Monday, September 29, 2008

Meet the Mandarin

When the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, a $300 million luxury hotel and residential complex, opens next week, the city will see an overt expression of wealth like it's never seen before - and something that seems immune to the financial crisis bedeviling most Americans. It's not only an entirely new level of opulence in luxury housing, but also a manifestation of a profound change in the way this city expresses its wealth.

The least expensive of Mandarin Oriental's 49 condominiums runs $2 million; the priciest is $14 million. All sold when they were but a glint in the developers' eyes, to buyers who saw nothing more than floor plans. The residences are like 49 urban versions of Weston mansions that somehow fit into two 14-story towers that rise above the hotel and a retail arcade. The developers, Robin A. Brown and Stephen R. Weiner, believe that the arrival of Mandarin Oriental - a fixture in such cities as New York, Geneva, London, and Tokyo - is a sign that Boston has hit the big time.

"We're right in with the major cities of the world," Brown said during an exclusive tour of the 490-foot-long complex before he hands over the keys to the new owners.