“What do sexual wellness, free-diving and biohacking have to do with real estate?” someone who joined our conversation halfway through asked.

It was spring this year, at a dinner table looking out at the moon flickering back at us across Aegean sea. We’d just finished a day of sound healing, breathwork and free diving, and had also listened to some of the world’s most captivating minds explain how to biohack your own body and the ‘science of awe’.

I backtracked for her. “Every destination has a culture, embodied by the DNA of that place. Why do people stay, visit or live there? This is what we try to do in our destination making work; bring these things to the surface. Here at Kaplankaya we saw how well-being, community and personal growth were already integral parts of the destination. So the idea came about to create Harvest, this event series that would propel these pillars forward, using content, workshops and community to activate a destination. Yes, there’s a 5* hotel, beaches, a spa and hundreds of properties for people to own, but this isn’t enough anymore. People want true authenticity, the feeling of a place that travels far beyond its bricks and mortar.”

The questioner nodded.

I was explaining what we’ve been doing for the last 20 years. Influencing real estate projects to create added value for destinations and elevate the living experience of future residents. We only achieve this by working closely with developers early in the process, helping to build properties that are unique investment opportunities and offer a legacy for future generations.

Later that night, standing on the balcony of the clubhouse after my legs were tired from the dancefloor, I wondered if she had understood. Another way to explain it would have been with a destination we worked on in Northern Brazil. I could have posed a scenario to her and asked her to make the decision.

“Let’s say you own a plot of beachfront land in northern Brazil in an area renowned for its kitesurfing. We’ve found you a consortium of investors who want to help you build properties there. Do you, a) build villas of varying sizes and use some kitesurfing references in your marketing to attract potential buyers, or b) build villas, a beachfront restaurant, a kid’s playground, communal pools, coworking spaces, kite workshop and other infrastructure to create a kite-surfing community that champions the DNA of the kitesurfing world, so that it then becomes a legacy destination the lucky few that plant roots there?” When trying to make a point, nothing beats a heavily-weighted multiple-choice question.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Client;

I could have then shown her exactly that; what we’re doing at Atobá, where we’re working with some fantastic people who, like us, want to use an ambitious nature to challenge the status quo and do things differently.

This is what destination making is about. We have always believed that the creation of a place goes beyond its physical dimension. This process orbits around people, their aspirations, the experiences they wish to have and the connection they desire with that place. Therefore, a sense of community and belonging are essential when designing or transforming places. Equally important are the amenities, activities, accessibility and aesthetics.

Based on this ethos, the creation of the place takes precedence when considering the construction of a particular project. Real estate development should be committed to preserving and enhancing the destination, maintaining its essence, architectural character, cultural heritage and aesthetics.

By approaching real estate in this way, we add value to projects and their locations by helping to build timeless properties that meet the expectations and aspirations of today's buyers while remaining relevant for future generations. Acting early in close collaboration with property developers can make all the difference. This means being involved in the search for destinations that offer truly interesting and unique investment or lifestyle potential. After which, the planning, concept definition, architectural design, branding, marketing and sales strategy come into play.

These combined elements are designed to promote special flagship projects as places that remain true to their origins.

Today, Kaplankaya is inseparable from the Harvest series, which now brings together a community of entrepreneurs, creatives, and influencers for an experience filled with talks and workshops focused on the well-being of people and the planet. Such is the demand for this type of content, that this year the event is traveling to London for a one-day-only session of explorative talks.

Our work, however, doesn’t always happen within a destination that is relatively unknown. In Europe’s surf mecca, Ericeira - we worked with a developer who was creating a small community of homes of the highest quality. Here it was about lifting the destination's superlatives up through new content and making sure the property development had synergy with the authentic and practical lifestyle offered by the location.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Client;

By influencing projects with a strategy and vision that actively listens to the needs of our customers, we can anticipate trends and satisfy the increasingly diverse demands of culture, aesthetics, valued experiences, and desired memories. These sought-after lifestyles inspire our passion for the project, contributing to the creation of spaces that we envision as legacies for the future - a true refuge where quality architecture, design and functionality promote comfort and well-being.

These new living standards fuel our passion for the destination itself as we strive to develop it sustainably and responsibly and then communicate its best offerings, highlighting the unique qualities of each region. Throughout the world, we have assisted developers and real estate investors in developing vibrant and authentic destinations with distinct characters. Whether it's in the Azores, Turkey, the French Alps, Costa Vicentina, Comporta, Melides, or Ericeira, our initial approach is to consider how we can enhance our client's life experience while providing them with the best long-term investment for their future.

This has been our path and this is how we intend to remain, with destination making in our DNA.