At Neelkanth Woods in Thane, the clubhouse is managed by a team with five­-star hotel experience.
At Neelkanth Woods in Thane, the clubhouse is managed by a team with five­-star hotel experience.

Meet the invisible armies that run Mumbai’s luxury housing complexes

It takes a 24x7 maintenance crew to keep things going, when the frills that come with a flat include a boating pond, mural garden, Bollywood-themed ‘studios’.
By Lavina Mulchandani | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 16, 2017 07:42 PM IST

Like any Bollywood movie, Punit Agarwal’s residential project in Palghar came with a twist. The CEO and MD of Nirvana Realty had constructed Wollywood, a Bollywood-themed housing complex, in Wada. The place had a film studio, a library of Bollywood films, a lake for boating, an amphitheatre and a temple much like the one Amitabh Bachchan went to in Deewar. It had all the making of a hit. Then reality struck.

Residents moved in and Agarwal realised just how challenging it was to maintain the ‘set’. “We have over 100 people maintaining the 50-acre property every day,” says Agarwal. Bhupendra Sawant, general manager of the project explains that while other residential complexes just have a basic clubhouse and a pool, Wollyood’s frills called for a lot more maintenance. “We also open the lake to visitors over the weekend,” he says. The added footfall means still more work.

At the high end of the real-estate promotion, builders try to outdo each other with better and better amenities – and customers keep demanding more. Siddharth Goel, senior director of research services at realty consultancy Cushman and Wakefield says Indian customers get services and conveniences that are best-in-class not only in India but also globally. “Developers are not just competing with each other, but even with themselves to outdo what they offered in their previous projects,” he says.

So top-end properties start to resemble seven-star hotels, giving developers sleepless nights. “The major concern is maintaining the visible areas of the property – the landscaped gardens and lounge areas, and employing quality housekeeping,” says Vinod Rohira, MD & CEO, Commercial Real Estate & REIT at K Raheja Corp.

Keeping the fantasy alive for residents takes creativity, skilled solutions and more than a little elbow grease. Here’s how some developers meet the challenge.

Wollywood, a luxury project in Palghar, has a cinema theme and needs over 100 trained people to keep it looking like a film set.
Wollywood, a luxury project in Palghar, has a cinema theme and needs over 100 trained people to keep it looking like a film set.

SCALING UP

At ultra-luxury projects, the maintenance team is often led by and comprised of workers who’ve handled five-star hotels and the hospitality industry.

Ryan Barucha was in charge of banqueting and guest services at Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Colaba for over five years before he joined SILA, a firm that manages amenities for high-end housing projects. SILA looks after Raheja Exotica Sorento in Madh Island, Neelkanth Woods in Thane and Sumer Trinity Towers in Prabhadevi.

“Hotel training is necessary to be able to manage luxury-project facilities,” says Barucha. “Residents use these amenities every day and things happen that only trained staff can deal with.”

The reverse osmosis water filtration system used to get clean water for homes and spas in within a building complex, for instance, is not something a regular plumber can come fix. It needs skilled people to maintain.

“There also needs to be a trained project manager and receptionist in lobby who can deal with the grand demands of residents and respond to them,” says Barucha. “Most of the housekeeping staff is connected via mobile applications. They needs to be trained to be able to use it.”

Residents of Raheja Exotica Sorento have an on-site business centre, housekeeping and laundry services and a café. “We only hire staff with five-star hotel experience and skills because here the amenities are the same or even better,” says Rushabh Vora, co-founder and director of SILA.

“We have housekeeping staff from The Renaissance and St Regis,” he says.

But developers or housing societies don’t pay five-star maintenance prices. So SILA develops a cost-effective model. The lobby and podium at Sumer Trinity towers in Prabhadevi have a lot of fancy lights, and keeping then switched on all day, like at a hotel was expensive.

“We set up timers so they are switched off during the day,” says Vora. “We also reduce the staff when the project reaches a standard maintenance level and does not require as many people to take care of it.”

For their project, Nahar Amrit Shakti in Chandivli, the Nahar group hired a landscape studio from Singapore to design a gigantic podium garden.

Residents of Raheja Exotica Sorento have an on-site business centre, housekeeping and laundry services, and a café.
Residents of Raheja Exotica Sorento have an on-site business centre, housekeeping and laundry services, and a café.

“The team flies in for regular checks of the garden,” says Manju Yagnik, vice-chairperson of Nahar group. The property also has life-sized chess boards, life-sized sculptures and imported play equipment.

“We have over 30 people taking care of each sector of the garden,” Yagnik says. “The team includes professional gardeners and landscapists that ensure the design is intact and structures are clean. We have regulations in place and ensure that no vehicles pass by or are parked near gardens so residents can have a pollution-free environment.”

Bhupendra Sawant, general manager at Nirvana Realty, which developed Wollywood, worked with resorts in south India and a hotel in Oman for several years before he joined Nirvana. Wollywood’s in-house maintenance crew includes electricians and plumbers. “So you do not have to waste time waiting for one when needed,” he says. “We train each of them, and provide their lodging and boarding, stay and food.”

When the party is over

The major challenge in the case of high-maintenance facilities is when a society is formed in the complex, says Vora of SILA. “The society is not very willing to pay for housekeepers and their children,” he says. “They don’t realise that dealing with the wear and tear takes expertise.”

At Wollywood, the on-site lake and the boating comes at a cost – lifeguards and boatmen get their salaries out of the residents’ monthly maintenance fees.

At Goa’s Isprava luxury homes, marketed as second homes for city-dwellers, each home owner has an assigned property manager who takes care of everything from changing a light bulb to arranging a car driver.

“The residents get an app through which they can call electricians, get a cook or check on security,” says Nibhrant Shah, founder and CEO of ISPRAVA. “The services are free for the first year of living. We get staff from across India and bear the cost of training them and keeping them. It’s no different from the challenges faced by the hospitality industry.”

As time goes by, another challenge emerges: how to keep an old property looking brand new when residents aren’t willing to pay more for maintenance.

“Water palms by the pool require effort to replace,” says Agarwal of Nirvana group. “We get horticulturists from across the country to maintain our gardens.”

In many cases, residents want changes and upgrades in the gated neighbourhood they now call home. “We are asked to create more pathways in the gardens and have to do so without compromising on the design,” says Yagnik from Nahar group. This is an additional cost for the developer.

Handling over the amenities to facility management agencies and housekeeping firms sees the only viable option in the long run. “It becomes cumbersome for a developer to manage them until he hands it over to the society,” says Kishore Mane, project manager at Sumer Group, which offers suite guest rooms in the club house, open air café and pool deck in their upcoming projects.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Petition had argued that gathering the requisite numbers of homebuyers under the same real estate project before NCLT was a challenge.(HT File)
Petition had argued that gathering the requisite numbers of homebuyers under the same real estate project before NCLT was a challenge.(HT File)

IBC amendments imposing numerical threshold on homebuyers gets SC nod

By Abraham Thomas, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 08:08 AM IST
  • The Centre defended the amendments to the Code before the court stating that the amendments were part of an economic measure that were modelled on the same lines as the Companies Act.
Close
Acute labour shortage and monetary crises are cited as the reasons for the slowdoen in real estate sector(Bachchan Kumar/ Hindustan Times)
Acute labour shortage and monetary crises are cited as the reasons for the slowdoen in real estate sector(Bachchan Kumar/ Hindustan Times)

CREDAI seeks tax sops in Budget to boost housing demand

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 10, 2021 03:04 PM IST
CREDAI suggested that investment of up to 50,000 in REITs should be allowed as deduction under Section 80C.
Close
Price of construction steel or TMT bars had recently touched Rs 45,000 a tonne in some markets.(Bloomberg Fille Photo)
Price of construction steel or TMT bars had recently touched Rs 45,000 a tonne in some markets.(Bloomberg Fille Photo)

Realty firms may witness margin shrink by 4-6% due to steel price rise

By Press Trust of India | Posted by Kanishka Sarkar | Kolkata
UPDATED ON JAN 05, 2021 04:57 PM IST
Real estate industry body Credai Bengal president Nandu Belani said the spurt in steel prices will reduce the margin by 4-5 per cent, which is quite high for the sector.
Close
Real estate values could rise further this year, as the government expects the economy to expand by 4% to 6%, rebounding from last year’s 5.8% contraction.(Getty Images/iStockphoto. Representative image)
Real estate values could rise further this year, as the government expects the economy to expand by 4% to 6%, rebounding from last year’s 5.8% contraction.(Getty Images/iStockphoto. Representative image)

Singapore home prices rise to highest in more than two years

By Bloomberg| Posted by: Harshit Sabarwal
PUBLISHED ON JAN 05, 2021 02:44 PM IST
Property values increased 2.1% in the three months ended Dec. 31, according to a preliminary estimate by the Urban Redevelopment Authority released Monday. That’s the biggest increase since the second quarter of 2018, when prices increased by 3.4%.
Close
A view of the market inside Delhi Development Authority (DDA) Flats at Narela in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT File Photo)
A view of the market inside Delhi Development Authority (DDA) Flats at Narela in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT File Photo)

DDA’s new housing scheme launched; 1,354 flats, costliest worth Rs 2.14 crore

By Press Trust of India | Posted by Kanishka Sarkar | New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 02, 2021 08:14 PM IST
The scheme is completely online, done through the newly developed AWAAS software of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) from processing of application to possession of flats, a senior official said.
Close
Sales of homes that cost more than $4 million were a little above those of the same three months in 2019(Bloomberg)
Sales of homes that cost more than $4 million were a little above those of the same three months in 2019(Bloomberg)

New York luxury real estate could be a bargain in 2021

By Bloomberg | Posted by Ayshee Bhaduri
PUBLISHED ON DEC 23, 2020 04:49 PM IST
As the city looks toward next year, the known unknowns loom large, and the economic futures of the city, the country, and the world are up in the air. But the city’s luxury residential market has enough momentum to make experts feel comfortable making some conditional predictions.
Close
Mumbai-based Godrej Properties is the real estate arm of the Godrej Group.(AP | Representational image)
Mumbai-based Godrej Properties is the real estate arm of the Godrej Group.(AP | Representational image)

Godrej Properties ranks first among listed housing developers globally in sustainability

By Press Trust of India | Posted by Srivatsan K C | New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON DEC 14, 2020 08:11 PM IST
In a regulatory filing, Godrej Properties said GRESB, an organisation that provides environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmarks for real estate organisations globally, has recognised the company as a real estate development sector leader both globally and in Asia for listed residential real estate.
Close
The transacted portfolio has assets in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and the groups co-working operator CoWrks.(Mint | Representational image)
The transacted portfolio has assets in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and the groups co-working operator CoWrks.(Mint | Representational image)

RMZ Corp divests 18% of their real assets worth USD 2 Billion to Brookfield

By Press Trust of India | Posted by Srivatsan K C | Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON DEC 07, 2020 12:37 PM IST
“The deal between RMZ Corp and Brookfield marks our most important milestones for the year- conversion to a ‘debt-free’ firm. At RMZ, we look forward to enhancing our hypergrowth strategy,” said Manoj Menda, Corporate Chairman, RMZ Corp.
Close
Rents in Beijing in November slumped 7.61% from a year earlier, extending October’s 3.4% drop, while the southern boomtown of Guangzhou saw a 1.05% decline, its first since January.(Reuters file photo. Representative image)
Rents in Beijing in November slumped 7.61% from a year earlier, extending October’s 3.4% drop, while the southern boomtown of Guangzhou saw a 1.05% decline, its first since January.(Reuters file photo. Representative image)

Rents in Chinese cities lowest in nearly two years, shows report

By Reuters| Posted by: Harshit Sabarwal | Beijing
PUBLISHED ON DEC 02, 2020 01:50 PM IST
Average home rental prices in November stood at 34.71 yuan ($5.30) per square metre down from 42.65 yuan in October, according to data from Zhuge House Hunter. That’s the lowest since January 2019, the Chinese property data provider said.
Close
Property ownership -- long a struggle for low earners -- has increasingly become the preserve of the better off.(Bloomberg Photo. Representative image)
Property ownership -- long a struggle for low earners -- has increasingly become the preserve of the better off.(Bloomberg Photo. Representative image)

UK’s hot housing market highlights Covid’s two-speed economy

By Bloomberg| Posted by: Harshit Sabarwal
UPDATED ON DEC 02, 2020 11:59 AM IST
House prices have surged to new records and mortgage approvals are at the highest level since before the financial crisis as the affluent take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates and a transaction-tax cut to seek more space or leave urban areas.
Close
The Centre will send the Model Tenancy Law, after approval from the Union Cabinet, to States for its adoption.(HT File Photo)
The Centre will send the Model Tenancy Law, after approval from the Union Cabinet, to States for its adoption.(HT File Photo)

Govt to soon come out with model tenancy law

By Press Trust of India | Posted by Kanishka Sarkar | New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON NOV 25, 2020 05:03 PM IST
Addressing a webinar organised by realtors body NAREDCO, he said the government’s Affordable Rental Housing Complex (ARHC) scheme for migrants, which was launched few months ago, has been progressing well and the programme has the potential to stop creation of slums in cities.
Close
Mumbai was ranked 33rd with 1.3 per cent fall in annual price. The city also saw a decline of 0.7 per cent in prices compared to the June quarter.(Abhijit Bhatlekar/ Mint file photo)
Mumbai was ranked 33rd with 1.3 per cent fall in annual price. The city also saw a decline of 0.7 per cent in prices compared to the June quarter.(Abhijit Bhatlekar/ Mint file photo)

Delhi ranks 27th, Mumbai 33rd globally as fastest-growing prime residential market: Report

By Press Trust of India| Posted by: Harshit Sabarwal | New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON NOV 24, 2020 02:23 PM IST
“Delhi’s prime residential market performed better than Mumbai and Bengaluru. Globally, the city ranked 27th with a 0.2 per cent annual price change for the period Q3 2019 – Q3 2020; with a decline of 0.1 per cent price change in Q3 2020 compared to the previous quarter,” Knight Frank said.
Close
Prestige Estates Projects Ltd will develop four new housing projects in Bengaluru, Goa and Hyderabad with an investment of nearly Rs 2,000 crore(Mint file)
Prestige Estates Projects Ltd will develop four new housing projects in Bengaluru, Goa and Hyderabad with an investment of nearly Rs 2,000 crore(Mint file)

Prestige group to invest Rs 2,000 crore on housing projects in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Goa

By Press Trust of India | Posted by PrashastiSingh | New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON NOV 23, 2020 07:28 AM IST
The Bengaluru-based company will develop nearly 3,400 housing units in these four projects over the next three and half years.
Close
The profiteering regulator has ordered two developers to cut prices of flats to pass on the profiteered amount to buyers with 18% interest.(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)
The profiteering regulator has ordered two developers to cut prices of flats to pass on the profiteered amount to buyers with 18% interest.(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)

Builders told to cut home prices, pass on GST gains

By Gireesh Chandra Prasad | Livemint, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 16, 2020 03:59 AM IST
This month, the NAA confirmed previously issued orders to two other builders to pass on the benefits of tax credits to customers but dropped proceedings to impose penalty.
Close
One can now buy a house at a rate 20% lower than the one arrived at according to the circle rate(Bloomberg)
One can now buy a house at a rate 20% lower than the one arrived at according to the circle rate(Bloomberg)

You can now buy houses at 20% below circle rate: All you need to know

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Prashasti Singh | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 13, 2020 02:46 PM IST
Circle rate is the minimum rate of property set by the authorities for a particular area.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP