
For more information about Lakeside at Waterman Village, call 352-385-1120 or simply click here.