By Michael Moore Jr., Writer Herald Tribune, July 14, 2019
Lakewood Ranch may be one of the healthiest communities around, based on a recent rating by a Southern lifestyle magazine.
The 31,000-acre community, with more than 36,000 residents, was named to the “Best Wellness Environment” category in the fourth annual “Best of the Best” issue of ideal-LIVING. The community was recognized for its wellness-centered master planning, extensive recreational amenities and health-conscious lifestyle programming, according to the Wilmington, N.C.-based magazine.
“The chances of falling in love with Lakewood Ranch Florida are, let’s just say, highly likely,” the magazine says. “At Lakewood Ranch, it’s all about the good life. Health, family and fun are the focus. And, there’s an activity to fit every lifestyle.”
The magazine cited features such as the community’s 140-acre Premier Sports Campus with 22 multi-use fields, 54 holes of golf and seven world class polo fields, which host tournaments that “attract players from around the world.”
“I think it kind of validates some of the prime themes that has led our vision for this community from the very beginning, which is to be able to offer people here, through our trails and amenities and lifestyle programming, a better quality of life,” said Laura Cole, senior vice president at LWR Communities. “Now that vision is being rewarded. And it’s sort of taken on a life of its own for the residents who organize all these activities centered around the trails and amenities and I think that’s really elevated this community.”
Among the main attractions is the community’s involvement in the Lakewood Ranch Brain Health Initiative, according to a news release. The “living laboratory” initiative is a collaboration between Harvard Medical School’s largest and oldest teaching school, Massachusetts General Hospital; the Academy for Brain Health and Performance; and the community developer’s CORE campus, which stands for Collaboration Opportunities for Research and Exploration.
“It’s been inspirational for us to see an organization like Massachusetts General Hospital view this community as an optimal place to conduct its brain health initiative,” Cole said. “We’re so excited about that — it will be really great to see it integrated within the community so that we can have some outcome that will not only help folks here and in the state of Florida but also throughout the world.”
Lakewood Ranch also received high marks from ideal-LIVING for green spaces and social programming, such as the weekly farmers market, musical events and outdoor yoga. Its proximity to medical facilities and the CORE campus, which consists of a 305-acre biotech industrial research park and includes 971,000 square feet for STEM-focused academic partners, were also primary factors.
Surveys were collected at the 2019 ideal-LIVING Real Estate shows. The top 100 communities were chosen based on the amenities most commonly requested by residents.
“The ‘Best of the Best’ feature honors those areas and communities which deserve special recognition for their outstanding qualities, facilities, and programs,” said Kelly Godbey, ideal-LIVING’s editor and associate publisher.