Space Is The New Luxury

March 13, 2020
As I write this I’m on a houseboat with Tammy on Lake Powell in Utah.

We just finished a fantastic Engel & Völkers conference in southern California at the luxurious Monarch Resort.

The service was spectacular, prices..  outrageous, but the experience was well worth it. We get so much out of it every year connecting and exchanging with Advisors, Licensed Partners, HQ executives from Americas and Hamburg,  sponsors and guest speakers.

Kirstie Ennis, Former Marine and Engel & Völker Advisor

Former Marine and current Engel & Völkers Advisor Kirstie Ennis delivers a remarkable and inspiring speech.

We had a full house and only a few cancelled travel plans because of the virus situation. We were on our best behaviour regarding hand washing, touching surfaces and touching our faces. It’s harder than you think to keep your hands off your face sometimes.

Every year after the conference Tam and I always take an extra week to go somewhere special to relax, unwind and plan our business for the next 12 months. This year is about creating and improving customer and client experiences and defining the new luxury.

Lake Powell, Utah

Tam chose house boating much to my surprise. The weather is cool although not unbearable. Needless to say, we are one of the only ones out here. Fully stocked for a week we left the docks beside one other young family brave enough to go out this early in Utah. We’ll leave the swimming to the fish.

Oh, I missed a step.  We rented a car rather than fly from Cally to Phoenix. Tam thought that would also be fun as we could maybe stop at the Hoover dam or Grand Canyon on the way. Nothing to do with air travel at this pivotal time of the Covid virus spread.

We stopped in Vegas after 4 hours of driving. I remarked that it would be devastating if someone were to test positive for Covid in Vegas.  What am I thinking… it would be.. (read is) devastating in any large metropolitan city. “I bet everywhere you go you’ll see staff cleaning and disinfecting” and I was exactly right. Very discreetly there were staff at the hotel everywhere if you were looking, spraying and wiping surfaces, door handles, railings, etc. When I say discreet I mean discreet, you had to pay attention. They are masters in Vegas at what you see and what you don’t see, wink wink.

We checked into the Wynn Encore resort at the far end of the strip. Cranes galore beside us extending the strip out further with some amazing looking buildings and structures.

Well let me tell you about the Wynn. I’ve never seen such luxury for $250.00 per night. The construction, the fixtures, the walls/ceilings/floors, the stores and restaurants. The entertainment and shows. We got to our room and opened the door.

Alexa wakes up and greets me.  Room lights slowly get bright but not too bright,  Frank Sinatra sings “Fly Me To The Moon” at the exact right volume. Drapes and curtains open automatically to a breathtaking view from floor to ceiling glass overlooking the strip from the 55th floor.  Welcome Max Hahne on the giant TV screen in front of my giant bed.

Alexa says to me…  “if there is anything you need or want just ask me and I’ll attend to it right away”.  Now… we are talking about a new customer experience as I take photos and jot notes to take back to our Shop and our Advisors. We are booked in for one night but I said to Tam, “we’re coming back”.  I’m not a gambler but there is so much to see and experience you don’t have to be a gambler.

Meanwhile, back at the lake…

I’m scanning the news regarding Covid19 from what little cell signal I have here tucked into a little cove. Far off in the distance there is a truck on the desert rock with a tent on the roof. Other than that it’s just us.

That brings me to my point.  I said to Tam. “ You know if things get crazy this week with the news on Covid19 we could skip our flight out of Phoenix on Saturday and drive the car to Collingwood. Just to play it safe.”

It got me thinking of how lucky we are to be living in Collingwood and the South Georgian Bay area. Although anyone could show up in Collingwood with the virus I think our risk is greatly diminished living in “the country” so to speak as opposed to living in a large metro area and being in close quarters on subways and airports and the like.

As I write this large companies across Canada and the United States are grounding employees from all business travel and are being told to work from home if possible. I hope this spread of the virus is stopped in its tracks soon and that this doesn’t drag on. This morning CTV News on my phone notified me that gas prices are in free fall. Not surprising.

When this is over and it will come to an end, I believe that families are going to look for “space”. Space between them and their neighbours, space around them in shops and restaurants. Fewer people in line between them and their shopping.  Space will come at a premium in some cases in other cases it might be cheaper. Real Estate as an example. It might be cheaper to buy a single family home in Collingwood or Meaford. It might be more expensive to trade the Toronto bungalow and move to 25 or 50 acres in the townships.

Private Oasis in Collingwood


People might have to let go of a high paying job to move here from the city. Grandparents may have to move farther away from grandchildren that are in the city. Or 3 generations of family may move to our beautiful area as a unit. I know it will happen because this virus is not an anomaly. This virus and the next wave of contagious virus is the new reality. It will happen again and each time it seems to get worse and is harder to contain. My earliest recall of a dangerous public spread of contagious disease is “Legionnaires”.

Space is the new luxury.

CNN had a couple of guest doctors that were being interviewed and they had a tape measure on hand. They were asked about coughing, sneezing, the droplets that contaminate us, the length of time that the virus can live in a droplet on a touchable surface. All good questions, no definitive answers. The scientists are working around the clock around the globe and no definitive answers yet. Worse than that it may take 12 to 18 months to come up with a vaccine.

Out comes the tape measure. “ how many feet is a safe distance to be between people ?”, asked the reporter. “About 6 ft is the best guess” says the doctor “to lessen the risk of someone transferring droplets to you from normal speaking at or to you”. “That doesn’t include someone who may cough or sneeze your way and doesn’t include you touching a contaminated surface and then scratch your nose or rubbing your eye inadvertently.

We want to maintain 6 feet around us if and when possible. ? Really?  Try that on a luxury cruise ship or in first class on a plane.

Let me be the first to say in writing….

Space is the new luxury.

Max Hahne

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