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Focus Stories

The Watermark at Vistawilla

by Susan Shalhoub

Featured Photo from The Watermark at Vistawilla

The Watermark at Vistawilla – with its assisted-living residents at The Inn and memory-care residents living at The Gardens – doesn’t just claim to put its residents first. Residents’ wishes and their feedback are at the very core of two main elements of the Watermark lifestyle: activities and dining.

With proper safety precautions in place, “Everything we do is geared to their happiness,” says Yadi Melendez, the sales director at The Watermark at Vistawilla in Winter Springs. “We work where they live – they don’t live where we work. We do all we can to figure out what brings them joy and factor that into each day.”

Tucked away, yet centrally located on State Road 434, the beautifully appointed property features landscaped gardens complete with walking paths; formal and more-casual dining venues with trained chefs; 24-hour staff; an on-site salon and barbershop, movie theater, housekeeping, and laundry service; as well as classes for the mind and body designed for the needs of memory-care residents.

Active Engagement
For seniors who call The Watermark at Vistawilla home, Yadi says their involvement begins with their introduction to Watermark, a company managed by senior-housing leaders with 30 years of experience. Prospective residents and their families are asked what hobbies and activities their loved one enjoys or may have enjoyed in the past. If the activity is not already on the roster at The Watermark at Vistawilla, it’ll likely be added for everyone in the community to experience. 
“It’s one of the many ways we work to build community here,” says Yadi.

Sometimes, when others try a new activity or get involved in a new hobby that another resident has introduced, it will help the other residents flourish in new ways and build bonds of friendship among everyone.

The Watermark at Vistawilla follows all COVID safety protocols as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, and the team finds fun ways to foster a stimulating environment while keeping everyone safe. Whether residents opt for on-site classes in drawing or dancing, car shows or celebrations, or trips out for ice cream or to local attractions, Watermark offers plenty of activities to choose from.

Quieter types will appreciate peaceful gathering spaces throughout the property. Readers can peruse titles in the library to see what interests them. There are other spots just right for sitting, chatting with friends or family, or viewing Watermark’s gardens in bloom.

Serving Up Involvement
Whether residents choose room service, join friends in the formal dining room, or meet neighbors at the on-site Key West Café, their cuisine preferences, like activities, are driven by their input.

“There are regularly scheduled meetings on the calendar each month to address residents’ concerns or requests for changes regarding dining – whether it’s menu choices, service issues, things that are working or not working, or new things they would like to try,” says Yadi. “That feedback is followed up on and addressed at the next month’s meeting,” and residents’ opinions are always front and center.

The Watermark at Vistawilla also features Gourmet Bites, delicious, nutritional gourmet meals served in one- or two-bite hors d’oeuvres that can be enjoyed by residents who may be battling physical, neuromuscular, or cognitive decline. The meals don’t require utensils, allowing residents of all abilities to enjoy great food with friends and loved ones.

Gourmet Bites is a signature program of Watermark, and it’s suited for residents who may have difficulty sitting still, for example. With offerings such as pulled pork popovers and beef stroganoff crepes, it’s a dining option that has revolutionized senior-living dining and sets Watermark apart.

“I’ve worked in this industry for years and never seen anything like it,” Yani says.

The fact that there are only 87 residences at The Watermark at Vistawilla ensures the property maintains an intimate, friendly feel. The emphasis on resident perspectives regarding their activities and dining ensure it is their home, not just a place where they live.

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