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Luxury & The Client Experience - An Open Discussion

Last Friday SMPS-NY hosted a Principals Breakfast: Dive into the World of Luxury panel discussion on the resurgence of business in NYC’s luxury retail, residential, restaurant, and hospitality industries and how both new and existing establishments and venues have redesigned their spaces, adding features and amenities to enhance the client experience. As a former staple of SMPS events, it was wonderful to see it revived and have the opportunity to attend.

The most prevalent focus among the panelists, other than "Luxury" becoming an overused terminology, was the desire for health and wellness experiences, including spas and sound baths. Certainly, no surprise as these services help invigorate the mind and body making anyone, regardless of income or stature feel pampered.

Although very lightly touched on by David Morton, there was one experience I felt was missing and underwhelmingly overlooked; nature and green spaces. I, unfortunately, didn’t have a chance to ask during the panel Q&A, so perhaps the panelists or other industry leaders could respond with their own thoughts on this idea of client experience.

With the AEC industry working hard to meet net zero/decarbonization requirements as well as the former COVID frenzy of feeling trapped inside city buildings with nowhere to go, I find it surprising, in general, we aren’t seeing more push for green space in and out of these buildings, not only to create a form of luxury limited to those living and working in the city but to help reduce carbon emissions. I’m not talking about the common green roofs we see at restaurants, bars, or residential buildings and offices, but cascading stairways of greenery leading you along the exterior of buildings or interior secret gardens and wooded paths with ponds and waterfalls that are accessible to clients/customers which could easily enhance not only health and wellness but create a more scenic and healthy environment overall.

Of course, most of this (particularly interior) would be more realistic/feasible with new construction due to structural costs/modifications for existing buildings - but if there is a will there is always a way. Is it worth the cost or consideration? Pathways such as The Highline certainly change the landscape of a city and bring much-needed greenery and foot traffic, however, it is not a luxury that can be synonymous with a particular building/brand. As sustainability was part of the discussion, one of the panelists mentioned creating structures for future generations…in this environmental climate we are facing what better gift can we leave to future generations than a healthier, cleaner city.



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