Thursday, March 27, 2008

The first women only hotel opens in Riyadh

In the most conservative country in the world, where women are always kept in lock and key, safe from the eyes of other men, the kingdom's first hotel exclusively for females opened yesterday, offering plush lodgings with a full-range of health and beauty facilities for ladies to pamper themselves, away from the accusing eyes of a male-dominated society.
A hotel catering just for women has opened in Riyadh. The Luthan Hotel & Spa has 25 rooms and aims mainly at businesswomen in the region. he hotel is owned by a group of 20 Saudi princesses and businesswomen, where the facilities include conference rooms and health and beauty treatments. Once inside the hotel, women do not need to be covered head to toe, as all employees are female.
Ironically, it is a hotel for women but it was left to seven princes headed by Sultan bin Salman, a son of Riyadh's governor, to officially inaugurate it.

Shivang Prabhakar

Contributed By : Shivang Prabhakar

Sunday, March 16, 2008

IT & Tourism both pushing Kochi to top of prospective investment destinations

Kochi or Cochin, considered as god’s own country, was the scene of boats languidly gliding through the waters, Chinese fishing nets silhouetted against the sunset and merchants haggling over the price of spices. While, the beauty of Kochi remains unhampered, Kochi’s skyline has changed, considerably.

IT & Tourism both pushing Kochi to top of prospective investment destinations
As a port city, Kochi has always been the proclaimed economic capital of Kerala with trade and retail being its revenue generators for decades. In the recent times, since NASSCOM ranked it as the second potential city for investments in the IT sector and ever since Kochi has emerged as a favored destination for the IT & ITES industry.

Kochi shows vast potential for economic growth and industrialization based on norms such as real estate growth, available work force, overall infrastructure, policy initiatives and commercial history. However, the accessibility of cheap bandwidth through undersea cables and lesser operational costs in comparison to other key cities in India has proved to be of major advantage, specially for huge IT companies / BPOs who spend considerable amount of money in the daily data transfer to their overseas clients.

The important thing to remember is that Kochi is the one city which is well connected to the rest of the world through sea. This is also one of the reasons for Kochi being identified as an attractive destination for investments. Moreover, this inflow of investments has created realty prospects in the city, both residential and commercial as the IT firms are bringing in more and more people into the city. And with the coming up of Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) the economical capital of Kerala is now even more attractive to the investor counting on economic and realty prospects.

The SEZ, apart from catering to the business growth and industrialization with the investments in IT and Business parks has also been responsible for growth of Kochi real estate.
With this year’s budget not renewing the STPI screme for IT companies, the only resort for IT companies to still enjoy a tax holiday will be to move into SEZs and Kochi well qualifies all criterions of an ideal investment where the real estate owned by these companies will also give them considerable returns.

Besides the Technopolis developed at the CSEZ, the setting up of a software productivity center by Wipro in Kochi is considered as one of the variable factors in the evolution of Kochi as an upcoming city. Major IT firms such as US Software, IBS, Sun Tec, Gemini, NeST, Ernst and Young, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, ACS Inc. and Allianz Cornhill are only some of the IT firms gradually making their presence felt in the business prospect of Kochi.

The thrust from NRI remittances and the tourism sector are also greatly responsible for the changing postcard picture of Kochi. Restricted by the sea on its western coast, Kochi is spilling over to the neighbouring towns and villages, where land prices have made impressive gains. Once considered distant, neighbourhoods like Edappally and Tripunithura have appreciated from Rs.25, 000 to Rs.2 lakh for a cent.

The growing demand for housing units and the constraints on space have induced city builders to focus on building apartments in Kochi. Local builders are offering top-of-the line fittings and lifestyle add-ons like clubs and swimming pools to apartment complexes to woo home makers who prefer these homes for the security and convenience they offer.

DLF recently launched it’s Riverside Kochi project which was one of the few it has in the south, right in the backdoor of the backwaters and many other real estate developers are putting in money to develop world class living for the people who will be migrating to the place to live and work in the MNCs moving over to grab up spaces in the SEZs.

With everything from nice sceneries to good infrastructure and connectivity Kochi sounds like the place to invest and many of the “Returning NRIs” to India have sought after this opportunity and already invested their monies in this amazing and very cosmopolitan city.

Shivang Prabhakar

Contributed By : Shivang Prabhakar

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Future Group's 'Pantaloon Retail' to sell "walk-in apartments" in India

Well, if you are one of those couples who wish to live in a modern apartment, have the money to buy one, but no time to pick and choose interiors, you don’t have to worry anymore.

The Kishore Biyani-led Future Group, whose flagship company Pantaloon Retail operates over 1,000 stores nationwide, is entering into a joint venture with Mr Sumit Dabriwala, a Kolkata-based developer - is looking to market its 2 & 3 bed-room "walk-in" apartments through Future Group stores such as Big Bazaar.

This initiative is a part of the Future Group’s diversification strategy where they are foraying into selling real estate and health care, so as to leverage their physical presence across the country. The apartments is an ‘all-fitted ready-to-live-in apartments’ and a new brand is also being worked upon by the company to mark its foray into this industry.

Home Solutions Retail will provide the brown and white goods required to furnish these apartments. FH Residences is also looking to advertise its apartments in Future Group malls.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Feng Shui & the BA GUA octagon

The BA GUA octagon is one of the tools used in Feng Shui to help determine preferred locations for certain functions in the home or office. The BA GUA is placed with the front door of the floor plan of your home or office placed at the bottom of the BA GUA octagon.

The bagua divides any space into nine areas. Each area corresponds to a different aspect of your life. Whatever is going on energetically (good or bad) in that part of your space will affect the related aspect of your life (see diagram).

Align the bottom edge of the bagua with the wall the door is in. Stretch the bagua sideways or lengthwise to cover the entire space. The door or entryway will always be in ken, kan, or chien gua, although it may overlap more than one gua. As you stand in the doorway facing into the space, hsun gua is always at the far left; kun gua is always to the far right, and li gua is always at the center of the wall opposite you.

If there is more than one way to enter a space, orient the bagua to the main door or entryway. Even if you usually enter your home through the garage, align the bagua of your home to the front door.

Every space has a bagua. There is a bagua for your plot of land, a bagua for your house, and a bagua for each room within your home. You can even apply the bagua to your desk, bed, or stove.

The bagua is rich with meanings and associations. The most important meanings of each gua are shown below....

Everything that happens in life can be boiled down and placed within 9 categories that are also known as life situations. Each category is spatially represented by an area within your living quarters. Individually these areas are called a gua, while placed in a specific order it is called the bagua (ba meaning "8") and it is shaped like an octagon. The 8 sides, and the middle, form the 9 zones which relate to the various life situations. However, it does not end there! Each gua is also associated with a specific color, shape, symbol, body part, etc. Here are the specific life situations which are associated with the 9 zones that compose the bagua.

(1.) Prosperity and Abundance: This is the area that relates to wealth or having money for the good things in life. It does not have to do with life's necessities such as food, rent, and utility bills. Many Feng Shui consultants consider this area to be a power source since money is often viewed as power. If you are seeking big money then this is the corner that you must work upon. Prosperity and Abundance's colors are purple, green, gold, and red. Its body part is the hip and its associated number is 8.

(2.) Fame and Reputation: This is the area of the home that supports you as a person out in the real world. It deals with how others perceive you which in turn makes a great difference in the area of money and relationships. It also has a lot to do with your own integrity and honest which in turn will make a difference in your dating life as well as in your other relationships. For this reason, even if you are a jerk, or if people just think that you are a jerk, then you still do not have to despair since the fame and reputation area can help you out. This area's element is fire and its color is red. Its shape is triangular; its creative cycle items are wood, green, and columnar; its destructive cycle items are water, black, and undulating; its body part is the eye; and it's associated with the number 1.

(3.) Relationships and Love: If you are seeking a relationship, or simply looking to have a really good time then look no further than this area of the bagua! It is very important that this area of your home be balanced in order that you can have harmony in your relationships. So, before deciding to become a monk or a nun, you should make sure that this area of your hope is balanced. Relationships and Love's colors are pink, red, and white. It is associated with all major body organs and the number 2.

(4.) Creativity and Children: This area of your home relates to creative thinking. You may wish to begin in this area since it will help you form creative cures for the rest of your home. This area also relates to children since they are well known for their creative thinking abilities. Anything to do with working with children (whether they are yours or not, your siblings, or even the children that you may have in the future) should be done in this area of your home. Creativity and Children's element is metal; its color is white; and its shape is round or mounded. Its creative cycle items include Earth, yellow, flat or square shapes; its destructive elements include fire, red, and pointed shapes. It is associated with the mouth and the number 3.

(5.) Helpful People and Travel: This area of your home is set aside for calling upon someone who can make your life easier, whether it is a teacher, inspirational writer, maid, or other person who is helpful. Helpful People and Travel's color is grey, black, and white. It is associated with the head and the number 5.

(6.) Career and Life Path: This area of your home is linked to whatever it is that you are supposed to be doing in life, whether it is business or traversing a more spiritual path. This area of your home is dedicated to getting you onto the right path for your life. Career and Life Path's element is water; its color is black; its shape is undulating and free forms. Its creative cycle elements include metal, white and round objects while its destructive cycle elements include earth, yellow, and flat or square objects. It is associated with the ear and the number 6.

(7.) Skills and Knowledge: This area of your home effects how you learn, store and use knowledge. While each gua's energy affects the areas around it, this one is especially worthy of your attention. For instance, if you do not have the ability to manage the money you earn then it may erroneously appear that your Prosperity section is not working for you. This area is especially worthy of attention if you are in school but simply cannot bring yourself to study. Skills and Knowledge's colors are blue, black, and green. It is associated with the hand and the number 7.

(8.) Family: This area is associated with family issues. It also holds the energy for every day monetary issues such as rent, food, and the other necessities of life. Thus, if you do not have this area in order then your Prosperity area may never really reach its true potential. Family's element is wood; its color is green; and its shapes are rectangular, columnar, and vertical. Its creative cycle items include water, black, and undulating shapes while its destructive cycle elements include metal, white, and round objects. It is associated with the foot and the number 4.

(9.) Health and Other: The center of the bagua contains all of the other life situations which are not mentioned above. Since this area is located in the middle of your home it geographically touches all other areas and thus, due to its location it affects all other areas, both literally and figuratively. As the old saying goes, "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." Health's element is Earth; its colors are yellow and earth tones; its shape is square, horizontal, and flat. The creative cycle elements include fire, red, and pointed objects while the destructive cycle items include wood, green, and columnar objects. It is associated with any of the body parts that are not associated above and the number 9.
The Ba Gua points are contributed by Brenda-Marie Hoffman - © 2002 Pagewise

Commercial Space - is india priced out ?

Indian office space has witnessed one of the fastest appreciations in rentals, in the world, the latest survey by global consultancy firm Cushman & Wakefield reveals. Consultants and experts feel that this is a matter of concern as it clearly suggests that supply of office space is not keeping pace with the demand.

Office space in Nariman Point, the central business district of Mumbai, and Connaught Place in Delhi, rank fifth and 10th among the costliest commercial sites of the world. Both of them have moved up by two ranks, since last year. The occupancy cost, including all the maintenance expenditure, for Nariman Point, is Rs 546 per sq ft per month, and for Connaught Place it is Rs 423 per sq ft per month. These rates have nudged Nariman Point and Connaught Place past the costliest areas in New York, Washington, Shanghai and Zurich.

MD of CB Richard Ellis (South Asia), Anshuman Magazine, says if the trend continues for some more time, India will loose the advantage of being a cheap destination for companies to shift base from other countries. The fact that cities like Delhi and Mumbai are costlier than New York, Washington, Rome, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Zurich is not a matter of pride, rather an issue to be taken up by the government and civic/development authorities/agencies seriously.

If India has to remain competitive in the international market, its real estate cost must be lower than that in the developed world. A senior consultant said the productivity of Indian workers is normally lower than those in developed countries. And hence, the real estate and other overhead costs should also be lower than those in the developed countries. Therefore, if India has to grow at around 9%, it must remain competitive in the global market, the consultant argues. As real estate has become an important ingredient in service sectors like information technologies, call centers, education and hospitals, keeping costs under check will help the country remain competitive in the global market and also in achieving high economic growth.

In 2007, Indian cities witnessed some of the highest growths in rentals, as shown in the chart. But, as rentals have gone through the roofs, many companies are shifting their bases to other cities, and in some cases, particularly, in the call center segments, to other countries. So, at the present price points, it seems there will be a situation of over supply. This, some consultants feel, would lead to price correction over the next 12 months.

As against India, its competitor China as a whole delivered a steady performance. Rents in mainland China registered an average growth of 5% over the year. Beijing is currently facing oversupply of high-grade space, and in consequence, rental growth was marginal.

Shanghai also experienced an increase of 10% in rentals. Rentals at the best locations in Beijing and Shanghai are $48.43 per sq ft per year and $61.62 per sq ft per year, respectively. As against these, the highest rentals in Mumbai and New Delhi are $166.04 per sq ft per year and $124.53 per sq ft per year, respectively. Though the economic returns from the space in India and China are almost the same, the high rentals in Indian cities make them uncompetitive in the global market.

Executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield (South Asia), Sanjay Verma, says most micro markets in Mumbai saw an upward trend in rental values, largely due to lack of new supply because of project delays. Similarly, in Gurgaon in the National Capital Region of Delhi, prime supply has essentially met the pre-committed demand. Therefore, the fresh demand only pushed the rentals.

However, the good news is that the high rental values witnessed across the country would not be sustainable beyond 12 months because of large supply that is going to come during the period.

Among the Indian cities, Bangalore has witnessed one of the lowest growths in rentals, in the country. While rentals have increased by 20-26%, here, they are still among the lowest in the country, with prices ranging between Rs 44 per sq ft per month to Rs 73 per sq ft per month. This is mainly because of large supply of quality space in the city. Interestingly, Bangalore is witnessing one of the highest demands for space in the country. As against this, other cities like Kolkata witnessed one of the highest rises in rentals, at Rs 65 to Rs 70 per sq ft per month. Such rise in rentals is mainly due to the entry of better grade supply in a constrained office market.

Ramprasad Padhi

Contributed By : Ramprasad Padhi
Pinnacle Realty ( Suite # 24, Royal Tower, I.C.Colony, Borivli West, Mumbai 400 103 Board Nos: 2893 3333, 2892 5252, Cell : 9820 1515 00 Email :

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Indians, Chinese & Russians are biggest buyers of luxury homes in London

According to a Knight Frank Report issued recently, International buyers account for more than 60% of all house and apartment purchases in the UK capital for properties costing more than £4 million (about Rs32.5 crore). The value of London’s costliest residences has tripled in the past decade as the number of homes for sale priced over £2.5 million has fallen by a quarter in the past two years.

Properties priced at more than £4 million rose 43% from June 2006, while homes selling for less than £1 million gained just 1.6% in the 12 months. The average price of a luxury house in Knight Frank’s monthly index, which draws from seven of London’s most expensive districts, is now about £5 million, with apartments costing £2.5 million.

A typical house has gained in value by at least £1,00,000, about four times the average annual UK wage, each month since September. A house which cost £1,00,000 at the time the survey began in 1976 would be worth £4.32 million today. Monthly gains in the luxury house price index will probably slow to 1% for the remainder of the year. Prime properties in London sell at £2,300 a square foot, or 5% more than in Monaco. In New York, comparable homes sell for about £1,600 a square foot and in Tokyo for about £1,100, according to Knight Frank figures. Indians account for a major share of above Million Pound Homes in LondonLondon’s open economy, a stable political environment and an advantageous tax system make it attractive to international buyers, said Knight Frank.

Indians, Chinese and Russians play an important role in the luxury housing segment.
Russians favor Knightsbridge, home to Harrods department store, Belgravia, Chelsea, favoured by bankers, and St John’s Wood, which includes London Zoo and Lord’s cricket ground. They are willing to pay more than £10 million for the right property, said Knight Frank. More Russians own London homes costing more than £5 million than any other nationality apart from Britons, said Bailey.

“The sheer volume of Russians in London will make it difficult to match them,” said Bailey.
Many Indian buyers are “keen to uncover bargains,” looking for properties or neighbourhoods where there is “improvement potential,” said the Knight Frank report. It said many Indians are seeking properties priced between £750,000 and £1 million, with St John’s Wood a preferred part of the city.

Chinese buyers from Hong Kong with up to £2 million to spend like to look in Belgravia and Knightsbridge, the report said.

“The incidence of wealthy Chinese buyers purchasing property in central London is only just beginning,” said Knight Frank. “Over the next two to three years we expect the number of Chinese applicants to speed up noticeably.”
Emerging markets are growing faster than developed economies and the UK is the favored country for inward investment into Europe, boosting residential property purchases. India ranks second behind the US for inward investment projects in Britain.

“The UK, and in particular London, by virtue of its status as one of only two truly global financial centres, is a major beneficiary of this trend and should continue to do so for some time,” said Knight Frank.

Source: Livemint, ET & Knight Frank

Tia Singh

Monday, March 3, 2008’s premium property fair records transactions worth70 cr

Leaf of Luxury – the premium property fair organized by in Delhi – clocked in transactions of about Rupees 70 crore. About 20 deals, amounting to Rupees 70 crore, were closed at the fair itself. The fair recorded a footfall of more than 1,000 High Net-worth Individuals (HNIs).

This is the first time that organised such a fair in the Delhi NCR region. Leaf of Luxury showcased premium residential properties by eight exhibitors. It was an initiative to connect to the premium segment of the society and has seemingly paid off well.

The fair was held on March 1 and March 2 at Hotel Shangri La, New Delhi. The success of this show hints that Delhi is ready for more such shows and the HNIs will lap up all such events in future as well.

I welcome all readers to share their views on luxury living in Delhi.

Yojana Sharma