Asian Property Review talks to Arianna Leopard (Director) and Bruce Wright (Senior Vice President and Principal) from SB Architects on what it entails to design branded residences.


  1. How important is design for branded residences? How different would you approach a branded residence compared with say, a typical serviced apartment or condominium?

All brand owners set guidelines and design specification to architects and developers so that they accurately reflect the brands down to the smallest details. We approach the design of branded residential differently than traditional serviced apartment. The unit sizes are generally larger than non-branded equivalents, reflecting the trophy positioning.
Branded residential needs to have a high-degree of personalization and the accent is on interiors that tag the buyer’s lifestyle and wrap around emotion and feelings. We seamlessly merge architecture, interior design, and lifestyle in a way that speaks to the aspirations of the buyer. Branded Residential uniquely differs from unbranded real estate in that the buyer of a branded property becomes a stakeholder in the brand. Usually the access to ownership comes at a higher cost, but the return is a deep emotional connection to the brand philosophy, culture and often the related hotel amenities.

  1. What are examples of the branded residences that you have designed? What are each of their unique characteristics?

We have worked on several Ritz-Carlton properties over the years including Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage and The Cove, RitzCarlton Reserve Residences. We are working on two St. Regis properties, which will both include a residential component. For St. Regis Bahia Beach, we designed the Ocean Drive Residences and a series of custom estate homes.


These luxurious waterfront residences follow the contours of the beach to provide the most complete and private beachfront experience imaginable.  The three and four-story structures feature two and three-bedroom units with a rooftop pool and covered living space. Some buildings include a fourth-level penthouse with terraces on three sides to provide outdoor living space to all three bedroom suites. Expansive terraces or balconies for each unit connect to the indoor living spaces with retractable doors.


Bahia Beach offers the tranquility and purity of a private island amid an unspoiled, lush tropical haven with spectacular beachfront views. These three- and four-bedroom residences are serviced by The St Regis and feature spacious interiors, ample terraces, etc.


This expansive resort development is sited along the shores of NanLiHu Lake, a stunning jewel on Hainan Island near the city of Haikou. Encompassing 122 ha, the master plan utilizes the site’s hilly topography to weave the golf fairways through existing valleys. Residences, lodging and public spaces are sited to capitalize on views of the golf course and lake. Residences range from single-family villas, to townhomes, to apartments in five and six-storey buildings.

  1. How much of the local materials or culture do you appropriate for the design despite the typical standardization of such designs? Do the design owners e.g. hotel or luxury brands allow any deviation from their standard cookie cutter design?

Our process begins with a deep respect for the site, the history of the land and the culture of its people. We are fully aware that to create authentic destinations, we must preserve the elements that have drawn us there in the first place.
We always like to work with topography and use materials indigenous to the location. Developers in Asia can be somewhat pragmatic about introducing new materials, but we try to tie the design back to the history of the site, utilizing sustainable design and construction methods, which generally also makes financial sense. Combining destination specific material choices, and working so closely with these branded design details we can create properties that both embrace local qualities and exemplify the aesthetics of the brand owners.
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  1. What sustainable features or construction methods/materials do you employ in your designs?

We partner with a broad spectrum of consultants and certifying organizations to ensure that we deliver projects that are both ecologically and socially sustainable. Our experience working with organizations such as the USGBC and Audubon International give us the tools to create unique projects that live in harmony with their surroundings.
In the initial design phase, we think about a myriad of elements that will inform our approach that includes everything from sunlight aspect placement that allows for maximum solar orientation for photovoltaic panels, to passive heating, and cooling systems. Local availability, recycled content, and sustainable production drive the selection of each material, appliance, and detail.
For example the Calistoga Ranch in Sonoma, the site was on a 52-acre California live oak parcel, and the resort had to be designed to not despoil or do damage to the ancient trees present on the site. So, the Lodges at Calistoga Ranch were formed around the trees, with many lodge terraces built with ancient trees growing up through the terraces.

  1. What are the branded residences in the pipeline that you are working on?

Most of our resort projects included branded residential into the program such as St. Regis Los Cabos at Quivira in Mexico and Mandarin Oriental in Boca Raton.
Based in San Francisco, Miami and Shenzhen, China, SB architects has a global footprint with projects in China, North America, Lebanon, Montenegro, Egypt, Puerto Rico and Mexico to name a few. A recent project that the firm is proud of is the Miami Design District, which transformed the once gritty Miami neighbourhood into a glamorous international luxury shopping destination with two department stores, rooftop gardens, a boutique hotel and luxury condominiums. In China, they have just completed the design work for Luneng Wen’an winery and resort.

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