Banking professional Viraj Vaidya just brought a weekend home at Shahapur on the outskirts of Mumbai. The 30-year-old and his wife Mamta are both ecstatic over the swish 5,080 sq ft deluxe Thai villa and its sense of space, the fresh air and the greenery, but what they love most about their new home is its blue private swimming pool that sits in one corner, right opposite their bedroom.
"As we were looking to buy a property outside the city, we were sure there could be no compromise on luxury. So, buying a place with an in-built pool was a natural lifestyle choice," says Viraj.
The Vaidyas are among a growing breed of young and successful city dwellers who take their comforts seriously and are increasingly indulging in owning the ultimate in luxury – a personal swimming pool. This recent desire to own a personal blue water body right inside the property is best explained by Shail Sheth, a professional pool builder for celebrities and industrialists for 18 years. "There were hardly about five to seven private residential pools in cities a few years ago," he says. "But now, the number has drastically increased. Since the last year and a half, we have received more than 40 private pool contracts across Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Owning a swimming pool is the new style statement of the rich and successful."
Swimming pools were earlier the preserve of hotels, members-only clubs and the bungalows of the rich. But now the aspirations of a growing breed of ambitious and successful upper middle class professionals are making them ubiquitous in many homes.
Rajeeb Dash, marketing head, Tata Housing, which is building Prive luxury villas at Lonavla, says, "The buyer today is not just the rich and famous business tycoon. Now she or he is also a young and well-paid professional who believes in working hard and living life king-size."
And an in-house, personal swimming pool satiates this craving. Ahmedabad resident Nimish Patel, who owns a pool at his residence, agrees. "A pool adds an element of richness and comfort to a plush villa or even an indoor penthouse," says the 45-year-old.
But this desire to own a pool goes beyond the need to show off to your neighbours, family and friends. For many working professionals, it’s also a way to keep fit. “The pool is actually functional as it lets me swim when I want, without bothering about the fixed timings of a club,” explains 23-year-old MBA graduate Vivek Parikh, who owns a Prive villa at Lonavla. Still others use it as a means of leisure. “The pool allows us to spend many delightful evenings with friends and family,” says Viraj Vaidya.
For still others, a pool allows the same kind of facilities they took for granted while living abroad. Vivek Parikh, who has just returned to India after two years at the University of Wales in London, is a case in point. “In London, I had a pool in a rented apartment that was exclusively meant for me, and I was so fascinated with that culture that when I returned, I made it a point to buy a villa with a private pool,” he explains.
There’s also “a desire for exclusivity and the availability of disposable incomes,” says Nish Bhutani, COO of Saffronart, an online art auction house that has recently forayed into luxury homes. Adds Sheth, “The buyer today is well-travelled and brings home the idea of the luxury he or she enjoys on foreign shores.”
Then again, for some people, a private pool goes beyond leisure and luxury to make for the ideal investment opportunity. For instance, the Vaidyas, who presently stay in a two-BHK flat in Thane, decided to buy the Shahapur villa as their only investment for their post-retirement days.
“When we reach 50, we see ourselves lounging in our pool, with some fun floats around us, as we raise a toast to our silver jubilee anniversary with a glass of wine and lots of peace,” smiles Mamta Vaidya. And does the math add up when it comes to investing in a pool on top of the already overwhelming cost of a villa or a high-end penthouse?
“Well, it does, actually,” says Sheth. “Previously, the only way to even glimpse a pool in the city was through the membership of a high-end city club, and that would vary anywhere between Rs. 10-15 lakh. But the expense incurred on building a private pool for a lifetime is around R5-14 lakh, with an additional spend of Rs. 3,000-Rs. 5,000 per month for maintenance.”
For most people, though, owning a mini ocean of blue water is both a luxury as well as an investment. As Dilawar Nensey, joint MD, Royal Palms, puts it, “Private pools in private residences are viewed as a capital investment on infrastructure and as a long time luxury commodity.”
Tell that to the people partying in their pools!
From HT Brunch, September 4
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