***UPDATED: June 23, 2015*** In the hot state of Miami’s real estate market, developers are trying to oneup each other by offering unique and luxurious amenities. Take for example the plans for the twin-tower condominium project, The Harbour, located at 16385 Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach. In addition to the luxury amenities that have become “standard” (high ceilings, stunning views, top-end finishes, etc), developers Key International and 13th Floor Investments are marketing the project as a tropical oasis, complete with a variety of watersports, marina and boat rental, an outdoor exercise track, an indoor-outdoor spa, and aromatherapy trail. What’s an aromatherapy trail, you ask? Well, at The Harbour, it’s a trail that will run the entire five-acre property, according to an article from The Real Deal, that will feature five areas with different scents, each geared toward providing “special restorative powers.” There’s a lavender walk for tension relief; a chamomile walk to beat stress and anxiety; a eucalyptus walk for pain relief; a mint walk for revitalization; and a gardenia walk as an antidepressant. Along the trail, which is only accessible to residents, there will also be several watering stations where walkers can find water infused coconut, lemon and green tea, and chlorophyll. Construction of The Harbour is expected to begin as early as the end of this year.
With several luxury residential projects going up in the Miami area, developers are pulling out all of the stops to attract the next wave of buyers. From top-name designers to unparalleled views, unique, one-of-a-kind details have become the name of the game. And with competition heating up, residential developers are upping their game, using luxury amenities to gain favor. According to a recent Miami Herald article, high ceilings, rooftop pools and european appliances aren’t enough anymore. Nowadays, fantastical and luxurious extras, like dog walkers, monumental sculptures by Jeff Koons, and cigar lounges are what’s necessary to make a sale. And that’s just the tip of the luxury amenity iceberg.
This latest trend in Miami real estate began when developers were dusting themselves off after the market crash. They realized that in order to protect themselves from being burned again, more money down would be required prior to closing. In order to help clients feel comfortable with the now-standard 50% deposit, the addition of over-the-top amenities might make them feel as if it’s worth it. And the concept is working. “The goal is to stand out,” claims Philip Gutman, vice president of sales at the national real-estate broker Douglas Elliman. “The more bells and whistles these projects have, the more of a draw they’re becoming.”
Once thought to be the epitome of luxury, building concierges who make your dinner reservations and walk your dog, along with 24-hour security have become standards that the ultra-wealthy expect in their Miami condo. Gutman explains that people are “focusing more on the lifestyle that comes with living in one of these buildings than on the actual units.” In addition to the influx of foreign investors, South Florida has also attracted a lot of New York buyers who are looking for second or third homes. Most have grown accustomed to these types of amenities and are pretty much demanding the same level of service. And the Miami real estate industry is answering with full-service, resort-style living contained within residential buildings.
The “Sky Club” at the 54-story Turnberry Ocean Club in Sunny Isles Beach will feature three stories of amenities, including a restaurant, two bars, a yoga studio, nail salon, and much more. Similar services will be found at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Sunny Isles Beach, including a restaurant, bar, pool lounge, pet-grooming center, and a private yacht available to charter. And still others are considering even more of their residents’ wishes, adding entertainment options as well. The Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles will offer bowling, ice skating and virtual golf in their 45,000-square-foot amenities complex. Other high-demand services include massage rooms, on-call butlers and fur storage, all available at Fisher Island’s Palazzo del Sol. Developers are also drawing attention to the property outside of their structures. For example, Biscayne Beach Residences will feature a man-made, sandy beach on 344 feet of bayfront. A six-acre athletic complex is planned for the roof space at Paramount Miami Worldcenter’s 60-story tower. And don’t think for one-second that in this technologically-advanced era that developers aren’t incorporating fancy gizmos. “We’re talking about things as basic as an iPad that controls your lights and shades and air-conditioning all the way up to pressing an app on your phone that calls your car from a robotic parking garage,” said Ryan Shear of the Property Markets Group.
While buyers can expect to pay heavy maintenance fees for these posh amenities, it hasn’t stopped them from spreading their wealth in the Miami area, which in turn has led developers to keep one-upping each other. While some industry experts believe that a real estate bubble in South Florida may be on the horizon, several luxury condo projects are in the works, and the boom just keeps rolling on.