Living a life of luxury is a desire many people share. It means a lifestyle that affords residents top-quality accommodation, often complete with clubhouse facilities to cater for different needs and interests of occupants in modern property developments.
Developers are investing more resources into the design of clubhouses with diverse recreational facilities. They sometimes take cues from luxury hotels to create an ambience of modern opulence, from outdoor and indoor heated swimming pools to steam and sauna rooms; gyms with yoga and training rooms; mini-theatres; spas and beauty centres; and banquet rooms with chefs preparing fine food for residents.
Developers are often willing to spend millions of dollars to build a clubhouse for their project. The Hermitage, a new project developed by Sino Group in West Kowloon, is one example. Its clubhouse, The Hermitage Club, is designed by Paul Tange Associates and Wilson Associates. The two-storey clubhouse draws inspiration from classical European palaces and provides luxury recreational facilities, including outdoor and indoor heated swimming pools, a grand theatre and banquet rooms.
Wong Leung-sing, associate director of Centaline Property Agency's research department, says the inclusion of comprehensive clubhouse facilities can create extra value for luxury residential developments.
'A clubhouse is an indispensable part of a residential development today. It creates a sense of luxury,' he says. 'Properties with a good range of clubhouse facilities are often sought after by buyers, especially those who buy luxury homes for investment.'
Buggle Lau Ka-fai, chief analyst at Midland Realty, says luxury homebuyers are concerned about the quality and design of clubhouses in new residential developments.
'In addition to location and the views being captured by flats, another big consideration for homebuyers today is the clubhouse facilities. Swimming pools and gyms are the basic requirements in a clubhouse,' he says.
Luxury is a symbol of success and it comes with a price. As developers spend more in the construction of clubhouse facilities, homebuyers should expect to pay a premium for the extra value or luxury. The bigger the residential property development, the larger the clubhouse will be under the existing lease conditions. Modern leases governing the development of residential units in Hong Kong allow clubhouses or recreational facilities to be provided for use by residents and their visitors. Such facilities, if provided indoors at appropriate scale and mix, are allowed to be exempted from the calculation of gross floor area.
The size of the clubhouse can be up to 5 per cent of the gross floor area of the residential portion of the development. The allowable percentage can be relaxed further if space-consuming recreational facilities, such as multipurpose ball courts and indoor swimming pools, are incorporated.
As a result, developers will try to build a bigger clubhouse by making use of the allowable percentage for recreational facilities.
According to industry experts, the inclusion of clubhouse facilities is more than adding appeal to the property. The extra space acquired with the incorporation of clubhouse facilities can be apportioned as common areas into the gross floor area of residential units accordingly.
That means developers effectively acquire additional floor area for sale in the process of building clubhouses.
With improved living standards, Lau says people are increasingly demanding in the quality of homes and developers are eager to provide more facilities to meet buyers' requirements and to enhance the value of their projects.
'New projects with luxurious clubhouse facilities can easily draw buyers and sell at a premium price. Families living in old buildings may also want to upgrade these new flats with better provisions,' he says. 'For some cash-rich retirees, newly-completed flats, with a range of recreational facilities, appear to be a good choice as they can enjoy and live a better life.'
However, Pang Shiu-kee, managing director of SK Pang Surveyors, says clubhouse facilities are not something of great importance to residents of super deluxe homes in traditional luxury locations such as The Peak and Island South.
'These people are often members of private clubs across the city. It does not make a big difference whether or not a clubhouse is attached with the residential development,' he says.
Pang says developers are, however, putting more emphasis on the value of clubhouse facilities.
'With intense marketing campaigns designed to add a sense of glamour and luxury in their new residential developments, developers can often sell flats at a premium price,' he says.
'Clubhouses are a fashion in a way. People are always driven by a sense of vanity. It feels good to have so many recreational facilities made available to residents. It does not matter much whether or not they actually make use of those facilities or services.'