Riviera Tower Athens Rhodium
Riviera Tower Athens

Everyday opulence: How Rhodium is bringing the five-star experience to branded residences

17 Oct 2023 | |By Hitanshi Kamdar

A coterie of luxury brands are stepping into the residential space. But what goes into managing these ultra-luxe homes?

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There are few decisions that impact life quite as significantly as the home you choose to live in. Sure, a well-built apartment is great, but imagine one that blends the opulent ease of a hotel, the familiarity of your own space and the assurance of having a world-renowned luxury brand attached to it. This unique experience is afforded to those select few who live within branded residences. Often offering services such as well-stocked kitchens and facilities including a myriad of entertainment options, such as gourmet restaurants, private pools, and even a spa, right on your doorstep, branded residences infuse luxury into everyday life.

According to Dean Main, founder of super prime property advisory and management firm Rhodium, branded residences, for the uninitiated, are homes to which a luxury brand has attached its name, while also adding input in terms of design, facilities or day-to-day service. While the trend began with hotels, fashion brands and even luxury car manufacturers are dipping their toes into the lucrative property market. According to the latest figures, 740 branded residence schemes currently operate globally, a significant increase from 640 in 2022. 

This increase is hardly surprising given the obvious appeal of these residences. The established clout and credibility of the luxury brands extends to the buildings that bear their name. Their elevated aesthetic mirrors the lifestyle of the high-net-worth individuals residing there. And, while London may still be in a nascent stage when it comes to luxury branded residences, the sector is growing fast.

What many don’t realise, however, is that it is not usually the brand whose name is on the building that manages its everyday running. After all, when, impeccable management and five-star service is the expectation of residents, it pays to call in the experts. Award-winning advisory and property management company Rhodium is one of the world’s leading branded residence management companies, with over a decade’s experience in managing some of the world’s most prestigious luxury developments, including the first St Regis branded residence in the UK, No.1 Palace Street.

Northacre The Broadway Rhodium
Northacre’s The Broadway

With a property portfolio that includes prime spots in London, Greece and the UAE, Rhodium is a bonafide expert on branded residences. We sit down with CEO, Dean Main, to discuss the technicalities of building and managing a luxury branded residence, Rhodium’s impressive property portfolio, and the appeal of branded residences for developers, brands, and most importantly, buyers.

What do you think is the main appeal of a branded residence?

For hospitality brands, it’s an easy transition into a new revenue stream and a way to expand their portfolios. For developers, there’s the attraction of greater exposure and a fairly immediate return-on-investment. And for non-hospitality brands, there’s the opportunity to create ‘customers for life’, delivering the experiential aspects of their brands into the home.

For buyers, it’s the promise of a certain type of exclusive lifestyle and the unique design, high quality amenities and exceptional services associated with the brand, and depending upon the building, it could also be an opportunity to own a piece of iconic architectural history.

Post-pandemic, the concept of the branded residence fits perfectly with the hybrid lifestyles we’re now living, providing spaces that can accommodate the various aspects of our lives: a dedicated area for work, a space for meetings, a sanctuary for wellness and relaxation and another for entertainment.

How much of a premium does having a brand attached to a development add?

It can vary depending on the location, the brand’s reputation and the level of exclusivity it offers, the amenities and the extent of brand integration. At the super-prime end of the market, having a reputable brand associated with a project can add between 10-30 per cent premium on price.

You have an impressive portfolio, including The Broadway, Park Modern, and Riviera Tower. What would you say is your proudest accomplishment to date?

We currently manage a real estate portfolio worth over £12 billion across 40+ properties in the UK and internationally, and we’re proud of the fact that the majority of our clients have been working with Rhodium since the day we set up office.

Northacre's The Broadway Rhodium
Northacre’s The Broadway
How vital are environmentally responsible practices when it comes to building management?

Incorporating sustainable, design, energy-efficient systems, waste reduction and green initiatives aligns with the eco-conscious preferences of high-end buyers and contributes to the property’s long-term value. We work very closely with developers, architects and luxury brands in the early stages of development to advise on environmentally responsible practices. It’s becoming a strong differentiator for branded residences.

What is essential advice for developers to follow in the early stages in order to create spaces that appeal to buyers?

In our experience, the schemes that flourish are those that are the result of an early collaboration between the developer, architect and design team, the property company, and the brand. Having the ‘A Team’ involved at the start really helps avoid hurdles further down the line.

Our teams are working day in and day out across some of the most prestigious schemes on the planet. We understand better than most where there are opportunities for innovation, where genuine value can be added to the experience, and where operational efficiencies can be identified. This teamwork approach helps create spaces that are a harmonious blend of aesthetics and functionality, with built-in smart technologies to create efficiencies, which match the expectations of prospective buyers. Without this input, we see the same problems arising time and again, most of which could have easily been avoided.

Regents Crescent Rhodium
With uber-luxe properties, like No.1 Palace Street, how much in-depth attention to detail is required to create a luxurious ambience?

From the interior design to furnishings, lighting, textures, and finishes, right through to the style of service delivery and the range of services offered, everything has to exude sophistication and elegance to provide the seamless and immersive experience residents expect. This scheme is the first St. Regis branded residence scheme in the UK, with the brand’s service ethos weaved through the whole residents’ journey.

How do you remain mindful of the reputation of the brand whose name is on a residence and how heavily involved are these brands in the day-to-day running of a building?

We have a strong partnership with the brands we work with as we’re essentially the custodians of their brand reputation. The brands have a degree of involvement in strategic decisions and the overall resident experience, but we’re on the ground as facilitators ensuring the property’s day-to-day operations align with the brand’s image and high standards.

Riviera Tower Rhodium
Riviera Tower
What significant challenges might you face when managing and servicing a branded residential development?

With every scheme there are operational complexities that require effective management, and this is where the expertise Rhodium has built up over the past decade across over 40 ultra-prime schemes puts it in a strong position. Rarely are these challenges that we’ve not faced before. We understand how consistent service quality, and delivering against high resident expectations differentiates us from other property management firms. This constant striving to deliver truly exceptional service is in our DNA.

What are the main differences between big property management firms in the industry and a company like Rhodium?

Rhodium is unique in that we provide a 360-degree service exclusively to the ultra-prime market, collaborating with developers, architects and luxury brands. From the inception of the projects, through to readying schemes for resident occupation, and then post-completion, we provide a very specialist building management service, which, of course, includes concierge services. We also provide bespoke in-residence maintenance and management services for the majority of homeowners in the schemes we manage. With well over £12 billion of strictly super prime under management, we have unmatched expertise and unique IP on how to support developers and brands, not only through the completion of the project but with the ongoing management of the residents that will reside within them.

What’s next on the radar for Rhodium?

Today, we’re firmly established in the ultra-prime London market and have been successful in migrating our London expertise to a number of international schemes, and this is where we see the future for Rhodium. We’re setting up offices in Dubai and Athens, and are having some interesting discussions with possible brand partners looking to step into the residence space.

For more information visit rh-45.com