The coronavirus pandemic, with all of its restrictions on travel and movement, has unsurprisingly had an impact on the construction of overseas properties and interest in these homes. But just how severe has that impact been, and are sales being affected?
We spoke with Miguel Espada, from Propriétés & Co, about the developer's flagship project - LUX* La Baraquette Resort & Residences - which sits on the edge of the Mediterranean and aims to offer 'a taste of authentic French living with a touch of simplistic luxury'.
Set within a seafront estate in Marseillan, work on the twenty-two Garden Suites, one-hundred and thirty-three apartments, thirty Patio Villas, four Waterfront Villas and five-star hotel began before the Covid-19 pandemic. Here, Espada discusses how the development sector and branded residences will fare as Europe slowly eases out of lockdown and back to some sense of normality.
In a post-Covid-19 world, does a resort development project like LUX* La Baraquette remain relevant?
Yes, now more so than ever. We initially developed the project for people wanting to use a second home more often than not and looking for authentic lifestyle. Since lockdown, buyers we are speaking to are looking for havens abroad, where they can safely spend several weeks or months at a time.
Marseillan has a long history of being a resort town and the local community is particularly friendly, providing an idyllic spot for a second home rather than a huge manufactured resort. La Baraquette will be a further complement to the town, where residents can enjoy all that the LUX* brand has to offer.
Because of the lockdown, people have reconnected with their values and the opportunities afforded by technology to work remotely, and for longer periods of time. Work is no longer a place and working remotely for extended periods of time will likely grow in the future.
Offering a range of properties suited to a variety of budgets and lifestyles, hassle-free property management and a rental scheme offering exceptional investment and the option to reclaim 20% VAT, LUX* La Baraquette is a perfect place to live out our new reality.
In addition, it is very easy to get to Marseillan by car or train and it’s on the doorstep of the Cote d’Azur, the Alps and the Pyrenees, making it the perfect base for a true second home to make amazing memories in and that will be used more than most.
International travel is not yet allowed, and flights aren’t expected to resume to full capacity until later on in the year - are buyers still showing interest in the branded residences? Have sales been affected?
The quality of responses and enquiries have been amazing through lockdown. Obviously, the pandemic began as we were ramping up for our spring events, and countless potential buyers had to put their trips and meetings with our sales team on hold. Like many other sectors and developers, our sales pace has been affected by the lockdown.
But we are confident that LUX* La Baraquette connects directly with people’s values and interests in a “new breed” of second home; a turnkey home that is fully managed by an iconic brand.
With enquiries growing during lockdown, we will resume our visit programmes as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, whilst going above and beyond to make viewers feel safe. The good thing is that none of what we have to offer is going away anywhere soon. If anything, the wine in Languedoc is only getting better with time!”
Has work continued on the construction of the residences through the Covid-19 pandemic?
As a developer in the local community, and in the South of France, we have been aligning ourselves with the French Government recommendations on social distancing. The health and safety of our builders and contractors has been our top priority.
To ensure their safety, we have stopped construction whilst lockdown measures are in place, although some excavation work has continued, as it’s outside, making social distancing easier.
Our responsibility as a considerate developer is to align ourselves with the health of our partners and the local community, and although it is important for us to move forward with construction, we won’t cut corners.
We will work hard to make up for lost time, but we are also mindful of the summer season in the town of Marseillan. We will adapt our construction methods during the next few months to respect our neighbours - the high season residents and guests - even though it is unlikely to be as busy as normal summer months.
Is the completion of the hotel and residences delayed or is it still on track?
We remain confident that we’re on track to deliver and open as planned. However, with border openings still unclear, some of our project suppliers from outside France and even outside the EU, have been unable to reach us. We are monitoring very closely and will assess overall situation on a monthly basis.
Despite this, our message to potential purchasers is still clear; we’re worth waiting for. Those wishing to invest in a taste of the real south of France have the opportunity to do so, at very attractive prices compared to similar offerings on the market, and much lower than Côte d’Azur.
Are virtual viewings being offered for those interested in purchasing a residency?
Our sales team is very sensitive to our potential purchasers currently being unable to visit the site and our sales and marketing suite. We have developed tools that allow us to remotely showcase the project, including our app and virtual tours.
Early this summer we will be hosting live streaming events using special cameras that give viewers a 360 degrees view, from the heart of the Port of Marseillan, as well as from the development. Viewers will be able to take a tour around the seafront, the development site, and even make their way through the light bright interiors of the residences under construction.
What makes LUX* La Baraquette different from other branded residences?
Traditional branded residences are a little on the conservative side. LUX* La Baraquette really captures the essence of a second home, it’s a place that is different from purchasers’ primary homes, it offers clean, relaxed luxury.
The pandemic is forcing the world to change, and we truly believe that LUX* La Baraquette gives buyers the opportunity to actually see how they can embrace and live this new life, integrating a relaxed lifestyle, and a holistic wellness approach.
In addition, we offer an unrivalled package of residents’ benefits completely distinctive to the resort. This includes membership to the Wine Academy and vineyard, VIP access to all resort and hotel facilities, including the signature Spa, membership to La Baraquette Nautical Club, concierge, maintenance, housekeeping services and access to a private chef, perfect for entertaining once lockdown measures are eased further.
Of course, we have to also mention the three-hundred plus days of sunshine that purchases will also have access to.
Has the pandemic changed your outlook as a developer? Or your development strategies?
Not at all, it just reinforces that the choices we have made as a developer have been the right ones. Our mission has always been to create sustainable, one-of-a-kind resorts and branded residences that blend perfectly into communities and this outlook is here to stay.
Our projects are already wellness-oriented, and we are also developing that aspect at La Baraquette and in our future projects in France and Tuscany.
We are all about the slow pace of life, sustainability, wellness and nature, whilst also remaining considerate to our surroundings. Our projects take inspiration from the heritage and culture of each site.
Despite the pandemic, our fundamentals remain the same as they were before it, we are not like other “manufactured destinations”, we are authentic to our surroundings.
As people begin to question how they consume things, and question their lifestyles, it’s apparent that authenticity is here to stay. We believe our authenticity will continue to connect with our clients and guests for a long time to come.