Over the past few years, we’ve seen more and more hotel residences pop up around the world—especially now that the economy is bouncing back from the 2007 recession. Properties are adding a residential facet in both large metropolises where condo living is the norm as in places like New York City as well as more spread out cities where suburbia is a way of life like in Atlanta. For Four Seasons, which has managed high-end residences since 1982, the residential aspect is associated with nearly 40 percent of the total hotel and resort portfolio—and that percentage is steadily rising each year with upcoming projects from Brazil to China.
In New York-type places, it makes sense that you would want to live in a building that takes care of you as if you were a hotel guest. What is really interesting, though, is the fact that many people are forgoing the house with a beautiful yard in the suburbs in favor of a fully serviced condo in a high-rise.
In a sprawling city like Atlanta that’s known for its horrendous traffic, it’s becoming apparent that many people are sick of spending a hefty chunk of their lives behind the wheel. Instead, they’re now inhabiting these luxe condominiums that come with hotel-quality perks. One particular Atlanta hotel that offers this lifestyle is Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. “The demand for luxury condos, particularly those in hotel buildings, is very much alive again,” says Karen Rodriguez, director of sales at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Rodriguez has already sold enough units to total over $19 million.
Though The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta have been mostly vacant for quite a few years, the developer, iStar Residential Inc., has shifted from marketing these spacious units as pure shells to selling them as finished products, so all you have to do is move in your belongings—and now, roughly half of the 35 potential units have been sold and the rest are under construction, with starting prices at $2.1 million.
It would make sense that people who are buying these condos don’t want to have to think about an architectural plan—in Atlanta, you can build your own dream home for the same amount of money and fuss—which is precisely why there has been an increase in sales since promoting them as finished units. The residences come in three distinct color palettes—warm with light wood floors and cream hues; cool with dark wood floors and a sleek marble fireplace; and transitional, which is a mix of the two—all with the most up-to-date appliances (Miele) and amenities (think 300-square-foot balconies complete with gas fireplaces and Viking gas grills).
But, in our opinion, one of the biggest draws to a property like this is the ability to access all of the perks as if you were a hotel guest (yes, even 24-hour room service). The concierge is there to set up everything from a cooking class with pastry chef Analia Alvarez-Bobber (macarons, anyone?) to helicopter tours; and you can pop down to the 15,000-square-foot Four-Star spa for an Oriental Essence massage without even leaving the building.
“Buyers realize that the amenities like the amazing spa at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta and proximity to the city’s top restaurants and high-end retail are hard to come by in non-hotel condo properties,” says Rodriguez.
Of course, there are hotels throughout the world that boast residential aspects, and even more are opening as time goes on. In New York, where there’s little option to have a sprawling backyard—or much of a yard at all—it’s only natural that hotels would get into the residence game. One new player is Baccarat Hotel & Residences (as in the crystal company), which sits across from the Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street.
This specific property ups the ante on the term “hotel residences”—Manhattan is a competitive market, after all—thanks to its interior designer, Tony Ingrao, who is known for his remarkable residential portfolio (which includes the homes of Howard Stern, Donny Deutsch and Kim Cattrall). Currently, the units are being sold for anywhere between $5.15 million for a 1,167-square-foot condo to $60 million for the five-bedroom penthouse. When the hotel opens in late 2014, residents will have complete access to all that Baccarat Hotel has to offer (i.e. priority access to the restaurants, spa, pool and concierge), not to mention the expected condo services (home maintenance, personal shopping).
Aside from the major metropolitan areas, hotels are also partnering with developers to manage residences in vacation spots such as Surfside, Fla., where Four Seasons and Fort Capital are building a resort and residences that will incorporate a historic Russell Pancoast-designed structure alongside shiny new towers. The Surf Club Four Seasons Private Residences will feature 150 homes and penthouses in the two 12-story towers when it opens in 2016.
Some resorts offer a residential club component—rather than buying a specific unit, it’s more of a timeshare. For instance, at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa near San Diego, you can buy into one of the opulent villas. There will never be more than eight owners per villa, so you’re guaranteed a good amount of vacation time each year. In this case, you’re paying for time in a three-bedroom villa, but not necessarily the same residence each time you visit. Rest assured that each is as luxurious as the next, though. And as if it were your very own vacation home, you can leave your wardrobe for the next visit; the resort will take care of storing your clothes.
This concept is great for those who love the property, are looking for an easy getaway and prefer more of a hotel feel than a second home. Each of the 12 private villas is decked out in gorgeous Southwestern décor (picture hand-painted tiles and wood-beamed ceilings) with top-tier modern amenities such as HDTVs, fully equipped kitchens and indoor and outdoor fireplaces. Villa owners also have unlimited access to some of the SoCal resort’s best perks, including Rancho Valencia’s private fleet of Porsches. Four Seasons is also known for its residence clubs, at which you only pay for the amount of time you plan to spend there.
Hotel companies continue to sign on as the management for these glamorous residences. Mandarin Oriental recently announced that it would be expanding its Munich location with the addition of 19 residences by 2021. The Hong Kong-based group recently debuted its Taipei property, and opened one in Bodrum, Turkey, in early July. Both of the addresses have a residential aspect to them. Meanwhile, The Miami Beach Edition, which is slated to open in October, will boast 26 Ian Schrager-designed residences. The famed interior designer has come up with a unique concept for these chic condos: residential prêt-à-porter, meaning they’re stocked with everything you could possibly need (except maybe your toothbrush).
There’s no denying that hotel residences are becoming more widespread as the economy gains momentum. People are realizing that being on vacation even when you’re at home is not such a bad way to live.
Photos Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group LLC and Four Seasons