It's all about the luxury...

It's all about the luxury...

Be it a swanky apartment or star-hotel, real estate developers have taken a giant leap, as they compete to offer a fancy residential experience, finds out Swati Kapur.

Shama Dayal recently had a tough choice to make. She, eventually, went in for an apartment with a swimming pool and jacuzzi over the one that came with a full-fledged spa. “It is difficult to decide when the pricing, features and amenities are similar,” she says. 

Similarly, when it came to picking up an apartment for herself, Vidushi Tewari, working as a vice president with a UK-based finance firm, opted for the one that didn’t just offer basic amenities like swimming pool, good security and club house, but also had a mini stadium with high-end facilities for athletes.

Anusuiya Bharadwaj, a mother of two, shares that she chose her apartment as much for its vigilant security, as its state-of-the-art fittings and flooring. “We have cameras fitted at important sites and therefore, I can have my kids run riot around the place without any worries," she says.

According to Devam Sharma, who recently invested in a scaling posh apartment, branded homes provide a certain sense of personal distinction and satisfaction, very similar to enjoying a piece of art. "I’m very delighted with our fancy concierge, and I also get to live with celebrity neighbours,” he says.

Home is where the heart is. But with realtors packaging goodies into their proposals, settling for a house is not the same any more. Ten years ago, an offer of a house with a well-manicured garden, a walking or jogging track, a kids’ playarea and a gym was good enough to lure consumers. Today, though, builders have taken a giant leap, as they compete to offer a fancy residential living experience.

Little extra for value

Realtors today are getting more and more lucrative with their offers making it really difficult to decide for the consumers. A gymnasium is now a standard amenity that one expects to be a part of any apartment complex. Added features like swimming pool, walking track and kids’ playarea, too, are a given.However, features like a golf simulator, community fine-dining room, library lounge, yoga studio and spa are the latest that have raised the bar. These may be heavy on the pocket. Yet, high-end consumers do not mind paying a bit extra to get these super-luxurious services. 

Dubai-based Avantika Hari had endless discussions and meetings on Skype with her apartment builder based in Bengaluru, just to get the right switches and electrical fittings as per her choice. “If I have to live in a house for the rest of my life I would rather get it right the very first time. I’m happy that my developer understood this sentiment and never cribbed over discussing aspects, whether it was bathroom fittings or kitchen equipment. Not to mention the long-distance Skype calls,” she says. 

A niche for luxury

Indeed, developers understand this need for personalised, luxurious living spaces. And they are going all out to satisfy their new-age customers. “There is so much competition in the realty market that it just makes perfect sense to offer as much value for money and perks to patrons. Some of the latest in the amenities bandwagon are golf simulator, club and lounge facilities, business centre within a residential set-up, customised kitchen and bathroom fittings, interior designing services, CCTV cameras within the apartment buildings and inside the flats as well. But with over a 1,00,000 high-net-worth individuals in India, the demand for super luxury homes is now seeing a steady take-off,” says Chirag Mehndiratta, owner of a construction company based in Delhi.
 According to Dinesh Kumar, sales head, www.99acres.com, there is a segment of consumers, to whom a few crores really doesn’t matter as long as there is exclusivity that suits the brand value; in fact, the purchase decision is more driven by  the marriage of the buyer’s needs and the builder’s unique offering, than just the price. He says, “Developers feel the need for super luxury projects, as this seems to be the best way to increase profits, even if the selling periods for these high-end projects are slightly longer than mid-priced ones. This obviously leaves the middle class, that aspires to have a home within the city with amenities, completely out of the equation. But there is a definite market.” 

Adds Gyati Kathuria an interior designer for high-end luxury homes in Delhi, “The growing popularity of statement residences are driving the demand for branded homes. More than offering a spectacular lifestyle, they add to the status quotient of the owner.”

Home in hotel

Luxury isn’t limited to home buyers, of course. There is a different kind of arrangement, where hotels extend hospitality to corporate clients while they work on their stint in a new geography.

Star hotels are now a perfect abode for business travellers and short-term corporate settlers. Even for long stays of up to one or two years, a hotel is often the most feasible option and most preferred choice of companies that have team members visiting for projects from across the world. The variety of food option, recreational avenues and comfort that one can get in a luxury hotel is often not available in other make-shift arrangements. 

Says Pratiti Rajpal, marketing communications manager at Hyatt Regency, Chennai, “Long-term guests become our extended family and are invited to hotel-hosted and employee-focused events.

 We also try to make their weekends delightful. For instance, cocktail evenings, with hotel team, are regularly organised for them, to make them feel at home and comfortable.” She adds, “When I came to Chennai in 2012, to join the hotel as an employee, I, too, was graciously accommodated in the hotel, until I found a suitable residence.

This is a practice adopted by most companies as staying in a hotel is often more hassle-free and safer than staying anywhere else for a short duration.” 

From the human resources point of view, it saves lot of hassle and taxes. Instead of paying a hefty tax, companies prefer spending that money on pampering their employees. Hotel living is luxurious and safe, and provides all latest amenities for the comfort and delight of the employees. 

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