POWER 100: HOSPITALITY & REAL ESTATE
THERE'S NOTHING UNDERSTATED ABOUT VLADISLAV DORONIN
Founder and chairman, Capital Group; owner and chairman, Aman Resorts; chairman and CEO, Oko Group
INTERVIEW BY SPENCER BAILEY
PORTRAIT BY MATTIA BALSAMINI
Vladislav Doronin is no ordinary Russian businessman. Even if the 53-year-old’s fortune has been built largely on real estate, it’s not of the cookie-cutter variety—although his portfolio certainly is gilded; his client base is Russian, after all. For more than two decades, Doronin has pushed successfully to bring international architects to Russia. Now, with his new Oko Group, he’s taking his real estate prowess to America. Doronin is also the owner of Aman, a chain of resorts known for impeccable service and detail-oriented design. Here, we speak with the business magnate about his various projects and generally overstated pursuits.
How many buildings in Moscow have you developed?
Seventy-one, totaling 75 million square feet. And I have almost 27 million square feet of real estate currently under construction.
How did you break into the real estate game in Russia?
I bought a factory. In Moscow, the red directors had decided to build manufacturing in the middle of the city. So when Perestroika started, I told them, “Let’s move the factories.” My company was leading the effort to move all of them out of the city. We had an agreement with the government. It was a lot of work; you’re dealing with pollution and the environment and people and jobs, and taking it all to the countryside outside of Moscow. IBM asked me to build office space for them, so I bought the factory and built an office. This was in 1993. It went very well, and I decided to continue to invest money in real estate. In the beginning, I only did offices and retail, and after a few years, I started to do residential. I managed to bring to Russia all these foreign architecture firms, like SOM. In 2000, when I started to build skyscrapers, I told the city, “Listen, I want to work with American architects, because they have the experience.” I had to really lobby for it. I remember they would tell me, “Why bring in foreign architects? When Russian architects go elsewhere, nobody gives them jobs.” I told them, “If you’re a great architect, it doesn’t matter—you’ll get the job.”
What’s the story behind your sprawling Capital City development in Moscow?
The project was started in 2003. Capital City is two towers: One’s called Moscow, the other St. Petersburg. It’s one million square feet of retail space, offices, and apartments.
Sort of like the Time Warner Center in New York?
Yeah. But my project has 2,500 parking spaces, which is the difference, because in Time Warner doesn’t have so much parking. Per Russian regulations for luxury developments, you have to build per apartment one and a half to two parking spaces. I had to go six floors deep to build these parking spaces—can you believe it?
You have a home in Capital City, correct?
Yes, I own a penthouse there. The Italian architect Massimo Iosa Ghini designed it. I put in a 25-meter pool on one floor. It was challenging to do.