Is a concierge the latest must-have accessory for a luxury apartment?
We're all familiar with concierges in hotels - the more expensive the hotel, the more impressive the service.
But now it seems a concierge on the premises is a real drawcard for luxury apartment buyers, right alongside the gymnasium, tennis court and heated pool.
This is the person who can organise your grocery shopping, recommend a yoga class or restaurant, secure your tickets to see Madonna and even find a babysitter – in other words all those fiddly things that a time-poor person might struggle with on a day-to-day basis.
And it's the Gen X and Y markets that are creating the demand – having secured good jobs, they enjoy being treated like a VIP. And developers are prepared to model international trends to provide such a service.
Willis Bond & Co, the developer of two high-end Wynyard Quarter projects - Wynyard Central and 132 Halsey - is supplying a concierge for both developments.
The company says a residents' concierge service is consistent with the high level of quality on offer at both developments and the expectations of clients seeking a luxury apartment lifestyle.
"The integrated base level of service includes co-ordination of resident communications and updates; security and emergency assistance; management of deliveries and couriers; arrangement of cleaning services and a car valet service.
"It also includes provision of personal services for residents, such as personal training and babysitter services; a pet-feeding service; and local information and bookings, including of the 132 Halsey movie theatre, business centre and gym."
Domain reports it's a move that's also taking off in Australia. Telecommunications professional Ahsen Soybas, 37, is one of many such professionals who have bought apartments at Nord, in Flemington Road, Melbourne and who will be moving into the completed building next month.
Soybas says she was attracted to the project by the security and practical help that a concierge can provide.
"During the day they will be at home if I need any maintenance or shopping to be delivered, and I can contact them any time I like," she says. "And, for safety reasons, if someone was to break in, the concierge is there. And he knows Melbourne, he's a local and he is experienced."
RMIT University marketing professor Dr Con Stavros said Gen Y consumers, in particular, wanted to feel like VIPs. "They are a generation – and it applies more broadly –that marketers have worked out in the past have to be made to feel a little bit special, a little bit unique.
"There is a concept in marketing now in which companies are trying to make all of their customers feel like a VIP. There was a time when VIP was a very exclusive group of people, and that keeps being extended and extended."
Adele Blair, co-director of the Institute of Concierge and Lifestyle Managers, says the service would become as common in apartment developments as gymnasiums. Concierges can take care of the "requirements of modern life", in the same way as a gardener or a cleaner, but also tasks such as reorganising a pantry through to waiting on the phone to secure concert tickets.
Concierges are de rigueur in high-end residential blocks in New York and six-star hotels, like the Sofitel Melbourne On Collins.
"A concierge has the keys to the city and knows how to make the seemingly impossible happen, be that sourcing tickets to the most popular shows in town or securing dinner reservations at Melbourne's hottest restaurants," Sofitel's hotel manager Jeremy Healy says.
And if you want to know what it costs to use the services of a concierge – well it's all built into the body corporate fee. Of course, you pay separately for the actual babysitter, concert tickets, cleaning and other secured services. Perhaps if you need to ask you can't afford it.