By Riley Kaminer
We visited the Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Miami showroom to check out how this Miami startup is making buying a condo as exciting as seeing an IMAX movie
If you’re someone who can afford an apartment at the new Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Miami, which is now likely to cost you a cool eight-figure sum, it is likely difficult to provide you with a unique experience.
Yet a unique experience is exactly what Miami-based Yupix is striving to provide for the Waldorf’s prospective buyers. Even though the developers, Property Markets Group (PMG), just broke ground on the site in October – and buyers would not be able to close on their property until 2027 – the Waldorf has sold almost all of its units.
At Refresh Miami, we’ve covered various metaverse experiences before, including Yupix’s offering when they launched a project to help sell E11EVEN’s residences. But to get the full flavor for Yupix’s offering, I scooted over to the Waldorf’s sales office in Downtown to don an Oculus and see, feel, and smell this immersive experience for myself.
Entering the meta-reality
To an extent, jumping into the Yupix experience involves letting a stranger slap on a digital blindfold in a large, mostly empty showroom. Once the slight disorientation subsided, I felt surprisingly zen in a digital twin of the very room that I was actually in.
The whole experience started with a virtual journey through time, zooming through New York City in the early 1900s to explore the Waldorf Astoria’s origins. Soon enough, we were transported to the beaches of Miami.
My beach chair – which in the real world was a significantly more comfortable leather seat – suddenly shot up into the atmosphere. “Are you afraid of heights?” asked the Yupix employee guiding me on the journey. Before I knew it, I found myself a thousand feet in the air, gliding across the Bay and over to the corner of 3rd and Biscayne, where the 1,049-foot tower will ultimately sit. Once erected, it will be the tallest residential building south of New York City.
Soon, my guide beamed me up to a unit that was almost at the top of this 100-story building. I was able to wander the halls of this decadently spacious sky palace as if I were the owner. Every last detail of the unit was designed with meticulous precision – down to the furniture and luxury bed sheets. It was even possible to turn on the water taps in the bathroom.
I also toured a buzzing bar, known as Peacock Alley in a nod to Waldorf’s New York origins, as well as their elevated pool deck overlooking the Bay. 360-degree views awaited me at every turn, with the Giacometti-inspired building both looming over Miami and existing as an ode to it. And all along the way, fans blew light gusts of sweet perfumes that were each unique to the area we visited.
At its sales office, the Waldorf has already constructed a lifesize replica of a similar unit to the one I saw in the metaverse, which I also toured. But for some reason, the metaverse version almost felt more real – more personal. Hundreds or maybe even thousands of people have likely walked through the mock apartment build-out. But in the moments when I was strapped into the VR headset, my metaverse experience was completely unique and ephemeral: there for me, in that moment, only to disappear the second I returned to reality.
Building a very real business
Eventually, I returned back to reality to speak with Yupix co-founder and COO Alvaro Alesso. He shared that it took a team of 50 people to build this experience for Waldorf – one of several Yupix has going at any given time.
“We get great feedback,” asserted Alesso. “These are high net worth individuals who have seen it all. Yet we’re able to give them something they had never seen, and they’re grateful for that.”
This premium on novelty is high. That’s why Alesso and team, which includes co-founder brothers Patricio and Gonzalo Navarro, are hyper focused on pushing the limits of the technology at their disposal.
Later this year, Yupix plans to start raising a Series A. While some of these funds will go towards putting their experience on more faces, Alesso signaled that Yupix also hopes to launch new products. This includes an XR (extended reality) offering for real estate brokers to enable their clients to explore different neighborhoods, buildings, and units.
The momentum is building for Yupix. Over the last two years, their partners sold around $1.3 billion in real estate each year, with the help of this VR platform. 25,000 people have beamed into a Yupix experience through one of their global ‘arenas,’ which are currently in Bogota, Argentina, and London. The company also does pop-ups and installs arenas in showrooms, like it did for the Waldorf.
“The tech should be invisible,” said Alesso. “It is a necessary evil. We are not a tech company – we are an experience company. What we do best is show the lifestyle of what makes a project unique.”
Of course, innovation is always on Alesso’s mind. “The tech that we have now will be normal in two to three years, so we plan to work hard to continue to be at the forefront and always have the most advanced offering.”
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