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Westminster-Canterbury investing $30 million in Revitalization Project

By Sandra J. Pennecke
Inside Business
The Virginian-Pilot 
June 12, 2017

An exterior rendering of the New Wellness Center to be built by Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay

Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay is investing $30 million in the future of senior living.

Ben Unkle, president and CEO of the nonprofit retirement community built in 1982 at 3100 Shore Drive, wants to make sure it’s meeting rising standards in the industry.

Unkle said seniors don’t want a facility, they want a campus. “Everything is getting bigger and better,” he said. “People don’t just want to survive, but thrive.” With that thriving comes engagement, explained Unkle, which is the secret to aging well. The key is to make engagement opportunities available to residents. “It goes much deeper than new paint, wallpaper and looking shiny,” Unkle said. “We want to be innovative and cutting edge to make space to contribute to the mission.” Westminster-Canterbury broke ground for a new wellness studio June 1, which is just one facet of the revitalization. The 1,800-square-foot center will offer more capacity for residents to pursue their fitness goals.

More than 450 residents take 71 exercise classes each week and the number is expected to increase as the space increases, along with the number and variety of classes. Sandra Hanna, who moved to Westminster-Canterbury with her husband Dick in 2016, said she exercises every day to stay healthy. “Fitness has been important to me throughout my life,” Sandra Hanna said. “This investment by Westminster-Canterbury will create more capacity for exercise programs on-site and it reflects the emphasis here on a healthy, active lifestyle.” The revitalization will also include expanded dining venues, a clubhouse-style lounge with computers, coffee and library, and a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center. Three-year resident Connie Rutledge said she is looking forward to the new dining options. “Getting together over a great meal with friends and family is among the many things I enjoy here and this will provide new choices and experiences.” she said.

The rehabilitation center will include 23 private inpatient rooms, a 3,000-square-foot gym, a 500-square-foot occupational and speech therapy gym and an outside rehab garden. The Hoy Nursing Center is being remodeled into the Lighthouse Engagement Model for residents in need of health care. “We’ve been renovating the nursing center while it’s in operation,” Unkle said, noting they are finished with the second floor and will begin work on the first and third floors next. “It’s been quite a feat.” All of the work is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2018.

Unkle said people need to ask themselves what they would like when they retire. “Some people want to stay in their house through retirement, but research shows that over time it becomes isolating,” Unkle said. “It’s best to be in a community.” “Westminster-Canterbury has been a true leader in retirement living and the revitalization project demonstrates it,” said Dick Binford who moved there with his wife, Betty, in 2014. “The community is evolving to fulfill what today’s retirees are looking for and what we will want in the future, and I applaud this commitment.”

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Mayor Helps WC Break Ground on New Wellness Studio

With baby-boomers making fitness an important part of their retirement, Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay will break ground on a new wellness studio, 10:30 a.m., June 1, 3100 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach. Mayor Will Sessoms will join Westminster-Canterbury president & CEO Ben Unkle in turning the first shovel of earth for the project, which is part of a $30 million revitalization project taking place at the non-profit life plan community for adults 62 and better.

As demand increases for aerobics, yoga, tai chi, strength and balance and other activities, the 1,800-square-foot wellness studio will offer more capacity for residents to pursue their fitness goals. Currently, over 450 residents take 71 exercise classes a week and the number is expected to rise.

“Our new customers have been interested in fitness all of their lives and they plan to continue,” Unkle said.  “Demand for wellness space is exploding already with our  current residents who also understand that physical and mental engagement is the secret to aging well and enjoying a higher quality of life, not just a longer life.  They value having a wide range of fitness opportunities in a community setting, where they can try new things and share the experience with others.”

Through the revitalization project, other features, programs and amenities are being added to Westminster-Canterbury over the next several years to fulfill what older adults are seeking now and into the future in a wellness centered resort lifestyle. They include expanded dining venues, a clubhouse-style lounge with computers, coffee and a library, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center, and remodeling and establishing a new engagement and care model in the Hoy Nursing Center, called the Lighthouse Engagement Model, for older residents in need of health care.

For more information on the revitalization project, visit

Westminster-Canterbury is Twice Golden

For the second year in a row, Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay has been designated the top senior living community in the region by Coastal Virginia magazine. Westminster-Canterbury has been named Overall Gold Winner, covering both southside Hampton Roads and the Peninsula, in the publication’s Best Retirement Community category.

The honor came through a vote by readers of the magazine, a print and online city and lifestyle publication whose mission is to inform, enlighten and entertain its audience.

“We are very honored to again be selected,” said Ben Unkle, Westminster-Canterbury president & CEO. “This award is a tribute to the great people who make Westminster-Canterbury what it is: Our wonderful residents and their families along with the dedicated team who works here.”

Coastal Virginia magazine serves all of Hampton Roads as well as the Outer Banks, northeastern North Carolina, the Eastern Shore and Richmond. Nearly a quarter-million people read each issue.

“It means a lot to us that we were chosen directly by the readers,” Unkle said. “We believe it is recognition of the vibrant nature of our community and our commitment to the greater region. Thank you to everyone who voted!” 

WVEC Features WC's 35 Acts of Caring

We stopped by Thalia Elementary School today to teach students about teamwork and sportsmanship while enjoying healthy competion through ping pong. Our partnership with the school is part of our "35 Acts of Caring" to celebrate our 35th anniversary.


35 Acts of Caring for Hampton Roads Mark Community’s Anniversary

From serving meals to families in need to mentoring elementary school students, Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay residents will conduct “35 Acts of Caring” this year to celebrate the non-profit life plan community’s 35th anniversary, which takes place in March. It is anticipated those involved will dedicate as much as 28,000 hours of volunteer time to a wide range of causes throughout Hampton Roads.

“Since our founding, helping make Hampton Roads a better place for people of all generations has been an important part of our mission,” said Ben Unkle, Westminster-Canterbury president and CEO. “Our residents’ contribution of volunteer talent and time also reflects the purpose and social interconnectedness that are part of our focus on healthy aging. This ‘35 Acts of Caring’ program formalizes a tradition that has always existed here.”

Among the  expected activities will be over 700 hours of time spent knitting blankets and other soft goods for cancer patients; donating and serving meals at such organizations as the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, mentoring Achievable Dream students at Seatack Elementary School in Virginia Beach, assistance at blood drives and more.

Westminster-Canterbury opened on March 29, 1982, on 12 acres of beachfront land that formerly accommodated Camp Owaissa, the YWCA’s summer camping program. 

Holiday Inn: Chefs at Westminster-Canterbury build gingerbread Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach

By Lorraine Eaton
The Virginia-Pilot
December 21, 2016

photo credit: Vicki Cronis-Nohe, The Virginian-Pilot

We’ve seen gingerbread houses and gingerbread men. But we’d never seen a gingerbread hotel until this holiday season, when the chefs over at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach built a replica of the iconic Cavalier Hotel.

To do it, pastry chefs Michael Fountain and Rachel Kauder and their merry helpers used 16 pounds of gingerbread, 6 pounds of icing and 90 pounds of candy. The project took 20 hours to plan and design and another 20 to build.

Making ambitious gingerbread creations is a tradition at grand hotels and botanical gardens across the country. Chefs at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., last year built a gingerbread still, a nod to the state’s bourbon roots, and this year made an intricate bourbon aging house, complete with 100 marshmallow-and-gum-paste barrels. And in New York City, the massive GingerBread Lane display at the New York Hall of Science won the Guinness World Record in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for the largest gingerbread village.

-By Lorraine Eaton, The Virginian-Pilot

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Westminster-Canterbury Gingerbread Replica of Cavalier Hotel featured on WVEC


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