By Deepthi Nair, Sub Editor, Property  www.gulfnews.com

It’s ironic that Dubai’s new benchmarks for uber luxury are havens of minimalism.

    *  Bashir Hiridjee at home in his Dh9.3 million apartment at The Armani Residences.     * Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
* Bashir Hiridjee at home in his Dh9.3 million apartment at The Armani Residences. * Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM

The 144 swanky Armani Residences housed from levels nine to 16 in the Burj Khalifa epitomise understated elegance and are tastefully restrained in their colour tone and furnishing. With the fashion legend looking into every detail of the units, self-confessed fans of Giorgio Armani lapped up units during the launch, seeking the associated brand lifestyle and an address extraordinaire.

A magical experience

Bashir Hiridjee’s purchase of Armani Residences 1218 is not a mere bricks-and-mortar investment. “Living in the Burj Khalifa is truly a privilege. Living in an Armani Residence is magical since you are treated like a prince. Right from the hotel entrance, lifestyle managers attend to your every need. I consider the Armani Residence apartment as my second wife. It’s very special,” says the high-flying Indian businessman.

Since designer branded residences typically command a premium due to their high quality design and lavish services, Bashir paid Dh9.3 million for his one-bedroom exclusive pad, spanning 1,068 square feet, circa 2007. Acquiring the prestigious unit at its launch price of Dh8,700 per square foot, this proud owner is undeterred by the volatility of prices.

“I was anticipating the unit price to appreciate; but, the crisis struck and prices have dropped. But, I hope to recover the cost price very soon. Currently, the price has depreciated to Dh6 million.”

High-net worth individuals are known to stamp their imprint in more ways than one. Not satisfied with a lone purchase in the world’s tallest tower, the branded residence on the 12th floor, Bashir has also lapped up the entire 114th floor (the Corporate Suite) to convert into his office space.

“I spend time in this apartment only during a stopover in Dubai. I shuttle between Paris, London, Madagascar and Dubai. Since my office is upstairs on the 114th floor, I will take only one minute to reach my Corporate Suite,” he adds.

With most of the Armani Residences turning out to be secondary residences for the well-heeled, very few are looking to sell or rent out their dream abodes. “I mean to be associated long-term with this exclusive address. There is no point in renting it out either since it would damage the furniture quality,” Bashir says.

Service par excellence

Lifestyle managers are on hand to attend to each owner’s smallest requirement. “They receive us in the Armani Lobby and refer us to a hostess. If you need to make any enquiry either about Dubai or any other part of the world, for instance, to charter a helicopter ride in New York or purchase tickets for an opera show in Paris, the lifestyle manager takes care of it all,” says Bashir. The service levels at the Armani Residences are comparable to the Armani Hotel. “We can use all the facilities offered by the Armani Hotel — room service, cleaning, etc. We are treated no different from guests at the Armani Hotel. I can be assured my property will be taken care of when it’s left vacant occasionally,” he explains.

Recreational and leisure facilities

To cater to designer residences of such unsurpassed quality, there is a repertoire of recreational and leisure facilities available within the Burj Khalifa. While home owners and visitors alike can avail of valet parking, there are eight restaurants offering diverse cuisines — Hashi (Japanese), Amal (Indian), Ristorante (Italian) and Mediterraneo are just some of them. But topping the list, literally, is At.mosphere (fine dining) on the 122nd floor. This apparently fits the bill as the highest restaurant in the world. Residents can also use four swimming pools, an exclusive lounge and a bevy of health and wellness facilities.

“Owners automatically become members of an exclusive Armani Club, which offers a cigar bar, conference rooms, and a big terrace. I have also been to the in-hotel Armani/ Spa where there the treatment rooms are exclusive. The sensory experiences are highly recommended. There is also a discotheque called the Armani Privé. It is one of the best nightclubs not just in Dubai, but in the world,” enthuses Bashir. Armani Club members enjoy privileged access to the club’s private meeting venues, VIP events as well as priority access to Armani restaurants, the spa and the Privé nightclub.

Service charges

These facilities, however, do come with a price attached. Owners of Armani Residences are expected to pay a steep service charge of Dh78.63 per square foot. “Initially, Emaar was mulling around Dh120-140 per square foot. But fortunately, they have reduced it to Dh78 per square foot, which is reasonable for the type of services and facilities that we get. High-end owners can afford this. However, we are awaiting Emaar’s response on forming an interim owners’ association in the near future,” he says.

So, what’s the one thing Bashir would want to change in his apartment? “It’s a bit small for my family’s requirements. If I find a suitable two-bedroom Armani Residence unit, I will definitely upgrade,” he observes. However, he wouldn’t dream of changing the bespoke Armani/Casa furniture or any other designer fixtures. “If I need to alter any furnishing, I need to consult the management since they want to retain the spirit of brand Armani. Every aspect of the home has been carefully designed to reflect his impeccable taste,” he adds with pride. Apart from offering spectacular views of the bustling city and Downtown Dubai, the apartment features automated systems for temperature and drapery control, security, lighting and air-conditioning.

Living in Downtown Dubai

Bashir admits that his purchasing decision was also driven by the lifestyle options in the surrounding Downtown enclave. “Downtown is the most ‘in vogue’ community in Dubai today. It is truly the ‘Golden Mile’ in Dubai and boasts six-star facilities such as The Dubai Mall, Souq Al Bahar, The Dubai Fountain, the two Address hotels, the Al Manzil and Qamardeen hotels and the Emaar Boulevard. Apart from several fine-dining restaurants in Downtown, leisure options for residents include Reel Cinemas and the ice rink in The Dubai Mall. There is also a medical centre inside the mall,” he adds.

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