Imagine the view from the 20th floor of a condominium with its grounds landscaped into lush green gardens, a swimming pool and interesting water features.
A place where you walk into a plush executive club for a workout session at the gym, or an evening out with your friends. And no, these aren't luxury resorts - though they could be your permanent residential address. But like all good things, great lifestyles come attached with hefty price tags.
There is a rising demand in the Indian real estate market for bigger and better luxury apartments, and taking a cue developers are offering apartments and villas with as much as 10,000 sq ft of space.
"People from large kothis are moving to apartments but rarely do they want to compromise on the space," says Kunal Banerji, vice president, marketing and corporate communications, Ansal API.
DLF's Aralias at the DLF Golf Course in Gurgaon has apartments starting from Rs 5,825 sq ft going up to over Rs 10,000 sq ft for penthouses. Interestingly, the company offers bare apartments (without even walls inside) to customise the size of the rooms according to their clients' convenience.
These unfurnished apartments minus flooring, plastering or the woodwork are still priced between Rs 5.7-10 crore (Rs 57-100 million). Wondering why anyone should spend so much money on apartment skeletons? Experts say that homes should eventually reflect the resident's own personal style statement.
Prerna Aggarwal, chief manager, marketing, DLF, informs that their high-end luxury apartment estates in Gurgaon - Aralias and Magnolias - are on sale by invitation only and are non-transferable till the point of registration in the original buyer's name. Both have been designed by architect Hafeez Contractor.
DLF's Belaire, also in Gurgaon, comes fully furnished and is available in a price range of Rs 2-3 crore (Rs 20-30 million). Needless to say, the apartments here are centrally air-conditioned, equipped with modular kitchens, wooden laminated flooring and state-of-the-art security systems.
For its design, Ansal API has employed international architects Ramesh Khosla and Paul Friedberg for The Ivy. The top-end penthouses here are priced at Rs 8 crore (Rs 80 million). Here's why: Elevators, for instance, will not stop on any other floor and take you directly to your penthouse from the main lobby.
"Everything at The Ivy is imported - the marble, shower cabins, modular kitchens, steam, sauna, jacuzzi. We also offer a private garden and a pool," says Banerji.
What's more, The Ivy complex boasts of a three-tier security system (the gate, the building and then the apartment) with CCTV monitoring. In addition, there are some feel-good measures taken for the residents.
A reception guard, a concierge and yes, even valet parking. "You can actually compare this with the high-end apartments in Dubai or San Francisco," says Banerji.
He's right. Recent research conducted by Cushman & Wakefield has found: "Newer constructions are in line with international standards.
These are earthquake-resistant designs, with state-of-the-art fire-fighting equipment, excellent maintenance standards, spa/gymnasiums run by leading consultants both internationally/locally, swimming pools, concierge services, library, party halls, flexibility in design, large open spaces or terrace/balconies and ample car parking spaces.
Who are the buyers of these high-end, super luxury apartments and penthouses? "Naturally, the high-net-worth individuals with their high regard for social standing are the eager buyers of these luxury apartments and penthouses," says Amitabh Bhattacharya, vice president, corporate communications, Omaxe.
Omaxe has had considerable success with its high-end luxury brand The Forest in Noida. Now Omaxe has launched a similar project under the same brand in Faridabad.
The Forest, Noida, has apartments ranging from 4,000-6,500 sq ft with a price range from Rs 2.25-4.5 crore (Rs 22.5 Rs 45 million).
These duplex penthouses feature a double level terrace that includes a swimming pool, a lily pond in the family lounge, even chandeliers, designer light fittings, wooden laminated floorings as well as Italian marble options, imported modular woodwork in the bedrooms, jacuzzis, sauna and steam rooms.
Around Delhi, Ansal's Acropolis in Ghaziabad has plans for penthouses for Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) and above; Orchard County and Golf Links in Mohali will go up to Rs 70-80 lakh (Rs 7-8 million).
"Similar apartments in Mumbai cost at least 30-40 per cent more than their counterparts in Delhi," says Pranay Vakil, chairman, Knight Frank, a real estate consultancy firm.
"Very high-end spaces in Mumbai mean apartment sizes of 15,000-20,000 sq ft with 3,000 sq ft of garden spaces and even a swimming pool," says architect Hafeez Contractor.
He adds, "Some have as many as 8-10 bedrooms. The prices for these average Rs 30,000-35,000 per sq feet and above. On average, 20,000 sq ft of space can cost as much as Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million). These are exorbitant prices - but perhaps not so exorbitant for bankers and diamond merchants."
Upcoming luxury complexes in Mumbai include names such as Chattan on Altamount Road, Evita in Powai (by Hiranandani Developers), Raheja Anchorage by K Raheja Universal, the Oberoi project on Annie Besant Road between Worli and Prabhadevi, and more projects on Nepean Sea Road touching the sea.
A 6,000 sq feet apartment at Chattan could cost Rs 24 crore (Rs 240 million). "People are now buying houses at prices which were earlier quoted for buying companies," says Vakil.
Even in areas like the Boat Club Road in Pune, the cost has gone upwards of Rs 5,000-6,000 per sq ft. "Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore," says Vakil, "have just reached the Rs 5,000 per sq ft mark recently."
Pahwa Builders, who have luxury apartments in posh Delhi areas such as Golf Links and Gulmohur Park, are developing luxury apartments in Goa now. Pankaj Pahwa, managing director, Pahwa Builders, informs that these will cost at least Rs 7,500 per sq ft and will have four-five bedrooms each.
From the windows of one of these bedrooms, you could well be looking out on to the greens of a golf course. Ansal API's Sushant Golf City in Lucknow, for instance, offers golf villas inside an 18-hole professional golf course designed by Martin Hawtree.
These 3,000 sq feet luxury villas have their own swimming pools and porticos, American-style open kitchens and even modular bedrooms done in mahogany wood.
These highly customised villas cost anywhere between Rs 4-7 crore (Rs 40-70 million) and are equipped with adequate security systems with CCTVs.
Some of the incredible add-ons here include wi-fi Internet connectivity, optic fiber cabling and water harvesting. There's also a tennis academy run by Mahesh Bhupati and his junior Gaurav Natekar.
Unitech's Karma Lakelands in Gurgaon have 306 villas planned with a golf course, club house, club spa, squash courts, gym, yoga and aerobics studio, games, cinema and spa treatment rooms, fine dining restaurants, bar and a cigar lounge, a well-stocked library, an infinity edge reflecting pool, tennis courts, golfers lounge, banquet facilities and sauna.
Which of these luxury apartments will become your permanent address?With inputs from Nanditta Chibber and Aabhas Sharma