Aman is synonymous with luxury resorts so it comes as a surprise when CEO Olivier Jolivet tells me the brand is not in the hotel business. “Aman is not a hospitality company, but a lifestyle brand that operates much like a club. It’s about like-minded people enjoying each other’s company," he says when I meet him in Singapore.
Residential sales, Jolivet says, are at the heart of the Aman business. “The majority of our private residence owners are ‘Amanjunkies’ who return many times to our resorts, often with friends, and want to have a permanent piece of this lifestyle. It gives our guests a sense of belonging and is a legacy that is passed on to the next generation."
Real estate experts in South East Asia agree that demand for residences by luxury hotel brands in the region is on the increase.
“Our guests are buying one, two or three residences," says Jolivet, whose customers typically comprise celebrities and ultra-high net-worth individuals.
The appeal is understandable: you’re buying into the ethos of your favourite hotel brand with added benefits such as 24-hour concierge services. Some are seeking privacy as well.
Having well-known architects and interior designers linked to the property also increases the appeal, Willson Kalip, country head of Knight Frank Indonesia, points out.
Aman residences for sale include Amanoi in Vietnam, where buyers have the chance to collaborate with star architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston on designing their dream home. Gathy is also working on the upcoming Four Seasons Bangkok Residences, adjacent to a new Four Seasons hotel on the Chao Phraya River. The all-corner apartments are due to open in 2018.
Due to open around the same time, on the same stretch of the river is Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, where buyers will have the option of a full interior design service by renowned designer Joyce Wang.
“Hotel residences are often second or third homes so owners have a ‘plug and play’ expectation," says Wang. “A hotel residence should make one feel pampered and looked after." This marks the first Mandarin Oriental Residences in South East Asia, with a second slated for Bali. Situated diagonally opposite the Mandarin Oriental hotel, each unit – ranging in size from 130 to 230sqm and penthouses from 380 to 710sqm – will have a river view.
The Peninsula has chosen Shanghai for its first foray into residences. Based next door to The Peninsula hotel, overlooking the Bund, it comprises an exclusive clutch of 36 one- to four-bedroom apartments. All are designed by Pierre Yves Rochon who was also responsible for the hotel and so share the same 1920s-influenced aesthetic.
While residents can order room service and catering from the hotel’s chefs, they are given priority bookings at The Pen’s restaurants and spa. They also have access to its famous fleet of Rolls-Royces. Expect to see more Aman residences in city locations too. “We are listening to our customers. They are telling us that when they are travelling they want a pied-a-terre right in the centre," says Jolivet. They’ll be based on the suites at the recently opened Aman Tokyo. These 141sqm spaces encompass lounging, dining, sleeping and bathing areas in a minimalist apartment-like setting that can be cleverly divided or opened up by slick sliding doors. As Jolivet puts it, “A perfectly managed, top-of-the-top property that is a club of the happy few”