Putting on the Ritz in condominiums
IN a video promoting the Ritz-Carlton services, the American brand promises to “stop time for generations to come, to move heaven and earth, and move it back.”
That’s the standard of service they will be offering when the 288 units of Ritz-Carlton Residences Kuala Lumpur are completed next March.
Its local partner is Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp). Both will be working together to sell Kuala Lumpur as a location and a destination.
As a sign of the challenge ahead of them and if this is any indication, the number of Ritz-Carlton Residences in Cairnshill, Singapore up for sale or for rent – there are only 58 units incidentally – is surprising.
Nonetheless, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company vice-president (global residential operations) John Hearns believes property will continue to be “one of the safest place to put your money, historically.”
As an indication of their exclusivity, in a world of more than seven billion people, Hearns say there are only 6,000 units, with 288 in Kuala Lumpur.
The volatile global economy notwithstanding, Hearns believes extending the luxury hotel business into home business is the way to go.
“Brands are evolving and reaching out to other customers. When I was in Dubai, I visited the Armani Hotel. Known for its clothes line, they are now in the hotel business. Some time ago, I walked into a Ralph Lauren restaurant. It has moved from fashion to the restaurant business,” says Hearns on Thursday.
Staying in step with that super lux lifestyle is not for everyone.
“It is for customers who have a collection of homes, who are collectors of locations,” says Hearns on his eighth trip to Kuala Lumpur to inspect the development.
When it comes to such exclusivity and luxury, every piece of marble, every faucet comes under scrutiny.
Known for its super hotel hospitality, the brand extended into residential services in 2000 when it included a condominium portion in its hotel in Washington DC hotel.
“We all have 24 hours in a day. Time is a commodity. Our objective is to create a lifestyle where we take care of almost everything you want by extending our brand of services into your home,” he says.
Hearns say the brand is catering to a global affluent group who delights “in a home that feels like a hotel, and a hotel that feels like home.”
The brand has 95 hotels and 45 residences, of which six are standalone super luxurious condominium projects. It does not build, sell nor own the physical building. It works with developers in these respective countries to bring the physical into reality by providing its brand of services.
We work with local partners, in this case with BCorp, says Hearns. The partnership with BCorp started in 2009, nine years after The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company extended its brand of residential hospitality to its hotel business in Washington DC
While the hotel and condominiums co-exist in that location, of its 45 residences, 39 come with a hotel, and six are standalone super prime condominiums.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur development are standalone projects while its Bangkok venture will have both a hotel and a residential component.
BCorp’s move into the super prime residential came after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis after it shelved the 1,400-unit Berjaya Central Park project which comprises mainly studio units of about 500 sq ft. It was replaced that with 288 units of super prime condominiums and a 48-story Menara Bangkok Bank office block.
Hearns is quite at home with the term condominiums. At the end of the day, what is important for him is to be able to say to the 288 owners “Welcome home to Ritz-Carlton.”