When luxury real estate promoters plan their next development, much thought goes into the facilities and features that will convince buyers. While in the past, a children’s play area, party room, gym and reception service might have been more than enough, in today’s high-end real estate market, those features are considered almost a minimum requirement, and often found in not so high-end property developments.
What was once considered a luxury, then becomes a must-have, and later becomes a basic requisite. While this transition used to take about seven years to accomplish, now, it’s a three-year cycle. It’s captivating to watch that progression.
Now, many developers include comforts and features taken directly from the luxury hotel world into their projects. “People have become used to staying in these ultra-luxe resorts,” said Miami-based real estate developer Daniel Kodsi. “Now they want the same experience in their personal, day-to-day lives.”
But it’s not enough to just include these facilities and check off the boxes. The authenticity of experiences have become more critical than the amenity itself, Mr. Karmely said, noting, “we’re moving away from tokenism.”
Other experts agreed. “Genuine quality and genuine function are finally the measuring stick of luxury,” said Anna Zarro, senior vice president of sales and leasing at Extell Development Company.
“We’re analysing what facilities the owners are really going to use on an everyday basis,” added Lauren Witkoff, executive vice president of the Manhattan-based Witkoff development firm. “It’s about lifestyle.”
With that push toward meaning in mind, here are four concepts that developers are incorporating into new luxury real estate projects now.
A focus on health and wellness
One way top-tier buildings are adding meaning to health and wellness spaces is by hiring professional teams to both design the building’s gym and oversee personal training, diet and fitness programs for residents.
Within these gyms, there’s now much more than just boring weight and cardio machines and dumbbells. Now, it’s frequent to find the TRX cables, elastic bands and medicine balls that functional trainers need.
Yoga rooms, meditation rooms and Turkish-style hammam steam rooms have also become more present in developments like One Manhattan Square. Hammams have been popular in the French Alp new developments for over 10 years now. But going back to that idea of adding value, some new developments, like Oil Nut Bay in the British Virgin Islands, are actually hiring an on-site yoga instructor to lead private and small-group sessions.
When it comes to swimming pools, saltwater pools are the latest must-have feature, developers say. If not Olympic size, Mr. Karmely prefers that they’re exactly half that standard length, so that swimmers can time their laps correctly.
And then there are smaller, thoughtful features based on promoting health. At Miami’s Eleven on Lenox, the Shoma Group developers included a smart lighting system in each of the units that imitate the rhythm of the day. “It’s meant to coincide with our natural circadian rhythms and ensure that the body’s sleep and waking cycles are properly aligned,” developer Masoud Shojaee wrote in an email.
At Tribeca’s 111 Murray Street, Ms. Witkoff said they’re putting steam ovens into kitchens in addition to regular ovens, so health-conscious buyers have the option to steam-cook their meals. “Things like this make an impression on people and fit into a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Catering to older kids
When Douglas Elliman broker John Gomes is in planning meetings for new developments, one amenity he said he’s heard a lot about recently are tween rooms, or spaces for older kids. “There’s always a children’s playroom,” he said, “but this is different.”
Tween rooms are typically separate from the building’s shared lounge space, with video game consoles and some space to practice and play musical instruments.
Mr. Kodsi, who’s working on the Paramount Miami Worldcenter tower, boasting more than 44 amenities in all, said that this building has a tween-specific room and also a separate “jam room,” a “party room on steroids,” where people can play instruments or sing karaoke.
The Kent, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, also has a music room, known as “The Sound Lounge,” in which developer Extell added value by having Lenny Kravitz Design handpick the room’s materials, color and equipment—including guitars, a drum set, a piano and amplifiers. “This is a forward-thinking space that appeals to everyone,” Ms. Zarro said.
Smart technology and connectivity
Two years ago, there was a big push to develop smart homes, and include features like a non-traditional key and the latest tech gizmos, said Ms. Zarro. But once people got over the excitement of what was possible, the focus returned to including only those things that are the most useful and functional for residents.
That means that in new luxury construction, pre-wiring for connectivity is a must-have, Mr. Gomes said. “No one wants to break through the walls and start this process after construction is finished,” he continued.
Another must-have is including multiple zones for heating and cooling, he said, so that owners can control the temperature in each room.
When it comes to his buildings’ security, Mr. Karmely is integrating available technologies so that there is facial recognition in the lobby and elevators of One River Point. “The elevator won’t take you anywhere if it doesn’t recognize you,” he said.
All of these features—from facial recognition down to a simple USB outlet on a kitchen island—should be well thought out, convenient and improve owners’ daily lives, experts said.
“We should be able to explain to people how the hardware, the software and the human element work together to give them meaningful security or luxury,” Mr. Karmely said.
On-site personal and concierge services
When Ms. Witkoff considered what amenities would make future residents lives easier and better at 111 Murray, one of the first things that came to mind was an on-site salon where women could have a blowout, she said. So, the building will have the first ever private Drybar. It will also have a “jewel box patisserie,” stocked with yummy pastries from a local bakery for the same reason: convenience.
Private, residents-only restaurants, like the one Argentinian developer Eduardo Costantini has planned for his new Miami building, Oceana Bal Harbour, also fall within this must-have amenity category, and have become popular for the same reason.
As have top-line concierge services, like the one Mr. Kodsi has planned for the Paramount Miami Worldcenter. Whether a resident wants to take a daytrip on a boat or have a specific type of car ready for them to drive the next day, concierge services, accessed via resident’s phones, will make it happen. “People want that personal touch,” Mr. Kodsi said. “They want to feel like they’re living in a five-star resort.”