Who has never dreamed of living in a hotel, like the famous heroine of children’s books Eloise? In Los Angeles, this is becoming more of a possibility with the rise of luxury branded residences, which combine condo living with some of the biggest brands (and the services they offer) in the hospitality industry.
Signature residences such as Mandarin Oriental Residences, Rosewood Residences Beverly Hills, Four Seasons Private Residences, Aman Beverly Hills and Pendry Residences West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip are springing up in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills at a surprising rate. With properties ranging from $3.6 million and more at the Mandarin Oriental to the $75 million listing for the penthouse atop Four Seasons residences, the biggest names in real estate are betting on the future of living in multi-units in Los Angeles.
In July, real estate agent Taaseen Qureshi of PowerPlay sold an unfinished condo for $21.5 million occupying the entire 10th floor of The Pendry in West Hollywood, making it the most expensive condo sale of 2022. this year Jason Oppenheim and Douglas Elliman Eklund’s Fredrik sold two units combined at 8899 Beverly for $17.5 million. While 8899 isn’t technically a branded residence, it follows the same lines — luxurious condo living at sky-high prices, including a pair of 8,000-square-foot penthouses on the market for $50 million.
These sales signal a shift in the Los Angeles market, which has long focused on single-family homes. “It’s still a teenage market for condos,” says Mike Leipart, managing partner at The Agency Development Group.
The slow trend towards luxury condos began over a decade ago with the opening of the Montage Residences (now Maybourne) in Beverly Hills in 2008 and the Ritz-Carlton Residences in LA Live built in 2010. This same year, Candy Spelling broke records when she bought the top two floors of The Century in Century City for $35 million, still the most expensive condo ever sold in LA
Condo prices have plummeted with the onset of the COVID pandemic, however, as yards and outdoor living have become a priority.
Yet lifestyles continue to change. As the Agency’s Billy Rose notes, for wealthy clients who travel the world and are considering a part-time home in Los Angeles, condos are attractive. “They don’t necessarily want to live in New York or Miami or Paris or anywhere all year round, because who wants to live there in the winter or deep in the summer? They think, ‘Well, if I’m going to live in LA part-time, I don’t want to worry, did a water main break? Did someone break in? Ideally, I would have a condo, where someone else could take care of all that,” Rose says.
Brad Berry, vice president of global residential development for Rosewood Hotel Group, agrees. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen many people adopt a more flexible lifestyle that hasn’t tied them to one place,” he says. “This has led to increased demand not only for branded residences, but also for those that cater to the cultured tastes of global citizens.”
Changing demographics have also contributed to the rise of high-end condominiums, especially for full-time residents. “Baby boomers are getting older,” says Leipart. “These are empty niches, and so they’re looking for smaller units, maybe units that make it easier to move around, do other things, less maintenance. And we have a lot of wealth in California. And so if they want to do that, they want to do it with a very rich service environment. This is really where branded residences come in, as they have all the hospitality services with them.
Prices are also rising for condos in two more affluent areas of Los Angeles. In August, the median sale price for condos in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills was around $1 million, up from $852,000 a year earlier.
At high-end branded properties, concierge services are the biggest selling point. From room service to personal shoppers, housekeepers, dog walkers, valets, spas and restaurants (like a new offering from acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud at Mandarin Residences), branded residences promise an experience flawless lifestyle – all backed by high HOA fees. “Every element of the owner’s experience will be expertly managed by a dedicated Rosewood Residential team,” said Radha Arora, President, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts of the upcoming 17-unit Rosewood Residences. “These hospitality experts provide owners with tailored services around the clock, while finding opportunities to surprise and delight. They ensure that brand DNA is carried into residences and that the owner experience reflects what Rosewood loyalists have come to love at our hotels and resorts.
Many of these buildings also employed high-level architects, such as Thomas Juul-Hansen for Rosewood and the firm Olson Kundig at 8899 Beverly, and used luxury materials and state-of-the-art appliances not usually associated with condos. “Olson Kundig shaped 8899 Beverly on two key principles: fully integrating home and garden for seamless indoor/outdoor living, and incorporating a modern design that respects the scale and elevation of the pre-existing residential neighborhood,” says Fredrik Eklund, listing agent for Douglas Elliman’s 8899.
While it remains to be seen if the luxury condo boom will materialize, the signs are good so far. According to Rose, about 60% of the 59 residences at the Four Seasons have sold. “There will be more [branded luxury condos]”, says Rose. “And I think they’ll get better. And I think it’s going to come more and more into the zeitgeist and what’s considered attractive in LA over time.
A version of this story first appeared in the October 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.