'Members only’. Two words that spell luxury by virtue of their exclusivity. These are places where you are pampered, indulgence is the norm and your desire for privacy and exclusiveness is given utmost importance. Welcome to the world of private clubs. With the new generation of CEOs, decision-makers and start-up captains becoming increasingly younger, these sanctums provide an opportunity for networking, unwinding and a much-desired access to A-list events within India and globally.
Sprawled over 20,000 sq. ft at Mumbai’s Birla Centurion in Worli, is Jolie’s. Founded by 24-year-old Aryaman Vikram Birla, Jolie’s “is an eclectic sanctuary that provides its diverse members suppers, soirees, spectacles and the space to express themselves freely and authentically”, says its website. Jolie’s was inspired by the most exclusive members-only clubs across Europe and the US, such as Annabel’s and Sketch in London and the CORE club in New York.
The club which opened its doors late in October last year is built on the idea of a fictional character by the name of ‘Jolie’, a well-travelled woman who enjoys socialising, networking and believes in living life to the fullest. The space was designed keeping in mind her maximalist way of life.
While Jolie’s was in the making for a few years, the concept evolved once the pandemic hit. “Covid-19 has upended the world. As people look for a safe, hygienic and private place to work, meet and socialise with their close circle, a private-members’ club plays a huge part,” says a spokesperson for Jolie’s.
Jolie’s has a tapas-style European restaurant with a wine bar, a charming deli with a range of craft brews, fresh bakes and coffee selections; and a cigar lounge for connoisseurs. There are also specific areas designed especially for art, music and culture, a party zone, a fully-equipped business centre and an outdoor lounge with a mini-golf turf. Jolie’s is also pet-friendly. At Jolie’s membership is by invite and referrals only. It offers different packages for expats, under-27s, etc., ranging from 1 to 10 years. Membership starts at Rs 3 lakh for one year for individuals under 27. It has a huge reciprocal membership and provides access to over 200 clubs globally.
London-based private club chain Soho House opened its 23rd club in Mumbai a couple of years ago. “Mumbai has a rich cultural heritage with diverse ethnicities, cultures, religions and backgrounds. Our international members had been asking for a House in Mumbai. There’s a big creative scene here and that has added a lot to the Soho House community around the world,” says a spokesperson. The club, considered an inspiring space for working creatives, has a very young membership with nearly 46 per cent below 35.
They also have a special membership for under-27s and that makes up 30 per cent. Membership at Soho House Mumbai starts from Rs 67,260, and goes all the way up to Rs 2.67 lakh a year. Soho House is currently present in 14 countries and members can use facilities at all the Houses across the globe. “It was in 2017 in LA when I first visited the West Hollywood House with some friends and fell in love with it. It had the perfect community, the energy, the overall setup and then some!” says Apeksha Agarwal, a Mumbai-based fashion and beauty photographer. Agarwal has visited Soho Houses in London, Miami, New York and LA, and enjoys events organised by Soho House Mumbai. Recently, there was a fashion talk with Gaurav Gupta and Anaita Shroff Adajania. Soho House also conducts art walks and screenings of films. It has a film club where members can interact with directors. Members have access to the gym, rooftop pool and library.
Then there is The Quorum, a Gurugram- and Mumbai-based club. “The Quorum was born out of the idea to create a quintessential ‘third space’. Inspired by the global renaissance in the members’ club industry, we wanted a creatively designed space that caters to a diverse community of like-minded folks,” says Founder and CEO Vivek Narain, adding that the club is planning to expand to two more cities over the next couple of years. While The Quorum’s members are ideally aged between 35 and 55 years, they have recently seen an upswing in the below-30 and below-35 age groups. “We have never had to really work to strike a gender balance… Over the years we’ve seen an equal number of men and women, across industries and profiles,” says Narain. The Quorum membership committee looks for discerning individuals with a global sensibility, who are front runners in their fields. “For us, your background isn’t as important as the future you want to create; and that truly encapsulates our vibe,” says Narain.
On their 50th wedding anniversary, Anita and Kamal Meattle, Chairman Emeritus of Paharpur Business Centre, wanted to do something special for their children and gifted them membership of The Chambers, the Taj Mahal Hotels’ exclusive business club. Over the years in its corridors of power, captains of industry rubbed shoulders with diplomats, lawyers and the like. But now as it seeks to draw younger blood, it has undergone a transformation. The Chambers at Taj Mahal New Delhi opened in a whole new swankier avatar last year. It is now spread over two floors, has a members-only restaurant serving European food, a new stylish bar with a display of hand-picked offerings, a cigar lounge with a limited-edition selection, a Stefano Ricci-designed meeting room (plus six others), dinnerware from Bernardaud, glassware from Riedel, and similar elements that connote luxury. And, symbolic of the new luxury befitting our times, a new Swedish air purification system. “The Chambers has undergone a transformation to meet the aspirations of the younger, bolder generation of entrepreneurs and creative minds across business, science and arts. The central tenets of privacy, exclusivity and the propensity for plush décor remain,” says Satyajeet Krishnan, Area Director and General Manager of Taj Mahal New Delhi. Membership starts at Rs 20 lakh and can be passed on to one’s children. The Chambers is now available at eight destinations, with the latest one at The Taj St. James’ Court in London.
As a new generation of start-up entrepreneurs, next-gen business family scions and young professionals look for a space to ‘chill’ with like-minded people, new-age private clubs come to their aid.
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