Tara's Blog

Hope you enjoy reading about the journey of creating Antara Dehradun.

13th January 2016 Vi Living to We Living I was recently on a 5 day marathon trip to the US to do a roadshow with our partners Sotheby’s. On that trip I took out a few hours to go and see what is regarded as the number one Senior Living community in the US. Based out of Palo Alto in California, Vi Living (a part of the Hyatt Group), spread over 5 acres in the heart of Palo Alto represents luxury Senior Living at its best. With price points starting at 5 crores and going upwards of 10 crores, the community continues to have a robust wait list.

On fixing my meeting with their Executive Director, I was pleasantly surprised to know that they had heard of Antara and I was most flattered that they had done their research to find similarities between us and them, from a vision and service delivery perspective. I was thoroughly impressed with their intent and focus to create a beautiful and well run community, similar to ours, their focus has been on making sure every desire and need of their residents is addressed.

However, the one thing that did strike me while walking around was whether a strong “community” had been formed, I wondered if the “We” element of ‘Vi Living’ was a bit under optimized?

After a lot of thought, I realized that we as Indians have a natural affiliation of being with people, of growing up with family and friends around us all the time. Our sense of privacy is not the same as the west and our ability to connect with one another is far easier. That made me excited when thinking of Antara and envisioning the strength that will come from the bonds and ties that will come with living together.

Even before our residents have moved in, I have seen friendships blossom, support strengthened and opportunities created to come together and establish relationships. In all my conversations with residents and clients, this is the one element I worry least about given the desire and excitement I see in people wanting to start new friendships. Our aspiration continues to make Antara a community where independent minds and experiences will come together to make a new and unique community and I cannot wait for 2016 to be the year this movement starts!

14th December 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread (Show more)
I recently finished a book nominated for the Man Booker Prize written by Anne Tyler called a Spool of Blue Thread. The book chronicles three generations of a family and shows the interdependencies of each family member in the part they play in the destiny of the other. The Spool is meant to represent the ever ending experiences of life intertwined together and blue the colour of the sky and the expanse it brings to life experiences. The book is centeredarounda house that has been in the family for many generations and how the physicality of the home keeps everyone attached to it in spite of their lives demanding them to move on, evolve and grow. It eventually ends in the family having to move away, sell the house and start afresh, individually with their own families. In an interview Anne Tyler mentions that the book was inspired by her waking up one morning and realizing how hard we hold onto things that contribute very little to us at the end. The books ends on a euphoric note of fresh beginnings, awareness of what truly makes one happy and the courage to start life with a new spool.

This got me thinking about Antara and how it is encouraging people to move on, start again and rebuild their version of “life”. In my conversation with many of our residents, there is this confidence in their desire to “rebalance” their priorities and are using Antara as the trigger to do it. The idea that a new home both physically as well as emotionally acts as a refresh button is the key proposition that Antara brings. The idea and ability to tap into experiences never experienced in the company of new and old friends. Antara to our residents represent their new spool,a spool of new life experiences!

17th November 2015 Gratitude – as simple as it gets (Show more)
Two weekends ago, Antara’s Leadership Team (Our Team) comprising of thirteen of us went off on a two day offsite to bond, rest and learn as one big family. Wanting to spend time close to the heart of Antara we chose to be in the vicinity of Antara Dehradun and selected Mussoorie as our location.

After an adventurous drive up to Mussoorie, we arrived to then spend an evening together filled with laughter and most importantly - constant singing! The next morning we started our session with what really became the theme of our offsite – ‘The Power of Gratitude’. The start of the session was a video that really got us thinking – do we feel as good when expressing gratitude or do we only expect to feel good when we receive it?

Can we truly practice the art of thanking those who strive to make our lives better versus expecting ‘thank-you’s’ for everything we think we are doing for others. The exercise that we did to establish this relationship was to write a note for each one of the other team members and express what we were grateful to them for. We were then asked to read out notes to each other face to face (one-on-one) and give thanks for the impact they have on our lives. This giving of thanks while for some came naturally and was an essential part of who they are, for most was an alien exercise.

Why was it such an alien exercise I asked the team? The answer: we somehow never get the time to stop, think and thank those who go out of their way to make our lives better.

This response from almost ninety percent of the team really got me thinking about Antara and the fact that our inspiration to create what we are working towards creating, is to be able to give our residents the space, time and luxury to stop, think and realize what it is they have missed doing or saying through the years. The Antara eco-system really aims to create a world where the little things are easy to do and say and the preoccupation of life as we know it doesn’t make us forget the things we hold most dear – each other.

The exercise of gratitude, made us lighter, stronger and more attached to each other as a team, it made us realize the power of creating an ecosystem that encourages us to be mindful to acknowledge those around us which we hope is what Antara will do for all those who live there.

Click on the video below to see the ‘Power of Gratitude’.

30th October 2015 Design Journey – Antara Dehradun (Show more)

Our design journey began with a pioneer of design and architecture,Bradford Perkins, who is a true visionary in designing spaces that support and preserve independence as we get older. Bradford soon become a friend and a mentor to the design of Antara’s first community. To partner Bradford, Tomeu Esteva of Esteva I Esteva Arquitectura, a boutique design firm in Spain and an expert at creating beautiful spaces, joined the team to give the community a sense of life and expand on Perkins’ functionality and detailing. An experience spreading over many years of in-depth thinking around the Dehradun ecosystem, creating a sense of beautiful spaces and fundamentally designing what our residents would enjoy and need, resulted in what Antara Dehradun is today.

The Design philosophy was based on a few fundamental principles – preserve the beautiful trees on the site, keep the buildings as low-rise as possible, give each apartment a sense of privacy and something beautiful to look at while ensuring that each space can be maintained through the years to continue to look well kept. All of this had to happen while keeping our “Age in place” philosophy in mind. The contribution of architecture and design to the quality of life and ageing had to be respected; which is what became the foundation of how we designed spaces, chose materials, designed our lighting, acoustics and fabrics.

Post designing the concept and schematic phase of Antara Dehradun we went through a detailed exercise of feedback from residents as well as an internal value engineering exercise to make our design efficient and cost effective. This exercise led us to partner with our execution partners Arcop and Lotus Design to see us through the final stages of design execution. With their vast experience of designing in India, Arcop joined the team to complete and execute our residential spaces, while Lotus gave life to our clubhouse to truly make it the jewel in the crown of the community.

For the landscape work, which forms the main essence of the community, we partnered with Integral Design to put their expertise in practice.

An elaborate 50,000 sq ft club house has been created as an extension to the residents homes. The central idea of the clubhouse at Antara is to function as a Community Living Space for the residents and their visitors. A place to meet, interact, learn and pamper themselves.

The spaces in the community have been planned in a manner that allow both for solitude as well as shared activities and celebrations. The design approach is born of a synergy between state-of-the-art engineering and local materials, woven together with a fresh and contemporary expression.

Antara thus is a combination of vibrant yet subtle design nuances, hidden design features to ensure safety, security and comfort and an overall sense of space and landscape, a space of character and personality.

Here is a short video where our design partners share their experience of creating Antara Dehradun.

09th October 2015 Dehradun – An ideal location for an ideal lifestyle (Show more)

My first memory of Dehradun is the smell of rain and watching my siblings play in a huge water puddle in the driveway of my grandparents home. My summer, Diwali and growing up were spent reading endless books, sitting outside as the sun set while watching my grandparents drink tea, playing in the garden, going up to Mussoorie, walking in the Forest Research Institute and feeding jaggery to Deer in the Deer Park.

As one got older, Dehradun started to change and so did my relationship with it. My mother being from the city and my father having spent the most important years of his school life there, always made sure we stayed connected but in an evolving way. I was able to see how as a city Dehradun was unique; be it the people who lived there, their attitude to quality of life, politics, literature to the ability to see beautiful forests and mountain ranges every morning from the window. The spiritual influences of Buddhism at every corner to the proximity of Haridwar and Rishikesh reminds you to tap into your inner beliefs and express them in some way or the other.

When choosing our first location for the community, Dehradun seemed to fulfil each of our criteria - great quality of air, beautiful views, connectivity to an airport and therefore to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, superb healthcare and a way to connect with the community as a whole. Our journey thus far with the city has been one of learning and attachment. We find all that is special about it come to life on a daily basis and cannot wait for our Antara residents to see the magic the way we do.

Here is a video we recently shot to capture the essence of Dehradun as an ideal location for an ideal lifestyle. A perfect place to start a new chapter of your life!

3rd September 2015 We - the little people
(Show more)
          Six months ago after much cajoling from the Board, our marketing strategy partners, residents and many creative gurus, I was made to believe that we needed to launch an Ad-campaign. The rationale – we cannot expect people to commit to us till they don’t have enough support in their ecosystem of others who can validate that they know Antara exists. The thought of trying to convey everything Antara stood for in a single A4 page comprising of images and a few fancy words; gave me anxiety more than I can explain! How is it possible to express 4 years of hard work, relationships, emotions, inspiration and passion all in a single page? The answer to this was slowly about to unfold into what has been one of the most enriching experiences; we as Team Antara had.

The campaign brief clearly was to express how Team Antara will do whatever it takes to add value to our residents in a beautiful setting like Dehradun.
Thus started hour after hour of creative meetings in our offices in Okhla – every Tuesday the teams would gear up post lunch to enter the “Battle Room” and get ready for arguments, laughter, copious calories, laptop crashes, creative rhetoric, word-smithing and most importantly endless cups of tea. After days and weeks of iterations and clashes on creative direction; we all came to one conclusion: we cannot do anything that has ever been done in this space. We needed the campaign identity to be unique, beautiful, rich and thoughtful. We were clear; even if it does not “sell” the product, it must catch someone’s eye and evoke the reaction: “that’s beautifully creative!”

This gave rise to the journey of illustrating the campaign. We did not want any existing person representing who we are or what we stood for and chose to literally “draw” our own people. Through the route of art and illustrations we were also able to show the beauty of the ecosystem of Dehradun.

Our focus on service and service delivery inspired us to draw a campaign; that encompassed the notion that we would do whatever it took to make an experience of our resident, special and unique. Hence, the “little people” flying around in each creative symbolize us, Team Antara, we; who will always be there. The tag lines “Do the things you love, we’ll take care of the rest”, “Antara Senior Living. Where age is just a number”, and “Celebrate life with old friends and new”, all emotes a dimension of the Antara offering that our residents have shared with us as being the guiding points that drew them to us. We believed that there is no better communication than that coming from those who believe in the ‘Antara Way’.

The launch of all three proof of concepts were completed on August 30th and our little prayer with every release has been – let us put a smile on the face of whoever sees our ad and let them believe that life can truly continue to be magical at Antara.

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13th July 2015 The Antara Journey (Show more) I started the journey of building Antara Senior Living with a simple yet powerful question: what would it take to give people the best life they could possibly
have as they got older. The quest for the answer took me across various parts of the world and the Indian sub-continent. These travels helped me discover and learn that communities such as what we are creating will be a new way to think about later life - a life that radiates energy with a promise of an increase in quality of life. I envisioned progressive individuals joining me in this journey and I can say that I am truly delighted with where we have reached now.
The launch of our relationship building work in May’2013 gave us an encouraging response from our prospective residents and the industry at large. I along with a robust team in place, have had the chance to therefore celebrate many milestones for our first community at Purukul, Dehradun since then. I must share with you that each milestone brought me closer to the actualization of Antara Dehradun.
The past 2 years have been quite remarkable for all my team members, with each and every member putting their best foot forward towards the successful completion of Antara Dehradun and truly embodying our vision and commitment. Our construction work is in its last stages of completion and we are all geared up for our residents to start moving in the first quarter of 2016. With the design journey almost completed, the focus now is towards setting up the community operations. The team now has on board the head of the departments who will be instrumental in smooth functioning of operations.

As we work tirelessly to get the community ready for next year our residents give us the drive to work, bigger and better. I will write periodically on this blog to give updates and interesting anecdotes from our experiences and I look forward to sharing how our journey unfolds with you.

Subscribe to my blog for more updates about Antara.

Hello! I’m Tara Singh Vachani, My team and I are creating the first Antara community in Dehradun with a lot of passion and dedication, this blog is where we share our story.