Monday, July 5, 2010

A concierge at your service - at home

Such perks being offered by more high-end residential projects

CONCIERGE services used to be the preserve of posh hotels but an increasing number of high-end residential developments are including them as perks to attract buyers.

Developers and property experts say there is a growing demand for such personalised services, as increasingly sophisticated homebuyers look to redefine high-end living.

'While good-class serviced apartments provided such services a while ago, it is a relatively new introduction for private condos and an increasing trend as buyers start to get more affluent,' said Knight Frank group managing director Danny Yeo.

While locals might not demand a full range of concierge services, they appreciate having a touch of class that allows a development to differentiate itself, he said.

Mr Steven Tan, executive director of residential at property agency OrangeTee, said buyers had higher expectations of their quality of life and were willing to pay more for the convenience that concierge services offer.

It also enhances the possibility 'of renting out your condo to high-budget expats, especially those who might have just moved here, are still unfamiliar with Singapore and would appreciate a concierge assisting them with information', he said.

Some concierge services in residential projects include catering menus for privately held parties, managing restaurant reservations, dog walking and even preparing a family picnic basket.

The expenses are usually included in a condo's monthly conservancy fee, although external services like spa treatments will cost more.

Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) chief executive Thio Gim Hock said a full concierge service is not a must-have. However, if it does not bump up monthly maintenance fees too much, it is 'good to have' as residents of any development would appreciate it.

Mr Thio estimates monthly maintenance fees at OUE's high-end Twin Peaks project at Leonie Hill to be $300 for a smaller flat and $500 for the biggest unit.

He describes them as 'very reasonable' when combined with the full range of lifestyle facilities, such as gourmet kitchens and sky gyms.

Twin Peaks, which has yet to be launched, will include a concierge desk serving as a collection and drop-off point for residents and a concierge manager to help with bookings of movie tickets, air tickets or taxis.

City Developments' (CDL) St Regis Residences in Tanglin Road and the upcoming Residences at W in Sentosa Cove - expected to be completed by 2012 - will also offer those extra personal touches. CDL will offer the full suite of services such as housekeeping and laundry at the adjoining hotels that will operate under the same brand name next to each project.

There will also be in-house concierges who arrange for private chefs and butlers.

A CDL spokesman said residents have asked for a St Regis chef and butlers at their residences to prepare a banquet for friends and family, or butlers to prepare a basket for a picnic.

Ms Rena Dharmawan, 24, said the concierge services at St Regis Residences were a nice touch that allowed her to hold her engagement party conveniently at the function room below her apartment block.

'They assisted us in directing our guests and helped out with manual tasks like lifting tables for the buffet... On regular days, they would even help with our luggage or shopping bags all the way up to our apartment,' she added.

Two of Far East Organization's developments - Orchard Scotts in Scotts Road and Vida in Peck Hay Road - field about 60 concierge requests a week, ranging from walking pets, grocery shopping to booking theatre tickets, its spokesman said.

One particularly unusual request: buying a specific serving of hot chocolate with marshmallows from a hotel for a resident with a craving.

Source: Straits Times, 5 Jul 2010

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