Everyone dreams of owning a luxury pad, but if your ambition stretches to marble bathrooms or a hot tub, you're just not thinking big enough. In order to satisfy the demands of today's seriously wealthy buyers, developers need to think way outside the box.
You can imagine the boardroom conversations starting: "Everyone's got full-size screening rooms, bowling alleys and roof gardens – we need to offer more!" And so the ideas stretch to private jets, helicopters and yachts.
"The 21st-century wealthy individual lives a different kind of life," says Sonu Shivdasani, founder and chairman of the high-end resort brand Soneva. "They want a particular element of luxury."
Shivdasani is developing Soneva Kiri, his first residential project in Thailand, on a remote island off the east coast. A neighbouring island has already been turned into an airstrip for the resort's private plane, an eight-seater Cessna Grand Caravan.
Owners can transfer from Bangkok in 30 minutes and will get eight free flights a year. Mind you, if you can afford to shell out the starting price of £2.5m for one of Soneva Kiri's vast beachfront houses, which offer private gyms, huge outdoor bathrooms and waterslides connecting the main house with your children's personal villa, you can probably afford additional flights if you need them.
Soneva Kiri also offers the use of its speedboat and yacht, and the company has a top-flight concierge service; nothing, from ironing your socks to arranging a private banquet, is too much trouble. "It's all about making things easier," Shivdasani says. "These perks make our properties more attractive."
They certainly do, says Shahzad Bahtti of Landmark International, which is selling the equally highly priced Pentominium project in Dubai. This will be the world's tallest residential tower when it is completed in 2011, with just one enormous apartment to each floor, each of them 589 square metres in area and costing from £1.4m.
The building has been decorated by the likes of Swarovski and Tiffany. Owners get use of a fleet of Bentleys, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and luxury Azimut yachts while in town.
"The wealthy are now a separate social demographic," Bahtti says. Such people expect a minimum of five-star service in their homes, from staff to do the laundry and shopping to luxury accessories, such as Bang & Olufsen audio-visual systems. "It's become very extreme but, basically, residential property is a platform for luxury brands."
This was true for the Pentominium buyer Sara Shar, who says that one of the reasons she and her husband bought their duplex, at a cost of £1.4m, was the "security of knowing that there were lots of big brand names attached to the project". She says that the involvement of the likes of Villeroy & Boch and Tiffany – "the kinds of brands we'd shop for at home" – swung the deal for her and her husband, who are likely to make good use of the cars and boats during their frequent trips to Dubai.
Bahtti says he's seeing growth in the number of wealthy buyers who demand the best of everything. The helicopters and private planes owned by developments are now becoming commonplace.
For example, the Pinnacle Point golf resort on South Africa's beautiful Garden Route offers the use of the company plane and chopper to all buyers who take out ownership of its Villa Residence Club. Prices start at £150,000 for a 14th-share of a property up to £2.5m for outright ownership, and buyers get membership to the resort's championship golf course and use of the company's 35ft ocean sports cruiser. Benefits for full property owners also include access to the company's other top-end golf developments in the country.
If golf isn't your thing, you can always take to the beach. Out Island Development, which represents February Point on Grand Exuma in the Bahamas, will see to your every whim. Not only does the resort have the expected top-flight concierge services, professional-standard tennis courts, spa and business centre, it offers owners discounts on private air-charter services and use of a twin-engine, 26ft catamaran while visiting their holiday homes. Even fractional owners get these family-size boats despite paying, well, a fraction of the cost.
Properties start at £1.3m for full ownership of a three-bedroom villa with private mooring and infinity pool, while an eighth share costs from £200,000. It may not seem cheap for six weeks' use a year, but it's the price you pay to enter a different world.
Soneva Kiri and Pinnacle Point: www.aylesford.co.uk; 020-7351 2383 www.outislanddevelopment.com; 001 954 765 1977www.landmarkint.com; 020-7377 9889
* Infinity pools and saunas are passé; it's now all about private beaches and in-villa spa suites with personal therapists.
* Resist the urge to steal the designer accessories. You live here now.
* Never ask what time the plane/helicopter/boat leaves – it goes when you're damn well ready.
* Don't forget that maintenance and management costs can run into thousands of pounds every year. You think services like these come cheap?
* Check out the neighbours. Do you really want to live next door to a soap star or member of the England football squad?
* If you have to ask the price... forget it.Reuse content