Luxury should be unique, says executive of one of India’s largest real estate companies

It is no exaggeration to say that DLF helped build modern India. Since its founding in 1946, the Gurugram-based developer has grown into the country’s largest publicly listed real estate company.

In addition to offices and commercial properties, its 150 projects include some of India’s most opulent residential developments. “We are into super-luxury, luxury and premium,” said Aakash Ohri, Executive Director and Chief Commercial Officer of DLF Group. “No other developer builds communities and offers lifestyles at the scale that we do.”

One of his most recent projects offers a window into DLF’s more is more approach. Camellias, southwest of New Delhi, is a sixteen-tower mini-city where apartments start at US$6.25 million; a partial list of amenities includes golf courses, gymnasiums, cigar bar, cinema, movie theater, bakery, wine lounge, business center, karaoke bar, and spa. To exploit them all, DLF runs its own hospitality company, whose portfolio also includes hotels around the world. “Amenities are a big part of the decision-making for a buyer at this level,” Ohri said.

From his office in Gurugram, near Delhi, Mr. Ohri spoke to Mansion Global about the importance of experiential marketing, the soaring demand for larger spaces and why luxury is in the market. eye of the beholder.

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Mansion Global: Are there any particular preferences for buyers of luxury properties in India?

Akash Ohri: Luxury is not region specific. The wealthy individual all over the world behaves the same way and does not make a difference. Louis Vuitton sells in India, London and Moscow, for example. In terms of delivery, we are on par with luxury projects anywhere in the world.

MG: The Crest, a DLF project in Gurugram, recently became the tallest building in the world to achieve Platinum LEED certification. Does this kind of reward help sales and marketing?

AO: I would like it to be a question of marketing. This is our conscious approach to projects. We owe it to the environment. That doesn’t give us a marketing bonus. It doesn’t change anyone’s buying decision. What it does is position us as conscientious.

MG: Has the pandemic affected the plans for any of DLF’s residential projects?

AO: Well, once a building has started construction, you can’t modify it. What the pandemic has created is a demand for more exclusive and luxurious projects and larger spaces. The demand for larger products has been key, and the use of outdoor space. Thus, larger apartments with home offices and balconies became requirements.

MG: Have tastes changed around materials? Some developers have said customers are now looking for “warmer” materials like wood and leather.

AO: I don’t think our buyers have become so specific. The good thing about our company is that we deliver bare shells. We do not finish living spaces in their entirety. Buyers can do whatever they want. Each house is different from the other. The fact that each apartment is different is an important factor that defines our super luxury business.

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MG: Overall, who makes up your pool of buyers?

AO: Foreigners cannot buy residential property in India. Locally, we mainly get CEOs and professionals, like doctors. Non-resident Indians are also an integral part of our market, accounting for 15-20% of buyers. They come from Singapore and the Middle East, with a significant share from the United States

MG: Equipment represents an important part of DLF’s residential projects. What are customers asking for these days?

AO: People sometimes come in with equipment requests, but we’ve got so much stuff under one roof that it’s mind-boggling to most buyers. We have everything from a gym with a climbing wall, boxing ring, pilates and yoga to hair salons and life-size cinemas, restaurants and pubs.

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MG: Has DLF explored co-branding with hotel companies, like so many developers around the world have?

AO: We have an independent hotel vertical led by its own CEO. We follow chops and do not experiment with our services. We invest in our people and our service culture. We pay people well and in most cases they make more than the hotels would pay them. Our hotel business is an extension of this. It also provides the service infrastructure for many restaurants, shopping malls and social clubs.

MG: What cities do you have your eye on for the next few years?

AO: Certainly Mumbai and Bangalore, two big cities where we are not there yet, but where we will be. Otherwise, we are present in most major Indian cities for our residential and office activities.

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MG: With the type of buyer you have, is security a concern?

AO: Security is a concern everywhere. It is essential, with the landscape and the aesthetics. People see security as a key issue. We have a five level security system in each building, from CCTV and RFID [Radio Frequency Identification] guards and other electronic measures. We have rapid response teams and a 24/7 central security control room. It’s a very tight security cordon. We had mounted guards at one point and attack dogs. When there is a need for security, we increase it

MG: What is your personal definition of luxury?

AO: Luxury cannot be unique. It’s custom made. It’s the comfort of security – I need to feel safe. Luxury is your lifestyle. And it’s the community you live in, with amenities, space, and security. If I want to be in my corner and not be disturbed, I should have the luxury of doing so. If I want to mingle, I should have the luxury of doing so. Everyone prioritizes life differently. This is what makes luxury luxury. It must be unique.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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