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Nothing simple about luxury

The aspiring home-owner can feast on expansive swimming pools, and posh interiors, writes Vandana Ramnani.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 21:39 IST

What will it be? A few frills or a super luxury penthouse? How about a villa with a golf course – with a lake thrown in for good measure? These and more are on offer for exclusive clients willing to pay over a crore for a slice of luxury, says Vandana Ramnani.

In a bid to woo customers to buy premium flats and villas, builders are innovating with an ever-expanding list of luxury features. On offer are several luxury segments – a basic luxury apartment with few frills, half-finished apartments, super luxury penthouses and villas with golf course and lakes. For those moneybags, a crore and above isn't too much to pay for an exceptional experience. This is verily the new real estate game.

The trend is delineating various strata of upwardly mobile buyers. More than building mere castles in the air, the New Age home-buyer is discerning – seeking more than a home in her choice of residence. Top of the list are NRIs, senior IT executives, industrialists, Double Income no Kids (DINK) couples and last, but not the least, breakaway members of illustrious joint families seeking to invest the money from their ancestral property in these houses.

Starting at Rs 5,000 per sqm moving well up to over Rs 10,000 per sqm, the top-end apartments spread over an area of several thousand square metres. Spacious interiors are balanced by verdant acres. The aspiring home-owner can feast on expansive swimming pools, central air conditioning, jacuzzis and the inevitable vaastu-friendly design.

These apartment blocks also offer valet service, exclusive glass lifts, meditation centres, yoga centres, golf courses, signages in Braille amongst other fine-living accessories. Naturally, a buyer can forget all about daily electricity and water problems. However, the catch is that you can become a buyer only by invitation. How exclusive can a club be? Read on...

"The concept of luxury varies equally on parameters such as location, ambience, material used and amenities offered," says Rajiv Agnihotri, Senior Business Analyst, Propertiesindia.com.

"The demand for these properties comes from the crème de la crème of society, those wanting to change over to a higher level of lifestyle, people who are looking for a stress-buster ambience," says Santosh Kumar, COO, Trammell Crowe Meghraj.

He is quick to add that a developer often has to provide more facilities to sustain a high price in the market.

According to Subroto Pradhan, VP and Client Servicing Director of JWT, which has spearheaded Unitech Ltd's 'luxury homes' ad campaign, sellers of luxury apartments target two types of people – those who look at the externalisation of premium or luxury and those who are interested in the internationsation of luxury.

There are people who try to gain an organisational connect and tend to be ostentatious. A flashy style with a keen sense of extravaganza, they need to be seen and talked about. Other buyers are those with refined tastes. Luxury for them is a self-actualisation principle.

It is a way of saying "I have arrived" subtly. For them luxury is a reflection of themselves, something they believe in and enjoy. These are the ways in which you go about positioning a luxury apartment, says Pradhan. Luxury apartments are all about exclusivity, a private experience, indulgence and opulence.

When a builder seeks to position his product, he first tries to understand the consumer's psychographic and demographic profile, which indicates his buying intentions. The ultimate feeling after acquiring a world class premium villa is "I waited to live this moment." The consumer's experience therefore has to be an amalgamation of the personalised and the exceptional.

This, in turn, feeds the architect's approach to the design. His brief is all about striking an emotional chord. An experience, an intangible something, that will make the consumer seek ownership of a premium product – something that will match the stature he has attained in life, says Pradhan.

A luxury apartment seeks to pamper potential buyers and relax the senses. It could thus be fully wired, or have two or three swimming pools for different age-groups, a business lounge, a recreation centre, terrace gardens, tennis courts, malls, cinema halls and even hotels within the complex. It must also be remembered that most people aspiring towards premium apartments are those who are well travelled or have a lived a life of luxury abroad.

"Access to global lifestyles and international living along with the availability of high personal disposal wealth has created a niche segment of high networth incomed individuals who would prefer to live in ultra luxurious apartments and penthouses.

The aloofness from the masses and exclusivity of high rise penthouses has given them a new high in life. Peer admiration is another factor," says Amitabh Bhattacharya, Vice President, Corporate Communication, Omaxe.

The big-ticket Indian buyer has more or less agreed to live life king size.

Email Vandana Ramnani: vandana .ramnani@hindustantimes.com