The link between opulence and spirituality has been eternal. People need spirituality to appreciate what they have got. The more you gain, the more you need an understanding of life to enjoy it. Otherwise, you always feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied. I was deeply struck when I read last week about a Florida real estate developer and a spiritual institution, who joint hands to help the highly privileged discover their higher purpose in life. This could well be defining the next era of luxury.
Amrit Resort and Residences will be a $500 million resort where the privileged will do their very best to find the real meaning and purpose of life. This project is the direct outcome of real estate developer, Dilip Barot, partnering with the Himalayan Institute, a non-profit organization headquartered in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Founded in 1971, the Institute is highly regarded for its self-transformation programs, spiritual retreats, and humanitarian projects. It offers instruction in yoga, meditation, ayurveda and other eastern disciplines. Now, for the very first time, it is lending its name to a real estate venture. The Amrit Resort and Residences will trade in luxury and spirituality, offering valet parking along with Vedic philosophy. Its purpose is to blend the “inner science of the East with the comforts of the West” – to facilitate the spiritual awakening of the privileged, who’ve discovered that “having it all” is no guarantee of happiness.
As an outpost of the Himalayan Institute, apart from 5-star luxury services and amenities, Amrit will also offer breath training, yoga, nutritional counseling, detoxification programs and seminars on spirituality. The resort will boast a full-service spa operated by Aveda Corp. – the maker of plant-based beauty products and now owned by Estee Lauder Cos.
I am very much in favour of this marriage between luxury and spirituality. Spiritual quest, though often associated with asceticism and renouncing materialistic pleasures, can dovetail with a life of luxury. It is impractical for me to believe that somebody can find inner peace while renouncing physical comforts and pleasure. Constantly living with discomfort, constantly living with shortage, cannot lead us anywhere. The Himalayan Institute, in collaboration with Amrit and Aveda, is setting an example that using worldly means and tools, a human being can lead a happier and healthier life.
I personally believe that inspiring the elite can have a ripple effect on the masses. Captains of industry make first rate humanitarians. Having discovered a sense of community and purpose at a place like Amrit, a lumber magnate might commit to planting a million trees. The head of an offshore drilling company might invest in renewable energy. A pharmaceutical executive might build a hospital in Haiti. A hedge fund manager might build a school in rural India.
Luxury can be a source of happiness, only when you begin to share a tiny bit of your prosperity, a tiny bit of your achievement, with those less fortunate. Only then will your soul respect you. If we can inspire and win the hearts of the rich and privileged, and help them understand the position of the poor and needy, only then will the world be a better place.
In these dark and gloomy times, the luxury industry is still recovering from the economic meltdown. Simply shifting focus from classic markets to new, emerging markets is not enough to make up the consumer-spending shortfall. The theme of the mass commercialization of luxury that perpetuated the last 15 years may need to step back and reevaluate strategy. The original characteristics and brand attributes that created the following of well-heeled luxury consumers were based on individuality, quality, craftsmanship and service. As aspirational consumers are challenged with less disposable income, they will expect more value for their investment. The wealthy consumer will also demand value, but they will become concerned with aspects of bespoke design, quality materials, high levels of service and increased means of expressing individual identity.
To me, the marriage between luxury and spirituality is defining the next era of luxury and a glorious future.
“Remember one thing: that you should not leave this earth unless you have made it a little more beautiful, a little lovelier, a little more loving. To me, this is the only strength, the only power – that we can transform life, we can transform consciousness. Your creativeness will help you to become enlightened, just as enlightenment will bring an explosion of creativity”