Indoor or Outdoor Dining? With These Hybrid Spaces, You Don’t Have to Choose
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Indoor or Outdoor Dining? With These Hybrid Spaces, You Don’t Have to Choose

Homeowners are ditching elaborate dining rooms and separate outside setups for a more blended eating environment

Thu, Jan 12, 2023 8:41amGrey Clock 4 min

When building his Sonoma, Calif., home, Mukesh Patel had a request: He wanted a simple way to enjoy farm-to-table meals. He meant it literally.

Mr. Patel had purchased a 100-acre lot with his wife, Harsha Patel, 59, for $5.7 million in 2016 that included a small fruit and vegetable farm. He then worked with architect Christie Tyreus to construct a 2,100-square-foot, two-bedroom home for $3 million.

The home features a glass-enclosed kitchen-dining room with exterior pocket doors that open up on two sides to make it easy to walk from the terrace to pick fresh food: tomatoes, avocados, lettuce. The other side of the dining area leads to the living room. “You pick, you cook, then you eat—it’s a smooth transition,” says Mr. Patel, 64, a technology executive. The two moved into the new house from Pleasanton in 2020 but kept their Pleasanton house as a secondary home.

Homeowners are rethinking their indoor dining setups, replacing formal, enclosed rooms with elaborate spaces that give the feel of dining al fresco, with the option to be protected from the elements.

The interior designs also offer greater access to the kitchen, by direct proximity or by combining the cooking and dining areas in an open plan. At the same time, architects are being asked to make the most of killer views, installing automated glass doors and screens to create a seamless transition with the exterior.


“This is as close to dining outside you can get without being outside,” says Paul Masi, principal of Bates Masi + Architects, an East Hampton, N.Y., architecture firm.

Recently, a dining area Mr. Masi designed included two dining-room tables next to each other, with one indoors and the other outdoors. When the homeowners entertain in good weather, they can open the pocket doors to double the room space. Insect screens make it comfortable to eat even at dusk. Wide-plank Ipe wood floors outside mimic the wood floors indoors, and an oak wood ceiling stretches between the indoor and outdoor spaces to create a uniform look.

Another project includes a dining area that opens directly to the outside via two sides of glass doors, with pocket doors separating the space from the kitchen.

“There is nothing abrupt that changes from the interior to the exterior,” says Mr. Masi. Creating these hybrid dining spaces means there are fewer requests for separate outdoor kitchen and eating areas, especially in colder climates, he adds.

After purchasing a Manhattan Beach, Calif., home for $8.5 million in 2019, Michael Mothner, 41, wanted a dining room the family was “actually going to use.”

During a 2½-year renovation, Mr. Mothner created a formal dining space that borders an upstairs living room and kitchen, and opens up to a private terrace with a view over the family pool and the ocean. The indoor-outdoor setup makes it easier to host family dinners that are casual but not like a picnic. “We wanted something that doesn’t feel super formal and is going to be functional,” says the digital-marketing agency founder.

Wendy Word, an interior designer who worked with Mr. Mothner and his wife, Savanna Mothner, says she was able to extend meals from the dining room to the outside by making the table and the rug easy to position partially outdoors. Another dining table is outside on a covered terrace. “They want to be able to gather spontaneously and be able to use the outdoor footprint,” Ms. Word says.

With open floor plans, setting off the dining room while making it conveniently close to the kitchen is a challenge, says Ms. Tyreus, who worked with Mr. Patel.

Instead of creating a separate space, Ms. Tyreus added three kitchen islands. The island bordering the dining area has a decorative sintered stone facade, making the dining space more like a sleek bar area. Kitchen islands farther away include hidden refrigerator drawers and underneath storage. “When in the dining room, [the counter] looks like this beautiful stone block,” she says.

Los Angeles real-estate agent Rayni Williams says luxury homeowners pay a premium for dining rooms that blend into separate spaces. She sees dining areas that are separated by a wall of art, or another dividing element, from the main living area, providing easy access to the exterior and to the kitchen.

The idea is to create an eating area that gives priority to exterior views. “They know that’s the real money shot—that’s the way to maximise the dollar,” she adds.

Ms. Williams and her husband, Branden, are representing off market a $48 million home in Los Angeles that has nearly 7,000-square feet of outdoor space and a dining area with a large glass wall that can retract vertically to open to the exterior. The dining table inside the home is on wheels to make it easy to relocate throughout the area, including to a spot near an outdoor fireplace, she says.

Even in colder climates, homeowners are finding creative ways to craft scenic indoor-outdoor dining spots. After buying a vacation home for $765,000 in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 2021, Thorsten Hayer, 42, was thrilled to use what he calls a fancy garage as a dining area that opens to the exterior through two sets of barn doors. With a dining table and bar, the exterior room allows him to entertain while enjoying the outdoors.

The main home, built in 1876, has a formal dining area, but the family eats dinners mainly in the outside space. When the doors are open, it feels like they are dining in the garden. “It’s a nice progression from grilling a hot dog on the fire pit and going into a garage space,” he adds.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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