Step Inside The Ultra-Luxe Real Estate Market With These Posh Properties
From a $30 million Mexican residence withy screensaver-worthy coastal views to a 41,000-square-foot Thai estate perched on a hilltop overlooking Phang Nga Bay.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Tadao Ando–designed mansion is about to get smoked. On setting records that is. Casa Encantada, a 40,000-sq.-ft. Los Angeles estate, has twice become the most expensive home sold in the US; first in 1980, and here we are again. With a $250 million asking price, it would surpass the state record set by the Carters’ crib—which claimed the distinction for most expensive home in California history just this past spring—as well as the national record, currently held by hedge fund kingpin Ken Griffin.
Built in the 1930s on 8.5 prime Bel-Air acres, Casa Encantada rises like a reverie right out of Brad Pitt’s fever dream in Babylon. How fitting Peter Marino, the “leather daddy of luxury,” was tasked with elevating the interiors. Indeed, this is as old money as it gets on the left coast—a portrait of George Washington in the home’s study was originally commissioned by Benjamin Franklin himself.
As we close out 2023, increasing mortgage rates have triggered a dip in house prices, and UHNW (Ultra-High-Net-Worth) enclaves were not immune. According to Robb Report, in 2022, the priciest property in the world was a $532 million villa in Rome; this year, it’s a $250 million triplex penthouse atop the luxury skyscraper Central Park Tower on Billionaires’ Row.
The price drops stateside are modest—the wealthy are still driven to acquire or expand sprawling legacy estates in the aftermath of the pandemic. This savvy and shrewd cohort has long played real estate as the best-hedged bet against rising inflation. With the global surge of wealth creation in recent years, the 1% is doubling down on real estate assets. As many luxury purchases are made in cash, the high-end sector remains somewhat insulated from interest-rate fluctuations.
For those flush with dividends, look no further than Villa Versailles, Switzerland. Located in the serene town of Ruvigliana, Villa Versailles enjoys one of the most exclusive areas of Lugano. With 16,328 square feet of luxurious living space, this property features six bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, an indoor pool, and a five-car garage fit for a Koenigsegg Gemera. Sun-kissed terraces and manicured gardens frame the lakefront villa. Roger Federer would be right at home here, in one of the most captivating properties in his native land. The epitome of luxury and sophistication, the property offers unparalleled elegance. Price upon request.
Beyond Switzerland, the bastion of solvent banking, Philip A. White Jr., president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty has seen upticks in other EU hotspots. “In Europe, there’s been a lot of interest in Italy, Portugal, and France mainly because of the strength of the dollar against the euro, and lifestyle, too,” he notes in Sotheby’s International Realty 2023 Luxury Outlook. “We’re seeing growing interest in Montenegro, as well as Bulgaria and Serbia, and we recently opened offices there.”
As if on cue, Eclipse, a newbuild three-story chalet in the heart of the prestigious village of Courchevel 1850 is ready for such interest, listed at $42.5 million. Offering 9,515 square feet in all, this eight-bedroom retreat features a palatial living room with cathedral ceilings and two kitchens. Fannie Mae predictions tend to evaporate in the face of Eclipse’s resort-style relaxation area—swimming pool, hammam, sauna, massage suite, gym and tea room.
Like water for Tequila Ley Diamante, Residencia Uxmal in Riviera Nayarit marries cool Pacific coast chic with warm, rosy Mayan ambiance. Listed at $29.9 million, think 27,125 square feet spread over four buildings of varying elevations—rising from a jungle scape and featuring a hedonistic number of saltwater pools, six in all. Casita de Abajo is the building closest to the beach, with magnificent, screensaver-worthy ocean views.
It features two king-bed suites, living room, a pool, and two terraces; on the rooftop, a large entertaining space, sun loungers, and grill station. Imagine firing up split spiny lobster—spiking the succulent sweetness with a dosing of mezcal—carnal and rustic, while the sun sets on an idyllic day of cruising the coastline. As dusk falls, Residencia Uxmal takes on a nocturnal alter ego; a glorious lighting design transforms clean lines into shadowy crescendos.
Reading between the tea leaves of such amenity-rich properties, safe to say the UHNW cohort is leaning into the humblebrag of a home sauna and cold plunge. “In this global luxury market, discerning investors understand that true allure lies not just within the confines of the estate, but in the immersive experience that the property offers,” Sina Saadat, CEO of Luxury Listings, tells us of current trends.
“We’ve worked closely with developers to adapt certain luxury builds to include more interior amenities that serve luxury clientele. Many estate residences now offer state-of-the-art gym facilities, spas, sports courts and pools, essentially everything a high-net-worth buyer would want without leaving home.”
He notes that, “We consistently have billionaires, athletes, celebrities and artists reaching out to Luxury Listings to help find their dream home; many of their requirements now include the best luxury amenities as well as the surrounding neighborhood elements, securing a higher selling premium for sellers.” Over the past 12 years, Luxury Listings has helped clients transact on $1 billion worth of assets on almost every continent. With more than 10 million social media followers, @ Luxury_Listings reps the who’s who of architects, interior designers, developers, and agents/brokers.
Calling all self-confessed “Aman junkies”, a jewel of architect Jean-Michel Gathy’s repertoire has hit the market at The Cape, an enviable private community in Phuket, Thailand. Gathy, best known for his iconic Aman resort designs, endowed this contemporary mega-villa with simple, serene tones and his signature seamless flow.
One of only 26 estate residences in The Cape, Yamu One is the largest and most lavish at 41,387-sq.-ft.. Perched on a hilltop with panoramic Phang Nga Bay views, ten bedrooms are spread over three levels, landscaped gardens drawing you down to the beach. His-and-hers takes on new meaning with two living rooms and two kitchens; you’ll just have to share the spa room, gym, game room and home theater. A 79-foot lava-rock swimming pool awaits your next reunion; imagine challenging college chums on your own private putting green, surrounded by reflecting pools, a waterfall wall, and a boathouse with a yoga deck.
Sigh, turns out you can put a price on happiness, in this case, listed at $16.8 million. Title is freehold, and full management services are available. With its top-class health and education facilities, Phuket property values have spiked in recent years; for those in the know, real estate on the east side remains undervalued. Cape Yamu, tucked away on a private peninsula on the eastern coast, certainly has more runway to appreciate in value.
Those with means are future-proofing their latest investments—be it higher ground given climate change, passive revenue from proximity to Courchevel’s pristine pistes, or Yamu One’s income-generating upsides, for weekends when docked on the other side of Phuket, dining at Michelin-starred Pru, naturally.