As our region becomes more affluent and billions of dollars flow into Asian financial and real estate markets from all over the world, more people are also investing in luxury property, and more so in branded properties.
As our region becomes more affluent and billions of dollars flow into Asian financial and real estate markets from all over the world, more people are also investing in luxury property, and more so in branded properties. Branded properties are becoming popular and relevant for well-to-do Asians and investors in luxury properties, especially in resorts. Usually, the inclusion of very high-end interior design goes hand in hand with branded properties. Without a major brand presence in the market, it is difficult to establish high price points or to target self-stayers and investors that appreciate the added value of branded designs, interiors and services. Of course, many developers hail their properties as “luxury”, but this is often based mainly on their prime locations. They do not necessarily invest in the kind of exclusive luxury required to back up their high-end claims.
All The Luxurious Elements
Luxury brands, high-end interior designs and designers don’t just add prestige to the equation, rather, they help to enhance and attract buyers to such esteemed projects. In addition, they also bring expertise, tradition and well-deserved reputations. The value of such branding is well worth the added cost. That additional cost might be too expensive for cheaper markets and poor locations, but in high-cost, popular locations it’s worth some consideration. The majority of regional buyers underestimate the power of high-quality, branded design and interiors in their home markets, be it Hong Kong or Singapore, yet they value it correctly when they invest in their holiday villa. It’s interesting to note these same investors are much more cautious when investing overseas, especially in places like Thailand and Bali. This is especially obvious in the regional prime resort market – Phuket.
Still In Demand
Despite a myriad of “luxury” projects in various stages of development, investors would rather buy a more expensive yet smaller branded properties from reputable hotel management brands, such as Dusit Thani and Banyan Tree. The same applies to the legendary Aman villas. The Angsana Beachfront Residences, a part of the Singapore-based Banyan Tree Group’s Phuket Laguna complex was sold out in a matter of weeks upon their launch. The current resale price of this handsome beach property is some 40 to 50 per cent above the launch price. In the post-2008 crisis for resort projects, investors have realised that things can go wrong with grand projects and ideas, hence their preference for investing in a proven branded property as a real estate safe haven. As an investor I consider such investments to be very low-risk but with a major plus – you can stay in your own investment and enjoy the privileges.
Upping the Ante
In Singapore, currently, there are very few branded properties in the market. The most renowned is St. Regis Residences which sits alongside its 6-star hospitality project – The St. Regis Singapore. This adds tremendous value to the residences, which are managed and serviced in the most upscale manner. The development has well-appointed interiors and the most fabulous recreational facilities. It’s not surprising then that St. Regis is expanding throughout the region. A number of regional and international investors have already been attracted to this brand in the region. Even the Bangkok St. Regis was sold out quickly a few years back despite being a 30-year leasehold. It was developed by a successful developer The Minor Group, who smartly used the opulent layout and interiors to attract buyers to park their millions in this short tenure project. Another way to “brand” the project is by engaging a starchitect, as evidenced at the recently launched Boulevard 88 project by one of the world’s most acclaimed architect – Moshe Safdie. He’s the man behind the breath-taking Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in Singapore. An example of his outstanding architecture is The Edge on Cairnhill in Singapore. The Edge is a truly exclusive condo, which comprises three towers in the prime location of Singapore; with only 46 units and 20 storeys, every unit is accessible by a private lift. One cannot see the three-tower structure from the street, as the towers are curved and appear as one structure. However, when one approaches closer or stands in the middle of this condo, he or she who looks up will see the curves of the towers, only then the genius of the architect’s concept is fully revealed. One can be reminded of the curves of the Sky Park on top of MBS, which is Safdie’s signature design. Well, I digressed. My point was to show how a starchitect can really add a Midas Touch to the property.
Branded Designer Furniture
Elsewhere in the world, there are designer-oriented brands involved in interiors and branded properties. Panache Management is one such company where it represents Italian interior uber-brands by Tonino Lamborghini and Aston Martin Design, handcrafted by Formitalia craftsmen in Florence, Italy. Lamborghini is a name renowned around the world, and its fighting bull symbol is synonymous with luxury, passion, design and integrity. Tonino Lamborghini and Aston Martin design offer innovative luxury furniture pieces for homes, offices, hotels, yachts and private jets – all handcrafted in Italy. Next is the ultimate step – the Tonino Lamborghini Residences, Hotels and Resorts which is currently at the planning stages. Aston Martin Residences in Miami was launched last year and there will be more to follow. Such big-name designers and brands attract significant attention from buyers and media because people are fascinated by them. The pricing naturally reflects the design, but it is relatively easy for developers to pass the cost on to buyers because buyers of such luxury properties appreciate the added value of these super designers. So, for some well-heeled individuals, living their live large with branded designer furniture and branded properties is their idea of luxury living. As the saying goes, “Different strokes for different folks.”
Read more about Shlaen’s other story Crazy Rich Asians