The Bentley of Condos: Branded Homes Reshape Luxury Real Estate

The high-end market is moving beyond fancy finishes and fixtures to the promise of easy lifestyles attached to powerhouse brands.
The Residences at Madarin Oriental Honolulu

© Courtesy of The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu

People who live at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu, a hotel-condo hybrid, will have exclusive access to high-end hotel-like services and amenities.

Your clients could live in the Bentley of condos or buy a home in a Disneyland (of sorts).

Major national brands are attaching their names to high-end real estate developments, and they're commanding premium prices. In the last decade, branded properties have gained prominence, with more than 900 projects worldwide expected by 2026, according to a 2021 report from international commercial real estate firm Savills. The trend—most popular in the U.S.—started with hotel brands like Four Seasons, Regis and Mandarin Oriental, which transformed the upper floors of many of their properties into condos.

But more recently, the trend has evolved to include branded properties affiliated with automakers such as Porsche and Bentley, fashion designers like Armani and Versace and entertainment studios (Walt Disney). This move allows these companies to widen their brand profiles and diversify their business. “These brands can really accelerate a [home] sale,” says Peter Belisle, marketing director of the southwest region at JLL. “People are willing to pay a premium to have the quality of services that are expected from these brands.”

And home buyers, indeed, are opening up their pocketbooks. One in three international buyers say they’d pay a premium to live in a branded residence, according to research from real estate consulting firm Knight Frank. These properties often command price premiums between 25% and 35% compared to similar nonbranded residences, the report says.

There have been some pricey sales: The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu, a hotel-condo hybrid that won’t be completed until 2025, has already sold a penthouse for $20 million. The Porsche Design Tower Miami, a 60-story luxury condo building, has sold units ranging from $3.4 million to $17.5 million. To boot, Belisle says, buyers are showing a willingness to pay higher homeowners association fees, often double those for an unbranded luxury building, for the extra amenities tied to well-known brands.

What’s in a Name?

Branded homes could transform luxury real estate, says Harold Clarke, CEO of Harold X Clarke Advisors, which oversees sales and marketing for The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu. “These brands are so powerful and have such amazing recognition that when [buyers] come in to purchase real estate, they are already sold on the brand,” he says. It's more about showing buyers how the lifestyle can live up to those brand expectations, Clarke adds. “They often already identify with a brand and desire to buy into the lifestyle they believe it offers.”

The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Honolulu, a 37-story tower, will include 99 two- to four-bedroom units with outdoor terraces, floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Pacific Ocean, Ko‘olau mountain range and Diamond Head volcano. Owners will get access to upscale, hotel-like services and amenities, including:

  • Concierge
  • 20,000-square-foot spa
  • Room service
  • Priority access to Mandarin Oriental’s award-winning restaurants
  • Residents-only pool
  • 24-hour valet
  • 14-seat movie theater
  • Club lounges
  • Fitness room
  • Onsite personal training

Buyers may have different expectations for branded residences, depending on the name that backs the property. For example, buyers may expect fashion-branded residences to have exceptional interior design, hotel residences to include white-glove services or automaker residences to feature advanced technology like a car elevator.

Bentley Motors announced a partnership with South Florida–based Dezer Development earlier this year to build Bentley Residences Miami, a project that aims to translate the automaker’s luxury car design into a residential experience. Construction will begin in early 2023, and the building is expected to open in 2026. Each unit will include a multicar garage and a patented “Dezervator”—an elevator for a car. The units, which are expected to start at $4.2 million, also will include a balcony swimming pool, unobstructed ocean views and floor-to-ceiling windows. Dezer Development also was behind the Porsche Design Tower, which was built in 2017.

The Walt Disney Company has launched a real estate venture, “Storyliving by Disney,” starting with a new-home community called Cotino in Southern California. The community is the first of many the company is planning across the country. Cotino, which will be built in collaboration with DMB Development in Rancho Mirage, Calif., will be perched on a 24-acre “grand oasis featuring clear turquoise waters with crystal lagoons.” The developers plan to begin preselling homes next year. This isn’t Disney’s first foray into real estate; the company developed a 5,000-acre residential community known as Celebration, Fla., near Walt Disney World Resort.

“I believe branded real estate is the future because, often, people have already experienced those brands,” Clarke says. “Now they can every day.”