The Luxury Network Magazine
Branded Residences - the Future of Luxury Living?
Branded residences are becoming ever more popular. But what are they, how did they originate – and what will they be like in the years to come? In this article we look at all the key aspects of this style of luxury living.
The first branded residence was created in a New York hotel in the 1920s and in recent years the number of hotel-based branded residences has grown apace. But so too have other types of branded residence. In this article, we’ll look at what’s behind this phenomenon, the benefits these properties can bring, and particular considerations that go into creating them, especially in the light of the current pandemic.
What are branded residences?
Today, branded residences generally refer to residential properties rather than hotels, allowing investors to buy into the luxury and status associated with a particular brand. They are essentially partnerships between the brand and a developer, working closely in conjunction with a designer – as, for example, with our work with Four Seasons on their branded residences in Kazakhstan.
They originated because leading hotel brands were looking to offer their high-net-worth (HNW) clients the privacy of having a private residence with the services and convenience of a hotel.
These residences were created within hotels and were also useful for quick recouping of some of the substantial investment involved in hotel building.
While many of these properties are still set within hotels, branded residences have now also developed into stand-alone developments. Many are still run by hotel groups. However, non-hospitality brands such as Armani, Baccarat and Porsche have also branched out into creating branded residences in order to capitalise on the strength of their brand and to forge a deeper connection with their audience.
So, what explains this phenomenon?
The benefits of branded residences
The main reason for the growth of branded residences is that the developer, the brand and the owner or occupier all stand to gain in multiple ways.
A developer can charge a premium price for a branded residence. The visible brand and its associated high status also serves to increase trust in the developer. In some instances, they can access the existing customer base of the brand in a way they would otherwise have been unable to do.
As for the brand owners, they can generate income from management fees and short-term sales. The brand can also generate wider and deeper customer loyalty by diversifying in this way.
Those who buy or rent the residences love the level of luxury and convenience they bring. Thanks to high levels of servicing, they also gain from having almost everything they may require under one roof. Owners can also benefit from a no-hassle turnkey service, whereby they can just move in.
The brand association often appeals to HNW individuals, who see them as trophy homes. They also appreciate the increased levels of security that are commonly associated with branded residences, and the fact that everything is managed on their behalf.
Global trends in branded residences
Significant numbers of these HNW individuals can now be found in most of the world’s major cities, but some locations are becoming particularly significant.
For example, while American cities such as Miami and Los Angeles are seeing more branded residences, the real growth is coming in Asia. In particular, the UAE and wider Middle East, plus countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, are witnessing big increases. Dubai is expected to become world capital of branded residences, overtaking New York, with Phuket also becoming a major destination.
That said, wherever in the world one is or plans to be, Covid-19 has heralded major changes, with more set to come. The trend towards working from home has accelerated and many HNW individuals can now do business from almost anywhere in the world. All the same, most will need to travel at some point for work and will wish to for leisure; once travel restrictions are lifted, owners will rarely live full-time in one place. Serviced residences are well-placed to meet this new reality. Previously, you had to worry about ongoing maintenance and management. You might also have sent your staff to your residence overseas a week in advance to prepare the property for your arrival. But with a serviced residence, everything is always there ready for you, resulting in lower costs and easier logistics.
Must-haves when designing branded residences
Maintenance, management and staffing aren’t the only issues when it comes to living space for HNWs. Rive Gauche has been designing their homes for years and we know how to match both individual expectations and wider trends.
As well as reflecting the aesthetic , values and ethos of the brand, we create a sense of place by making sure that the design is representative of the locality. We engage local artists and craftsmen, as well as reflect regional architectural styles and materials throughout.
Any branded property should also be designed with service comparable to a luxury hotel in mind. There would therefore normally be a separate entrance for services. This would be linked with a utility area and/or serviced kitchen and staff quarters, all kept away from the main part of the residence. Maintenance or emergency visits would also be kept apart so as not to disturb the occupants.
The audio-visual and smart home system should be state of the art, not just to control what’s within the residence but to connect with services such as concierge. It should naturally be operable remotely as well. Most importantly, security should not be an afterthought but fully integrated into the overall design.
Moving into a new COVID - influenced world
Other design trends have been introduced or intensified in the face of the COVID pandemic. For example, the adoption of advanced technology for filtering and treating ambient air. This refreshes the room more often and filters out germs and pollutants. Technologies to reduce unnecessary physical contact points are also more prevalent, including voice recognition, contactless passes and keys in communal areas.
In a wider sense, the trend towards health and wellbeing has accelerated in the face of the pandemic. People are becoming more conscious of how both the inside and outside of their living spaces can promote wellbeing. Spa bathrooms are now commonplace, as are gyms in the highest-end residences.
All aspects of living are now embraced. That includes nursery and childcare facilities, both within the residence and in a safe and secure part of the wider development. Dedicated personal offices are also the norm within branded residences, moving far beyond the days of just having a desk in the corner. And whatever is being built and wherever it may be, sustainability is now at its heart, reflecting a genuine desire to have positive impact on the environment and the local community. Refreshingly, developers, clients and brands are generally of one mind on this.