By Parag Deulgaonkar

For this tenant it’s all about location, location, location… that and the view

Downtown Burj Khalifa
Downtown Burj Khalifa

One year ago when Burj Khalifa launched as the world’s tallest tower, at over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, it rose like a phoenix from among the ashes of a global economic burnout.

While property prices around the world and in the UAE took a beating, the fountains in front of the iconic structure seemed to drench the imagination of visitors with strange ideas of who actually lived in the Burj Khalifa.

Were they only royals? Were they magnates and billionaires whose identities would never be revealed? Were the houses all empty?

As we approached the tower, we were stopped at the entrance where a guard verified our details, the car plate number and allowed us access. The valet – a service offered complementary to all residents and guests – then takes over.

As we walk through the huge, impressive lobby, marked by a unique drum-cymbal decor, we get past the glass doors, which can be opened only with an access card, and take the lift to the 76nd floor. There one has to change lifts to go higher.

Now, for the first time, we take you inside two of the homes at the Burj Khalifa.

Emirates 24|7 met with two residents – one living on the 98th floor and one on the 92th. While one is owner, one rents.

The second resident we met chose to only give us the name Cantonnet. She said her company, which is a design firm is called Cantonnet & Cantonnet. She is of American nationality. She rents her apartment. Excerpts from the interview.

How does it feel like to be one the first residents of Burj Khalifa?

It’s great. I feel blessed in a way to be able to live in this very iconic building. It’s actually a once in a lifetime experience.

How do people respond when you tell them about your address?

They are impressed and are very curious. They want to know everything… what is it like inside, what is the experience of living here? They all ask a lot of questions and I am always happy to respond. This is an exceptional building, not only from the outside, but from the inside as well.

Why did you opt to stay here?

For me, real estate is all about location. I personally don’t like to be in traffic and I don’t drive. So being able to press a button, go down the elevator and have all the services without having to leave the building. For me, there is nothing else better than this.

Do your friends find it inconvenient to visit you due to high security here?

There is no inconvenience, at all. It is not necessary that need to inform the security a day earlier unless it’s some major delivery such as furniture. We have been residing here for the past four weeks… we have someone coming over to our place, at least once a week.

Can you take visitors to other floors in the tower?

We always visit the 76th floor. That is a place that everyone loves to go see. People want to have a small tour of the Armani Hotel. As long as you have the card to access the right places, there is no problem. The staff knows us well and we all are like a family now.

How do you rate the service in the building?

It is superb! The management is exceptional and they really do make it a point to show and confirm that this is a “white glove” building. They care about every detail you can think of. The staff is happy to help you and that is one of the best parts of staying here. They have one person assigned per floor who does all the cleaning. I have stayed in white glove buildings in New York with top management companies. This really stands up to it and is setting an example for other tall buildings in this part of the world.

How many famous people have you seen?

We were supposed to have seen Tom Cruise, but everything was so secure that we really did not get a chance to… other than me I haven’t yet seen any famous people.

Did you negotiate the rent or found it affordable?

I stay on the 92nd floor in a three-bedroom apartment. The rent is obviously high, but in life ‘you get what you pay for’. I wanted to stay in a white glove building and have the best location. I did negotiate as I am a businesswoman. If all goes well, we will buy something next year in Burj Khalifa.

How many apartments did you see before selecting the one where you stay now?

I probably saw 12 apartments of various sizes and all the views. I started looking for a two-bed, then saw the three-bed and opted for it. I think it was a very good decision.

Describe your experience in Burj Khalifa in one word?

Mumtaz (beautiful, distinguished, the best).