From Mykonos to Malibu, these vibrant international resorts offer picture-perfect settings for luxurious wedding ceremonies and once-in-a-lifetime celebrations
The world’s most enchanting wedding destinations tend to have certain characteristics in common: they’re usually warm and sunny, they have great food and cultural attractions, and they’re relatively easy to get to. While some couples find that renting an estate for family and friends simplifies a destination wedding, others choose a locale that’s en route to an exclusive honeymoon spot. The 10 resorts noted below have their own local color and character, making them ideal for different types of wedding festivities, from the exotic and adventurous to the traditional and serene.
New York-based event planner and wedding expert Joseph St. Cyr, President and CEO of Joseph Todd Events, says that choosing the right place is the key to planning an unforgettable event. “Start with the look and feel you’re after,” he advises. “White linen and bare feet on a Hawaiian beach is a different vibe than a black-tie wedding at an Italian villa.” Each of these luxurious international locales offers the promise of an unforgettable wedding that’s well worth the extra mile.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Paradise Island is nestled just across the water from the city of Nassau in the Bahamas. It’s family friendly and lively—one of its resorts was the site of the movie Casino Royale—yet its pace is unhurried. Formerly a private estate belonging to a Swedish industrialist, the island is home to a cluster of historic residences. Its newer houses tend to blend modern amenities with classic seaside architectural features. As a destination, Paradise Island has a feeling of delightful remoteness but is easy to reach. “When selecting your dream destination, be sure to consider the travel involved for your guests,” advises St. Cyr. “A direct flight with a short ground transportation hop is always a win.” A non-stop flight to Nassau followed by a ferry ride to Paradise sounds just about right.
To obtain a marriage license in the Bahamas, the happy couple must provide government-issued photo identification such as a passport and reside in the Bahamas for 24 hours prior to the date of the marriage license application. Additional requirements and advice about organizing a wedding ceremony in this picturesque Caribbean destination are available from the country’s Weddings and Honeymoon Unit of the Ministry of Tourism.
When selecting your dream destination, be sure to consider the travel involved for your guests.
Joseph St. Cyr President and CEO of Joseph Todd Events
Mexico’s spectacular beaches draw swimmers and surfers from all over the world. Its unique mix of ancient ruins, sophisticated cuisine, and natural beauty make it a top choice for wedding planners as well. The coastal city of Tulum is known for its 13th-century Mayan archaeological sites—and one of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches in the region. In honor of the local surrounds, couples may choose to be married by a Shamen or incorporate ancient Mayan rituals into their wedding celebration, such as the groom gifting the bride a muhul (gold chain), listones (wooden hair barrettes), as well as a traditional sleeveless dress called a huipil in order to take a temazcal traditional purification bath prior to the ceremony.
Direct flights from New York City to Tulum are just under four hours, and the city has an array of superb restaurants, five-star and boutique hotels that are ideal venues for a dreamy destination wedding. Luxurious venue options include the boutique hotel BeTulum which is ideally situated between the rainforest and the ocean, the eco-friendly Jashita Hotel located directly on the beach, and the new ultra-luxe Nest Tulum hotel.
Malibu and California’s sunny and not-too-humid climate are hard to beat, and weddings here at any time of year are apt to be idyllic. Known for surfing and for its modern beachfront architecture, Malibu also hits many of the right notes for a destination wedding. It’s beautiful, convenient, and has “locavore perks like California wines,” as St. Cyr puts it. Its regional specialties can spark great ideas for day trips and adventures or souvenirs and gifts for the wedding party.
Couples must apply for their marriage license in person at the County Clerk’s office and provide proof that both parties are single. Malibu offers numerous luxurious options for wedding venues including Calamigos Ranch in Malibu wine country and the 75-capacityStone Manor Estate in the Malibu Hills.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a great destination for couples who love sports. Known for its golf resorts as much as for its beaches, the Dominican Republic allows wedding parties and guests to play on world-class courses in the tropical sun. Private enclaves such as the exclusive Puntacana Resort and Club on the eastern tip of the country offer proximity to the beach, and access to the highly rated Tom Fazio-designed Corales Golf Course.
Couples choosing to marry in this picturesque beach destination must bring a number of documents prior to the wedding ceremony. These include a sworn declaration stating that they are both single and eligible to marry, a valid passport, and a copy of a foreign birth certificate that has been translated into Spanish.
Encourage your guests to make the most of their stay by planning a few optional activities.
Joseph St. Cyr President and CEO of Joseph Todd Events
The Greek islands are hard to top when it comes to wedding locations. One of the best known, Mykonos, has an irresistible combination of culture, food, sandy beaches, and ocean views that combine to cast a romantic spell on visitors from all over the globe. Mykonos has historical sites stretching back several millennia and spectacular beaches in equal measure, so it’s worth making schedules flexible enough for some spontaneity. “Encourage your guests to make the most of their stay by planning a few optional activities,” says St. Cyr, “and be sure to leave enough free time for them to explore on their own.”
In order to marry in Mykonos, the couple must place a notice announcing the wedding in a local Greek newspaper and foreigners must provide an official translation of their birth certificates. Luxurious wedding ceremony options include five-star boutique hotel Kivitos amnd Mykonian Royal, a luxurious hotel located above a reserved section of Elia, one of Mykonos’ famous beaches.
Hawaii offers American travelers the fun of a Pacific adventure without the need for a passport. For those on the West Coast, Hawaii is about six hours away on a direct flight. The islands that compose Hawaii are spread across 1,500 miles in the Pacific Ocean and are home to an astonishing array of plants, wildlife, and climates. A variety of beaches that cater to surfers as well as swimmers plus volcanoes, jungles, mountains, and canyons await, making Hawaii a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
In a location with so much to explore, St. Cyr recommends helping guests get their bearings. “Go the extra mile, which they have done for you,” he says, “and provide your guests with welcome-bag goodies including sweet and savory local nibbles, water, sunblock, and the wedding-weekend schedule.” Kahuku in particular is an especially lovely setting for a wedding. Its ocean vistas provide a scenic backdrop that’s both laid-back and exquisitely beautiful.
White linen and bare feet on a Hawaiian beach is a different vibe than a black-tie wedding at an Italian villa.
Joseph St. Cyr President and CEO of Joseph Todd Events
Porto Cervo, Italy
Porto Cervo offers visitors a particular variety of la dolce vita, with a leisurely pace that sets it apart from the vibrant metropolises of Milan and Rome. Yet it has everything that makes Italy the world’s romance capitol: the cuisine, the poetic language, and the beauty of the Sardinian coastline make Porto Cervo an ideal wedding destination. Established as an enclave for the the 1950s jet set by Prince Karim Aga Khan, Porto Cervo remains the premiere resort on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda.
Home to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, it remains a favorite of serious sailors from all over the world, and offers plenty of sights and adventure for those who prefer to remain on land, including the Maddalena Archipelago National Park and the Museo Nivola. Foreign couples intending to marry in Sardinia must bring birth certificates that have been translated into Italian, an Atto Notorio declaration from their home country which states that there are no impediments to prevent the couple from marrying, as well as a Nulla Osta which states that the couple is free to marry in Italy and must be obtained locally.
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Like Hawaii, Puerto Rico offers US citizens a refreshing change of scenery without the need for a passport. While Old San Juan is steeped in colonial charm, the island’s tropical rainforests and extraordinary biodiversity appeal to nature lovers of all types. Fajardo, Puerto Rico is about a four-hour flight from New York City and offers outdoor activities and pure relaxation in equal measure. The El Yunque National Forest, where hikers will find waterfalls and spectacular plant life, is about 10 miles away and serves as a popular wedding venue location in the Fajardo vicinity, as does El Conquistador, a Waldorf Astoria luxury hotel.
County Cork, Ireland
For couples who crave adventure in cooler climates, Ireland offers a green, rugged landscape dotted with castles and cliffs—as well as some of the best seafood in Europe. While the cultural mecca of Dublin attracts scores of tourists, some of the quieter pockets of this picturesque country are breathtaking. County Cork at the southern tip of the island is home to numerous attractions including the famed Blarney Stone and the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club in the world. Visitors might even hear Irish spoken here in one of Cork’s Gaeltacht regions. Wedding parties can find both grand historic houses and fairytale cottages for hosting family and friends, such as Hayfield Manor and Castle Martyr Resort.
Couples may choose to incorporate traditional Irish rituals into their wedding ceremony for added local flavor including handfasting, where the couple is tied together to symbolize their union (handfasting is also the origin of the phrase “tying the knot”), as well as incorporating horseshoe trinkets throughout the ceremony, a traditional symbol that bestows good luck upon the couple.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport’s Gilded Age mansions are a must-see for architecture lovers, and the city itself is every bit as charming as the colorful boats that line its busy harbors. In addition to having a fascinating history, Newport is a sophisticated foodie mecca as well as a destination that’s quite easy to reach from New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. Newport’s spectacular coastline is the ultimate backdrop for a summer wedding, and the city offers plenty of excursions for visitors to enjoy. Its grand coastal estates were designed to hug the shoreline in order to maximize water views and provide a completely secluded escape.
*Fuente: LuxuryDefined, Christie’s International Real Estate
Shifts in the global economy are influencing prime property buyers, presenting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for some and challenges for others
High-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) are becoming increasingly global in their investment outlook. Extensive fluctuations in global exchange rates—the US dollar hit a 10-year high in mid-2015 after climbing from an all-time low just four years earlier—have presented exceptional opportunities, as well as challenges, for buyers seeking to acquire prime property outside their resident country.
As part of Luxury Defined 2016, our annual report on the prime property market, we explore the impact of exchange rates on the cross-border movements of important buyer groups and examine how currency-strong buyers may benefit from exchange rates that are positioned in their favor.
Gateway US markets such as Phoenix and Miami, where overseas buyers were a steadying post-financial crisis force, have seen the number of international buyers trending down as the rising dollar made US luxury homes more expensive.
Overseas buyers now comprise 35 percent of luxury sales in Miami, a nine percent decrease from 2014. “This reflects the financial uncertainties of countries whose residents have historically been active purchasers of South Florida real estate,” says Ron Shuffield of EWM Realty International. “Despite the downward trend, affluent foreign buyers continue to purchase property in Miami as a currency hedge and a safe store of wealth.”
Although many of our 100 surveyed markets reported decreases in buyers from oil and commodity-dependent countries including Russia and Canada, there has been limited dropoff in Chinese buyer interest.
Wealth has grown fivefold in China since the beginning of the century and Chinese nationals now make up eight percent of the global UHNWI population. After years of widely reported capital outflows, the country’s slowing economy has yet to have significant impact on the global luxury real estate market, with most brokers reporting an increase in Chinese buyers and only a few observing a slight dropoff.
Amid this headline-grabbing national turmoil, Chinese buyers are still purchasing prime property at top prices across the globe. 2015’s highest price residential sales in several important markets (Sydney, Hong Kong, Seattle, and the New York Adirondacks, among others) were sold to Chinese nationals or recent emigrees. And wealthy Chinese nationals aren’t just buying real estate—they are also purchasing art at the top end of the market. A$170 million Modigliani painting, sold at Christie’s in November, went to a Chinese art patron.
A declining euro is also presenting opportunities for affluent second-home buyers in Europe as well as several destinations in the Caribbean. “2015 saw a boost to the market from American clients who are starting to reinvest thanks to the strengthening of the dollar,” notes Zarek Honneysett of Sibarth Real Estate in St Barths.
*Fuente: Luxury Defined
From poolside cabanas to open-air living rooms, elegantly appointed outdoor spaces are a key selling point in today’s luxury market.
Long gone are the days when a simple pool and patio set would do to maximize the value of your luxury home. Outdoor living as defined by today’s luxury market doesn’t entail a few extras on a long list of amenities as much as it does a true extension of a home’s interior living spaces, and a seamless blend of interior with exterior. The furniture, textiles, and overall design of outdoor living rooms, terraces, and poolside patios are carefully considered as yet another reflection of a home’s design aesthetic. Outdoor living spaces are well on their way to becoming a requisite rather than simply a value-add; responding to buyer demand, the global luxury market continues to raise the bar for outdoor luxury ever higher. This week in “Luxury Defined,” global experts in the Christie’s International Real Estate Affiliate network share six trends for bringing the indoors out.
1. Four-Season Outdoor Living Room
Fully realized alfresco living rooms are distinguished by one signature feature: fire. Whether a dramatic stone hearth and fireplace, a firepit, or a chiminea, a fire element turns an outdoor space into an outdoor room that can be used year-round in warm-weather states throughout the U.S., including Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona. “Florida’s weather is such that you can do virtually all of your living and entertaining alfresco, especially during the winter months, when the weather is characteristically warm and dry during the day and deliciously cool and comfortable at night,” says Michael Saunders of Michael Saunders & Company. Fire elements generate warmth and a welcoming ambiance; additionally, two-sided fireplaces can create a natural separation between outdoor spaces, such as a living room and dining area.
2. Poolside Cabanas 2.0
A perennially popular poolside accompaniment, the cabana today is designed to serve triple and even quadruple duty at summer homes in New England, including Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. In addition to being a respite from the sun’s rays, cabanas may be furnished with a wet bar and stools, a kitchenette, and even a full-size dining table. “Our clients enjoy being able to spend the day outside with little need for going indoors,” says Liza McKenney from Great Point Properties. “Being able to fix drinks and food, dine outside, and get some shade is a plus for many. Stepping out your back door into an outdoor living area makes you feel like you have your own private oasis.”
3. Designer Flourishes
“Carefully selected furniture adds to the sense of stylish outdoor living,” says Maria Gryllaki of Ploumis Sotiropoulos. Gryllaki has worked with numerous properties in Greece where the designer treatment has been given to the outdoor patios and terraces of centuries-old villas: importing pieces from shops as far-ranging as London and Hong Kong adds just the right touch of contemporary sophistication. Comfortable, elegant seating and pillows done in luxurious fabrics further blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living.
4. Blended Indoor-Outdoor Living
Oceanfront estates from California to the Caribbean are being designed with an open-air concept that takes full advantage of the desirable weather and gentle ocean breezes. The concept is essentially built into a home’s design, notes Peyton Cabano from Willis Allen Real Estate. Architects are bringing the outside in by creating permanent, covered living spaces with all the same amenities as an indoor family room, living room, or kitchen— only one or more walls are absent.
The resulting designs capitalize on sweeping ocean views and make for an impressive space for living and entertaining. “When it comes to entertaining guests, there is no nicer setting than by the sea,” says Dominique Silvera, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at One Caribbean Estates. “Entertaining in a beachfront property creates an unmatchable ambience.”
5. Dining Alfresco
Dining outdoors against the backdrop of a breathtaking natural vista is a cherished tradition amid the desert landscape of the American Southwest and the majestic mountain ranges of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. In these places of rugged, natural beauty, understated elegance is best, so as not to take away from the grandeur of the surroundings. That being said, outdoor dining sets have come a long way. Today they are made in a variety of materials that are both luxurious and able to stand the test of time and the elements; teak and cypress are popular choices. Tabletop flourishes including candles, floral arrangements, and elegant tableware and stemware set the stage for an unforgettable evening under the stars.
6. Next-Gen Pool Design
Ocean Home magazine reports that the latest iteration of pool design trending in the northeastern states—including the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut—is inspired by nature. Characterized by forest-like landscaping, rock work, and water elements that one might happen upon during a stroll through the woods—waterfalls, lily pad–topped ponds—these designs are as much about creating an environment as they are about the actual pool. Taking a page from nature’s playbook doesn’t mean scaling back on luxurious finishes, however. These homes may well have an outdoor kitchen or firepit, or perhaps both.
*Fuente: Christie´s International Real Estate /Luxury Defined
Traditional Christmas markets in Europe and America make town squares merry and bright
Visiting a Christmas market – known as a Christkindlmarkt in German or a Marché de Noël in French – is like stepping into a real, live Advent calendar. In the weeks that lead up to December 25th, cities and towns all over Europe light up with hundreds of festive outdoor stalls where shoppers can find handmade ornaments, seasonal sweets, and unique gifts. Christmas markets originated in the Holy Roman Empire and Scandinavia during the late Middle Ages. When Queen Victoria and the German-born Prince Albert married in 1840, they introduced German traditions to their Yuletide celebrations in England. As a result, both Christmas markets and Christmas trees gained wide popularity in Britain and America. Christmas markets traditionally take place in town squares and nearby pedestrian streets, and typically feature a nativity scene, or crèche, and a huge Christmas tree.
For full-time residents of cities like Paris, Stockholm, Salzburg, London, or New York, a visit to the local Christmas market is a wonderful neighborhood ritual to celebrate the season and ring in the new year. Count down the Twelve Days of Christmas by learning about Christmas markets all over the world, and explore the spectacular nearby estates that could each become a cozy and luxurious holiday perch.
1. Christmas Market at Champs-Elysées, Paris, France
November 15–January 4
The most famous avenue in Paris is home to the annual Christmas Market at the Champs-Elysées, and it attracts thousands of visitors every year. The charming vendor stalls are designed to resemble chalets, and goods range from specialty foods to toys and ornaments. This elegant, turn-of-the-century apartment in the 8th Arrondissement is within easy walking distance of the Christmas Market at the Champs-Elysées-—and of many of Paris’s top cultural attractions year round.
2. Salzburg Christmas Market, Salzburg, Austria
November 19–December 26
Salzburg’s Christmas Market is one of the oldest continuous holiday markets in Europe. Nestled at the foot of the iconic Hohensalzburg fortress, it dates back to at least the 15th century. The nearby Baroque Salzburg Cathedral just happens to be the church where one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized. Appropriately, the Salzburg Christmas Market has an extensive program of events, including choral music that’s performed right in front of the cathedral. During the holiday season, this rooftop apartment in Salzburg is the ideal place to enjoy the city’s beauty from indoors: its panoramic views of snow-covered rooftops and churches are picture perfect.
3. Old Town Christmas Market, Stockholm, Sweden
November 21–December 23
Stockholm’s Old Town Christmas Market is a tradition five centuries in the making. Set just in front of the city’s Nobel Museum and not far from the Royal Palace, it offers a chance to enjoy Swedish holiday fare like pepparkakor (thin ginger cookies) and glögg (mulled wine), while browsing handcrafted gifts, many of which feature the trademark Swedish Christmas colors of red, silver, and white. This modern, four-bedroom villa located nearby is a prime setting for a chic Scandinavian holiday celebration.
4. Bordeaux Christmas Market, Bordeaux, France
November 23–December 30
Every November, a stretch of downtown Bordeaux metamorphosizes into a sparkling fairytale village full of wooden stalls when the Christmas market on Allées de Tourny opens to an eager public. This being France, the Bordeaux Christmas Market is especially famous for its local wines, artisan perfumes, and Landes foie gras. Enjoy these holiday treats in anearby duplex apartment on one of the city’s loveliest streets. With the Bordeaux Public Gardens nearby as well, it’s an ideal location any month of the year.
5. Canterbury Christmas Market, Kent, England
November 28–December 24
Whitefriars Square in the medieval cathedral city of Canterbury is home to the Canterbury Christmas Market, in addition to being the famed site of poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and the seat of the Anglican Church. The setting is every bit as charming as the description suggests: colorful stalls have roasted almonds, gingerbread, and tin toys on offer. This 16th-century timber-framed estate with a courtyard garden nearby has the look and feel of a quintessential English country estate, yet it’s within walking distance of the historic city center. A lush courtyard garden frames the property.
6. Salisbury Christmas Market, Wiltshire, England
November 26–December 20
The Salisbury Christmas Market in Wiltshire’s Guildhall Square is known for its vividly colorful paper lantern parade, musical performances by local school choirs, and the Father Christmas Grotto. Its food stalls offer award-winning cheeses, local wines, French sausage, and homemade chili jams for a savory holiday treat. This gracious four-bedroom Georgian estatein Wiltshire has a light-filled dining room, a wonderful setting for a Christmas dinner.
7. Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, Winchester, England
November 19–December 22
A relative newcomer only in its tenth year, the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is already renowned as one of the most spectacular in Europe. Taking a cue from the older historic markets and inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, the Winchester version features mulled wine, bratwurst, stollen, and the English holiday favorite, mince pie. Talented craftspeople including jewelers, painters, glass makers, and textile artists make it an ideal place to browse for unique gifts. This stunning, modern estate known as the Dutch Barn is inspired by the proportions of a historic Cotswolds farmhouse. With six bedrooms, landscaped grounds, stables, and a five-oven AGA stove in the kitchen, it’s ready for holiday entertaining.
8. Belgravia Christmas Market, London, England
London lights up each year for the Belgravia Christmas Market with its trademark striped awnings atop each stall on Pimlico Road. For just two days in early December, the streets appear to dial back the clock to an earlier era, and festive stalls offer food, drink, toys, and ornaments while music plays and electric lights shimmer. A particularly London-style touch is the iconic Black Cab photo booth, where Santa poses with kids in one of the city’s famed taxis instead of his traditional grotto. The light-filled, modern Penthouse at 59-60 Cadogan Place is situated a short walk from the location of the Belgravia Christmas Market. Charles Dickens wrote of Cadogan Place in his 1838 novel Nicholas Nickleby, and though London has certainly changed since the famous author’s time, Cadogan Place remains a lively street full of historic charm and character—especially at Christmas.
9. Union Square Holiday Market, New York City
November 19–December 24
It’s no surprise that New York City’s Union Square Holiday Market draws nearly 1 million visitors each year to its more than 150 stalls offering food, ornaments, jewelry, toys, and crafts beneath their red and white striped tents. Since 1994, it has been one of the city’s most festive and popular holiday attractions, located about two miles due south of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. With its huge windows and spacious kitchen and dining area, this spectacular Upper West Side residence overlooking Central Park is a lovely place to watch the snow fall and prepare a sumptuous holiday meal after a shopping sojourn to the Union Square Holiday Market.
10. Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, Berkshire, Massachusetts
Northwestern Massachusetts is a storybook winter wonderland with its rolling hills, famously robust snowfalls, and charming New England architecture. Each Christmas, the town of Stockbridge hosts Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, which includes a market, historic holiday home tours, a candlelit carolling walk, holiday-themed storytime for kids organized by the Stockbridge Library, a holiday concert at the First Congregational Church and, of course, lots of great food. Nearby in historic Lenox, Thistlewood, an 1880s estate, has been exquisitely restored. Grand, spacious rooms for entertaining, period woodwork and details throughout as well as multiple fireplaces make this six-bedroom home a magical winter getaway.
11. Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco, CA
November 21–December 20
San Francisco does its best to recreate Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, which occupies more than 120,000 square feet of space. Going well above and beyond the traditional arrangement of festive stalls, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair is actually held in a miniature London cityscape complete with winding streets, actors wearing period costumes, lamplit shops selling pewter wares and ornaments, and vendors selling roasted chestnuts. And with a staged performance of the Dickens holiday masterpiece, A Christmas Carol, it’s about as close to London as one can get without leaving California. And in keeping with the 19th-century spirit of the Dickens Fair, this three-bedroom Victorian “painted lady” on Pine Street has been beautifully restored and updated. Originally designed with ample space for displaying art, its spacious interior and chef’s kitchen are ideal for entertaining.
12. Canyon Road Farolito Walk, Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe’s Canyon Road Farolito Walk offers a different twist on the historic Christmas markets of Western Europe. Inspired by the region’s Spanish heritage, this event takes place on Christmas Eve, when thousands of visitors walk along Canyon Road holding paper lanterns (“farolitos” in Spanish). Small sand-filled paper bags, illuminated with a votive candle, light the path while carolers sing. Not far from Canyon Road sits the exquisite Casa La Luna. Built in the 1920s and expanded in the 1990s, Casa La Luna is one of Santa Fe’s most striking heritage homes. With 13,400 square feet of space and six bedrooms, it is a spectacular retreat for holiday visitors who will no doubt be enchanted by Santa Fe’s luminous holiday celebrations.
From the collective insights and experiences of our expert international real estate affiliates, we have crafted a snapshot of luxury home buyer preferences in 2015. This is what luxury is today…
1 | LUXURY IS… SO MUCH MORE THAN LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Traditionally prominent addresses and prized ZIP codes are no longer the defining baseline concept for luxury homes. HNWIs are expanding the borders of traditional luxury locales, and are willing to pay a premium in emerging luxury areas if the amenities and lifestyle offerings are right. The evolution of high-end commercial real estate is also driving this phenomenon.
– “As certain areas of London become more accepted (The City, Battersea, Vauxhall, White City/Hammersmith, Earls Court, Shoreditch), we are finding domestic and international purchasers more open to areas traditionally outside their comfort zone. This is due to gentrification driven by increased residential development and improved infrastructure.”
Lulu Egerton of Strutt & Parker, London
– “After being priced out of the traditional luxury areas, younger and international affluent buyers have embraced non-traditional areas such as Kowloon Island, where new developments are offering high-quality services and amenities.”
KS Koh of Landscope-Christie’s International Real Estate, Hong Kong
2 | LUXURY IS… CONSCIOUS LIVING
Owning a home that doesn’t negatively impact the community—and one that can even bring positive meaning—is attractive to wealthy buyers. The demand for more sustainable and healthy environments has placed greater emphasis on knowing where and how products are manufactured, and has fueled a trend toward conscious living.
– “The essence of the Cayman Islands lifestyle is derived from the beauty of our water and weather, and from the alignment of sustainable architecture with the natural landscape. In the luxury market, these elements remain a priority for discerning buyers who value creative vision and thoughtful design as a way of enhancing their lifestyle.”
Jackie Doak of Provenance Properties, Grand Cayman, The Cayman Islands
– “Luxury-home buyers are looking for houses that are energy-efficient as well as environmentally conscious in construction and amenities.”
Walt Danley of Walt Danley Realty, Paradise Valley, Arizona
– “Affluent buyers are increasingly looking for close proximity to a vibrant community rich with cultural offerings and outdoor activities, as well as opportunities to volunteer and make a difference.”
Michael Saunders of Michael Saunders & Company, Sarasota, Florida
3 | LUXURY IS… EXPERIENTIAL
Today’s new wealthy consumers are more informed, more globally exposed, and more sophisticated than previous generations. Baby boomers in particular are now “less materialistic and more experiential,” noted Cognizent in a luxury retail trend study. And HNWIs are being led into the luxury experience by prestige brands such as Christie’s. “The worlds of high-value art, education, travel, luxury goods, and architecture are colliding,” observes Dirk Boll, European Managing Director of Christie’s. “Our focus remains on serving our clients whenever and however they choose to connect with art. Increasingly they are connecting with art in luxury sectors such as architecture and travel, where the enjoyment extends beyond ownership and into experience.” This shift toward experiential luxury is similarly reflected in the amenity and lifestyle preferences of HNW home buyers.
– “Buyers are increasingly seeking to spend money on property features that could be described as ‘experiential’, such as a meditation garden or an outdoor shower.”
Justine DeLuce of Chestnut Park Real Estate, Toronto
– “When economic imperatives aren’t driving things, there is a quest for meaning and a better life. The choice becomes: How is family life enriched by having access to amenities and lifestyle options that can be experienced every day?”
Ruth Kennedy Sudduth of LandVest, New England
– “In Pebble Beach and Carmel, buyers are looking to harness some of the perceived slower tempo and quality-of-life priorities, especially when they select a property with provenance. It is not that the former owner has to be famous, or even widely known, but rather that the home has a history, a legacy and sense of presence that the new owner can honor as they create their own memories”
Bill Mitchell of Carmel Realty Company, Carmel, California
4 | LUXURY IS… CONVENIENCE
The resurgence of urban downtown cores in many major cities and changing age dynamics are having a significant impact on the home-buying preferences of the world’s most affluent. As millennials grow up and baby boomers transition into life as empty nesters, many larger cities are witnessing a surge of affluent older buyers to urban areas. Residents of suburban areas are also increasingly seeing a preference for urban amenities.
– “Local empty nesters are opting to ‘downsize’ from large single-family homes into generously sized condo and townhome units, with many opting for developments that are within walking distance of offices, shopping, and restaurants.”
Ron Shuffield of EWM Realty International, Miami, Florida
– “We have witnessed a trend of affluent buyers, generally aged 50 and above, selling the house in the greens and moving to town.”
Michael Blaser of Wüst und Wüst, Zurich, Switzerland
– “Many baby boomers are downsizing and wanting to live near town for the convenience. They’re looking to be as close to city/urban living as the suburbs will allow.”
Barbara Cleary of Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild, New Canaan, Connecticut
– “Lisbon’s property market has been growing, fueled by demand from clients looking for new and modern buildings in the city center.”
Rafael Ascenso of Porta da Frente, Lisbon, Portugal
5 | LUXURY IS… AGE-AGNOSTIC
Multigenerational travel (trips involving at least three generations) was dubbed the biggest trend for 2014 by a luxury travel industry report. As growth in this type of tourism increases, some prestige real estate markets, particularly those in resort destinations, are seeing increasing demand for luxury homes with spaces that have the flexibility to adapt to generational diversity and entertaining requirements.
– “Wealthy buyers are increasingly focusing on family spaces such as places for adult children or grandchildren and guesthouses for elderly parents.”
Dub Dellis of Walt Danley Associates, Paradise Valley, Arizona
– “We are seeing a trend toward the purchase of upscale apartments in luxury vertical developments that offer multi-functional spaces for flexible entertaining.”
Lucia Cavazos of Gerencia RED in Monterrey, Mexico
– “A wide array of amenities and entertainment for the entire family are increasingly a priority for affluent home buyers. This trend is especially noticeable in young families where homes with amenities for children of all ages has become a must. This has led to a rise in important new developments being built in the outskirts of Bogotá, even within Country Clubs.”
Juan Carlos Corredor Muñoz of Julio Corredor & CIA, Bogota, Colombia
6 | LUXURY IS… ULTIMATE PRIVACY
The age of the smartphone and its pervasive social-media feeds has brought with it an increasing desire for privacy, particularly for high-profile and celebrity buyers of luxury homes.
– “Eye-grabbing street views, which take out-of-town tourists by surprise and which took precedence in the days of Gregory Peck and Greta Garbo, have morphed into a preference for longer-than-ever gated drives, security systems, and being out of the public eye as much as possible. Ostentatiousness has been abandoned in favor of subdued.”
Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, California
– “A key characteristic of many of today’s highest-end listings is ultimate privacy and seclusion. Paparazzi-proof hideaways—such as Donna Karan’s ‘The Sanctuary’ with its private-island feel—are increasingly sought after by security-conscious buyers.”
Katherine Baryluk of Regency International, Turks and Caicos
7 | LUXURY IS… COLLECTIBLE
“For today’s wealthy investor, acquiring and holding collectibles is akin to building a store of treasure,” notes a report from Barclay’s Wealth Insights. Trophy real estate is the ultimate collectible treasure. Like buying a prized sports team or high-value artwork, trophy residences can ignite the passions of ultra high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI). Many developers of ultra-luxury properties have baked collectible concepts right into their plans with limited-edition structures and one-off creations by highly regarded international architects and designers.
– “South Florida developers and globally recognized star architects are creating ‘works of art’ within many of Miami’s newest condo buildings. Buyers are being drawn to purchase third, fourth, or fifth homes here in order to own a unit in one of these iconic buildings.”
Ron Shuffield of EWM Realty International, Miami, Florida
– “One-of-a-kind trophy homes are becoming the latest ‘must have’ for the world’s most affluent. Akin to owning a Warhol or a Bugatti, UHNWIs are increasingly seeking to own an architectural collectible, such as one of the 41 residences within the iconic Ten Trinity Square development by London’s River Thames. Discerning buyers see acquisitions of this kind as an opportunity to be a resident of a living piece of art and history.”
Dan Conn, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate
8 | LUXURY IS… TURNKEY-READY
Many buyers are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of a “just bring your toothbrush” property, outfitted with top-of-the-line accoutrements that amplify a luxury lifestyle. Brokers reported an increased interest in brand-new residences, with buyers happily paying a premium for security, concierge, and other luxury amenities.
– “The year’s top sale in Beverly Hills was a $70 million ‘spec’ home, purchased with all furnishings and appointments, including an extensive collection of wines in the 2,500-bottle cellar and a fully stocked $200,000 candy wall. Tired of the line ‘just bring your toothbrush,’ the agent even provided eight OralB 3D Braun toothbrushes as part of the deal!”
Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, California
– “Many buyers are more insistent on immaculate condition of houses or apartments. They have little appetite for refurbishment or ‘a project’ and are willing to pay more to be able to move in straight away.”
Lulu Egerton of Strutt & Parker, London
– “Responding to interest from buyers, a number of new ‘turnkey’ homes came onto the market in 2014, an emerging trend in St. Barths.”
Christian Wattiau of Sibarth Real Estate, St. Barths
9 | LUXURY IS… A BLANK CANVAS
At the other end of the spectrum, some enthusiastic buyers are pushing the desire for newness to new heights. Impeded by lack of quality inventory, more and more ultra-affluent buyers wish to build their owntrophy homes from scratch.
– “One of the most interesting trends is that of purchasing a trophy property with an older home and tearing that home down. As the very best lots were some of the first developed in Jackson, we anticipate that trend to continue.”
Julie Faupel of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, Wyoming
– “The highest priced sale in 2014 was a $13 million estate. The property is set to be demolished and the owners will rebuild a new mega home.”
Robert Greenwood of Regency International, Turks & Caicos
– “Due to the greatly constricted inventory in our market, we’re seeing significant new and custom construction for buyers who are seeking expansive, one-of-a-kind estates.”
James Bruner of Fenton Lang Bruner & Associates, Jupiter Island, Florida
10 | LUXURY IS… UNDERSTATED
Luxury is no longer about brash displays of wealth, note many experts in our network. Instead, scaled-back, quality-over-quantity luxury will continue to be one of the key tenets behind many prestige property acquisitions.
– “Luxury buyers aim to be more discreet, less ostentatious. There is a trend toward architecture that blends into the topography of the area, not about everything being overtly expensive.”
Justine DeLuce of Chestnut Park Real Estate, Toronto
– “Quality of amenities and lifestyle offerings are becoming more important to affluent buyers than the size of a home.”
Emily Moreland of Moreland Properties, Austin, Texas
– We are witnessing a continuing shift from ostentatious displays of one’s wealth… to a more restrained expression of tasteful understatement.”
Bud Clark of Willis Allen Real Estate, La Jolla, California
A new report develops new benchmarks to better interpret and shed new light on the rarefied world of luxury real estate
Trophy’ has become the new buzz-word in luxury real estate. According to the latest issue of Luxury Defined—our just-released study on the global prime property market—more properties than ever before were both sold and listed for sale at US$100 million or higher in 2014. As the number of billionaires globally reached new heights, so too did the price benchmarks for their trophy homes, as the world’s most affluent focused more and more on acquiring “collectible” residential assets in prized locations across the globe. US$100 million is now firmly established as the billionaire benchmark for ultra-prime property.
At the more traditional luxury residential real estate price segments, the overall market experienced steady growth in 2014, with US$1 million plus home sales up by an average of 16 percent over 2013 in the 80 luxury residential markets surveyed for the report. After an explosion in urban luxury home sales growth in 2012-2013, the story in 2014 was that second-home resort markets were red hot, leading the growth in luxury property sales. ‘Jet set destinations’ soared 28 percent over the prior year, fueled by attractive investment opportunities, below market peak prices, and an emerging confidence that the market has bottomed and a recovery is well under way.
As millennials grow up and baby boomers transition into life as empty nesters, these buyers are increasingly seeking urban amenities. This helped fuel growth in high-value urban market sales, particularly in metropolitan cities, which jumped by 15 percent over 2013.
In the top global economic hub cities, Toronto ranked as the world’s ‘hottest’ luxury market in 2014, and was the only top city to see a faster year-on-year pace with a 37 percent increase in luxury home sales. London topped the list of the world’s most luxurious cities for prime property—measured by top sales prices, high average prices per square foot, and number of luxury sales—followed closely by New York.
“More than ever before, we are focusing on the purchasing patterns of ultra-affluent individuals — as well as what’s driving their investments across the globe — and why the acquisition of luxury real estate has become increasingly important to their portfolios,” notes Dan Conn, CEO, Christie’s International Real Estate. “Whether for safe storage of wealth, lifestyle upgrades or the pure passion of the investment, the intrinsic recognition of the sheer value of prime property ownership could not be stronger among these consumers.”
Titled Luxury Defined, the third annual edition of the research paper not only examines the world’s top 10 cities for prime property, but also analyzes an additional 70 key regional markets, exploring the dynamics and drivers shaping the globe’s high-end real estate market.
The attendees were made up of the 140 most successful real estate professionals in the network. Criteria for participation in the conference required that each attendee be among the top 10% of sales for their Affiliate. The training sessions and seminars were led by top industry experts and senior executives of Christie’s and Christie’s International Real Estate. They included the history of art and its relation to the sale of luxury real estate; how to position a listing globally to attract buyers; ways to negotiate the sale of real estate in a global context; and how to take advantage of state-of-the-art global marketing techniques.