Singapore luxury homes: Raising the standard

Luxury condominium living in Singapore is booming and a string of interesting lifestyle features are now being introduced to distinguish between developments. Property developers are outdoing themselves to meet the new lifestyle needs of their customers, from individual yacht berths at The Turquoise in Sentosa Cove to pools in each unit at The Marq and Parkview Éclat. There’s even a car-lift and a car porch in every apartment at The Hamilton.

“The current changes are driven mainly by competition as developers try to outdo each other, but investor demand is also supporting it,” explains Ku Swee Yong, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Savills Singapore. “Owners spending S$5-$10 million on a property require not only high-end fittings in the kitchen and bathrooms but extra features like wine fridges and watch drawers, and also soft products such as concierge, housekeeping, event planning and fitness instructors.”

The trend is not limited to Singapore. One KL in Kuala Lumpur will offer an infinity-edge swimming pool in each apartment. However, it was Le Raffiné in Bangkok that set the standard in the region with its bungalows-in-the sky, where two-storey properties, with their own swimming pool and small gardens, are literally stacked up in the air, giving owners the impression of living in a landed property instead of a city-centre high-rise.

Back in Singapore, SkyPark @ Somerset follows a similar concept, with 29 duplexes each having their own landscaped garden. Furthermore, the condominium’s basement offers a chauffeur room and golf-bag storage for each household.

Another fairly recent trend accompanying the development of hotel co-branding is the arrival of concierges in high-end condominiums. In Singapore, the St Regis and the Ritz-Carlton Residences will both offer this exclusive level of service and a few similar projects can be found throughout the region.

The upcoming Boulevard Vue and its 28 exclusive units off Orchard Boulevard will also offer a 24-hour concierge service as well as a chef-on-demand at the Gourmet outdoor kitchen. Meanwhile, Hilltops on Cairnhill is reputed to be the first project in Singapore to have a resort-style steam spa room in every apartment.

Fitting in the finest

In terms of interior design, clients are becoming increasingly more discerning. Some recent property projects include Zucchetti and Philippe Starck fittings, Gaggenau and De Dietrich appliances, Hansgrohe bathrooms, Bulthaup custom-kitchen system, web-enabled Legrand intelligent lighting system, Poliform wardrobes, Sub-Zero wine coolers and sanitary wares from Laufen Alessi.

“Location is still the most important thing but fittings are part and parcel of brand positioning and the whole package,” notes Nicholas Chua, Senior Manager at Ho Bee Investments.

“Any luxury development has to have high-end fittings, as people now demand it,” says Satinder Garcha, head of Elevation Developments. “It’s kind of like people expect leather seats, high-end audio and navigation systems in marquee cars. We pay special attention to our kitchens and bathrooms, and also include nice touches such as integrated cappuccino makers and wine fridges. It’s the little details that make a difference.”

Roland Ong, General Manager – Project Division at Miele, says his company has developed long-term relationships with property developers for residences that target discerning consumers.

“The kitchen is a key element of home design because it’s a highly visible aspect of the overall home that buyers assess at the point of purchase,” he says. “Very often, consumers judge the quality of the appliances in the kitchen as an indication of the development’s positioning. Having premium kitchen appliances is taken to indicate the entire home will be designed, constructed and finished to meet equally high standards.”

Over the last five years, Ong has noticed a shift in the role of the kitchen in luxury homes, as it becomes more of a focal point and is increasingly integrated into the living-dining space.

Chua agrees, pointing out that Ho Bee is now trying to have an open-kitchen design with an entertainment island in most of its luxury projects. “This has been an important trend in the last couple of years,” he confirms.

It’s in the details

Premium property developers are now seeking to offer more value to consumers and are therefore integrating more, and new, appliances into their kitchens, with their style and design seen as key personal indicators of luxury.

“Our partners are now venturing beyond the standard oven, hob, hood and dishwasher,” Ong explains. “Their premium kitchens feature Miele’s integrated wine cellars and coffee machines, steam ovens, which are quickly replacing the microwave oven as a kitchen essential, and food-warming drawers. They often opt to locate the cooking area at a separate island, now a standard feature in most high-end kitchens.”

Some developers are now seeking to install more unique features in their new projects in order to offer greater differentiation. A number of them have expressed interest in home networks, which integrates communication-enabled appliances into a SMART home network.

Ku points out that most of those condominiums with luxury fittings are bought by high-net-worth foreigners who are buying mainly for their own use.

“Provided you don’t develop too many units, there will always be a market for products like these that differentiate themselves from the normal condominium,” Ku says. “But these should not be priced unreasonably or they won’t sell well. Unfortunately, it has been the case in many of those projects and they take a couple of years to sell out.”

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop

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