A degree in hospitality means planning for a career in serving others, but Stella Chen didn’t realize on completing her studies that she would be so privileged to be serving seniors in Calgary’s Chinatown.
Chen is the director of operations at Clover Living, a Trico Living Well facility providing independent living for adults of any age and supportive living for 55+ seniors in the heart of downtown, yet away from the busiest areas.
Born in Malaysia, Chen studied hotel management for 3½ years in Switzerland in German-speaking Lucerne but served her internship in the southern Italian-speaking area.
Moving to Miami to earn a hospitality degree, she then began to travel extensively with her husband, Ian Jones, in his various management positions with hotels.
They included six years in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Chen worked as a consultant in a managerial role with a bank while she also opened two bakeries in the suburbs. Chen also worked as a recruitment consultant focusing on hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with Ritz Carlton and Hilton properties in Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Washington, D.C., and London before moving to Calgary with her family two years ago.
Jones is the general manager of the Westley Calgary Downtown hotel, while Chen worked in the rooms division of the Westin Calgary Airport before accepting the appointment to run Clover Living after her predecessor, Grace Su, became executive director of the Trico Living Well active aging community in the Trico Communities development at its Kingsland Junction campus.
Chen says she feels perfectly at home and happy to be in such a rewarding position with Clover Living.
Its story goes back to the opening of the Chinese United Church on the site in 1901. It still serves as a place of worship, but in 2012 the church gymnasium area was torn down to make way for a new Oi Kwan Place residence for retirement living. In 2014 it was purchased by Wayne Chiu, one of Calgary’s most respected and innovative homebuilders, brought into his Trico Living Well family and rebranded as Clover Living.
At 16-storeys high, it contains 129 units and currently houses 113 residents. It is designed to serve the needs of Calgary’s Asian seniors, with staff being able to converse in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Meals and events are carefully curated to facilitate and respect each resident’s cultural background, which helps foster a positive and inclusive environment within its community.
There are both western and Chinese options respecting dietary and allergy restrictions, all approved by a registered dietician.
Clover Living’s supportive services enable residents to live an independent lifestyle with an emphasis on health and wellness. Amenities include an exercise room, library and a multi-purpose activity room where craft, cooking and computer classes and regularly scheduled fitness classes are held. It is also the venue for Monday table tennis, particularly enjoyed by a 92-year-old resident.
Members of the permanent staff of 27 are all committed to ensuring their charges live a healthy and happy life. They organize many events, including Japan Days and Thai Days, supported by “travelling” cuisine offerings.
Currently, rooms in the tower are being upgraded as they become vacant.
Clover Living has become a vibrant community within Chinatown, perfectly situated where residents have access to the Bow River walkway, Sien Lok Park, and close to Chinese community services and organizations as well as nearby shopping and other amenities.
No doubt they will enjoy special Stampede events this year and other outdoor activities that include a local ice cream truck parked outside for a special day in July.
When Chen told Chiu of her plans, he said, “I’ll pay for the ice cream for residents and any other passerby.” Typical of his generosity.
Section23 Developments, a boutique real estate developer specializing in architecture, land development and housing, has reached an agreement with Optima Living to operate The Edward, Section23’s ultimate luxury independent living retirement home.
Optima has established a strong reputation as an owner and operator of 18 seniors residential communities across Alberta and B.C.
Conceived by Section23, The Edward is located at 3023 16th Street S.W., adjacent to the cSPACE King Edward arts hub, offering five-star, resort-style amenities to residents supporting a healthy, active and engaged lifestyle.
David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]