Although everyday life has become increasingly unaffordable for almost everyone, a new class of private, members-only and concierge services is emerging.
It’s a great time to be rich in New York City.
Everyday life is increasingly unaffordable for most New Yorkers, but a new class of private, members-only and concierge services is emerging as a kind of gated community within the city.
Ultraexclusive clubs, laundry specialists, on-demand helicopter rides and services that allow users to bid hundreds of dollars for a restaurant reservation are transforming how those with lots of disposable income eat dinner, work out, see the doctor, look after their children, walk their dogs and get around — all without really having to interact with hoi polloi.
It all adds up to a city where the adages about New Yorkers of all backgrounds living and working shoulder to shoulder might now come with an asterisk.
The rich have long sought to avoid the inconveniences baked into city life. But something different is now surfacing. You don’t have to be a billionaire — just one of the city’s many run-of-the-mill rich people — to be able to buy your way into an easier but much narrower version of New York. Even the mayor’s favorite haunt is a members-only club.
Here are some ways that the city’s wealthy are creating a city that is largely accessible only to themselves.
House managers and rotating nannies
Demand for round-the-clock domestic help has surged since 2020, said April Berube, who runs the Wellington Agency, which helps place housekeepers, house managers and other staffers with wealthy families in the New York area — and in their second and third homes or on their yachts.
Ms. Berube said the volume of requests for nearly every kind of service is up dramatically even compared with three or four years ago. The going rate for a housekeeper is about $45 an hour, up from $30 prepandemic, she said, and it is now widely expected that families will offer health insurance and other benefits to staff members.
Keeping track of large staffs and several homes can, of course, be challenging. Some families hire an estate manager or chief of staff to run logistics and scheduling, and an experienced hand can make up to $350,000 a year, Ms. Berube said.
“The pandemic changed so much,” said Anita Rogers, the founder of British American Household Staffing, a domestic staffing agency with a large New York City presence, who has nearly doubled the size of her company in the last few years. “We are very busy.”
Instead of a babysitter working 40 hours during a workweek, Ms. Rogers says she now sees frequent requests for a group of two or three rotating nannies. They might spend four to seven days living with a family before passing the baton to the next nanny and rotating out for a few days. They typically make about $120,000 a year, she said.
Laundry specialists and private chefs
More wealthy New Yorkers are interested in full-time private chefs, according to leaders of private chef companies and domestic staffing agencies. The positions can command salaries of about $150,000 — and cover only lunch and dinner.
Breakfast is often handled by a housekeeper while the chef is out at the market, Ms. Rogers said. Chefs on the hunt for specialty items can use premium delivery services like Regalis Foods, where a $720 live Norwegian red king crab is only a click away.
Families are also increasingly interested in more niche roles, she said, like a laundress — a trained seamstress responsible for all matters related to clothes. An expert laundress might take 30 minutes to fully iron a button-up shirt, she said, and typically makes about $50 or $60 an hour.
While staff members can help handle pets, some New Yorkers prefer to send their dogs on daily hikes, often in wooded upstate areas where pets can run free. A private hike can cost $250 a day through the service Shape Up Your Pup, including a “report card” summarizing the adventure. The occasional group hike goes for $145 a day.
At-home I.V. drips and on-demand emergency rooms
Health — or at least spending a lot of time and money on feeling mentally and physically fit — has become one of the city’s most in-demand luxury products.
Sollis Health, which bills itself as the country’s first and only concierge emergency care provider, opened two Manhattan locations this year alone, and one in the Hamptons in 2021.
Memberships, which start at $3,500 annually and increase to $6,000 for those over 45, include same-day appointments, on-site lab testing and round-the-clock virtual care. House calls cost extra. Sollis is an “out-of-network provider,” according to its website, and is not enrolled in Medicare.
In-home services are also offered by NutriDrip, which offers I.V. vitamin drips aimed at revitalizing tired and stressed New Yorkers. A so-called NutriCleanse drip costs $355 for nonmembers and claims to combat “harmful toxins from urban exposure,” through a combination of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, taurine and other elements. It costs another $100 to book the service at home in Manhattan, or $125 in Brooklyn or Queens. Members who pay $95 a month or $995 a year have access to discounted rates.
Remedy Place opened in Manhattan last year to accommodate New Yorker’s growing interest in expensive forms of physical and psychological healing.Credit…Emon Hassan for The New York Times
Healing through cryotherapy and crystals
Remedy Place, which calls itself “the world’s first social wellness club,” broke ground in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles before opening its first location in New York last year.
A membership at the 7,000-square-foot club can run as much as $2,750 a month and includes unlimited access to a “hyperbaric oxygen chamber, lymphatic compression suit, ice bath breathwork classes, cryotherapy” and a red light bed.
Mental health tuneups can also be found at the Well, where memberships cost $395 to $495 a month and include an assessment by an in-house practitioner to evaluate 13 “aspects of wellness.” Treatments include mindfulness and movement classes along with infrared sauna and cold plunge sessions, an on-site lounge with free bone broth and a “crystal-charged meditation dome.” (Nonmembers can book services at Remedy Place and the Well.)
Remedy Place, the Well and one of Sollis Health’s newest locations are all located within a few blocks of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, and have together created a kind of pricey micro-neighborhood for wellness.
$200,000 initiation fees for private clubs
Zero Bond in NoHo, Mayor Eric Adams’s preferred spot and the site of his 2021 election night victory party, charges $3,850 a year, plus a $1,000 initiation fee, for “general” memberships for 28- to 45-year-olds.
The Aman in New York, which is known as the city’s most expensive hotel, opened in 2022 with an in-house members’ club, which requires a $200,000 initiation fee and $15,000 in annual dues. The interiors are a “sumptuous cocoon of exquisite textures,” according to Town and Country, which likened the vibe to a mix of Bali and Tokyo.
The members-only Core Club recently moved from its headquarters on East 55th Street to Fifth Avenue, with initiation fees that range from $15,000 to $100,000 for a wine library, a speakeasy lounge, a salon, a barbershop, a juice bar and a gym, among other amenities, according to the Robb Report. A spokesman would not confirm any details about the space.
And Casa Tua, which has locations in Miami, Aspen and Paris, will open a restaurant with a private, members-only space at the Surrey, an Upper East Side hotel, early next year.
Carbone in Greenwich Village remains one of the toughest reservations in town. New services have cropped up to allow New Yorkers to bid hundreds of dollars to secure a table.Credit…Daniel Krieger for The New York Times
Heliports and $650 restaurant reservations
Casa Cipriani, which opened in 2021 across 110,000 square feet and five floors at the Battery Maritime Building, is “a social club in a modern sense where style, décor, privacy and respect are still appreciated values,” a spokeswoman said, in response to a query about menu prices and membership wait-lists.
The space includes two restaurants, a 15,000-square-foot health and wellness center, and a 9,000 square foot “great hall” that can accommodate 800 people for parties. The lacquered mahogany interiors recall “an elegant ocean liner” from the 1930s, according to a fact sheet prepared for reporters.
It’s also just a block away from the heliport at Pier 6.
Zip Aviation, a private helicopter service, ferries groups of up to six from the pier to local airports, including Teterboro in New Jersey, the region’s hub for private jets, for $2,050 one way. Zip also flies to the Hamptons, with the priciest trip out to the easternmost point of the East End — Montauk — for $5,000 one way, plus “airport related fees.”
For those willing to eschew private clubs to eat and drink in public, it can feel impossible to get a reservation at some of the city’s most in-demand restaurants.
Those with disposable income can bid for reservations on websites like Appointment Trader and Cita Marketplace.
A recent offering from Cita included a prime time Tuesday evening two-top at Carbone for $450. That restaurant’s owners are opening a members-only club in Manhattan with a $20,000 initiation fee and $10,000 in annual dues, with a private dining room for the club’s “founding members,” who will pay a $50,000 initiation fee, according to Bloomberg, and a chef concierge who can whip up any dish a member craves with 48 hours notice.
Cita also had a table for four available at Polo Bar on a Wednesday night at 5 p.m. for $650.
The reservation prices do not include the cost of the actual meal.