San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica welcomes new progressive retirement home

With its gourmet buffet and violinists playing on the deck, the grand opening of Verdeza had the atmosphere of a wedding reception – which was fitting, given the opulence of this brand-new assisted-living facility. The $10 million structure opened its doors last Thursday morning to great fanfare: Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla herself snipped the inaugural ribbon.

Publicists claim that the four-story facility in the southwestern San José suburb of Escazú is “the first residence of its kind in Central America.” While hordes of foreigners come to Costa Rica to retire, Verdeza is a “continuing care retirement community for seniors” that boasts solar energy, green roofs, energy-smart light bulbs and an active recycling system. According to founding member José Marti Jiménez, Verdeza’s 61 units were designed to be functional apartments; instead of standard-issue décor, residents may freely furnish their own spaces.

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Musicians play at Verdeza’s opulent grand opening.

Robert Isenberg

The most remarkable component is Verdeza’s special floor for patients with dementia, where restrooms and utensils are “specially designed to make the residents’ lives easier.”

“There are many communal areas and social activities,” said Jiménez, during the morning’s press conference. “There are games, films, a gymnasium. We have a floor that is designed especially for residents with memory problems.”

After the national anthem and a number of speeches, including an eloquent oration by the president, organizers lined up to cut a ribbon in the colors of the Costa Rican flag. Guests were then invited to tour the facility.

Such affluent living comes at a price: The base-rate for an individual resident is $1,700 per month. For basic assistance, rent is $2,350, and Alzheimer/dementia care costs $3,550. All residents will enjoy 24-hour security and nursing care. Not surprisingly, Verdeza expects a large number of foreigners to occupy its quarters. The staff is predominantly bilingual, its publicity pictures largely North American faces, and the facility stands in Trejos Montealegre, one of the most North-Americanized neighborhoods in the city. All prices on the website are quoted in U.S. dollars.

The project was spearheaded by Noveza, a San José-based development firm. In order to achieve a complete vision, Verdeza is an entirely original building, constructed from scratch over the past year. Given its spacious rooms, manicured lawns, generous apartments and “restaurant-style dining hall,” residents will likely get comfortable fast.

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A resident plays cards with caretakers at the Verdeza senior center. Founders claim that Verdeza will offer superlative care, especially for clients with dementia.

Robert Isenberg

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