Sure, it's carefree living, but where's the mailbox? Managing Editor Melanie Gibbs was unusually quiet as I approached her office. She was holding a large blue folder and perusing what looked to be another obvious attempt by a public relations agency to play "trendy press release," where one pr firm ups another with the latest glitzy brochure, hat or T-shirt.

Actually, this one wasn't your average grandiose scheme. This was all about The World of Regensea, the never-ending cruise around the world. Yes, friends you can buy a spacious cabin home (we're talking from 1,100 sq. ft. here) aboard a brand-new cruise ship starting at a cool $1.2 million.

The itinerary for your first three years aboard The World of Regensea, starting in 1999, is fixed with specific destinations and dates of arrival and departure. But from 2002 on, it's up to just you, your 250 close-by neighbors and the captain to set your own course through life.

It all gives new meaning to "going nowhere," doesn't it? But at least you gotta' admit, it's in style.

I know this darned brochure had a profound impact on those of us around here who work for a living. The word "wow!" must have been uttered countless times as page upon page depicted the kind of lifestyle few could afford and even fewer could afford to live with. We all walked around in a bit of a stupor for a while (which was rather difficult to distinguish from our everyday stupor). Then it occurred to me, what's your mailing address when you live on this thing? Really, though, I guess it doesn't matter when you can afford to live on the water, permanently.

What that luxury ship also brought to mind was how far this real estate recovery, not to mention the U.S. economy, has actually gone. Hotels are achieving record profits. Cranes for new office buildings are filling many a skyline. And as we near the end of the year that was soon to be 1997, it is clear that our industry has a few more miles ahead. But just how many?

That's the purpose of our main cover feature, Forecast '98. No, it's not to "sea" where the lovely Regensea will be sailing (it's a mere shell of itself right now anyway). We want to give you an idea, based on what leading industry experts who ought to know, think about the future of the many different segments of the industry, including hotel, industrial, multifamily, office, retail and seniors housing.