The phoenix like (re)ascent of luxury

Luxury and ubiquity are unlikely bedfellows if simply because luxury implicitly assures and ensures more than a degree of exclusivity. Yet, a mere 3 years after the great recession luxury is making an improbably come-back everywhere.  It is no longer "gauche" as deemed by Forbes back then.  Nor are there any instances of the wealthy hoping to avoid prying eyes by using plain shopping bags as was the case with the wife of the former head of the defunct Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers. 

While gut-wrenching bouts of dismal economic data pop-up every now and then around the globe it has not deterred purveryors of luxury from hotels to homes, all of which seem to be on a vertiginous ascent  since the dark days of '08-09.  A recent Wall Street Journal article has a story that manages to fold travel, hotel and home into one overarching luxury combine: an ocean-liner called the World.

Residents of the World spend their lives at
sea. Privately and collectively owned, the ship has a mere 165  residences and "continuously circumnavigates the globe, spending extensive time in the
most exotic and well-traveled ports" resulting in the owners/residents wake up in a new destination every few days!  It is currently the largest privately owned yacht on earth but is soon to have two, albeit smaller, new competitors.

Not to be outdone on terra-firma, located stateside, are some of the most hyper-luxury developments that seem designed to stretch both wallet and credulity.   Faena house, an 18-story tower with a (deliberately) meager inventory of 47 apartments, a five-star hotel (the Faena Saxony) and an arts center by Rem Koolhaas's OMA design firm, has barely broken ground yet buyers seem to be tripping over themselves to buy the apartments.  The developers report that 50% of the apartments are under contract with buyers putting down a 50% cash deposit on the
apartments;  prices range from $2.5 million for a one-bedroom to an astounding $50
million for the full-floor duplex penthouse.

Few in the luxury market though could rival the ingeniousness and perhaps brass of the latest offering from New York's  Standard hotel.  Teaming up with Net-a-Porter which calls itself "the World's Premier Online Luxury Fashion Destination", the StndAIR, a seaplane service owned by the hotel's developer is giving new meaning to the term same-day service.  Customers can "place an order by
10AM and can have that Valentino dress (ordered via Net-a-Porter) before 9PM."  It wont be long before room-service (recently written off in some hotels) from celebrity chef based restaurants wings its way to sate the needs/desires the jet-set. 



Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.