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Returning to his former home of Hawaii as President-elect, Barack Obama and his family are enjoying a 13-day vacation.

Obama is secluded at a compound of oceanfront estates, guarded by seven-foot walls made of stone and lava rock and situated along a quiet sliver of snow-white-sandy beach.

The Kailua Estate seems is ideal for a Presidential retreat, sitting neatly on a peninsula, with only a single narrow road leading to it, thus offering plenty of privacy.

Behind the walls, the Obamas can enjoy picturesque beach and ocean views from the master bedroom, heavy granite in the kitchen and detailed woodwork throughout. There are Tiki torches dotting the manicured gardens, and the interior features stone imported from Peru, Jerusalem and Italy.

The entire Kailua neighborhood once was the private estate of Samuel Castle, a sugar magnate whose Castle & Cooke company was one of the Big Five firms that dominated Hawaiian politics for decades. The Obamas’ current retreat is situated close to land that was once Castle’s horse pasture and skeet ranch.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Barack Obama; and Luxury Homes

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A $80 million AUD luxury development in Point Piper, Sydney, has been handed over to the banks after two of the companies for which property tycoon Michael Bezzina was associated, Caprice Pty Ltd and Pyoanee Pty Ltd, were place in receivership.

Located in Point Piper, Mr Bezzine was expecting to achieve $14 million AUD for the penthouse-style apartments, however, three of the apartments have allegedly exchanged for $10 million AUD each.

The development comprises waterfront apartments, each occupying an entire floor with balconies looking out to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. They have four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a guestroom, as well as a jetty.

In September, one of Michael Bezzina’s company’s that developed the $100 million AUD Jade complex in Surfers Paradise, was put into liquidation. The company reportedly paid $17 million for the site six years ago, of which six out of the nine apartments have sold, one of which sold for almost $20 million, while the penthouse at the complex remains on the market for $22 million.

It is worth noting that the quality of Bezzina’s developments is outstanding, and his financial troubles should not be allowed to cloud the stunning properties that he has been involved in creating.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Sydney Property; or Luxury Homes; or Sydney Harbour

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THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES: Rainforest Living in Queensland; Raffles Residences Manila; Swarovski Bathroom Faucets; Chinese Property Taxes; US interest rates; Australian Banks on the Assault; The Malibu Home of Sting; The Rotating Bath Tub; The W New York…

We bring you the last installment for 2008 of our look at luxury property, design and concepts from Australia and around the world.  Your support throughout the year has made the MTLH blog the most viewed of its kind in Australia and contributed to Marquette Turner Luxury Homes being named as The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old.  Not bad in just a year, and 2009 promises to be even bigger and better.  Thank you!

Please enjoy this week’s articles, or as always you can stay here and read the MTLH blog.

We wish you a fantastic & safe festive period.

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

Subscribe to the MTLH e-magazine.


LUXURY HOMES
See our luxury homes showcased in Australia & Around The World


FINAL THOUGHT

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

Contemporary, State of the Art, Rainforest Living

Setting a benchmark in state of the art living ‘Samara’ is without doubt one of the finest acreage properties in Queensland.

Strategically positioned amidst a previous wildlife sanctuary, ‘Samara’ is constructed seamlessly around two lakes and canter levered amidst a stunning rainforest back drop. This property is the epitome of designer living, offering only the finest in schedule of finish.

A fingerprint controls the gated entrance, and access to the estate. The circular driveway leads to a bold, resort style, port-cochere and a stunning entry with cascading ponds. Designed to embrace the Queensland lifestyle, this signature property highlights what true contemporary living is meant to be. From the commercial glass pane entrance, the property is washed with natural stone tiles, and natural lighting from the soaring ceilings and bi-fold doors.

The heart of the home is styled for entertaining with an open fire and a 50″ plasma screen, complete with 5.1 surround sound furbished by undetectable speakers. The mood of ‘Samara’ is defined by its unique use of lighting, all centrally controlled by the automation system. As you move through the house of an evening, 22 individual sensors monitor and predict movements and prepare the spaces around you, with soft lighting.

More information: Visit our website for more images and details.

Contact: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email michael@marquetteturner.com.au or Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email christine@marquetteturner.com.au

Marquette Turner Luxury Homes is proud to offer luxury apartments for sale in Manila, bearing the name of the legendary “Raffles”.

Raffles Manila will be superbly located right on Makati Avenue in the very heart of Manila’s bustling commercial and financial district and the Philippines’ leading business destination. Just steps from shops, entertainment and corporate offices.

Makati’s skyline is one of the most impressive sights in Metro Manila, where many of the country’s tallest skyscrapers are located. The 30 suite Raffles Hotel and 220 Residence development will be the first significant luxury branded residence in Makati, offering exceptional views of either Manila or Laguna Bay along with glittering vistas of the city. With its unique branded residence concept, Raffles Manila will be unlike anything else in the city; it is poised to become the premier address in Manila, with the first branded penthouse residences. It will be a showplace of cosmopolitan living.

The real estate condominiums for sale will occupy the top 20 floors of the Raffles Hotel (11th to 30th floor), and the 220 residence development will be the first significant luxury branded residence in Makati, offering exceptional views of either Manila or Laguna Bay along with splendid view of the Metropolis.

Following the historical success of the initial release of the Raffles Residences Makati the developer is now pleased to announce the commencement of Phase Two. With premiere residences yet to be released, now is the time to own part of this legendary offering.

The developer is now accepting fully refundable 400,000 PHP (approximately $10,000 USD) deposits through their Opportunity to Purchase (OTP) program. Furthermore a deal has been struck with HSBC with regards to borrowing.

Selling Prices Start at:
– $763,832 AUD (PhP 24,179,828) – $983,372 AUD (PhP 31,151,384) for 2 Bedrooms with a total floor area 124-164 sqm.
– $1,326,488 AUD (PhP 42,017,712) – $1,844,666 AUD (PhP 58,411,391) for 3 Bedrooms with a total floor area 209-251 sqm.
– 4 Bedroom Penthouses with a total floor area of 383-402 sqm. – Pricing available upon request.

More information: Visit our website for more images and details.

Contact: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email michael@marquetteturner.com.au or Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email christine@marquetteturner.com.au

There’s the Palm Shaped Island and there’s the Map of the World. And just when we thought planners in Dubai could possibly have run out of new concepts, they’re planning the Universe!

Suddenly buying a tree branch or a country doesn’t look quite the same, when Saturn or Mercury are on offer!

Whilst a couple of decades will probably be required to create the islands (when perhaps real estate throughout the world will have been through a few more cycles), Dubai certainly shows no interest in slowing down their creativity.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Dubai; or Palm Island; or real estate

Purchased from Larry Hagman (of JR Ewing of Dallas fame), Sting and his wife Trudie Styler’s home in Malibu, California is 5,549 sq ft and has five bedrooms and bathrooms.

Simon Turner

FYI: See related articles on Homes of the Rich & Famous; or Celebrity Homes; or America

A company in North Texas has come up with a simple, innovative method to maintain houses for sale whilst on the market.

As the real estate market continues to struggle along and properties take longer to sell, Mansion Minders  keeps up the homes whilst at the same time providing plush living quarters at a cut rate.

For example, a resident has to clean the pool like it’s their own, even though it’s not.

“Mansion Minder’s”  are basically live-in house sitters for homes on sale, paying less than they would normally pay for their home, whilst living in a better property.

The rules are that the property must be kept spotless, disappear when required should the property needs to be shown by the broker, and move out in less than one month if it sells.

Mansion Minders are not renters but effectively sub-contractors (and thus without tenant’s rights). Instead, they pay the company what’s called a participation fee, which is about 25 percent of a monthly mortgage. The participation fee is based on the home price.

Simon Turner

FYI:  Read related articles on the real estate market; or tenants or credit crunch

 

The US Dollar is gaining strength, however, international real estate buyers are still important, even though their purchasing activity has decreased by 30-50 per cent since June 2008.

So where does the strength still reside? New developments. The W New York is a great example.

The W NY Downtown Hotel & Residence, the has seen 74 percent of buyers, thus far, come from overseas, 41% coming from Korea, 10% from the United Arab Emirates, and eight percent from Italy. This may come as a surprise if you’ve formed the opinion that the market is dominated by British and Russian buyers.

The 56-story building has 223 residential condominium residences, with prices ranging from $1.2 and $2.4 million. It’s hip, it’s dark, it’s cool, and there’s only a few remaining.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on New York; or Luxury Homes; or Investors

It’s big it’s hard…and this is serious work! “The Lancaster”, a luxury residential project besides Hyde Park in London is being gutted by the developer – all of the interior of a 125-meter long Grade II listed building – whilst seeking to preserve the building’s ornate façade.

Dating back to the mid-19th Century, the façade is now propped up by 500 tons of steel, hiding the masses of rubble now left behind.

Façade retention is unsurprisingly a somewhat delicate engineering operation. The external walls needed to be carefully secured prior to the interior demolition and sensors are continually monitoring the structures stability.

It’s the sheer scale of the project that makes this so daunting. Indeed, to allow for underground parking, crews dug beneath the existing structure to excavate 700 pillars to support a new concrete floor.

The Lancasters, scheduled for completion in 2010, will include 77 apartments, all of which will also offer views of Hyde Park, thanks to the 315 windows preserved from the original building. In addition to the apartments, there will also be two 10,000-square foot homes with private pools and wine cellars.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Architects; or Luxury Homes; or London

THIS WEEKS STORIES: Luxury is…Elizabeth Taylor’s Homes; the Great Australian Tax Grab; Phone Box Furniture; The Blind Leading The Blind; London Luxury Home Prices Falling; Loofah Homes; and more…


The 2008 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to former Finnish President and international peace envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.  He has been instrumental in bringing peace, or at least calmer days, to historically troubled parts of the world such as Aceh and Kosovo.  He has recently brought together parties from all sides in Iraq, giving them “first-hand” contact to individuals they could both relate to and whom appreciate the hurdles, such as former opponents in Northern Island – perhaps proof that anything is possible with hope, hard work and tenacity.  Fortune can always be on your side.

Please enjoy this week’s e-magazine (and SUBSCRIBE if you haven’t already), or as always stay here and read the MTLH blog.

Regards

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Gandhi

The English born star, winner of two Academy awards and known for her style, extravagance and husbands, is the owner and resident of these stunning American mansions:

Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA

The 7,172 sq ft home has six bedrooms and bathrooms, multi-car garaging, stunning gardens and swimming pool.

Miami Beach, FLORIDA

Situated right on the waterfront on the suitably named Star Island Drive, the residence, complete with lush gardens, tennis court, pool and private jetty, is 9,364 sq ft and has seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Fit for a Queen of the Silver Screen.

(images courtesy of Microsoft Earth)

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Homes of the Rich & Famous; or Luxury Homes; or Overseas Investment

How’s this for short-sightedness: The New South Wales Government’s infinite wisdom to increase taxes by $3.6 billion AUD to compensate for their years of inept mismanagement of states coffers will have a huge impact on the property sector at a time when it can least afford it.

NSW Labor Premier Nathan Rees and Treasurer Eric Roozendaal plans to raise $680 million by increasing the land tax rate from 1.6% to 2% for properties over $2.25 million in land value, essentially a 25% increase, which will increase holding costs for land owners, discourage developments and lead to an increase in rental charges.

The flow on from this will lead to further job losses in the property industry, which is already shedding staff at more than one hundred per week.

We argue that this is not the time for tax hikes, but for the government to show some innovative thought, boost confidence and stimulate the economy. Or at least start spending NSW tax payers money wisely. But then again, given the churn of Premiers in the state and thus their lack of accountability, what do they care?

Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on the Credit Crunch; or the NSW Government; or Interest Rates

The world’s most expensive location for prime real estate behind Monaco, Central London has seen luxury home values fall for an eighth month. Such locales include Mayfair, St John’s Wood, Regent’s Park, Kensington, Notting Hill, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Belgravia and the South Bank neighborhoods of London.

As recently reported by Bloomberg, in November the approximate average value of a house or apartment in the city’s nine most expensive neighborhoods fell 3.6 percent from October, according to an index compiled by Knight Frank. This represents the second largest drop since the index started in 1976. Furthermore, the figures show that property values declined 14 percent since the previous year.

Why is this? Quite simply, vendors are not holding out for emotional prices and are accepting that price reductions have to occur for a sale to be achieved.

Prime Central London real estate has taken longer to register declines seen elsewhere in London because of a standoff between sellers and buyers over price. That ended in September, when the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. caused demand to collapse from those employed in financial services, traditionally the mainstay of demand for expensive homes.

Unsurprisingly, the worst banking crisis seen since the First World War has translated into job cuts and reduced bonuses, and in London it’s likely to get worse before it gets better, with as many as 62,000 finance-related jobs forecast to be lost in London by the end of next year.

Interestingly, the properties least affected by the fall in values are those worth more than five million pounds. With the pound sliding it becomes more attractive to wealthy overseas buyers (yes, they still exist) and given the uniqueness of many of the properties in this category, and how infrequently they come onto the market, they still are highly sought after.

Appreciating that for a buyer with US Dollars, a 15 percent property valuation drop equates to a 35 percent slide when exchange rates are taken into consideration, property in excess of five million pounds is great buying.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read more articles on Luxury Homes; or London; or Credit Crunch

Encrusted with 220 carats of diamonds, the Gold & Diamond Chandelier has been created by London-based jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge. It is made from delicate links suspended in arcs to form a pear shape that ends in a sharp point, reminiscent of the central medallions of ancient Persian rugs. The Chandelier is 18 caret white gold that has been blackened to create a smoky effect.

Whilst Solange Azagury-Partridge has had no formal training, this exquisite design be the self-confessed “diamond lover” will be the centerpiece of Sebastian + Barquet‘s exhibit at Design Miami.

Simon Turner

FYI: See related articles on Interior Design; Luxury furniture; and Lights

More information: Check out the featured sites: Solange Azagury-Partridge; Sebastian + Barquet; Design Miami.

“The Red House Manor”, Quebec, QC, CANADA:Dating from 1608, the stunning and iconic “Old Red Manor” is unequivocally the oldest habitable building on the North American continent.

When Bertrand Chesnay de la Garenne received the Royal Concession in 1652, he found there “a solid ruin with three walls and a large stone fireplace of 5 feet long.” This is the left side of the Manor which contains the master fireplace. In 1764, the French Captain Cazeau added the second level, and the manor remained the property of the Cazeau family until 1940.

Restored in 2005-2006, to the most exacting standards of luxury and caring touch. It is 30 metres in length (96 ft) and 9 metres (30 ft) wide and has two levels, with multiple living, dining and entertaining areas, six generous bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. This property is for sale in two lots.

To view more information, images and the video click HERE.

Contact: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email Michael@marquetteturner.com.au or Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email Christine@marquetteturner.com.au

FYI: Read related articles on Worldwide Luxury Homes such as Bora Bora, TAHITI; Villas in Tuscany, ITALY; or Raffles in Manila, PHILIPPINES; or AUSTRALIA

Continuing Marquette Turner’s theme of questioning what “Luxury is”, for this article we feature the largest Palace of the Sultan of Brunei.

The largest of the Sultan of Brunei’s four palaces, Istana Nurul Iman, is indisputably the world’s largest residential and administrative palace currently in use.

The palace is used for all State functions. It is both the seat of Brunei’s government and the location of the prime minister’s office. In addition to Audience and State Rooms, there is a Throne Chamber used for various occasions such as the proclamation of the Crown Prince and the annual Birthday Investiture.

At 2,152,782 square feet (200,000.0 m2) the palace has 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, and a floor area of 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m²). Amenities include 5 swimming pools, an air conditioned stable for the Sultan’s 200 polo ponies, a 110-car garage, a banquet hall that can be expanded to accommodate up to 5,000 guests, and a mosque accommodating 1,500 people. The palace was built in 1984 at a cost of around $400 million USD and has 564 chandeliers, 51,000 light bulbs, 44 stairwells, 18 elevators, and 13 (exterior) satellite dishes.

Furthermore, there’s a mosque for 1500 people, a banquet hall for 4000 guests, air conditioned stables for his 200 polo ponies, and 165 Rolls Royces, aeroplanes and helicopters.

The palace and its upkeep are funded by the oil wealth generated by Brunei, as are all of the grand structures in the country.

And even though the price of oil may have slumped, Brunei’s wealth still make perhaps the place to live right now, especially if long-term security is what you are after. Even though the people cannot vote, they pay no taxes, education and health care are free, everyone receives a pension, and the minimum wage is the highest in South-East Asia.

On the flip side, however, given the world’s massive reliance on oil and indeed the extravagance, and greed that it fosters, the extremes of rich and poor that are its result, is worth questioning what true “Luxury is.” I’ll leave that for you to define.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on The World’s Most…; or Palaces; or Luxury Homes; or “Luxury is…

Prices for real estate on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah Island have fallen significantly over the few quarters, with some dropping by as much as 40 percent. For instance, a four bedroom villa on the Palm is now on the market for AED10 million Dirhams, or approximately $2.6 million USD. This is down from AED15 million Dirhams or approximately $4 million USD in September.

The Palm Jumeirah is the largest man-made island in the world and is the first of three such projects being undertaken in the waters off Dubai.  The developer of these islands has noted a general slowdown in the rate of property sales on all three islands proving that all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold!

Simon Turner

FYI:  Read related articles on Dubai; or Islands; or Luxury Homes

So in 2009, instead of worrying about missing out on the next big thing in luxury, focus on defining it. Declare that the end is nigh for anything that’s getting a little too affordable, too accessible, or just too well-known. Then introduce something very different (if not the opposite), appealing to the in-crowds ready to jump ship anyway.

An example from the hospitality industry: Named after the ‘rough luxury’ trend that was coined by the hotel’s owner, Rabih Age, Rough Luxe is a new London hotel with small, funky rooms, some of which share a bathroom, while also offering fine wines, plush bed linen, carefully curated art, and top-notch personal service.

In their own words: “Rough Luxe is a new way of looking at luxury as part of time and not only part of an object of consumption. Luxury is an enriching personal experience and not only an ownership or consumption of an expensive object. Therefore, the Rough Luxe definition of luxury is: time for reflection, personal encounters with people, nature, architecture and environment as well as food and social and cultural experiences linked to geographic locations.”

Taken from this month’s Trendwatching.

FYI: Read more articles on “Luxury is…“; or Hotels; or 2009

It’s worth imagining what 2009 could bring. I am a not a pessimist but it is worth glaring into the crystal ball and letting go of today and dreaming – dreaming it is December 2009.

Has the US Fed pumped trillions of dollars into the US economy and what has been the result? Have property prices stabilized and how is Citibank going? Has the bailout really cleaned out the poisoned loans? Let’s dream!

We have bailed out the 3 car manufacturers and we have bailed out the banks. The banks have hoarded money and monetary policy is having no effect. Interest rates are at the lowest level ever – 0% and the Dow is hovering around 5000 points. Superannuation has lost trillions and those that would be retiring have realized that another ten years of work is required (at least) to make retirement possible.

Small and medium manufacturers are all but gone – car companies are waiting to get supplies and difficult car finance is all but crippling sales. Many of the smaller car dealerships have closed, finding the credit crunch a hard go and the larger dealerships holding too large an inventory are closing. Surely more money will solve this, but maybe not! With monetary policy crippled what can President Obama do?

The Fed has decided to pump more money into the economy and inflation is now an issue. Inflation is a real problem, with OPEC deciding to reduce supply by a total of 10 million barrels a day to increase the price of oil. Their greed has accelerated issues in the economy with transport companies struggling to get paid by clients, forced redundancies and supply train chaos ensue.

Credit scarcity has caused loan delinquencies to flourish with 5 million US households in foreclosure. Prices continue to fall and Citibank is on a downward spiral. What are the options for President Obama? Let Citibank fail or pump yet more money into the economy? This will force the US dollar to fall even further and prices are going up and up.

The US economy is now at breaking point with reliant economies collapsing. There is no savior to come to the US aid – the world is simply not capable of saving the US as it’s too big. Japan and the EU are crippled. Is the US in recession, depression or bankrupt? With trillions of dollars of debt President Obama has few options.

This chance to imagine is just one example of what could be. There are so many variables and so much left to be answered. This situation would cause so much grief and I am an optimist, hoping and praying that our leaders find solutions to the problems we face. Solutions that are not only needed but vital to the livelihood of so many families and vital to the survival of the world superpower that we so rely on for our economic and military security.

Michael Marquette

FYI: Read more articles on the Credit Crunch; or 2009; or US Economy

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