When Doug Feirstein began planning for the construction of his new home along the scenic Tarpon River in Fort Lauderdale, coronavirus wasn’t even a blip on the radar. He and the builder envisioned an eye-popping, tropical-modern design and also considered environmental factors, such as making the property 90-percent solar-powered and landscaping with plants native to South Florida. While the initial efforts were focused on the exterior, Feirstein embraced a holistic approach to the interior when he hired Jan Vitrofsky, founder and CEO of HEDsouth in Hollywood, to trick out his nest with the latest entertainment technology.
Vitrofsky—one of the leading pioneers in integrative home entertainment systems who’s known as the go-to guy for setting up A-listers’ homes and offices—has his eyes fixed on the future: wellness technology. “A smart home is not a smart home unless it’s healthy,” says Vitrofsky, who’s partnered with wellness real estate and technology company Delos to transform homes into wellness oases. “Humans spend 90 percent of their time inside. We can’t control what happens outside, but we can control what happens inside.”
The technology guru acquires and installs Delos’ new Darwin home wellness intelligence system—a “brain” for the home that controls air and water filtration and lighting in real time, along with offering comforts such as screening meditation videos on televisions. Air sensors embedded within walls are hooked up to an “air-washing” network that analyzes the air quality, then removes pollutants, contaminants, and allergens. Lighting syncs with the body’s natural circadian rhythms that guide a person’s sleep-wake cycle, adjusting the room’s color to mimic the energizing, bright light of sunrise or dimming dusk hues to signal that it’s time to wind down. State-of-the-art filtration systems test the home’s water quality, filter out impurities, and balance the water. Homeowners can control Darwin from a touchscreen, smartphone, or tablet app as well as through Google Home integration and other home automation systems.
Vitrofsky recommends the “full prescription” for lighting, water, and air, although homes can be retrofitted with select options. Systems start at $4,000 and rocket from there. For those working within a tight budget, he suggests starting with the master bedroom, where homeowners sleep for (hopefully) eight hours every night, surrounded by items prone to containing allergens, including pillows, mattresses, and linens.
Feirstein found these features immensely intriguing and jumped at the opportunity to integrate them into his Fort Lauderdale home, which will be the first private residence custom-built with all of Darwin’s wellness bells and whistles. Unfortunately, the family of four’s house was still under construction in March during the beginning of the COVID-19 home quarantine. “I wish I was quarantined over there,” Feirstein said in late March. “But I don’t think this will be the last time we’ll be dealing with this [public health crisis]. Either way, you’re pretty much quarantined in your home three-quarters of the day anyway, so I think the home should be the healthiest environment possible.”
First Integrated Wellness Condominiums
Vitrofsky believes integrated wellness systems will soon become a staple in the building industry, with wellness real estate already on the rise in South Florida. Villa Valencia, a new collection of ultra-luxe condominium residences in Coral Gables, will be the first in the nation to install the Darwin systems into each unit. (Its anticipated completion is summer 2021.)
The design philosophy behind Villa Valencia is based on the three pillars of nature, technology, and wellness, so Delos’ system was a perfect fit given its array of community fitness and health amenities. “Our goal is to provide residents with an optimal daily environment through seamlessly integrating the best elements of the outdoors, inside,” says Rishi Kapoor, CEO of Location Ventures, the development firm behind Villa Valencia. “Using the Delos Darwin platform, we not only realize our vision of creating an ideal indoor space, but can also promote better health, a cornerstone of a life well-lived.”
In their bedrooms, residents will be privy to comfort-focused technologies, such as temperature control, automatic blackout shades, and dawn-simulation scenes and sounds of nature that provide a gentle wake-up call. In addition to a hammam spa, hydrotherapy plunge pools, a deck with summer kitchens, and a fitness center, they’ll also have access to unique amenities like a golf simulator and a “quiet space,” an indoor serenity garden with aromatics where electronics are not allowed.
Vitrofsky says new condo developments from Boca Raton to Weston are expected to follow suit. “It’ll soon become the norm,” he notes, pointing to the world’s “new normal” resulting from home isolation and social distancing. “People will be more aware on a daily basis of things associated with their health.”