A “Winter-less” Winter

Local senior luxury resort works to eliminate winter blues and cabin fever among residents.

It may be cold and dreary outside, but the residents at Magnolia by the Lakes are staying warm and cheerful while sipping hot cocoa, watching old-fashioned films and listening to festive music with friends– all alongside a beautiful Georgian antique fireplace. In fact, founder and owner Dr. Farideh Bagne said the Keego Harbor senior luxury resort has been created to feel “winter-less.”

“When you enter Magnolia, it is as if you have been transformed into a European seaside village, designed to eliminate winter blues and cabin fever,” said Dr. Bagne, whose vision was to develop a better option for seniors who are facing the difficult choice of moving to a warmer climate or staying close to family. “Residents don’t have to move to achieve a better lifestyle. It’s much easier on the family to visit Grandma or Grandpa here than to try to arrange regular trips to Florida.” 

With Harbor Walk, an indoor, climate-controlled, Old European-style bridge that spans over Cass Lake Road, residents are able to travel between buildings on the property without ever having to step outdoors. Overlooking Cass Lake, Harbor Walk features benches, trees and Italian marble statues. “We serve mimosas there, so residents can relax and watch the sunset on the lake,” Dr. Bagne explained. “Sunsets take place much earlier in the winter months, so it’s a lot easier for residents to join in on the beautiful views of the glistening ice and falling snowflakes.”

In addition to its high ceilings and indoor water features, Magnolia’s real flowers, plants and trees are not only aesthetically more beautiful than artificial ones but also heighten residents’ moods throughout the cooler months. Although the winter season is not an ideal time to enjoy the outdoor patio and nine-hole miniature golf course, residents do have the heated pool, fitness center, beauty salon and libraries as other means of having fun.

For the month of December, the staff decorates Magnolia for both the Christmas and Jewish holidays. A resident favorite is the giant table that holds a Christmas village, complete with lights and little houses. They also have the opportunity to contribute to the decor by participating in wreath-making and other holiday crafts with activities coordinator Jaky Van Dox.

“With three activities a day, residents often ask me, ‘What is this? We’re not on a cruise ship!,’” Dr. Bagne said. “It’s very important to me to offer so many activities that residents look forward to rather than thinking of each day as just another day, trying to figure out how to spend their time."

Leading up to the winter months, Magnolia’s staff always takes a trip to a local cider mill, so residents can enjoy the fall colors and indulge in cider and donuts. In addition to day trips like this, as well as lunch and dinner outings at local restaurants, there is also a daily exercise class offered. (Magnolia’s version of “hockey” is pictured on page ***).

“Each month we also like to highlight a different country and discuss its history, religion, books and movies,” Dr. Bagne said. “At the end of the month, we have a party with food and music to celebrate that culture. Residents who are of these cultures enjoy sharing their stories and recipes.”

Dr. Bagne established and operated the largest, privately-owned conglomerate of cancer centers in the US, including seven radiation therapy centers in Metro Detroit. After selling her company to 21st Century Oncology, she agreed to not establish competing cancer facilities but knew she still wanted to work with seniors; as a result, she decided to use her skill and energy to create a senior village that has never been seen before.

“Our motto is, ‘Whatever you ask for...done!,’” Dr. Bagne said, laughing. “Seniors have spent their lives working hard, raising children, assisting their community and are ready to start a new chapter in their lives where they can concentrate on their own health and happiness. They have contributed so much, and now it’s our turn to reward them and make sure their lives are the best they can be. And at a very reasonable price.”

Magnolia by the Lakes features 125 villas and studios overlooking both Cass and Sylvan Lakes, and space is currently available in both the independent and assisted living, 24-hour care resorts. Magnolia Gardens and Magnolia Clubhouse are currently in the works. Learn more at

Magnolia’s Melted Snowman Cookie Recipe

  1. A couple dozen of Chef James’ sugar cookies

  2. 1 bag of marshmallows

  3. 4-5 colors of gel decorating tubes

  4. White frosting

  5. A bunch of seniors who like to laugh and don’t care about getting messy

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