Resort-Style Living at Home: Are Luxury Apartments the New 5-Star Hotel?

The wave of new luxury apartment properties over the past few years has created a dramatic shift in the rental market.
Emily Headshot

The wave of new luxury apartment properties over the past few years has created a dramatic shift in the rental market. Boasting amenities and finishes on par with five-star hotels, today’s luxury apartments have garnered the attention of everyone from young professionals to affluent empty nesters – sparking a significant rise in the rental population who have the means to own, but prefer to rent.

In fact, by the first quarter of 2015, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reported the U.S. homeownership rate had continued its eight-year decline to 63.7 percent and fallen to 1993 levels. Foregoing the burden of homeownership, today’s “renters-by-choice” are instead paying top-dollar to enjoy superior service, five-star amenities and every convenience.

As such, property managers are now blurring the lines between building operators and resident concierges. From resort-style swimming pools with waterfall features and residents-only bars to state-of-the-art fitness centers with spas and on-site personal trainers, today’s renters have access to it all.

Take for example 1000 South Clark, a 469-unit luxury tower in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.  Slated for delivery in early 2016, the building will include 43,000 square feet of amenity space spanning five floors and featuring a roof deck; Chef’s demonstration kitchen; game room and billiards lounge; and two private resident-only bars – a wine bar and a neighborhood bar with customizable beer taps – where residents supply their own libations and essentially rent a bar for the night. Add to that a terrace with grilling stations, an indoor pool, rooftop running track, state-of-the-art fitness center, basketball and squash/racquetball courts and a virtual golf simulator, and residents may never want to leave the building.

Also in Chicago is The Habitat Company’s Hubbard Place, a 450-unit world-class rental in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.  Hubbard Place residents enjoy 29,000 square feet of amenity space, a fully-loaded entertainment lounge, over-the-top fitness center, deluxe media theater, and rooftop pool and indoor spa. Even the building’s package retrieval system provides best-in-class service. The system automatically notifies residents via text message when a package arrives and a secret code then opens a custom wood drawer built into the lobby wall, allowing residents to access their deliveries 24/7.

Houston’s market is also heating up with elite rentals rivaling hotels. Residents at Alexan Auburn Lakes, a 346-unit garden-style community just outside of Houston, enjoy a vacation-like lifestyle with impressive outdoor features perfect for the city’s warm climate. Renters have access to two resort-style pools; sun decks with waterfalls, cabanas and an outdoor kitchen; and a private lake. The property also includes a state-of-the-art fitness center with yoga and spin rooms, plus on-site personal trainers. And for four-legged residents, there is an on-site pet spa that features a grooming station and Bark Park.

Showing further proof that luxury rentals also can be found in the suburbs is The Oaks of Vernon Hills, a 304-unit luxury rental community in Vernon Hills, Illinois, about an hour outside of downtown Chicago. The Oaks offers residents a full suite of high-end amenities unlike anything else currently available in the northwest suburbs, including an outdoor pool with sundeck and fire pit, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a bocce court, grilling stations, dog park and walking trails throughout the community’s abundant green space.

Today’s luxury rental communities offer residents access to a resort lifestyle they can enjoy year-round and where they never have to worry about a check-out time.