Special Report: The High Life
Living in a hotel has long been a lifestyle choice of rock stars and divas, but they’re not the only ones who see the value in a home that comes with all the creature comforts associated with a luxury hotel stay.
In the 1930s Coco Chanel moved into The Ritz in Paris and would live there until her death in 1971. In the ’60s and ’70s stars like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan lived in the Chelsea Hotel in New York, and the playwright Tennessee Williams lived in Manhattan’s Hotel Elysée for 15 years. Modern celebrities who have also enjoyed the comfort of an extended five-star stay are Robert De Niro, John Travolta and Keanu Reeves; and when David Beckham signed up to play for Real Madrid he lived in the lavish Hotel Santo Mauro in the Spanish capital for a couple of months.
At first mainly a New York phenomenon, the hotel residence trend has started to catch on in other major cities and holiday hotspots around the world, says Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth. South Africa is no exception; here, the model includes the likes of The Houghton in Johannesburg, the Cape Royale, the Taj Residences in Cape Town and the upcoming Oceans Hotel Residential Apartments in Umhlanga. They essentially allow owners to live in a hotel permanently and enjoy the same perks that temporary hotel guests do, from room service to fine dining, and access to shared facilities such as a swimming pool and spa. “Unsurprisingly, hotel residences sell at a premium compared with your average apartment,” says Andrew.
This trend extends to luxury apartments and villas that are fully serviced and offer shared managed amenities such as reception, meeting and entertainment areas.
Previously associated with celebrity culture, hotel residences and luxury serviced apartments are becoming an attractive investment choice for business people who travel frequently and want to enjoy the comfort of a permanent apartment that is maintained and serviced whether they are there or not. Such apartments and suites are often part of a managed rental pool, so they offer a return on the investment when not being used by the owner.
MERGING BUSINESS AND LIFESTYLE
“South Africa, and Johannesburg in particular, is a business nexus for the continent,” says Gijs Foden, sales and property broker for the Legacy Group. “Global investors and businesspeople are looking for investments that echo the luxury comforts they are used to. Corporates want more than just an investment; they also want a lifestyle.”
“Imagine waking up in your 47th-floor apartment to incredible views all the way to Pretoria; you can have breakfast next to the pool, drop your child at the privately run crèche, and then head to your office or a meeting in the business centre”
The Raphael Penthouse Suites, the Michelangelo Towers and the DaVinci Hotel and Suites, part of the group’s portfolio, merge luxury apartment and hotel living in the heart of Sandton’s business and retail district. “Our sales model is that a prospective owner can purchase an apartment and then either live in it or place it in the Legacy managed rental pool,” says Gijs. “The rental pool is very attractive for clients wanting to turn their property into a profit-yielding asset. One of the reasons our model works is that both owners and tenants have access to a 24-hour maintenance crew and a cleaning service, all managed by us; this takes the pain out of owner-tenant relations and provides a hassle-free means to lease apartments.” Gijs is excited when he talks about the company’s latest and most ambitious offering, The Leonardo. On completion, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the southern hemisphere and will rise 150 m above the Sandton skyline. Every comfort will be taken care of for residents and tenants. There will be eight luxury penthouse suites; one-, two-and three-bedroom apartments; premium offices; and a business and conference centre. The crown jewel of the development will be the Leonardo Suite, with 360-degree views and a rooftop garden. The architects have been asked to embrace green and energy-efficient principles, and to create the ultimate luxury environment that cater for both lifestyle and premium business needs. “Imagine waking up in your 47th-floor apartment to incredible views all the way to Pretoria; you can have breakfast next to the pool, drop your child at the privately run crèche, and then head to your office or a meeting in the business centre,” says Gijs.
HIGH-END URBAN LIVING
“Sandton is still way behind the rest of the world in terms of the ratio of commercial space to residential,” says Sergio Aquino, the chief executive of Lushaka Investments, which is developing Central Square in Sandton along with Mota-Engil Africa and Mercantile Bank. “If you go to New York, London or Paris, you generally have a lot more residential space in the middle of the commercial district.”
Central Square features 167 upmarket apartments and 13 high-end simplex penthouses. Residents will have access to a mixed-use retail space with high-end shops, restaurants, coffee shops and delis.
“Central Square is not only one of the most spectacular new high-rise luxury apartment buildings to grace the Sandton skyline, but it also boasts world-class facilities,” says Kent Gush, managing director of Kent Gush Properties. “Residents benefit from a sky deck with a rim-flow pool, with spectacular views all the way to the Magaliesberg, as well as a 24-hour reception area, state-of-the-art gym and new Épicure restaurant and deli. A shuttle service around the Sandton Central area and to the Gautrain station will be operational in the near future.
ROOM SERVICE WITH A VIEW
The Nedbank building on Cape Town’s Heerengracht thoroughfare is being repurposed into The Onyx, a high-end mixed-use development of sophisticated apartments and penthouses, blending apartment living with perks of the hospitality industry such as a gym, pool, sun deck and lounge. Newmark Hotels, Reserves & Lodges will be managing The Onyx.
“The inclusion of long-term owners in the same building or complex as hotel guests gives us the perfect cross-subsidisation between the two industries,” says David Cohen, managing director of the luxury development group Signatura. “The hotel aspect allows us as property developers an avenue to retain real estate in our own developments, but also diversify revenue streams as the property cycle ebbs and flows.
“Everyone loves to be on holiday! So to have the opportunity to live in the same place that other people are visiting gives the feeling of a permanent holiday. Hospitality-grade services attract a high-level owner as well as tenants who are willing to pay more than your typical rental.”
The former Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay, a Cape Town landmark, is currently being redeveloped at a cost of R900 million into ultra-luxurious apartments by property developer Da’Realty. “Our goal is to create buildings that are in themselves works of art and that redefine the concept of opulent, limited-edition living in South Africa,” says Ahsan Darvesh, founding president of Da’Realty. The development will comprise eight luxury presidential penthouses overlooking the sea (with private lift access), a show-stopping 770 m2 sea-facing penthouse and 15 apartments across the road. The Ambassador will be renamed the AURUM – the Latin word for gold.
For Ahsan it is all about the detail. The AURUM will feature finishes such as gold mosaics, a reception area adorned with crystal chandeliers, a luxury spa, a restaurant, 24-hour valet and concierge services, and beautifully landscaped grounds. “Wealthy investors are looking for a lifestyle when it comes to luxury,” says Ahsan. “Luxury is a broad term nowadays used by many developers, but the true essence is lost. AURUM is bringing back artisans in every element of the development, and we want to inspire investors with the execution of the design.”
INTO THE BLUE
Who doesn’t dream of calling a tropical island home? Blue Amber is a new East African development, on the north-east coast of Zanzibar Island, that will offer five-star hospitality and a variety of premium residency options. The first residential phase will consist of 47 double-storey villas, available for sale to both local and foreign buyers. “For the first time, non-Tanzanian residents will be able to invest in property on the tropical island,” says Blue Amber managing director Saleh Said.
The aim of Pennyroyal Ltd, the long-term investor, developer and manager of the luxury development, is to create a resort that blends contemporary living with world-class hospitality facilities.
Whether it’s a serviced tropical villa, a seafront penthouse or a sophisticated urban apartment, wealthy investors are being presented with an array of lifestyle models. The demand for high-end investment opportunities is seeing the market respond with a diverse offering of serviced and luxury options.
TEXT: Lauren Groenewald PHOTOGRAPHS: Supplied