by Tory Kingdon, The Telegraph, March 22, 2018
Coco Chanel, Peter Sellers, Oscar Wilde and Elizabeth Taylor all made their home a hotel at some point in their lives. There is something undeniably glamorous about checking in with no intention of checking out. Now, a recent swathe of new developments serviced by hotels make this way of life a reality.
“In New York in the Twenties and Thirties, the finest accommodation in the city was undoubtedly in the Carlyle or the Pierre,” says Dick Friedman, chief executive of Carpenter & Co, a property firm, who is also a director of the Four Seasons Group. “It’s coming back into fashion,” he says.
“If you were to buy a townhouse, to have the same level of luxury you’d need to employ a huge number of staff. In a hotel residence, if you want maid service twice a day, someone to walk the dog, a martini at 2am or your dry cleaning done, you can have all of this. You’re not living in a hotel as such but you’re living in a luxury environment, where you get full service.”
Friedman has most recently been involved in the development of One Dalton, a 61-storey glass tower containing a Four Seasons hotel which services 160 luxury apartments in the historic Back Bay area of Boston. The scheme is due to be completed by the end of this year and prices start from $2.75 million (£1.98 million) to over $40 million for the duplex penthouse which, if sold, would be a record for the city.
According to Friedman, it is the fastest-selling Four Seasons development so far; he’s even bought there himself. For those concerned with cost efficiencies, a serviced apartment makes sense, says Friedman.
“With any of these kinds of projects, I encourage buyers to downsize. Don’t buy a four-bedroom if you only really need a two-bedroom,” he says. Guests can always stay in the hotel downstairs, after all. “You have this ability to expand your living environment when you need it.”
It is obviously a winning formula, as Four Seasons is now developing similar projects in Miami Beach, New Orleans and China. In London, its most recent launch is the branded residences at Ten Trinity Square.
It is a beautifully historic building that was the former headquarters of the Port of London Authority, and overlooks the Tower of London. The hotel opened quietly at the end of 2016 and there are 41 fully serviced residences, with prices starting from £5 million, rising to £18 million.
Designed by Martin Kemp, who was creative director with developers Candy & Candy, it has a luxe Sixties feel, furnished with vintage Murano glass chandeliers, velvet cocktail chairs and beautiful leather panelling.
Owners can take advantage of the vast spa, with a hi-tech gym and two swimming pools; downstairs there is French restaurant La Dame de Pic, headed up by the only French female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, Anne-Sophie Pic.
It is not an easy time to be selling a luxury property in the UK capital. The prices of the most expensive homes in central London dropped by 15 per cent in the three years to September 2017, according to data from Savills. Activity is sluggish and properties have languished on the market.
But there is a difference with these serviced apartments, when buyers see a well-known brand attached to their purchase, says Savills’ Rod Taylor. “They know what they’re buying into, and there’s security in that. Branded serviced apartments compared to non-branded serviced apartments will always sell,” he adds.
For the developer, too, there is security in attaching yourself to a brand. Luxury property developer Clivedale London has teamed up with the Dorchester Collection to launch a new super-prime residential scheme, Mayfair Park Residences, adjacent to Park Lane and Hyde Park, and due to be completed in 2019. The development will include an 8,500 sq ft fitness area with its own pool, gym and spa.
If that is not enough, buyers of the luxury apartments will also have access to the facilities at both the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane.
In December, Clivedale also announced a further partnership with Mandarin Oriental on a new development on Hanover Square in Mayfair. Hanover Bond will consist of 80 Mandarin Oriental residences for purchase, with prices starting from £1.999 million, as well as a Mandarin Oriental hotel with 50 guest rooms and suites. It is due to complete in 2021.
Further afield, the latest development from the popular Grace Hotels group, Grace St Moritz, will open in 2019 with a collection of 17 fully serviced luxury apartments. Prices start from £613,585 for a studio and go up to £8,022,376 for a penthouse.
Handily, it offers English buyers an opportunity to buy a freehold property in the Swiss town, a market that has been largely closed to non-Swiss nationals due to a property law enforced in 2012 that capped second-home ownership by foreigners.
The hotel group has created a scheme that enables the freehold apartments to be available for limited owner occupancy for a certain period and, when not in use, owners will earn revenue by renting all or part of them back to hotel guests; Grace Hotels will take care of all the servicing, maintenance and marketing to guests when not in use.
When owners are in residence, they will have access to all the facilities of the hotel that paying guests would enjoy, which will include two restaurants, an all-day café, a bar, a cigar lounge, an event space, a children’s club, a ski shop and a spa.
Of course, all this doesn’t come for free, as there are some hefty service charges to pay. “These vary enormously by location and place,” says Hugo Thistlethwayte of Savills. He estimates that in London a two to three-bedroom apartment would command charges of up to £25,000 a year. “It makes a huge difference which amenities come with, and which brand it is linked to.”
Whether you are looking for a $40 million city penthouse or a bolt hole overlooking the Alps, a property serviced by a hotel could, for a price, provide security and comfort in a turbulent market, plus that all-important midnight martini.