The rise and rise of the branded residence
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The revival of old-world glamour
New York was home to the world’s first branded residence: the five-star Sherry Netherland hotel kick-started the concept by offering butlers and cocktails to its long-term residents in the 1920s.
Now that old-world glamour is having a revival via the relaunch of the Waldorf Astoria, which was the world’s largest and tallest hotel when it opened in 1931. An immaculate restoration has added condominiums above the 375 hotel rooms, and “The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria” (where apartments are for sale from $1.8mn, through Knight Frank and Douglas Elliman) have already attracted more than 12,000 inquiries.
Canada-based Four Seasons Hotels has been a key player in the branded residence market since it launched its first development in 1985. More recently, it has been an innovator in “standalone” residences: ultra-luxury homes managed and maintained by Four Seasons-trained staff who provide the benefits of a hotel (including dining facilities and concierge services on site), but with greater privacy and scope to tailor properties to personal specifications.
Their hybrids can now be found in London, San Francisco, Marrakech, Dubai and most recently in Lake Austin in Texas (where homes are for sale from $4.1mn through lakeaustinresidences.com). Other providers are following suit, including Mandarin Oriental in New York, whose Fifth Avenue Residences (for sale from $2.5mn through Knight Frank and Douglas Elliman) offer five-star service and amenities alongside perks such as after-hours shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Greece is the word
Buyers will pay a premium for branded residences with a focus on wellness facilities and sustainability, hence the growth of sustainable-led providers such as 1 Hotels, which launched in 2015.
Founded in the US, the group is set to arrive in Europe in 2026 with Elounda Hills in Crete, an oasis constructed with building techniques aimed at reducing its carbon footprint and a design inspired by nature in keeping with the surroundings. Owners of the 258 residences will enjoy more than 2km of ecologically clean beach, views of Mirabello Bay, a botanical garden and a therapeutic spa, plus the benefit of anchoring a yacht at the 64-berth Camper & Nicholsons-operated marina.
Make it Miami
Big hotel names such as Marriott, Four Seasons and Accor still account for about half the branded residence market in Miami, but non-hotel brands are quickly gaining ground in the coastal city.
Fashion giants such as Armani, Fendi and Missoni have all made the transfer from catwalk to the Miami boardwalk by offering branded hotel-style apartments, but luxury car makers are also behind major developments. Porsche Design Tower, Sunny Isles Beach, was the first condo that allowed residents to transport their car to their apartment via specially designed glass elevators, and British brand Aston Martin’s residences will sit in the tallest US tower outside New York. Bentley, meanwhile, recently revealed plans for its first ever branded residential tower in Sunny Isles Beach, Miami (from $5.25mn through bentleyresidencesmiami.com), which is set to open in 2026.
Doubling down in Dubai
According to global estate agents Savills, Dubai is currently the world’s number one destination for “labelled living”, with its 46 branded residences soon to be joined by more than 30 new residential developments.
The city’s first branded residence – the Armani Residence Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai featuring apartments designed by Giorgio Armani – launched in 2010. But as the emirate has mushroomed, estate agent Knight Frank has identified two new city hotspots: central Dubai (where the final unit at The Residences, Dorchester Collection, is for sale for AED100mn, about £22.6mn), and “new Dubai”, which incorporates Jumeirah, Jumeirah Lake Towers and Palm Jumeirah. Six Senses has launched its first UAE offering on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah Island with apartments starting from about £2.1mn through Knight Frank.