By Jason Hayes, Founder & CEO, LuxuryProperty.com
If I were to pick two words to define the real-estate market in Dubai, they would have to be change and possibility. From its humble beginnings as a port town and a hub for maritime traders, Dubai has come along so far and continues to progress so rapidly that it almost feels as if you’re waking up to a different city each morning. Presenting impossible ideas and transforming them into stunning reality has become old hat now, whether it is building a manmade island in the shape of a palm tree or constructing the world’s longest indoor ski slope. As the city continues to evolve, it attracts a fresh wave of home-buyers who set new trends in the market, which in turn leads to another stage of evolution, thus creating a constant cycle of change.
This is especially true of the luxury segment, where property trends are driven in part by aesthetic appeal and in part by the lifestyle offering that a buyer can expect. Serviced residences combine both of those elements into one neat, little package, which has led to them becoming a dominant presence in the market today.
Many of these residences are operated and managed by some of the world’s leading hotel brands; serviced residences offer a lifestyle of convenience and comfort. In Dubai, there is a healthy mix of international names such as Kempinski, Dorchester Collection and W Hotels, alongside acclaimed homegrown brands such as the Address and Vida Hotels. Whether you are seeking a principal residence for your growing family, a pied a terre to get away on a quiet weekend or an investment to strengthen your portfolio, serviced residences are an excellent option. They offer a range of service packages that cover everything from maintenance and housekeeping all the way to personalized concierge services, including restaurant and event bookings.
As Dubai continues to attract a newer generation of home-buyers, it results in an aesthetic shift in the design of its homes. Contemporary architecture is without a doubt one of the prevailing trends we see today, with a strong emphasis on clean shapes, soothing colours and sleek finishes. Some residential buildings take their style inspiration from the beachfront homes of Miami, while some look to the coastal developments along the Mediterranean or even traditional Arabic architecture. However, these diverse designs are ultimately tied together by a contemporary sensibility.
Location, location, location…
It is the oldest adage in real estate and one that Dubai’s luxury residences certainly take to heart. These projects are located in the city’s most prime areas, from the vibrant downtown district to the waterfront haven of Dubai Marina and the iconic Palm Jumeirah. As a homeowner, all you have to do is put up your feet and live your life. As an investor, you can maintain a hands-off approach to managing your property and reap the returns on your investment.
The latter point is especially attractive for buyers entering the Dubai market. Dubai offers some of the most attractive annual yields in the world, averaging 6 to 7 percent per annum, which is more than double what you might expect from its global contemporaries, such as New York, London and Hong Kong. Depending on the location, you might even run into double-digit percentages.
Dubai offers very high levels of stability for investors—which is applicable not just to serviced residences but the city as a whole. In the face of adverse market conditions and geopolitical uncertainty, the local real-estate market has continued to maintain a firm footing. Only two years ago, the serviced luxury development known as One Palm set the record for the most expensive penthouse sold in Dubai, fetching a staggering £21.2 million, and new projects continue to garner strong sales within days of release.
Our core market focuses on prime properties across Dubai, although there are a select few projects that more appropriately deserve the moniker of “super prime”. They offer the most ideal blend of location and design, with standards of service that are absolutely impeccable. The properties below are some of my personal favourites, and given the opportunity, I would gladly pick any of them as my principal Dubai residence.
The 118 Downtown
One of the few serviced-residence projects that doesn’t have a hotel component attached to it, The 118 Downtown is a low-rise tower that offers a very exclusive collection of just 28 residences divided into 26 full-floor simplex penthouses and two ultra-rare duplex units. The exterior of the tower combines elements of Art Deco and Arabesque design, while the interiors offer a choice of two design schemes—the Classic or Contemporary Collections. Each penthouse features smart-home technology, ceilings that are more than four metres high and outer walls framed in floor-to-ceiling glass to provide breathtaking views of the Dubai skyline and the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa. A fantastic range of amenities includes two open-air event decks, a 20,000-square-foot infinity pool, a wellness centre and dedicated concierge services.
Yet another purely serviced-residence project, Volante is a personal favourite of mine. It is located along the banks of the Dubai Water Canal and is positioned to enjoy panoramic views of the waterfront, with Burj Khalifa rising against the horizon. Volante contains a mix of full-floor and half-floor units with very well-designed layouts and high-quality materials, including travertine stone and Zebrano wood. The true highlight of the development, however, is its Resident’s Club, which covers the entirety of the fourth floor. Offering a wellness centre, outdoor pool with views over the Dubai skyline, glass-fronted gymnasium, in-house dining, conference room and private cinema, Volante easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the city’s finest hotels.
W Residences has been a keenly anticipated project for quite some time and enjoys a splendid location on Palm Jumeirah. It is made up of 104 penthouses that are split into eight distinct clusters (referred to as mansions) and is fully serviced by the exquisite W Dubai–The Palm, which opened its doors to the public this March. Each penthouse has a smartly designed layout that offers plenty of living and entertaining space and features expansive terraces so you can bask in gorgeous views of the Arabian Sea. Residents have exclusive access to Club 104, spread over three floors and offering a gym, wellness space, private cinema and family restaurant. They can also enjoy a lovely private beach that stretches out alongside the structure. The adjoining hotel has its own selection of five-star facilities and a fantastic selection of restaurants that include Torno Subito, helmed by the world’s number-one ranked restaurateur and chef, Massimo Bottura.
As its name suggests, One Palm is also located on Palm Jumeirah and benefits from the services of the Dorchester Collection, the operating entity behind the world-renowned The Dorchester in London. The residences comprise a mix of apartments and penthouses in simplex and duplex options, and you can select from one of two schemes—cool contemporary interiors by British design studio Elicyon or a minimalist, nature-infused aesthetic from Japanese firm Super Potato. Amenities include outdoor pools, a resort-like spa, a beach club and an outdoor cinema. Among the services on offer are private catering and restaurant bookings, and even a personalised valet.
Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences
This is the project that really exemplifies the term “super prime” in Dubai. A sister project to the world-famous Atlantis resort, Royal Atlantis achieved iconic status even before completion. Standing nearly twice as high as its predecessor, the structure features a jagged and asymmetrical design that gives it a very distinctive silhouette. Residential units include the spacious Sky Courts, two-level Garden Suites and a magnificent penthouse collection. Each residence will have the option of including a specially commissioned artisanal piece as part of its interior design to create a unique living experience. Residents can relax in and socialize around the 90-metre-high Sky Pool, enjoy private beaches and watersports, a spa, two gyms (including a residents-only gym) and signature restaurants courtesy of Heston Blumenthal, José Andrés and Ariana Bundy. The Royal Atlantis team caters to every need with exclusive concierge services and even provides a personal butler on request.