Erica Feidner, 56, a former concert pianist and salesperson for Steinway, loves hanging out in the wine tasting room, lounging in the library or even attempting a bit of yoga in the studio at her building at 21 West End on the Upper West Side. But one perk stands above the rest: In January, the luxury rental started offering free virtual sessions with Dina Berrin, a life coach and manifestation teacher, specializing in tarot, astrology and “practiced intuition.”
“I’ve had a host of health issues and other challenges and wanted to make changes, so I decided to sign up,” said Feidner.
Berrin’s weekly Zoom workshops, which cover different self-help topics such as the power of meditation and using affirmations to boost confidence, have improved her sense of self-worth, said Feidner.
“Dina has helped me realize that even though I am going through a hard time, at the core of it all, I am fabulous,” she said. “I feel brighter and happier.”
Forget concierges, top-of-the-line gyms, golf simulators and other de rigueur amenities. These days, top towers are setting themselves apart with access to un-run-of-the-mill in-house experts, ranging from sommeliers and librarians to farmers- and yes, even manifestation teachers.
In the saturated market of luxury properties, the advent of these experts isn’t surprising, said global real estate consultant Neil Sroka.
“Renters and buyers today have so much inventory to pick from, and real estate companies are constantly trying to find ways to win them over,” he said. “A few years ago, that used to mean tapping celebrity chefs and having fancy dining rooms and common areas. Now, it’s having people with niche skills that you don’t typically find in residential settings.”
Below is a look at a few of the masters, connoisseurs and ultra-specialized staffers that are here to solve your most niche dilemmas and demands.
Forget shelling out money on fancy flower arrangements. Waterline Square, located at 30 Riverside Boulevard on the Upper West Side, has a resident florist. Local flower shop owner Shula Weiner teaches condo owners (a unit at the building is currently in contract for $18 million) how to create picture-worthy designs on their own.
In addition to creating arrangements for the building’s public spaces, Weiner hosts Zoom and outdoor classes on floral design. The March session, for example, will cover spring flowers such as daffodils and tulips.
She describes herself as a florist on speed dial.
“Residents text me pictures of their arrangements and ask me how they can look better or what they need to do to make it last longer,” she said. “They can also drop off their plants to have them repotted or come in for a quick lesson on a particular flower or plant.”
Brian Feinstein, 48, a composer for musicals, attended Weiner’s January Zoom session on using flowers and plants to decorate your home.
“I learned how placement can impact aesthetics,” he said. “I used to group everything together, and now I let each flower or plant stand on its own. My apartment is greener and more breathable because of her help.”
It may sound chi-zy, but The Park Loggia, on the Upper West Side, tapped feng shui master Debra Duneier to increase flow.
“In feng shui, we look for water and mountain energy, and when you’re walking into a home or building, you want water because it’s a symbol of prosperity,” said Duneier, who is the founder and president of EcoChi, a wellness-focused interior design firm.
Duneier also selected artworks for the building — for example, a totem pole-like sculpture with cascading water and rounded edges that resemble jade leaves — and gave suggestions on the most auspicious ways to arrange furniture with art.
She’s even working with residents at a discount to give their tony homes — which range in price from $1.3 million for a studio to $9.2 million for a three-bedroom penthouse — a feng shui zhoosh.
Her advice, as once told to her by a master of traditional Chinese medicine in Hong Kong: “You have a gift. Do not waste it.”
Here’s a chance to channel your inner bookworm: Acqualina in Sunny Isles, Fla. has a full-time librarian, Claudia Gais, who is in charge of the tower’s Bedside Reading program for children and adults. She also visits residents in their homes (which cost between $4.2 million and $59 million) to help them build their own book collections or organize their existing ones.
“We want to encourage old-fashioned reading,” she said.
Other aspects of the program include a monthly book club for grown-ups with live and virtual meetings (residents get the book for free) and a monthly newsletter with suggestions for the newest books in different genres, all of which are downloadable on Acqualina’s app.
Then there are the regular story time hours for children, often with the author of the books, as well as an accompanying craft project.
“Sometimes, Claudia has them right before bedtime, and the kids go in their pajamas,” said Lacey Grutman, 36, a stay-at-home mother, who has attended these readings with her two young children. “They’re entertaining for my kids and also for me.”
On cloud wine
The stunning Art Deco conversion of One Hundred Barclay in Lower Manhattan debuted in 2015 with a wine tasting room, 54 wine lockers and apartments with wine fridges.
Naturally, an in-house sommelier, Shane Benson, had to come next. As the owner of New York Vintners, a wine store that specializes in education, Benson said that his role at the building isn’t at all about pushing pricey magnums of Burgundy on loaded residents — who can pay anywhere from $4.4 million up to $12.5 million for units.
“I care about teaching residents, whether they’re serious oenophiles or newbie drinkers, whatever they want to know about wine,” he said.
In Benson’s world, that means free tastings and frequent classes, both via Zoom and in-person, on wine. He also sources rare bottles for tenants (a $15,000 Domaine Romanée-Conti is the record high), delivers bottles himself and builds collections, even if that means a dozen bottles for $200 or less.
Keeping it reel
The Silo Ridge Field Club, a luxury golfing community in the Hudson Valley developed by Casamigos Spirits creator Mike Meldman, is helping their buyers transition from Brooks Brothers to overalls by staffing fly-fishing expert and a farmer.
Residents who prefer to catch their supper meet with Marc Hussey, who describes fly fishing as “a relaxing activity” that’s “a total immersion in nature.” He offers half- and full-day excursions to rivers around the development that are replete with trout and bass. Silo Ridge also has 5 acres of fly-fishing ponds onsite.
For the “Green Acres” experience, owners can spend time with farmer Sandra LaPlace, who manages the 2 acres of fertile fields on the property that grow 70 kinds of vegetables, herbs and fruits. She also has 35 egg laying hens. Home owners — who include names like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen — have the option to carve out their own 10-square-foot plot, which LaPlace helps them manage.
Pricing starts at $2.5 million for condos, homes and lots.
“They can plant their favorite fruits and veggies, and my job is to oversee the maintenance and work them on weeding,” she said. “The real fun comes when it’s time to pick and taste what they’ve grown.”