Living on Top of the World: The Luxury Penthouse

New York City Luxury Apartment

 

It’s the apex of exclusivity, the one percenter of luxury real estate. The appeal of the penthouse is obvious – it sits above the rest, commanding the best views, the best amenities and the highest prices. Since first appearing in New York City during the rapid urbanization of the Roaring Twenties, a time of unmatched extravagance that continues to influence today’s high society, the penthouse has become a universal symbol of status. Elevated above the clamor of the city, yet without the worry of noisy neighbors above, here is a diverse collection of top-floor residences in prime locations.
 
Manhattan Luxury Apartment
Simply put, New York City’s penthouse market is legendary and lucrative. Every square foot is valuable and a six bedroom penthouse in TriBeCa, such as this, with two kitchens, a home gym, media room and three ample sized terraces is a rare and beautiful thing. Immaculately designed, the home maintains an authentic loft feel on a grand scale with exposed brick walls and an awe-inspiring skylight that soars from 11 to 22 feet above the main living and dining area. A suede-clad and wood-paneled staircase leads to the top level and main terrace, capable of accommodating a seated dinner of 70 guests and expertly landscaped with hedges and vine covered pergola for the utmost privacy. 
 
Paris Luxury ApartmentWhen you wake up in the morning and step out onto your terrace, having a clear view of the Eiffel Tower and Seine River is nothing short of surreal. Occupying the 7th and 8th floors of a 1930s building in the desirable 16th arrondissement, this Parisian penthouse boasts just that, with mesmerizing panoramas of the entire city from multiple terraces. Large glass doors open to seamlessly connect the indoor and outdoor living spaces and invite the postcard-like scenery inside, where seven bedrooms provide sufficient accommodations for friends and family. 
 
 
Seattle Luxury ApartmentOutfitted with designer finishes from top to bottom, this chic Seattle penthouse captures westward views of the city, Puget Sound and Elliot Bay. Encompassed in rich African Anigre custom paneling, the large foyer immediately exhibits the home’s high level of craftsmanship, further evidenced in the kitchen with Crema Europa limestone from Turkey. A ThermArt gas fireplace graces the main living area, which features electronic shading and draperies, as well as state-of-the-art touch screens and home automation that’s carried throughout. Gold Standard LEED certified, the eco-friendly building offers myriad amenities, such as a library, fitness center, guest rooms available for rent and even a pet exercise area.
 
Valencia Luxury ApartmentLiving in a tenth floor penthouse in Valencia, one can enjoy unobstructed views of the city’s dramatic, yet relatively low skyline. Located in the center of one of Spain’s most storied cities, on the prestigious Paseo de la Alameda and directly across from the Turia River Bed Gardens, the apartment was recently renovated with sleek, high-end finishes. Highlighted by a massive L-shaped terrace overlooking the world-renowned cultural center, the City of Arts and Sciences, the penthouse offers the best vistas in Valencia, where you can dine in open air and watch the sun set over the city or take a relaxing siesta before a night out.
 
Vancouver Luxury ApartmentSituated atop the Wall Centre, a Vancouver landmark, one doesn’t merely get breathtaking views of the city, but also English Bay and the North Shore Mountains beyond, as is only possible in this part of Canada. Upon entering the foyer of this modern Vancouver penthouse, one is greeted by a two-story wall of glass framing the magnificent scenery and a grand spiral staircase leading up to the second level. The mint-condition residence benefits from floor-to-ceiling triple glazed windows, 24 hour concierge and security service and luxurious hotel amenities, including a fitness center and indoor pool. With three bedrooms and a dedicated office space throughout nearly 5,000 square feet, the spacious pad is the pinnacle of luxury in Vancouver.
  
No matter where you are in the world, the penthouse will always be regarded as the crème de la crème of real estate. It’s the most distinguished, the most sought after and it doesn’t need a unit number – all you have to say is “the penthouse” and people know.

Just Listed: New York City Trophy Home

New York City Luxury Apartment
 
If you’re looking for an NYC apartment with next-level luxury, you won’t find any better than this newly listed three story penthouse in one of Lincoln Center’s most exclusive buildings. Simply put: it’s a showstopper.
 
Manhattan Luxury ApartmentWith over 10,000 square feet in the heart of the city, the space alone is rare, but its meticulous design from top to bottom by the current owners is what truly sets this penthouse apart. The laundry list of high quality materials includes 25 slabs of onyx in the master bathroom, distressed pillowed-edge American Walnut flooring and a free-floating, four-sided bronze and glass fireplace
 
Entirely controlled by a state-of-the-art Crestron smart home system, large glass sliding doors (one of which had to be lifted 33 stories by crane) can be opened at the touch of a button and lead to the swanky outdoor areas. For a breath of fresh air, step out onto one of two professionally landscaped and fully irrigated terraces, totaling 2,000 square feet, with breathtaking views from high above the city.
 
From a dream kitchen designed by Boffi to a hidden screening room, the list goes on and on, so be sure to check out the listing page for the full scoop on this Manhattan trophy home.

Market Pulse: Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo

As we continue to monitor the latest activity in luxury real estate, we’re putting the spotlight on three of the world’s top international markets: Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo. Following is just a snapshot of our latest findings, so stay tuned for more on luxury real estate’s most coveted destinations!
 
Paris Luxury Homes
 
 
Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: € 42 million (US $ 52 million)
International buyers are coming from: United Arab Emirates, Brazil and the US
The market is currently a: Buyer’s market
Top 10% of inventory across the market is: About € 20,000 per square meter
The bottom line: Foreigners are back and no longer concerned about new tax laws.
 
San Francsico Luxury Homes
 
 
Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: San Francisco – US $ 15 million, all Bay Area – US $ 40 million
International buyers are coming from: China mostly, but other parts of Asia, as well.
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Smart technology, spectacular views, wine cellars and home theaters
Top 10% of inventory across the market is: US $ 7.5 million and above
The bottom line: Tech money from Silicon Valley is driving a white hot Bay Area market.
 
Tokyo Luxury Homes
 
 
Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: ¥ 1 billion (US $ 10 million)
Most international buyers are coming from: China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, with recent activity from the US and UK
Luxury buyers are looking for: Condos within multi-purpose developments (residential, offices, shopping malls, hotel-type developments)
The bottom line: Much of the luxury inventory never makes it to market, but there’s more activity now than any other time in the last 6 or 7 years.

Sitting Down with Today’s Hottest Designer: Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Martyn Lawrence Bullard design
 
If you keep up with the latest trends in interior design, even if you don’t for that matter, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the work of Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Recently, we had a chance to sit down with the award-winning designer, who stars on Bravo TV’s Million Dollar Decorators and has drawn such celebrity clientele as Sir Elton John, Cher and Eva Mendes, to discuss his entry into the business, where he sees the future of design and everything in between.
 
LP: You established your eye for design at a very early age – can you touch a little bit on that and how you first got into it?
 
MLB: Well, I started as a sort of crazy child who was fascinated with antiques and objects and began buying and selling things when I was 12 years old. By the time I was 16, I’d built up enough inventory that I was setting up the stores in the local flea markets. Then, after getting noticed by someone at Ralph Lauren, I ended up buying things specifically for them that they would use to decorate their windows on Madison Avenue.
Luxury Home design
 
LP: And shortly after that you ended up in Hollywood, correct?
 
MLB: With the money I made buying and selling things in flea markets, I was able to put myself through acting school. I started acting for a little while and came to Hollywood because I wanted to be a star - of course that took a while to achieve! But in the meantime I did a couple of movies and the producer for one of them came to my house and loved it and asked me to redo his office for him. I thought, “Well this is crazy but who knows, maybe he’ll put me in another movie!” That’s how it all started. Almost immediately after I finished that project, the president of Capitol Records called me and said, “I’ve seen your work. Would you come and do the Capitol Records Building?” I was about 24 and suddenly it just spiraled from there.
 
LP: You’re widely known for your exotic style – is that something that evolved over time or have you always favored that aesthetic?
 

Luxury Home design

MLB: A lot of the exoticism comes from the fact that I love to travel to places like Morocco, Istanbul and Egypt, and everywhere I go all the inspirations there seep into me. It’s through that that I’ve come up with some of the more exotic interiors. It’s my love of travel that has brought forward my love of pattern and exoticism – that’s what I’ve fused into my designs. It’s a summation of my experiences.
 
LP: Recently you’ve ventured into commercial projects, as well – how did that start?
 
MLB: I did the Jimmy Choo stores, various restaurants, a bunch of hotels, nightclubs and fashion stores. My commercial projects started about five years ago and have now really built up as I’ve done more and more. Once you’re on TV, you get more exposure with commercial companies and they start to see you more as a brand. Brands always want to join with other brands to strengthen each other, so that’s really what’s happened with the commercial work. Four Seasons recently asked me to be the face of their residences in Beverly Hills, ranging between $5 million and $45 million – I accepted of course! So I’m not only designing them, but they’re using me as the image for them. That’s a real partnership of brands merging.
 
LP: Do you have any favorite projects that you’ve worked on?
 

Luxury Home design

MLB: Projects are like having children – when you’re pregnant with it, it’s painful and once you give birth to it, it becomes your immediate favorite for a while. At the moment, I’m just finishing a big project for Tommy Hilfiger. He and his wife Dee are the most amazing, wonderful people. I adore them. The home is really wild and fabulous and at the moment it’s a real favorite of mine. It’s in Miami, which of course is the big hotspot in the world right now.
 
LP: What do you think will be the big trends in interior design in the near future?
 
MLB: The 80s are back in a big way. Brass, which was thought to be sort of passé, is huge. Brass, gold colors, everything from taps to tables to wall coverings – brass is a big, big thing. All 80s over-scaled furniture. That whole vibe is huge and we’re going to see more and more of it. Also, on the other end of the scale is art deco. Since the whole Great Gatsby vibe, art deco is back in fashion and design and we’re literally going to see it everywhere. 
 

Market Pulse: New York City, London, Miami

In our second installment of the Luxury Portfolio Market Pulse, we’re taking a look at the latest activity in three of the world’s hottest real estate markets: New York City, London and Miami. Again, this is just a snapshot, so stay tuned as we continue to investigate the most exclusive markets around the globe!

New York City Luxury Homes

New York City

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: US $ 70 million
Most international buyers are coming from: China, Brazil and Russia
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Full service gym and spa, wine storage, indoor pools and pet spas
Currently there are: 490 listings priced over US $7.65 million
The bottom line: The market is being driven by low supply, yet remains affordable compared to other global cities.

 

London Luxury Homes

London

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: £ 140 million (US $ 240 million)
Most international buyers are coming from: Russia, various parts of Europe and the Middle East
Currently there are: 68 properties in Kensington and Chelsea above £ 10 million (US $17 million)
The bottom line: The market is cooling and this creates opportunities for foreign buyers and investors alike.

 

Miami Luxury Homes

Miami

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: US $ 30 million
Most international buyers are coming from: Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina (in that order). Of all South Florida sales, 35% are being purchased by international buyers.
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Hotel and concierge services and close to top restaurants
Currently there are: 1,598 properties priced over US $1,475,000
The bottom line: South Florida is setting records sales for homes priced over US $ 1 million for the 4th consecutive year.
 

Deep Appreciation for Sunken Living Spaces

Sunken Living Room Unique Capetown Residence

A sunken room adds depth and dimension to a home’s floor plan; it’s somewhat unexpected and a space guaranteed to spark conviviality and create an intimate vibe. We found three exceptional homes that have sunk to new levels (in the best possible way).

Exterior Unique Capetown Residence Amazing AmenitiesLocated in Bishopscourt, Cape Town, this South African stunner will surprise and delight guests with its abundant amenities. With four bedrooms, all en-suite, this contemporary home is perfect for entertaining visitors. Seat a dozen friends for dinner in the open-plan dining room and then retreat to the swank sunken living room for a night cap.

The sprawling room with its built-in seating, free-standing fireplace and panoramic views guarantees a groovy get-together. The sumptuous master bedroom suite includes an indoor/outdoor shower and spa bathtub designed for sudsy stargazing. Other luxuries to deepen your interest include an infinity pool, gymnasium and four-car garage.

Sprawling Garrison NY Home Sunken Living RoomTraveling almost 13,000 miles to Garrison, New York we found a picturesque and private property situated on 120 acres of natural woodland overlooking the Hudson River. Featuring sweeping views all the way to Bear Mountain Bridge, this shingle and glass single-story home is a rare find filled with unique architectural elements.

Outdoor activities are abundant with unlimited opportunities for hiking and gardening, but when it’s finally time to come inside, the spacious sunken great room makes for an ideal spot to gather with loved ones. Natural light floods the four-bedroom/two-and-a-half bath home through floor-to-ceiling windows, providing an optimal setting for treasured artwork.

Sunken Living Room SamsaraLastly, in the lush tropical locale of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, this secluded Mid-Century Modern hideaway, Samsara, offers privacy in a spectacular setting. With over 3,000 square-feet of living space there is plenty of room to roam. Perched high above Cane Garden Bay, the six-bedroom/five-and-a-half bath property has awe-inspiring views.

The multi-level main residence boasts a sunken family room which is separated from the dining area by a see-through fireplace, an ideal spot to rest and relax at the end of the evening. Just above is the mezzanine floor that offers additional living space; up one more level is a lofted area with a bird’s eye view of the home’s anything-but-ordinary layout. With other features like a gourmet kitchen, swimming pool and covered outdoor dining area, we’ve got to level with you — this home has a lot to offer.

Looking for luxurious new levels of living space?  Dive deep into Luxury Portfolio.

Exploring the World's Ultra-Prime Enclaves

Monterey Luxury Homes

Like birds of a feather, today’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals flock together, with the majority landing in a distinguished list of neighborhoods prized for their beauty, exclusivity and leisure activities. In these top-tier enclaves, residents hail from all over the globe, while the common denominator is their position among the world’s most affluent, who can choose to live anywhere they please. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but based on such factors as quality of life, luxury real estate and ease of access, following is a selection of the most prestigious locations to live the good life, from mega-yachts in the Caribbean to champagne and caviar in the Swiss Alps.

Monterey Peninsula (USA)
California’s central coast has long been heralded for its mesmerizing scenery and favorable year-round climate, making it the perfect place for golf enthusiasts to flock for greener pastures. Comprised of Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove, the area is home to a bevy of world-renowned golf courses, such as Pebble Peach and Spyglass Hill. Additionally, the craggy coastline and scenic waters have made it one of the most desirable, as well as pricey, places to live. If you’re in the market for some prime beachfront and the country club lifestyle, the Monterey Peninsula is well worth a look.

St. Moritz Luxury HomesSt. Moritz (Switzerland)
A historical favorite among the jet set, St. Moritz is one of the few places that might actually exceed its reputation of world-class luxury. Combine that with some of the finest off-piste, or back country, skiing in the Swiss Alps and it’s easy to understand why so many high-net-worth individuals are keen on the real estate here. It may be one of the most expensive enclaves in Europe, but with endless alpine activities, 300+ beautiful days of sunshine and upscale dining and nightlife, St. Moritz has earned every bit of its pedigree.

St. Barths Luxury HomesSt. Barths (French West Indies)
Easily the ritziest island in the Caribbean, Saint Barthélemy, or St. Barths, is the ultimate enclave when it’s time to take to the tropics. With no shortage of yachts, celebrities and turquoise water, the island has been a longtime favorite among the affluent, who tend to prefer private villas rather than compete for limited hotel space when the busy season hits from December to April (hotels account for only 30% of the island’s accommodations). With just over 8 square miles (21 km²) and strict zoning codes, real estate is quite limited, resulting in an extremely competitive market on this lavish getaway.

Costa Smeralda Luxury HomesCosta Smeralda (Italy)
Historically one of the most expensive real estate markets in Europe, Costa Smeralda has been frequented by the upper echelon since its development by Prince Karim Aga Khan in the early 1960s. Located on the north coast of Sardinia (off the west coast of Italy), its appeal is largely driven by the dramatic coastline, breathtaking Mediterranean views and myriad offerings that cater to high-society. The prestigious Pevero Golf Club, Marina di Porto Cervo and numerous picture-perfect beaches are just a few of the reasons those who can afford to, choose Costa Smeralda for their vacation home.

Market Pulse: Beverly Hills, Geneva, Hong Kong

In our effort to keep you up to date on the market activity in top international destinations, we’re sharing some of our latest findings from the Luxury Portfolio Market Pulse. Of course, this is just a snapshot, so stay tuned as we continue to investigate the world’s hottest real estate markets!

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Luxury Homes

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: US $ 120 million
Buyers who want it all want: A bowling alley, beauty salon, state-of-the-art media room and hammam (Turkish bath)
Compared to last year, prices are: Up
Top 10% of inventory across the market is: US $ 30 million and above
The bottom line: More US $ 20 million+ homes are being sold than ever before.

Geneva

Geneva Luxury Homes

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: CHF 57.5 million (US $ 64 million)
The market is currently a: Buyer’s market
Most international buyers are coming from: France and the Ukraine
Top 10% of inventory across the market is: CHF 15 million and above (US $ 17 million)
It’s worth it because: Economic and political stability, as well as a sense of security and excellent quality of life.
 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Luxury Homes

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: HK $ 526 million (US $ 67.9 million)
The market is currently a: Buyer’s market
Most international buyers are coming from: Mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Clubhouse facilities and convenience to commercial high-end shopping malls

Just Listed: The Alexander Julian Estate

Alexander Julian's Colorful Connecticut Home

Reflective of his signature brand “Colours,” it’s no surprise that the home of iconic designer Alexander Julian is bright, lively and luxuriously un-stuffy. Tucked away on 30 private acres in Ridgefield, Connecticut, this ten-bedroom, seven bathroom (plus two half-bath) property makes the most of its sublime natural surroundings. Ponds, brooks, and meticulously landscaped greenery provide the perfect backdrop for this wonderfully whimsical Arts & Crafts home.

colorful rustic bathroom Alexander Julian EstateUshering the outdoors inside, the gracious dining room has floor-to-ceiling doors that open to the red brick terrace. A footed bathtub, soaring beamed ceilings, roughhewn floors and exquisite built-ins are just a few of the utterly charming details throughout the home; there are stylish surprises at every turn. If given only one word to describe this delightful dwelling: happy.

Other features of the property include a guest house, pool, pool house, tennis court, greenhouse and quite appropriately, a design studio. Click here to learn more about this exceptional home.

Musings from the Private Jet Journey

Four Seasons Private Jet
 
It’s daybreak on the Amazon River in Peru. Early morning light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows of your suite aboard the Aria, a deluxe river cruise ship accommodating an exclusive 32 guests, and over the gentle rippling of its wake a Ringed Kingfisher calls in the distance. By tomorrow, a private jet will have taken you nearly 3,000 thousand miles away to relax over sunset cocktails at the legendary Posada de Mike Rapu on Easter Island in Polynesia. 
 
Abercrombie and Kent Private JetIt’s just another stop on upscale travel company Abercrombie & Kent’s 26 day Islands, Savannas & the Amazon excursion, culminating with a lavish evening at the Hotel Metropole in Monaco. Priced upwards of $80K, it’s not for everyone, but if you have the means to do so, these intimately-sized adventures are the most luxurious way to make a dent on that seemingly endless bucket list. "Travel by private jet allows guests to experience far more than they could on a conventional itinerary – and with greater ease and access," explains Abercrombie & Kent President Phil Otterson, "Our guests understand the value of this, which led to our 2014 Private Jet Africa and Around the World departures selling out in just weeks and generating long waiting lists." For the jet setter who doesn’t want to get bogged down by delays, transfers, long security lines and the like, private jet tours are a fast growing trend. Why? The short answer: because it’s hassle-free luxury and first class all the way. 
 
Four Seasons Private JetThe Four Seasons, for instance, is far from solely hotel operators anymore. In fact, the company now curates a number of full-service globetrotting expeditions where passengers can be transported by private jet to the iconic hotel brand’s various locations around the world. As Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Four Seasons, recently shared, “In 2012, when we first introduced our Around the World by Private Jet experiences the response was overwhelmingly positive. The popularity and success of these early trips demonstrated the considerable opportunity and growth potential in the future of private jet travel, and encouraged us to look for new ways to evolve the experience.” 
 
That ultimately led to the recently unveiled Four Seasons Boeing 757, elegantly retrofitted for private travel with only 52 seats. The moment you step aboard it’s apparent that everything has been carefully orchestrated to provide a high-touch experience (they even equip each passenger with a near indestructible suitcase from luxury luggage brand RIMOWA), but that’s not what makes these trips worth shelling out the big bucks (ranging from $70–120K per person based on double occupancy). Rather, the unique offerings and VIP perks are what distinguish each voyage from your average vacation. How else would one get to enjoy a private dinner at the Manueline-style Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon one night and an evening at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan with backstage passes the next? On the Four Seasons Backstage with the Arts journey, travelers are treated to just that on a sixteen day cultural feast through six European cities.
 
Abercrombie and Kent Private JetNow, if you’re really looking to get off the beaten path, without compromising comfort of course, National Geographic is also in the luxury travel game and has put a few excursions together, as only Nat Geo could. The recently announced Human Journey: Tracing Legendary Peoples and Sacred Places with Dr. Spencer Wells promises the ultimate balance between luxury travel (they’ve got a customized Boeing 757 of their own) and exotic exploration. With stops at numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Mtskheta, Georgia, the cave temples of Dambulla in Sri Lanka and the churches at Lalibela, Ethiopia, it offers a level of grand adventure rarely possible traveling on your own, while maintaining a personal touch that’s far from being prodded along on a group vacation full of fanny packs and tourist manuals. In the neighborhood of $70k, these once-in-a-lifetime experiences allow you to truly delve into a foreign culture with a renowned team of experts to share their knowledge and insights on each destination. 
 
As they increase in popularity, there seems to be a private-jet tour tailored for every type of traveler: the history buff, the socialite, the adventurer, the beach bum and so on, with thrilling new itineraries created each year to meet the expectations of today’s jet setter. The continued growth signals one thing for sure: they’re well worth it.
 

More Entries