The super-rich “clutter” the French Riviera with luxury superyachts
It was a summer of mega yachting around the Mediterranean for the first percent; Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck sailed the French Riviera in France, Julia Roberts headed for the Amalfi Coast in Italy, while Robbie Williams and his family sailed the crystal clear waters of the Turkish Peninsula. With the post-Covid back-to-office push underway in the UK, for the uber-rich and ready to travel, it’s a whole different story.
There are currently more super yachts than ever in the Mediterranean, according to Bloomberg research; the French Riviera is crowded with luxury ships, while in Italy (where Paris Hilton and Kendall Jenner chartered boats) accommodation rates are 30% higher than last year.
On a trip on her own boat last week, Caroline Carminati, whose Cannes concierge company Xanadu organizes yachts, restaurants and hotels for stars (Cxanadu.com), said it wasn’t the opulence of the surrounding super yachts that came as a surprise, but the age of their occupants. “They were so young – people in their twenties,” she said.
In the quieter eastern Mediterranean, Croatia, Turkey, Montenegro, and Greece also became popular hot spots because traditional honey pots from Amalfi and southern France were overflowing.
“Greece and Croatia have been the most popular destination for our clients,” confirmed Henry Smith, Partner and Director of Cecilwright.com Yacht Brokers.
Montenegro, meanwhile, saw a 41% increase in the number of yachts. Indeed “billionaires have rediscovered their habits on the coast”, according to a Cannes hotelier, where the occupancy rate of the best hotels would be set for its best season to date.
Luxury travel consultant Julia Perowne (Perowneinternational.com) compares the super rich’s current appetite for vacation spending to that of the Roaring Twenties; average spending rose 50 to 100 percent at Europe’s top hotels, she said, with people dressing for dinner and buying expensive champagne and spa treatments. “People have an absolute desire for glamor,” she says.
Whether on land or at sea, returning to offices or brick-and-mortar schools is always off the menu for those who continue the party during shoulder season. Creating a five-star floating hotel (J-Lo had a 20-foot pool) costs more than £ 375,000 (A 697,500) per week, but the super rich – after 18 months of travel restrictions in the event of a pandemic – are more than happy to pay top dollar for the perfect break.
“If you’re on a boat with a beach club, nightclub, professional DJ, gym, spa, pool, and cinema, you don’t really need to go ashore,” explained Smith, who says his business was inundated. all summer.
“And that is precisely what many of our customers have chosen to do.”
On the water, bubbling with friends and family on a boat with a helipad, the rich and famous have space, flexibility and privacy – all of which have been priorities since the pandemic, says Smith .
“Once the PCR test is done, you can arrive by helicopter, climb aboard and totally relax with a regularly tested crew,” he explains.
Hairdressers, private tutors (especially now the tenure has resumed), personal trainers and, in the case of Russian clients, crates of caviar, may be carried on the ship at short notice, while the chef on board will create daily menus to rival any restaurant ashore. .
As a result of this new wave of interest, sales of used yachts are booming – the vessel chartered by J-Lo was recently on the market for $ 130 million – and yards are booked. At a shipyard in the Netherlands, workers rush to complete Jeff Bezos’ new giga yacht, a custom-built 400-foot vessel that is expected to cost more than $ 500 million.
The problem with yachts, says Perowne, is that you can never have a big enough one. For many wealthy clients, an ultra-secluded private home in decadent seaside gardens was more appealing. Plus you could still do what Elton does and take your friends on a super yacht for the day (for £ 10,000).
“A villa is suitable for those who prefer to be discreet about how they spend their money in the wake of the pandemic,” she says. “Getting around has become such a problem that people are booking for a lot longer than before – two months rather than two weeks. They want to come to a beautiful place and settle down.”
The Villa Sainte Anne, a fully equipped five-bedroom villa belonging to the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Cap d’Antibes, which launched in June this summer at £ 13,000 per night, was immediately booked through October. Meanwhile, around St Tropez, the best homes – those surrounded by their own palm-fringed gardens, near beach clubs such as Club 55 – are booked for the next two summers.
Edward Marquis, who runs his own concierge business for celebrities, royalty and the super rich in St Tropez (sttropezluxury.com), says it has been his best season, with guests spending up to £ 120,000 a week for houses. “The problem is, we don’t have any cooks anymore. Everyone wants a private chef, as well as a masseur and someone who does the nails.”
A very wealthy client, who preferred not to be named, hired a yoga teacher six hours a day for the duration of her six week stay in one of the most expensive villas in Saint-Tropez, in case the one of his guests would feel uncomfortable. She also secured a fleet of limos to wait in the aisle if they wanted to go shopping. “We came here to have fun and we don’t want any problems,” she explains.
Indeed, the fervor of the most coveted beach clubs in the Mediterranean is such that the super rich send their team of concierges on site in advance to ensure that there will be enough space around the table.
This summer’s great comeback to the Mediterranean would not have been possible without private jet travel, as there is no chance, especially under the current circumstances and Red List restrictions, that the British, Europeans and the richest Americans travel by commercial aircraft. Instead, they bypass the lines at the airport (and the risk of contracting Covid) by using their own planes or by signing up to one of the private jet clubs, which handles testing and l administration of Covid.
“NetJets and Vista Jets are having the best year,” says Perowne. “They don’t just send people to Europe, they also go to Africa.”
As temperatures start to cool across the Mediterranean later this month, it will be interesting to see where the super rich jet heads. There is a growing appetite for adventure, according to Perowne, with wealthy travelers booking tailor-made African safaris and luxury trips across Europe.
“Given the difficulties of long-haul air travel, UHNWIs (very wealthy people) dust off their beautiful cars and take them on the road with like-minded friends,” admits Luis Contreras, owner of the five-star hotel group. Sereno Hotels, whose car parks have looked like a contest of elegance all summer long.
They’re even dabbling in UK stays now that the rest of us are back in the office – private estates and five-star hotels in the Lake District and Scotland are enjoying a record fall in bookings.
St Barth in the Caribbean. Photo: iStock
The Caribbean, where most mega-yachts spend the European winter, is the obvious next step, however. Jumby Bay, where Piers Morgan recently vacationed with his sons, is full until March 2022, even though the best suites cost US $ 3,334 per night, and it’s nearly impossible to get a five-star villa in St Barth before May.
“People are determined to move away,” Perowne says. “They go – and they spend.”
The Telegraph, London