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The World is Not Enough

Drive past the dust-heaving,barren,concrete wilderness of Gurgaon,feel the sun bite into your bones,and you wonder what good can come out of this land?

Written by L RAMAKRISHNAN | New Delhi |
June 16, 2012 2:12:19 am

Drive past the dust-heaving,barren,concrete wilderness of Gurgaon,feel the sun bite into your bones,and you wonder what good can come out of this land?

Drive past the dust-heaving,barren,concrete wilderness of Gurgaon,feel the sun bite into your bones,and you wonder what good can come out of this land? That’s when you reach the gates of the DLF Aralias Club. It’s a good 20 minutes for the preliminary security check to be done and the guards open the gates. It’s instantly obvious,as you proceed down the driveway,arm-in-arm with an 18-hole golf course and frangipani trees on the other,that you have reached a luxury destination. The lobby offers a hotel-esque ambience,with high ceilings and shiny marble floors. The presence of an estate manager (groomed in the hospitality industry) bolster the image. He is quite literally the in-house Superman who can fix all your on-site problems,even hire a yacht if a resident so wishes.

Home owners have access to a pool,a luxury spa,a golf club (the Arnold Palmer-designed course is rated among the best in Asia). The golf club offers a discounted membership rate for residents and they also have access to an exclusive upscale restaurant inside the gated area. Aralias was advertised “by invitation only”,and will now be rivalled by another DLF project,Magnolias,coming up in an adjoining area. Price for an average 4-bedroom apartment is above Rs 10 crore and current rents are in the region of Rs 4 lakh a month.

Luxury apartments are literally the new “high” and builders are now fiercely competing with each other for any element of exclusivity,the latest trend being to hire international “starchitects.” The interiors of the 117-storey World One complex from the Lodha Group in Mumbai’s Worli will be designed by none other than Giorgio Armani. The property is touted as the world’s tallest residential tower and its curved structures will offer 360 degree views of the city,including the Bandra-Worli sea link,Mahalaxmi Race course and the Arabian Sea. Each three bedroom apartment is priced at Rs 12 crore. Apart from a Sixth Senses spa,the apartments boast of furniture and furnishings,and home accessories designed by Armani.

Another project,the Lodha Fiorenza towers at Goregaon,Mumbai with duplex apartments costing Rs 15 crore,is designed by aesthete Jade Jagger,designer daughter of Mick Jagger. Scheduled to be ready in phases,(two towers will be ready by 2014 and one in 2015),these homes will be fitted with iPad-controlled automation,Poggenpohl kitchens,European fittings from brands such as Gessi and Duravit and Italian marble flooring. Jagger’s touch serves to blend style with practicality. “Our partnership with Jade Jagger is an effort to cater to the consumer’s appetite for an avant-garde lifestyle that’s on par with international standards,” says R Karthik,chief marketing officer,Lodha Developers.

Indian celebrities aren’t far behind either; the most recent example being star wife Gauri Khan envisioning a Bollywood-type lifestyle for the 24K Glitterati luxury penthouses by Kolte Patil Developers Ltd. Scheduled for possession by the year end,the five premium residential towers with garden homes and five bedrooms in Pune’s Aundh Annexe offer facilities such as an outdoor barbeque counter,stylish open shower areas and even Balinese sculptures. Another celebrity,Twinkle Khanna,has done homes for One North,a project by Panchshil Realty,in Pune and is involved with another with Supertech,called Orb in Noida. These buildings are designed to be circular.

Living life king-size is the name of the game. Vijay Mallya,known for his flamboyant lifestyle,recently announced a super luxury apartment project in the heart of Bangalore on Vittal Mallya Road that could well be the most expensive in the city’s history. The project proposes 75 apartments at an asking rate of Rs 19.8 crore. Proposed to be built on his four-acre ancestral home,this 31-storey high-rise,super luxury residential building will have apartments ranging from 6,000 to 7,000 square feet. It is rumoured that Mallya himself will occupy a 70,000 – 80,000 square feet (around 1.5-2 acres) penthouse. The project is a joint development between Mallya and Prestige Estates.

Chennai isn’t far behind on the luxury wagon. Located in the heart of the city,The Art,an ultra opulent apartment complex,will have homes that spread out as bungalows. At Rs 12 crore,each floor spanning 6,000 square feet will have a single apartment,giving its residents luxury with privacy.

“The design is inspired by the Cubist paintings of Picasso that makes this a unique product,” says Suresh Kumar,managing director,Vijay Shanthi Builders who are promoting the project. Their over-the-top luxe quotient comes from the main hall of each unit where the marble floor would have inlays of rubies and mother of pearl,or semi-precious stones of the client’s choice. The company would also offer lifetime maintenance that would be available on call.

In fact,hassle free has become the leitmotif of ultra-luxe residential apartments these days in the form of concierge living. Be it Aralias and Magnolias in Gurgaon,or Prestige’s White Meadows in Bangalore,estate managers groomed in the hospitality industry are available 24×7 to ensure the amenities and surroundings are in pristine condition,maintenance is available on-site and utilities such as water and power are always on tap.

Other developers are offering unique extras. At Mantri Espana in Bangalore,the services of Apollo Hospital doctors are only a call away,with telemedicine reaching their Spanish-themed colonial apartments. Video conferencing and 24×7 consultations,besides nurse-on-call are among the many amenities residents can avail of. Their five bedroom apartments and penthouses are priced between Rs 3 crore to Rs 13.5 crore. Other amenities include a gym,a spa,a swimming pool,tennis courts,yoga room,and indoor badminton courts.

Customisation is an added benefit in such apartments. From flooring and sanitary fittings to home automation,residents can individualise their spaces; even have a bamboo garden,as one resident insisted at the Oxford Group’s Prabhat 6 in Pune. Priced at Rs 6 crore,the 3,000 square feet apartments come fully furnished with generous terraces of 500 square feet. There will also be a dedicated gym and home fitness system in each apartment. Gourmet kitchens and lap pools are part of the package. Realty majors like DLF have their own interior design arm,in partnership with Hong Kong-based Indigo,to do the interiors,which would add Rs 1-1.5 crore to the overall cost.

Then there are exclusive membership offers. At God’s Blessings,a luxury condominium in Koregaon Park,Pune,residents get a seven-year membership to the Westin hotel,besides a personal plunge pool in their homes and terrace lounges. The 7,000 square feet,5 BHK apartment costs between Rs 5 to Rs 7 crore. Overlooking the Mutha river and opposite the Westin,the apartment complex has a hydropneumatic water system to manage pressure,biometric lifts,double-glazed windows and maintenance service provided by US property consulting and advisory firm,Jones Lang Lasalle.

White Meadows in Whitefield takes its exclusivity very seriously with its “villas in the sky”,offering a choice of single,duplex,triplex and penthouses. With areas ranging from 6,651 square feet to 12,066 square feet,these are priced at Rs 7,000 upwards per square feet. Besides infinity pools,amenities include jacuzzis,home automation systems and fully fitted kitchens and designer bars.

Then there are those players who are really going niche. M3M,developing a golf estate in south Gurgaon,has one such offering,the M3M Polo Suites. The apartments are around 6,000 square feet and only one per floor. Each apartment is themed on polo. Each resident gets a membership that entitles him/her to attend polo matches around the world and to undergo polo and horse-riding lessons. Besides,the resident would have access to polo news and merchandise related to the game. The apartments would have a price tag of Rs 6-7 crore.

The one remarkable fact about such luxury living is that the location has been effectively rendered irrelevant. There is no prerequisite that a luxury development has to be at the edge of Mumbai’s Marine Drive or on Delhi’s Prithviraj Road. One can build a township just about anywhere,ensure connectivity to a major road,abut it with a golf course or a nature trail,add the frills and conveniences of a hotel,be selective about the company that residents keep and the sky is literally the limit.

Inputs from Amrita Jain (Pune),Vidya Prabhu (Mumbai),Gopu Mohan (Chennai),Bindu Gopal Rao (Bangalore)

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