Premium and luxury are words that are directly associated with gold, so when a developer decides to name a residential project XXII Carat, it more than indicates what’s on offer. The 22 luxury villas on the West Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah are all furnished with high-end finishing materials and equipment imported from France and Italy, such as La Cornue, Baldi, La Cuisine Française, Devon & Devon, Schuco and Miele.
Nestled between two five star properties on either side, XXII Carat could well be the only truly private gated residential villa project in the crescent area of the man-made island. As Anton Yachmenev, managing director of Forum Group, the project’s Russian developer, says, “This is the only villa project with true beach access. There are not too many seven-bedroom villas on the Palm and there are no villas on the Crescent, making this project special.”
After almost two year of construction, the five-star residential accommodation is almost near completion and ready to welcome its first guests this quarter. Our recent visit to the development demonstrated how a well-thought-out concept of luxury can be truly brought to life.
The design of the project follows a Mediterranean style and each villa consists of seven bedrooms, a landscaped garden and a private swimming pool.
Each villa will have seven bedrooms
XXII Carat is built on a 500,000-sq-ft plot and in three rows named Sapphire, which as eight villas and faces the beach, Emarald, which also has eight villas and faces the sea and Dubai Marina, and Ruby, which lies between the two rows with six villas.
“The project has been conceived in a way to provide easy access to all residents to the beach,” says Yachmenev. “Sapphire, the most premium villas, has direct access to the beach.”
The villas are being delivered at a time when the standards of luxury living in Dubai have changed, but for the better, according to Yachmenev. “A decade ago, Dubai was not a place to buy a home and settle down,” he says. “It was transient and short term and wasn’t taken seriously as somewhere you might want to spend the next 20 to 30 years of your life.
“But that has changed, dramatically. There is now a trend of discerning well-heeled buyers choosing a permanent home in Dubai and that’s why we came up with the idea for XXII Carat. It is a place residents can truly call home, where no expense has been spared. Each villa has been expertly designed and furnished to make sure you will never want to leave.”
Yachmenev describes buyers of the project as “luxury-minded people from all over the world”. He adds: “They are people with style and sophistication who know exactly what they want and they expect nothing less than perfection.”
Residents also enjoy valet parking and concierge services, pool and garden maintenance and even chauffeuring kids.
When you step inside the villa, the first thing you notice is the kitchen. The timeless beauty of La Cornue cookers, which are decorated with fleur-de-lis and one-of-a-kind enamelled plinths, is a clear standout feature. These custom-made range cookers combine traditional style with the latest technology to ensure outstanding cooking results.
Stepping inside the villa, the kitchen is one of the first things that grabs attention
“Our involvement with XXII Carat was particularly unique for us because it was the first time we took on such a large project,” says La Cornue’s General Manager, Benoît Favier. “Usually, we design made-to-measure kitchens on a case-by-case basis but with XXII Carat we were involved with a global luxury real estate project with 22 exceptional and unique units.
“Forum Group had two major requirements. Firstly, everything needed to be electric and then the plinths, which are normally made from stainless steel, had to be enamelled in the same colour as the cooker.”
Complimenting the cookers are the kitchen cabinets, which were fitted by leading French company La Cuisine Française. “The kitchen is technically the most challenging part of the house – an everyday work area with its mixture of humidity, heat, liquids and air circulating in and out,” explains Christopher Cousin, founder and CEO of La Cuisine Française, whose family has been creating, manufacturing and fitting luxury furniture since 1821.
“Most of our kitchen cabinets are made from plywood carcasses, guaranteeing stability and lightness in weight, resistance to humidity, and increased load capacity. But for XXII Carat we went a step further by upgrading certain features and adding special flourishes such as the addition of fine gold and silver leaf.”
The bathroom is where you will find the jewel in the crown of the XXII Carat villas: the $1-million (Dh3.67 million) bathtubs, which feature precious-rock fixtures from high-end Italian interiors specialists, Baldi. Taking inspiration from the Italian Renaissance, Luca Baldi, CEO of the family-owned company, describes his creations as “a perfect expression of the rarity and exclusivity of the Italian lifestyle”. The raw crystals, weighing in at more than 10,000kg each, were shipped from Brazil to Italy, where they were then hand-carved into a deep egg shape before arriving in Dubai.
“The residents of XXII Carat villas in Dubai will be among the first in the world to bathe in these remarkable tubs and enjoy the truly unique, magical and luxurious experience,” says Luca. “They offer the ultimate escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life.”
Italian firm Devon & Devon provided the decadent bathroom décor, giving it a touch of European elegance. Art director Paola Tanini, and in partnership with the interior design studio Transforma, picked out catalogue pieces that were painstakingly redesigned and adapted to the Arab-Mediterranean style.
Residents will bathe in a $1-million handcrafted bathtub
“We take classical shapes and use contemporary materials to come up with astonishing timeless bathroom furnishings,” says Tanini. “For XXII Carat’s bathrooms we used the Rose collection, Dandy and Coventry taps and fittings in an 18-carat gold finish and Cavendish accessories.”
The properties in the development are priced between Dh3,500 and Dh7,500 per square foot. For the smaller Ruby villas, the starting price is around Dh39 million. Prices go all the way to Dh92 million for the only remaining corner unit in Sapphire. The developer says half of the properties are already sold.
“When we started work, it was the last piece of land on the crescent,” says Yachmenev. “Hence, we were able to incorporate the most modern design structure and add in some of the latest technological advancements into the development.”
The development has a built-up area of about 300,000 sq ft, which includes the villas and a hotel apartment located at the centre of the development, which also houses the concierge service. Each villa has a minimum plot size of 15,000 sq feet and up to 26,000 sq feet for corner villas, with built-up areas ranging from 10,000-12,000 sq ft.
Both the Emarald and Ruby are slightly raised from the ground. “We have raised the structure up so that residents, especially of Emarald, do not get to see the movement of vehicular traffic on the adjacent road,” says Yachmenev. “We also wanted to ensure that people who are commuting on the road do not get to see inside the villas. At the same time we wanted to provide our clients easy and clear view of the adjoining sea from their gardens.”
Yachmenev says special care was taken to ensure that each villa remained private from the adjoining property. “Each villa is designed in such a way that the private yard is indeed private. In fact, we have even limited the number of windows on the sides overlooking neighbour’s properties.”
Buyers come from Europe, the CIS region and the GCC. The developer says only one of the eight beach-facing villas remain unsold, with the price now increasing by about Dh12 million since the launch.
“We have had a lot of enquiries from people who are even interested to make sixty to seventy percent of the payment and sometimes even more in return for a price discount,” says Yachmenev.
Almost all buyers have opted to customise their properties, leading to additional works. “Each of them have a different taste and want to customise various elements within the structure,” he says. “We kept the basic design more classical. We have delivered most of the customisation through our main contractor, the Abu Dhabi based Teejan Contracting.”
Although it has ventured in the UAE at a time when the property market is considered to be bottoming out, Forum Group is upbeat with its first project in the country. “We have been in the business in Russia for many years and have built over 20 major projects. However this has been a good [first] experience in the UAE market,” says Yachmenev, adding that he expects Dubai to witness a slow but steady growth during the next two to three years. “We ourselves plan to expand and will launch out second project next year.”
The developer said it has a land bank to build two more projects in new and upcoming areas in Dubai. “In terms of buildable area, we have about 700,000 sq ft and about 450,000 sq feet of sellable area,” Yachmenev.