The western gateway to Pune – Chandni Chowk will soon going be rid of the chaotic snarls and endless traffic and road safety issues, with the heralding of the Chandni Chowk Bridge project.
Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the ambitious project on 27th August, 2017. Chandni Chowk is an important passage for oncoming traffic from Pashan, Kothrud, Mulshi, Paud, Pirangut, NDA, and the National Highways, thereby increasing the traffic chokehold at the junction.
Apart from easing the flow of traffic, the project also addresses the propensity of accidents on the downhill roads. The project includes a flyover, an underpass, and a service road that will turn Chandni chowk into a signal-free road.
The new infrastructure is envisioned to smoothen traffic congestion on the road leading to nearby areas like Bhugaon, Bavdhan, and Kothrud. The outcome expected from this infrastructure is the overall appreciation of real estate and futuristic development of these residential neighbourhoods owing to improved connectivity to the rest of the city as well as the national highway. Improved connectivity will reduce travel time between these neighbourhoods that are currently located on the immediate outskirts of Pune and the rest of the city along with major industrial regions in the vicinity. The smooth flow of traffic at the junction and the rest of the highway will now only reinforce the many benefits of living in and around Chandni Chowk.
While this futuristic project has only been recently inaugurated and land acquisition for the same is currently underway, there is no doubt of the immense benefit it will pose for residents and home buyers living in the areas of Bhugaon, Bavdhan, and Kothrud as well as those looking to invest here. And, with the involvement of the Union Ministry, the project is anticipated to kick start soon.
When you are a billionaire, it pretty much means that you can afford just about everything money can buy. And, while many billionaires around the world are known to indulge in the finest of watches, the sleekest of cars, exotic holidays and such like, they are also often renowned for their panache for luxury villas that they call home. Such is the splendour of the homes of the world’s leading billionaires, it would leave most of us ‘mortal’ folk speechless and spellbound.
From private helipads to bowling alley, personal power plants to endless acres of green grounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, gaming areas, private movie theatres and lots more, many billionaires tend to be utterly extravagant and will traverse great lengths to own and decorate their residences and estate grounds. Welcome to the world of the rich and famous, where lavish lifestyles and stately villas rule the roost! Read on to know more about the world’s top 5 luxurious mansions.
1 : Buckingham Palace: Valued as possibly the most expensive piece of real estate, Buckingham Palace is a home for sure. The difference between this palace and other mansions is that Buckingham Palace is not for sale! The residence of the British Royal Family, this is where the Queen resides, with the rest of her family and staff. The property is known to house a jaw-dropping 775 rooms that also include 19 state rooms, 52 bedrooms, 188 staff rooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.
Location: London, UK
Value: $155 Billion
Owner: The British Sovereign, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
2 : Antilla: Dubbed the first billion-dollar home in the world, Antilla is owned by the world’s 20th richest man and India’s leading industrialist, Mukesh Ambani. Antilla is located at the prestigious Altamount Road in South Mumbai and rising vertically across an astounding 27 floors of personal residence. If reports are to be believed, Mukesh Ambani’s wife, Neeta Ambani was so impressed with the Asian style décor at the Mandarin Oriental, during one of her stays in New York, that she wanted almost the same, to live in.
Covering almost 400,000 sq. ft., the building has 6 underground parking floors, 3 helipads, and requires a staff of almost 600 people to maintain a lifestyle only befitting India’s richest man.
Location: Mumbai, India
Value: $1 Billion
Owner: Mukesh Ambani, Chairman & MD, Reliance Industries Ltd.
3 : Villa Leopolda: Covering an expanse of 50 acres, Villa Leopolda was built for King Leopold II of Belgium, in 1902. 20 acres of the green estate grounds are covered by olive, orange, lemon and cypress trees and it is believed that 50 full-time gardeners are needed to tend to the estate. The property that houses 11 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms almost changed hands in 2008, when Lily Safra, the widow of Syrian-Lebanese businessman Edmond Safra set out to sell it to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. But, the deal was not to be because Prokhorov backed out after the global credit crunch hit the markets. Nonetheless, that does not take away the aura of the property that boasts of a commercial sized green house, a swimming pool and pool house, an outdoor kitchen, helipad, and a guest house larger than the mansions of most millionaires,” according to Variety. The villa has also been famously used in the Alfred Hitchcock classic, To Catch a Thief.
Location: Côte D’azur, France
Value: $750 Million
Owner: Lily Safra.
4 : Four Fairfield Pond: Four Field Pond with its 29 bedrooms and 39 bathrooms, is spread across 63 acres of land and has its very own power plant. Additionally, this property also houses 3 swimming pools, 2 tennis courts, a bowling alley, 2 squash courts and a and a $150,000 hot tub. The Mediterranean style roof bears a dozen chimneys and the home also has a 91-foot long dining room. The mansion faces the Atlantic Ocean and has an Italianate facade
Location: New York, USA
Value: $248.5 million
Owner: Ira Rennert, the Renco Group.
5 : Kensington Palace Gardens: The world’s largest steel manufacturing company is owned by Laxmi Mittal, who according to Forbes is also one of the 100 richest men in India. And, Laxmi Mittal is also neighbours with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Prince William and Princess Catherine. His 12-bedroom residence that accounts for parking for 20 cars, Turkish baths, picture gallery, a ballroom and indoor pools. Mittal bought the property from English business magnate Bernie Ecclestone in 2004 and renovated it with marble that is believed to have been sourced from the same quarry as the Taj Mahal. That is why he jokingly has nicknamed his home as Taj Mittal.
Location: London, UK
Value: $222 million
Owner: Laxmi Mittal, Chairman & CEO, ArcelorMittal.
Luxury often means different things to different people, especially when it comes to home décor. While materials such as marble, velvet, crystal, silk and others are commonly used to bring about a sense of luxury, home décor recommendations for 2017 by prominent design and décor brands point towards trends that are relatable and at the same time add an unexpected quirky twist to living spaces. We choose and list out 5 trends from the world of international home décor and design that promise to dominate luxury villas and homes in 2017:
Colour is an integral part of our lives and most certainly of home décor. No home décor is complete without a coat of fresh paint or furniture and upholstery that enhance living spaces. And, 2017 seems to be the year of the colour green! Green symbolises freshness or newness; it is the colour of ‘life’ that revitalises and represents growth and harmony. And, even more relevant to everyday human life is the fact that green also relaxes – it has a certain healing quality that is restful for the human eye. For a world that is engulfed in the drudgery of everyday life, The Pantone Color of the Year 2017 provides just the right kind of relief – Greenery! The Fresh and zesty yellow-green shade by the Pantone Color Institute is taking the design world by storm. According to Elle Décor, “This is the cherry shade of green you’ll see in home décor, fashion and commercial design in 2017”. As the Pantone Color Institute explains, “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally”.
Matte is the New Black! Well, almost! According to designer Bobby Berk, matt forces the object to speak for itself. Over centuries, the kitchen has been considered to be the heart of the home. While kitchens in the modern age are getting smarter and sleeker, colour and finish seem to yet be an integral part of every kitchen. Black stainless-steel with a matt finish has been used in kitchen spaces for some years now, but recently this trend has caught on for appliances too. The new look for kitchens in 2017 is appliances in matt finishes. These provide greater warmth than plain stainless-steel ones and are certainly more elegant, even while they make cleaning easier and effectively mask finger prints. And, to match these appliances, faucets and counter tops too are being finished suitably.
Marble has been used often by designers and home decorators since quite a few years. Marble has the genteel quality of lending a sense of sophistication to any living space. Pair it with brass, and you have refined minimalism. And, while marble was hugely popular in 2016, it seems the trend is here to stay in 2017. According to Young Huh, one of Vogue’s five young interior designers on the rise in 2015 believes that not just marble, but brass too will continue to dominate in 2017. According to Huh, this trend will be seen in bathrooms as well as kitchens, because as he explains, “It’s that combination of something very natural and clean, like white marble, and something industrial, hard, and a little bit glamorous with the brass”.
Smart living is the new buzz words for 2017. Our lives revolve around devices 24×7, in the 21st century. Naturally, our homes too are now gradually being ’controlled’ by these smart devices. While complete home automation has not always been top priority for many home buyers, this is probably about to change in 2017. With companies such as IKEA designing furniture such as the Selje Nightstand that provides wireless charging for smart phones, smart technology seems to be becoming a way of everyday life for many. Smart phones can now also be used to monitor and control air conditioned temperatures indoors, open and close window blinds, secure the home with a single locking system at the touch of a screen and much more. If reports are to be believed, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide in 2016 almost 64% more than in 2015. With companies such as Google, Bosch and Amazon unveiling personal (smart home) assistants in 2016, analysts believe 2017 will be the year of smart homes because these companies would only invest further in educating their consumers about their products.
Texture is a trend that designers are trying to incorporate and make home decor not just aesthetic and appealing, but also pleasant to touch and look at. Textures can be brought about by adding various layers and surfaces in a room to make it more interesting. Textures make living spaces inviting and personal. They can be warm and fuzzy such as a rug thrown across the floor or a sofa with pleating and folds. The elements of nature too can be used to add texture – shells, stones, horns, feathers and more. Walls can be turned into the perfect canvas to play with texture. Asian Paints in fact offers a select range called Royale Play that allows you to create a multitude of effects and textures that are inspired various themes from around the world. At a macro level, textures provide a sense of comfort and familiarity, which is precisely the reason why designers are creating spaces that allow us to feel relaxed and unwind from the chaos around us.
When it comes to buying a luxury villa to reside in, there are some who tend to thrive off a bustling city life and choose to live their lives in concrete high-rise structures in the heart of the city. And, then there is the other lot of home buyers who prefer a quiet almost country life, away from the commotion of the city.
A city life, while extremely vibrant, also poses new-age urban challenges to deal with every day. From routine traffic snarls and air and noise pollution to cramped spaces, the sheer dearth of open public spaces and increasing crime, the list of urban woes often tends to be endless. An idea of a rural life on the contrary is a welcome break from the manic pace of the city. A country or rural life offers immense peace of mind, relaxation and quiet, with the opportunity to participate in a host of outdoor activities. The flip-side of leading a natural life away from the city however is the lack of opportunity to frequently participate in social activities and the ease of daily conveniences that in the city are only a walk or a phone call away. To tackle this situation and to enjoy the best of both the worlds – rural and urban, a large number of denizens these days choose to live on the immediate outskirts of the city.
Dwelling on the immediate outskirts of the city does not however imply that residents do not negotiate traffic conditions in the city to and from work. But, the joy associated with getting home to a space where they can listen to the birds, breathe in the crisp air and bask in the glory of lushness all around, far outlives the drudgery of daily commutes. Suburban residents living on the outskirts also enjoy the luxury of larger living spaces, something that is almost next to impossible in the heart of the city.
Pune, a growing metropolis like many others, bears the brunt of rapid urbanisation. With the city almost spilling over to its brim, areas such as Bavdhan, Bhugaon, Pirangut, Marunji, Punavale, Wagholi and others are fast seeing the emergence of residential developments, complemented by the arrival of IT parks and offices and SEZs and growth of trade and business.
The south-west corridor of Pune comprises of areas such as Bhugaon and Pirangut. In the recent past, this corridor has witnessed an increased investment activity significantly around Bhugaon and its peripheries. This is not a very surprising trend given that the region enjoys not just scenic natural beauty, but is also easily accessible from popular business and residential hubs such as Kothrud, Chandni Chowk, Baner, Balewadi, Wakad and Hinjawadi. Naturally, this region has demonstrated a definite growth potential, from the point of view of leisure (as a weekend home destination) as well as to the end-user and the investor. This in turn has resulted in a demand for and the emergence of high-end or luxury developments such as apartments and villas.
The downside of all this the development and demand (for housing) that riddles the south-west corridor, is enormous traffic snarls and road accidents. Chandni Chowk that is regarded as a major entry and exit point on NH4 for these prominent areas is witness to the movement of close to 1.60 lakh vehicles each day. The result of this has been numerous road accidents (reported to be over 69 serious accidents and over 35 fatalities since 2012) and unruly traffic situations since a number of years. But, this is all set to change now, with a massive decongestion exercise that has been planned. According to reports, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has given its approval and cleared the decks for an ambitious project that suggests the construction of a flyover to connect Mulshi and Kothrud, a grade separator on Paud Road to enable smooth traffic in the direction of Mulshi, another proposed flyover from NDA towards Mumbai, a vehicular underpass and developed plan roads (DP roads) that will be laid out along the highway to decongest the chowk. Upon completion, connectivity to this corridor is estimated to improve manifold, thereby naturally leading to asset (property) appreciation in the region.
With the proposed infrastructural development in the pipeline, the outskirts of Pune, especially towards the south-west can expect a further growth in residential development. This is where investments and funds are currently being diverted, in search of verdant pastures. This is the future where residents will enjoy the luxury daily exercise and walks, without being engulfed in vehicular pollution; this is where children will play and breathe fresh air each day and families will walk their pets. Finally, this is where people will enjoy luxury that is rare!
Seven years ago, when the British furniture retailer International Furniture Brands opened its outlet in Bangalore, one of its first few customers were a businessman and his daughter from the town of Davangere, almost 265 kms. from Bangalore. On the hunt for furniture for his home and his daughter’s bedroom, the customer spent close to 5 hours choosing from various international brands. While the exact amount of money spent by the businessman was not disclosed, it is known that the duo settled for the global luxury brand Fendi Casa.
The above shopping pattern is indicative of a growing appetite for luxury branded furniture in India. Such is the demand for global brands that it is believed that customers like this businessman from Davangere spend anywhere between Rs. 20 Lakhs to a Crore in buying internationally branded furniture for their luxury living spaces. Welcome to an emerging breed of nouveau riche in India – the brand-conscious ones with greater spending powers!
Changing lifestyles, an economic surge, greater spending capacities are just some of the factors that are prodding people to enhance their everyday living and work environments. With real time interactions, social media and other forms of communication that create the illusion of blurring international borders, many home owners are increasingly paying attention to home décor, furniture and furnishings that are sourced from world-renowned brands and design houses. As global trends emerge and gain popularity, people are willing to spend more for products they feel best reflect their personalities. India’s ever-changing urban lifestyles and the ability to travel to international and exotic destinations are also seen as factors that contribute to these upwardly mobile professionals becoming style conscious. And, while home grooming is something that people across various economic strata indulge in to the best of their capabilities, there are now a growing number of aspiring urban Indians for whom tastes in home décor are no longer defined by geographical availabilities. These are the people who are willing to spend for the brands they cherish or identify with.
The luxury furniture business in India has now reached a high-point where international brands and design houses see immense potential in the market here, gradually venturing to collaborate with local domestic partners to increase their reach and visibility in the country. This is not a surprising business move, considering the luxury brand market in India has been projected to be growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20%., accompanied with an economic prediction that India will be amongst the world’s top 3 economies by 2030.
While the supply of luxury brands today is largely restricted to the major cities of Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, it is the Tier II cities such as Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Coimbatore where the actual creation of wealth is taking place in the country. Pune, for example has been ranked as India’s fastest growing city with multi-millionaires (defined as individuals with net assets $10 million or more), according to a study by New World Wealth between 2004 and 2014. During this decade, Pune recorded a 317% growth in the number of multi-millionaires, spiking sharply from 60 to 250. To this growth is closely linked the emergence of luxury and high-end real estate.
The demand for luxury homes in Pune emerged approximately at the start of the current decade, around 2011. According to a report by Cushman & Wakefield, the city’s high-end residential segment demonstrated a sharp 39% rise in capital value during this period. Despite being known as a Tier II city, Pune has made a mark on the world map by ushering in global business houses and corporates across sectors such as the auto industry, manufacturing, IT & IT-eS etc. With the advent of international trade and commerce and the city’s only World Trade Center, complemented by the presence of expats and high net worth individuals in the city, the demand for premium housing too has surged upwards. And, with a preference for luxurious homes, comes a penchant for luxurious furniture, which in turn explains the emergence of luxury furniture brands in the city.
It’s hardly surprising then that Pune today is home to some of the biggest international names in the business – names that symbolise style and craftsmanship. B&B Italia, LEMA, Medea, Poltrona Frau, Natuzzi are just some of the big (Italian) labels that retail in Pune, via their respective India partners and have found that the Indian market offers tremendous opportunity for revered brands such as theirs. To this effect, Mauro Marelli of LEMA is reported to have said, “Today, high-end Indian customers are living a deep cultural transformation; living in a more connected world and exhibiting globalized taste and style”. He goes on to add, “We decided to open the new LEMA flagship store in Pune because we saw a dynamic, enthusiastic and growing city where luxury has become a leading driver in its economy”.
It is this very change in attitude and the extraordinary emphasis on contemporary design that affords luxury brands such as LEMA to enter an outstanding market like India, while retaining its original style at the same time.
While value for money certainly continues to govern most decision-making processes in India, as compared to foreign counterparts, the Indian customer is slowly but surely demonstrating a growing appreciation for more sophisticated and design-oriented products that are otherwise well-established and routine preferences in the Western countries. It would not be out of place to therefore indicate that while Indian consumers still continue to evolve in taste and preferences, they are also simultaneously maturing into a sophisticated audience with a taste for fine design, refinement and quality.
The future for international luxury labels seems bright in India, especially due to the Government of India’s 100% FDI approval in the furniture industry. This implies much to look forward to in the coming years, and many brands that will cater to the discerning Indian connoisseur.