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Architecture and Design

In vogue: resident curators, sommeliers in luxury properties

Developers are bringing in resident experts in high living to cater to luxury home owners as a doorman and concierge are no longer enough

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 7:58pm

Apartment dwellers used to consider themselves privileged if they had a doorman to help them with packages.

These days, however, buyers of luxury flats can expect an altogether different level of service. Developers are hiring everything from art curators, nutritionists, sommeliers, tech experts and even lifestyle consultants to be permanently on site, available at a moment’s notice to make the lives of the inhabitants easier.

“These are people who are spending millions of dollars on a unit,” said Patrick Campbell, vice president of developer the Related Group in Miami. “They want to leave their burdens behind and they have tastes that need to be fulfilled on a regular basis.”

At the Rem Koolhaas-designed Park Grove in Miami, which is slated for completion in 2018, a nautical concierge will be on staff, tasked with setting up activities like yachting, paddle-boarding, or kayaking through the mangroves.

“We are across the street from the marina and decided to push that theme,” said Campbell. Interested buyers get a taste of the service by being invited to try one of the marine activities while they’re inspecting the property.

The league of specialist employees being tapped by developers is largely contingent on the location and vibe of the building.

Urby, a building on Staten Island in New York, encourages its residents to pick fruit and vegetables at its 5,000 square foot on-site urban farm. They can also learn gardening tips from the building’s farmer-in-residence, who runs workshops on everything from bee-keeping to fermentation.

At 555Ten, a new 600-unit building in New York, the anticipated 300 pet owners in residence will have access to an in-house dog-groomer, there exclusively for their use.

And at the Auberge Beach Residences & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, developers are operating on the assumption that residents want to lead healthier lives, and have hired a yoga specialist and lifestyle consultant, who works with buyers to personalise their diet regimens and guide them towards “a fully fledged lifestyle experience”, said Campbell.

Those being hired for these jobs are aware that they are in a rarefied group, but say the shift reflects this age of instant gratification.

“People are used to getting things as soon as they want them, and having everything available at their finger tips,” said J Kipton Cronkite, an art expert who parlayed a position curating art for public spaces in residential buildings into being the resident curator, available to weigh in on the private collections of buyers at the Prive Island Aventura development in South Florida.

They want to leave their burdens behind and they have tastes that need to be fulfilled on a regular basis
Patrick Campbell, the Related Group

The initiative taps into the assumption that buyers at the elite US$2.2 million to US$8.3 million homes have some sort of art collection, or at the least an interest in acquiring one. Cronkite says he can leverage his decade-plus experience in that world to advise buyers.

“People are decorating their spaces and art becomes part of the conversation,” he said. “They bring it up earlier in the conversation, especially if there is enough wall space, and I can recommend how their existing tastes and pieces fit in with the new space and help them navigate the gallery world.”

Mike Lavora and Adam Light are co-founders of Throw Me A Bone, a New York-based company that offers dog walking, grooming, training, boarding and veterinarian care around the city.

People are used to getting things as soon as they want them, and having everything available at their finger tips
J Kipton Cronkite, art curator

But they have taken up residence in an 800 square foot space at 555Ten, a midtown Manhattan apartment building, where they can service up to half of the residents in the 600-unit buildings.

“Our services are exclusive to the property,” said Light. “Pet owners drop their dogs off here when they go out for the day. It’s like childcare. It’s part of the evolution in the world of amenities – at least in Manhattan.”

And sometimes, the niche, specialist job is just for a bit of fun.

Colin Hannan, co-founder and managing director of Itz’ana Resort and Residences in Belize, was committed to finding a rum sommelier to add to his staff list at the property, where people are buying second homes.

“People move here, they want to get a sense of history,” said Hannan. “What’s more South American or Central American than rum?”

The homes, which are three-quarters sold and will open for move-ins in August, will be adjacent to a specialist rum room that will be stocked with 120 varieties. The rum sommelier, Enrico Cordenons, was sent to distilleries in Miami, New York and Guatemala to be trained and mentored by master distillers, and attended forums in India, Thailand and Mauritius.

“[Cordenons] will be on hand to set up tasting sessions with our owners and make them feel a part of the lifestyle,” said Hannan. “We’ll have to see how it evolves.”

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