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The Horse You Have To Ride

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 13th Aug 2015

I don't fancy myself as an absolute 'hater' of things, except maybe for the rising number of idiots who lug lumbering backpacks down airplane aisles, unknowingly slapping innocent passengers in the face. To those I rightly say: "please take the bus, or stay home until you locate that missing black suitcase".

I do, however, hate the term 'lifestyle' - in every way and manner.

Nowadays, real estate developers are apparently selling more than luxury flats, lofts, penthouses or townhomes. The beast of burden has got sales folk offering anything from concierge services to yoga, wine cellars, golf simulators, life coaches and so on... You'll note that no luxury offerings tout a 7-11, though, which remains a serious oversight that any day drinker or businessperson who's spent the previous night entertaining can attest to. After all, what man who's missed dinner and finds himself rolling through the door at 2am in a wrinkled Armani jacket doesn't want to indulge in a microwave hot dog before lapsing into total unconsciousness?

But enough about me.

The real issue here is the total absence of originality in the property industry.

Real estate leaders should be implementing innovative ideas rather than following tired trends like doting sheep.

Similar to the hotels industry, real estate appears to lacks vision like at no other time in history. Indeed, hotels are suddenly being rebranded as radical lifestyle offerings with a major focus on communal spaces and informal boutique services.

I don't mean to burst the bubble, but any 19th century peddler on horseback could have had the same experience in a halfway house. How far have we come? Sorry to say, not far.

Residential developers are no better. Unless, of course, you think that having a car elevator installed, so your Ferrari can collect your from the sofa, is ingenious. It's bad enough people not being able to find a sensible suitcase in their apartment, but with a bloody car parked in the middle of the room, they don't stand a chance. It almost makes you want to book a room at the nearest Holiday Inn (one which hasn't yet fully devolved into an 'experience'), lock the door, dim the lights and placidly rock back and forth in the safety of a standard double room.

It's been some years since Chris Anderson penned his technological tome 'The Long Tail' about an entirely customised approach to life, but even now at expos and show rooms around Asia, all you see are those four walls: a bathroom, kitchen and the precious public area that now doubles up as a parking bay.

My point, and trust me I do have one, is about mind over matter and form versus function. Developers need to add genuine value to the space in which buyers are actually going to live. Having a lifestyle starts with having a life, and this originates in the home - a comfortable, well-designed and welcoming place. And when it comes to hotels, well, call me old school, but I just want to hang out in a fluffy, white bathrobe, order room service and watch some HBO. Communal living? Just look what happened to communism.

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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