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From Board Room to Boat Dock: A Look at Gigi Ganatra-Duff’s Recent Ventures

Lionheart Capital, the developers behind The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach hired marketing veteran and style aficionado Gigi Ganatra-Duff to artfully lead the marketing, brand development and creative for the firm’s luxury portfolio.

The elegant design of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, a secluded luxury development nestled on the shores of the private side of Miami Beach, creates a unique waterfront oasis within a tranquil residential community. The first full-scale architectural project in the United States for celebrated Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the expansive seven-acre property is a development unlike any other with panoramic views of the calming water and lush gardens, in addition to both the Miami and the Miami Beach skyline.

Designed to feel like a family-style village, the property consists of 111 condominium residences and a limited collection of 15 stand-alone villa residences. Each resident will have access to world-class resort amenities and hotel-style concierge services managed through the world’s leading hospitality brand, The Ritz-Carlton. Residences range from $2 million to $40 million.

Residents will enjoy Lissoni-designed Boffi kitchens and baths as well as exclusive amenities, including: an on-site captained VanDutch 40-foot day yacht, a 36-slip marina, the world’s first residential art studio, a private cinema-style screening room, an indoor-outdoor spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a half-acre rooftop pool deck with cabanas and resident-only gourmet restaurant, pet grooming facilities, indoor and outdoor yoga studios, a meditation garden, carwash facilities, and a waterfront bar and social room.

Earlier this summer, Lionheart Capital, the Miami-based global real estate development and capital investment firm, and the developers behind The Ritz-Carlton Residences Miami Beach hired marketing veteran and style aficionado Gigi Ganatra-Duff as the new Chief Marketing Officer to artfully lead the marketing and sales strategy, brand development and creative for the firm’s luxury portfolio.

We recently sat down with Gigi to discuss the company’s latest project in the exclusive Mid-Beach neighborhood and her beginnings in the real estate and luxury lifestyle industry.

Welcome back to Miami. Can you share a little bit about your background and how you got started in the real estate and luxury lifestyle industry?

I’ve always been connected to the luxury industry. After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Michigan, I attended the Parsons School of Design while interning for Donna Karan. To help pay for my tuition, I started freelancing with various luxury brands. As my freelancing business took off, I started a PR and events business to support my luxury clients.

After successfully growing my business, I was acquired by a large marketing conglomerate and decided to take the opportunity to try something new. I moved to Miami Beach to open the Miami office for Gen Art, a non-profit art organization that supports emerging fashion designers, filmmakers, musicians and artists. Part of my role as Managing Director was fundraising. At this time, Miami was going through a huge real estate boom and a lot of the developers were interested in partnering with us to generate awareness of their developments and to bring a “cool factor.”

That was when I discovered my passion for real estate. I saw how creative and exciting it could be. Soon after, I accepted a position with Terra Group, a Miami real estate development company and helped to market several of their downtown Miami projects. When the economic downturn of 2006 hit I got out of real estate and took on the role of Managing Director of Harrison & Shriftman’s Miami office, expanding their luxury portfolio which included brands such as Chloe, Cartier, St. Regis, W South Beach, Veuve Clicquot, Grey Goose and more.

You have fantastic style. How important is fashion to you and what are some of your favorite brands?

Fashion is the way we express ourselves. One of my favorite fashion experiences in Miami was working with the team who founded the Webster. They were brilliant, creative and took a curated approach of presenting the best of the best in high end fashion in a beautifully designed space. The Webster is globally recognized as one of the best boutique experiences in fashion today. They pushed me to experiment with my personal style and try brands I never would have before. Many of the brands I love started with my love for The Webster such as Celine, Balenciaga, Chanel, YSL, and Tom Ford.

When I was with Harrison & Shriftman, our agency was hired to manage all the local media for the Chanel 2009 Cruise collection. I was honored to work with Karl Lagerfield and his team. It’s one of my most memorable fashion experiences. I love attending fashion shows. I find them incredibly inspiring and the energy is always exciting. My very first fashion show was the Marc Jacobs show in the Puck building in NYC in I think 98′. But nothing beats a Chanel show in Paris.

Fashion has always been a part of my life. It’s the experience that draws you into the brand and creates those kinds of long lasting memories.

What is your view on the fashion landscape of Miami? Where do you see it heading?

I’ve always thought of Miami as “The Riviera of the United States,” especially to South Americans and Europeans. It’s a global city and The Webster was really a catalyst in regards to bringing attention and reinvigorating the fashion scene here. Miami’s fashion scene is very vibrant. The late 80’s and early 90’s were an exciting time for the city with Gianni Versace and Madonna. Now we’re experiencing a different kind of resurgence.

The Design District has proven to be an incredible platform for globally recognized brands to create a consumer experience that enhances their brand identity through design and architecture. Craig Robbins is a visionary and has created something very special in this neighborhood. When you walk through the Design District, each building looks different than the other because each brand had a hand in creating the architecture and design of their space. It’s very unique.

Let’s discuss your recent Lionheart Capital project: The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach. A lot of attention is being brought to Miami’s mid-beach area. What does the development consist of and how will it change the game of luxury living?

I think people are looking for homes that are individual and have personality; very similar to what New York has in that every building is different and adaptive. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Miami. In the past, Miami has been very cookie-cutter in terms of residential development. It’s tower- after tower- after tower. The Ritz-Carlton Residences Miami Beach is not that. It’s one of the only new projects in Miami Beach that is an adaptive re-use and has its own identity and history.

Each residence is slightly different with its own allure and mystery. As a home owner, you don’t want the same home as everyone else. Would you want to go to a party wearing the same dress as someone else. Why would you want the same in a home?

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach has more than 60 unique floorplans. It is anything but cookie cutter and is so much more interesting.

At Lionheart Capital, we envision what most people don’t. It doesn’t interest us to build and do what everyone else is doing. We look to create interesting projects because we want interesting people to live there.

The property will be one of 10 Ritz-Carlton stand-alone residences in the world. Tell us more about working with the world’s leading luxury hospitality brand and the services that will be available through them.

I’ve always been very aware of The Ritz-Carlton brand as I have a lot of experience in luxury hospitality. I spent several years at Starwood Hotels as the head of global communications for the St. Regis and The Luxury Collection, and The Ritz-Carlton was one of our competitors. It’s wonderful now to work with them as a partner and be a part of the growth of their next phase: the residence-only product.

So who are these “interesting” people that you want to attract to the property? And why should they live there?

We are attracting a global affluent tribe of buyers who know The Ritz-Carlton brand and are loyal to it. We’re also attracting the insiders who know Miami well and are looking for an escape of the traditional locations that tend to be very touristy.

In real estate it’s all about location and the Mid-Beach neighborhood is one of the greatest attributes of living at The Residences because it’s very quiet, private and safe. Residents are only two minutes away from SoHo Beach House, 10 minutes from the airport, 5 minutes from the beach and 10 minutes from a Whole Foods. A private oasis, that’s close to everything. Not to mention the five-star, resort-style amenities. Who doesn’t want to live in your own private resort on Miami Beach?

Read more via Women’s Wear Daily: From Board Room to Boat Dock: A Look at Gigi Ganatra-Duff’s Recent Ventures