Coachella Art Installations Give Visitors A Unique World Of Architecture To Explore

Coachella weekend 1 was this past weekend, and one of the standout features of the festival, outside of its performers, is the art installations that appear annually. As weekend 2 quickly approaches, festival goers are looking forward to seeing the unique landscape of immersive installations.

Disney Launching Residential Communities For Fans 

The theme park division at Disney announced that they are developing master-planned residential communities that will “meet the demand from fans looking for new ways to make Disney a bigger part of their lives.”

The project is a part of Disney’s decades-long efforts to expand into residential development. The company announced this Wednesday that “Storyliving By Disney” communities will be master-planned by Disney Imagineers, who are responsible for designing the company’s many theme parks. 

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Disney employees will operate the community associations. The company also announced that the communities will feature clubs where residents can participate in different forms of entertainment, health and wellness activities, and seminars. 

The first community is set to be developed on a 618-acre community called Cotino in Rancho Mirage, California; DMB Development is also helping bring the community to life. 

Disney plans on building full-scale residential houses, including a neighborhood specifically for individuals aged 55 and older. Mixed-use districts will consist of shopping centers, restaurants, a beachfront hotel, beach park, and a 24-acre “grand oasis” lagoon. 

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Disney is currently looking for additional community locations throughout the nation to further develop the communities. Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, made a statement Wednesday regarding the search:

“As we prepare to enter our second century, we are developing new and exciting ways to bring the magic of Disney to people wherever they are, expanding storytelling to Storyliving.” 

Disney’s original residential efforts began in the 1960’s when the late Walt Disney announced his plans for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. The initial plans were to make the residential community the centerpiece of what is now Disney World. However, when Walt Disney died in 1966, the plans were put on hold, and the EPCOT name was repurposed to be used for Disney’s second theme park. 

Disney restarted residential development in the late 80s and 90s in Florida, with a planned community of Celebration. Celebration was a small town designed by Disney to give fans a nostalgic feeling. 

Disney sold a majority of its shares in Celebration in 2004 to a private investment firm. There’s no solid timeline as to when these Storyliving communities will be available for living, but it’s the biggest effort to come from Disney’s residential sector in a while.

Summer Vacation

The Most Popular Vacations People Are Booking For 2022 

As more individuals receive their Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the world, many are planning their first big trips for when the world really begins to return to a sense of normalcy. 2022 is already seeing an influx in flight bookings under the assumption that by that point, more of the world will be vaccinated and Covid will be more obsolete. 

Here’s a list of some of the most popular destinations individuals are booking trips to for next year:

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Napa Valley, California: Many individuals are looking to book trips that will give them an experience, not just a simple resort vacation. After struggling throughout the pandemic and one of the deadliest wildfire seasons of the past decade, California in general is ready to open its doors for tourists again. Napa Valley is specifically offering a ton of different wine tasting resort packages that will give individuals the opportunity to plan their perfect vacation in wine country. By 2022, the Four Season Napa Valley will also be open and running, marking the first time a Four Seasons winery will be in Northern California. 

Paterson, South Africa: Speaking of experiences, the safari expedition’s offered at the Kruger National Park in South Africa is unlike any other safari experience out there. The Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in Paterson, South Africa, offers two daily game drives which allow individuals to digitally and safely search for wildlife native to the area. A majority of the wild animals in the game have left the actual reservation area due to colonization and poaching, however, this new experience will allow the reserve to rebuild what was lost while continuing to educate the world about the magic of wildlife. 

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Loire Valley, France: The Hotel Château du Grand Lucé is an hour away from Paris and has been open to the public since 2019, however, the property has existed since 1760. This French chateau that formerly housed royalty can now become your own personal vacation palace while you endure unforgettable experiences like biking through the village and picnicking in the flower-filled exotic gardens. 

Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica: For those looking for more of the beachside resort vibe without all the crowds, look no further than Perez Zeldon, Costa Rica. This 150 acre landscape includes a coffee farm, tribal village, lush rainforest, and plenty of white sandy beaches to rest and recharge on. 

Sardinia, Italy: This is one of the most popular beach destinations in Italy to date. Sardinia is known for its white sand beaches and captivating turquoise waters. There are a multitude of hotel options that offer complete serenity and privacy. All restaurants and shops are also within a walking distance depending on where you stay. 

Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto has become one of the most iconic Asian city destinations for tourists. They’re known for their luxury hotels that are bustling with Japanese culture. Visitors can hike to take a dip in some hot springs, enjoy all the local cuisine, and take in all of the culture with a multitude of historical sights to see. 

How ‘Instagrammable’ Immersive Experiences Are Shaping Commercial Real Estate

Ari Rastegar is the CEO of Rastegar Property Company, a real estate company focused on value-oriented properties. Rastegar recently wrote about how these types of “instagrammable” locations will likely be a major player in rebuilding the industry as the pandemic comes to an end within the next year or so. 


Can “Virtual Travel” Replace Traditional Vacations?

While the desire to visit foreign countries and exotic locales is a near-universal human experience, it is also one that can only be realized by people with a certain amount of privilege. For one, traveling is expensive, and it requires a job that allows employees to be absent from work for several days at a time. And health issues like disabilities keep many would-be travelers stuck at home. Recently, environmental concerns have given tourists a bad name; flying by plane is considered one of the most environmentally-damaging ways to travel, and tourists often litter, much to the chagrin of local residents. As the global population expands, an increasing number of people are visiting vacation destinations, leading to overcrowding and worsening the problem of tourism for locals. As technology advances, though, the future of tourism may lie in virtual reality, as simulations of tourist experiences grow ever more realistic and immersive.

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Long considered to reside squarely in the realm of futuristic sci-fi stories, virtual reality simulations of tourist destinations are already widespread in the form of 3D videos and games designed for use with headsets like the Oculus Rift. While impressive, these simulations don’t come close to replicating the experience of visiting a faraway destination in person, as they are limited to sights and sounds and generally offer users little to no freedom to shape the nature of their experience. All of this is set to change, however, as technology improves and developers invest more into expanding and refining these experiences.

Already, the travel industry is undergoing disruption thanks to the influx of technology like augmented-reality apps that help travelers determine whether their luggage will fit in the overhead compartment, and apps that allow users to preview restaurant meals by viewing 3D models superimposed on real-world objects. Some companies, like the airline KLM, are looking to entice tourists by offering vacationers a preview of their destination in the form of 3D 360 degree videos to be viewed with a virtual reality headset. While immersive, these experiences are not interactive, so their appeal in replicating the travel experience is limited.

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Other companies, however, are looking to replace the travel experience altogether by incorporating more sophisticated elements, like computer graphics and interactivity, into their virtual-reality offerings. Similar programs already exist in the form of video games, which is currently the industry most heavily invested in virtual reality. With time, though, virtual reality headsets are likely to grow in popularity as they become more useful for medical, business, and educational purposes. One company that’s pushing the boundaries of virtual travel experiences is TimeRide, which offers a virtual reality experience in Berlin which allows customers to “experience the past directly” by wearing a virtual reality headset that shows images of the city’s past. Other companies are looking to entice customers by offering live, 360-degree videos recorded by drones exploring locations from around the world.

Despite these developments, though, virtual reality has a number of hurdles to overcome before it can truly replicate the travel experience. For one, virtual reality headsets only provide video and audio, whereas real-world traveling obviously incorporates all of a person’s senses. And while artificial intelligence and telecommunications technology has improved, it still cannot replicate the experience of meeting another human being face-to-face. Nevertheless, virtual reality technology promises to shape the future of the travel industry, and it has the potential to bring the joy of travel to millions of people who otherwise don’t have the means to experience it.

Online Shopping

Facing Online Competition, Toy Stores Forced to Innovate

In the face of the existential threat to their business posed by Amazon and other online retailers, toy stores are obligated to innovate or face extinction, as in the case of the ill-fated Toys R Us. Camp is one store that does just that by offering children an opportunity to play with toys before their parents buy them, transforming the shopping process into one more focused on creating family experiences. Indeed, Camp, which recently opened a store in Downtown Brooklyn, bills itself as a “family experience store,” not strictly as a toy store, and the company hopes to lure customers away from online stores by creating a space where kids can have fun and parents can enjoy spending time with their children. In addition to selling toys, Camp hosts family activities, such as arts and crafts projects like making gingerbread houses or building a balloon powered car. The stores change their theme every few months in a bid to encourage families to visit repeatedly; currently, the space is summer-camp themed, and offers spaces like a playground and disco floors for children to play.

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While it’s free for anyone to visit any of Camp’s five retail locations, toys that are available for purchase can be found all over the place, enticing children to convince their parents to buy them something that catches their attention. As such, Camp’s plan to compete with online retailers involves fostering a physical environment where people are more likely to spend money. While it is surely expensive to maintain a store like this, the company hopes that the unique space they offer will attract not only children but parents who would prefer for their kids to play somewhere in the real world instead of engaging mainly with electronic devices. While this may be a risky strategy given the complicated and unpredictable environment of today’s retail industry, it is one that has resonated with investors, who are helping to fund the company’s expansion.

Camp’s bet is that even in this day and age, children are still interested in exploring physical spaces and interacting with each other in person

Digital media poses a threat to the toy industry in more ways than the popularity of online stores. Indeed, toys themselves may become less attractive to children as technology advances, as smartphones and tablets can provide a more engaging experience. And while video games have been a favorite among children for decades, recent advancements in technology have made this hobby far more widespread, as devices like iPhones and iPads grow in popularity and versatility. However, technology has also led to the collapse of physical media, as it is much more convenient to download a game, movie, or even book than it is to buy one from a retail location. Video gaming is a tremendously popular industry, and as toy stores generally sell video games as well, the fact that children are less likely to go to the toy store for video games in recent years is another factor that threatens the industry.

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Camp’s bet is that even in this day and age, children are still interested in exploring physical spaces and interacting with each other in person, but often miss opportunities to do so as they grow up in an increasingly digital environment. While traditional camp programs are expensive and can mean several weeks of separation between parents and their children, Camp is nominally free, and the company’s retail locations are in densely-populated, affluent neighborhoods, ensuring its customers don’t have to travel too far to get there. Unsurprisingly, the toys at Camp are sold at a premium to subsidize the rest of the experience. However, for many parents, the opportunity to spend some quality family time in an environment that’s fun for kids makes the added cost worth it.

Millennials Buying Home

Why Millennials Are Buying Fewer Homes

Millennials are currently the largest group of consumers in the US, and as such have a significant impact on businesses and the economy, an impact which is sure to grow stronger with time. As such, millennials are the frequent subject of speculation about their lifestyles and spending habits, and much has been made online of their supposed “killing” of various industries. Various stereotypes of millennials abound; they are thought of as having short attention spans and problems committing to jobs, but are also recognized for their desire to feel a sense of purpose and community in their professional lives. Whether or not millennials differ fundamentally from other generations when they were the same age remains an open question, but as the spending habits of young people influence various industries, businesses will have to adapt in order to meet the demands of their newest generation of customers.

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One such industry is real estate. For various reasons, millennials seem less likely than their parents’ generation to want to invest in purchasing a home—according to a ValueInsured Modern Homebuyer Survey, only 48% of millennials think that buying a home is a good investment. This is a sharp decline from two years prior, when 77% of the same generation believed in the value of purchasing a home. Many explanations have been proposed for the downward trend in millennials’ view of the value of real estate, but one popular theory is that millennials are a generation that values experiences over products, preferring to spend money on ephemeral things rather than physical objects. This theory has gained significant traction among people who seek to understand changes in young people’s spending habits, particularly when it comes to their reluctance to make expensive, permanent purchases like real estate.

When millennials are asked about their views on homeownership, however, the answers they give tend to refute this belief.

However, other theories have been proposed that have less to do with the unique characteristics of the millennial generation and more to do with external pressures. The previously mentioned survey offers different explanations for millennials’ reluctance to invest in homeownership. For instance, 49% of first-time homebuyers are concerned that rising mortgage rates could cause homes that are affordable now to become unaffordable in the future. Other economic anxieties factor into this reluctance to buy houses; 67% of first-time buyers worry that they will be unable to save enough money to buy a house they actually want to live in, and 52% believe that a home they buy now is likely to drop in value within a year. Additionally, 68% worry about the threat of another housing crisis, and 64% worry that they’ll suffer from buyer’s remorse after purchasing a home.

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Despite the reality of these widespread economic anxieties, however, many believe that millennials simply choose not to buy houses because they prioritize investing in experiences. When millennials are asked about their views on homeownership, however, the answers they give tend to refute this belief. One of the factors that delays homeownership for the millennial generation is the burden of financial obligations like student debt, which has exploded in recent years, and the slow rate of wage growth over the past several years. However, research has shown that when these financial burdens are lifted, such as when a person finishes paying off their student loans or gets a higher-paying job, rates of homeownership among millennials increase dramatically. That being said, even when the financial burdens faced by millennials are taken out of the equation, many millennials still can’t afford to buy a house. This is because the price of housing has also increased. And while a handful of millennials have taken to a “digital nomad” lifestyle, living in a mobile home and working remotely, this trend appeals to only a small number of people, as such a lifestyle can become immensely difficult both for social and practical reasons. In fact, this trend is likely driven not by millennials’ unique interest in experiences over things, but rather by financial difficulties, as the lifestyle of a “digital nomad” is one of the more affordable ways to live. Nevertheless, the myth that millennials’ spending habits are driven by preferences for experiences rather than financial difficulties persists, and continues to serve as a justification for blaming this generation for killing any number of industries.

Food Market

How to Stay in the Moment when Traveling

Many of us don’t often get the opportunity to travel, as the demands of work and other obligations keep us at home. So when we do get the opportunity to visit other places, it’s important that we make the most of our experiences, remaining present and observant of our new surroundings. As research shows that regular travel has a positive impact on a person’s overall sense of wellbeing, it can be helpful to put some thought into how to maximize the benefits of a travel experience.

While taking pictures while on vacation can be a fun way to preserve the experience to remember later, it can also have the effect of taking you out of the moment, as you look at your surroundings through your camera’s viewfinder or display rather than directly. As such, self-imposed limits on your photography can improve your experience of travel. If you set a limit on the total number of photographs you take on vacation, you can remain more present, while also devoting more attention to ensuring the pictures you do take are thoughtfully composed. 

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Additionally, there are other, less common ways of preserving an experience besides photography that can engage you more thoroughly in your environment. Instead of a camera, you can bring a notebook and colored pencils with you on a trip, allowing you to sketch your surroundings and record your thoughts in a journal. For the more creative among us, this practice can be more rewarding and satisfying than the standard vacation pictures.

There are also helpful ways of adjusting your frame of mind to make the most of a travel experience. Though many of us think of a vacation as a way to take a break from all forms of work, exercise can have the effect of sharpening one’s senses, allowing them to stay more present and engaged in their location. Going for a run or a bicycle ride can be a fun way to explore a new environment, and working up a sweat has the effect of raising one’s level of endorphins, helping you to stay in a good mood throughout the vacation. Additionally, mindfulness meditation is particularly helpful for making the most out of a vacation, as the practice of devoting focus to one’s internal and external experiences is particularly important when encountering a chance of locale.

That being said, it’s also important to make sure you enjoy the experience, which is after all the point of going on vacation. Your mindfulness should extend to your decisions about what activities to engage in, as you want to strike the right balance between doing novel things and choosing activities that you’re likely to find valuable and enriching. If you’re more of an introverted person, you may choose to go on hikes in nature, whereas extroverted people may find excitement in immersing themselves in the local nightlife. In either case, your individual personality and interests will dictate the sorts of activities you’ll enjoy, so it’s a good idea to do some introspection when planning your next getaway.


Solo Travel: An Opportunity to Discover Yourself

The idea is that travelling alone will force you to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar environment, create new connections, and learn about yourself as you discover your capacity for self-reliance and adventure.