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When the home looks like a hotel and vice versa

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-09-2017 Sapna Agarwal

For India’s uber rich, the lines between home and the hotel are blurring. They stay at high-end apartments designed like five-star luxury properties, and at opulent hotels that offer services and amenities which make one feel like they are at home.

For instance, swanky apartments like the World Towers by the Lodha Group has engaged Italian designer Giorgio Armani for its over $1 million three-or four-bedroom apartments in Mumbai.

Then there is Yoo in Pune, designed by Philippe Starck and John Hitchcox, who have designed landmark projects in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and the Middle East.

Today an address is no longer enough to make a lifestyle statement. Also, fashion is not just about designer clothes or accessories. For the rich it’s about a designer lifestyle where everything starting from one’s home is branded.

These plush homes come with all the bells and whistles—from extensive lobbies and landscaped gardens to amenities such as a spa, pool, coffee shop, gym, clubhouse and business centres to concierge services and in-house butlers.

The ethos is global. You could feel like you could be anywhere in the world—Dubai, Hong Kong or New York. And it is gold standard in services as well.

At both World Towers and Yoo Pune, the concierge service is provided by UK-based Quintessentially, which has a formidable network that offers services from arranging tickets for the latest rock concert to flying down truffles from the Black Forest. At Yoo, Pune, the spa is run by French beauty company L’Occitane, which operates over 80 spas in 26 countries and at World Towers, the six-floor club and spa is operated by the renowned Six Senses Group.

These homes also follow the latest global trends. They could offer furniture from Fendi Casa or Christopher Guy, lighting by Aqua Creation and chandeliers from Lasvit .

“A trend is like a formula, its application makes everything—restaurants, hotels and apartments—look the same,” says architect Ashiesh Shah.

High-rises in India’s large cities are marketed to millionaires, whose numbers have been steadily growing. In financial year 2016, there were 146,600 ultra-high-net-worth households in India with assets of at least Rs25 crore, up 7% from in the previous year, growing at a 16% compound annual growth rate over five years, according to Kotak Wealth’s Top of the Pyramid 2016 report.

The rich equate money with luxury. The more expensive an apartment is, the more luxurious it is perceived to be. Marketers of high-end apartments have understood this. They spend anywhere between Rs4 crore and Rs25 crore on building show flats now, compared to just Rs70 lakh to Rs80 lakh 4-5 years-ago.

“We found out quite quickly if you provide a brand at the entry level then it does not work,” says Anubhav Gupta, chief design officer at Godrej Group’s GPL Design Studio, which has collaborated with its real estate development arm on projects like The Trees, Godrej One and Godrej BKC.

The lines between homes and hotels have also blurred with Airbnb. While Airbnb redefined economy travel, its popularity has given birth to niche rivals like onefinestay and Boutique Homes, which cater to the requirements of the rich. It’s now possible to rent a 100-year-old castle or a luxury villa for short stays. These homes are some of the world’s finest with exacting hospitality standards.

“The result is a self-enforcing vicious circle of global corporate aesthetics,” Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times architecture and design critic, wrote in the global context. These are apartments that look like top-end hotels which have been designed to look like homes.

To be sure, conspicuous consumption and spending lavishly on expensive but essentially wasteful goods and services to show off one’s wealth has always been around. However, there is a dichotomy between wanting personalization and the need to fit in.

For now, in an age of instant gratification, global uniformity seems to have triumphed over individuality.

Shop Talk will take a weekly look at consumer trends, behaviour and insights.

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