There has always been an element of escapism when it comes to ultra-luxury travel. And it has never been more important than in the midst of the global pandemic. A voyage by superyacht, be it privately owned or by charter, is the ultimate escape.
Explorer yachts with their increased range also allow for disappearing into untold hedonism, for months at a time, to the most remote destinations on Earth—perhaps to return to a better world.
Even prior to the current situation, there proved an uptick in demand for long-range yachts of unparalleled design and comfort. As an alternative to ownership, superyacht and explorer yacht charters allow for completely bespoke experiences, catering to every possible whim. Small wonder the affluent increasingly resort to life aboard their own private lido deck, skirting air travel restrictions into the bargain.
This year offers more opportunities than ever to do so in the best style. Most importantly, Cala del Forte in Ventimiglia, Italy soft-launched last fall as one of the region’s most advanced and secure ports, the gleaming future of superyachts on the Mediterranean. A mere 15 minutes from Monaco (7.9 nautical miles), the new state-of-the-art marina is owned by Monaco Ports, adding 178-berths to acclaimed sister properties Port Hercule and Port of Fontvieille.
Last October, the classic sailing yacht Tuiga, flagship of the Yacht Club de Monaco, swanned into Cala del Forte from the principality, and was first to dock at the Molo d’Onore berth. The historic yacht’s auspicious entry marks a symbolic curtain-raiser in advance of the marina’s upcoming inauguration, set to take place in July. Along with accommodations for superyachts up to 230 feet, the multimillion-euro facility also hosts an expansive shipyard dock, 35 upscale boutiques, boat brokerages, and five-star restaurants.
Enhanced security is vital, with multimillion-dollar vessels under 24/7 watch by security officers and closed-circuit camera surveillance, and an underground fortress for over 577 parked vehicles (expect a heavy percentage of Rolls-Royces). Cala del Forte is accessed through a highly-controlled entrance by land, showcasing a picturesque promenade.
While docked, owners can explore farmer’s markets, an award-winning gelateria, and a myriad of fine wine purveyors poised to restock those onboard cellars. If celebrity spotting seems more thrilling than stingray-stalking, St. Tropez is the classic see-and-be-seen, a beloved destination for yacht-loving socialites.
A-list stars past and present, from Brigitte Bardot to Leonardo DiCaprio, have frolicked on many an aft deck here. The most glamorous marina in the world, a veritable catwalk of designer superyachts, Port de Saint-Tropez has a capacity of 734 moorings on an area of 22 acres in the heart of the village. High fashion thrives here; imagine more monogrammed Charvet shirts and Vuitton trunks than you can shake a swizzle stick at.
A freshly launched flagship of the IYC charter fleet, Tatiana would surely turn immaculately-coiffed heads in Monaco and St. Tropez. With her low-slung superstructure, she slouches like a supermodel on sativa; the platinum blonde offers up a bounty of enviable assets. At 263 feet, she’s adorned with luxury accoutrements expected of a vessel this size: steam room, fully equipped gym, cinema suite, alfresco bar-lounge, jacuzzi, and an impressively-scaled swimming pool. Macassar ebony, marble, and eucalyptus make for a refined interior palette.
A large aft deck bathing platform and tender garage house an appealing array of water toys, hyper-neatly arranged as if by Marie Kondo herself, ready to deliver joy to the high seas. Accommodating 12 guests across eight cabins, she carries a crew of 20 for seamless service. Given social distancing, yachting voyages prove the ultimate social “power flex”, signaling your true inner circle. These days, an invite onto Tatiana’s tender may signify more than stock options.
For those thirsty for bragging rights on being first to a trending new hotspot, Canouan recently unveiled a new marina capable of welcoming superyachts to these uncharted shores. The pearl of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canouan offers an elusive retreat asyet undiscovered by the usual suspects.
This svelte archipelago boasts the leggiest stretches of icing sugar sand you’ll ever see. This verdant isle lies just 12 miles south of the elite enclave of Mustique, a major selling point for yacht and lifestyle insiders. You’ll find no jostle of industry or agriculture on Canouan—just an evergreen kiss of lush land on a pristine sea.
On the south-western tip of the reef-encircled island, Sandy Lane Yacht Club & Residences—from the brain trust behind Barbados’ legendary Sandy Lane resort—recently debuted lavish facilities poised to host superyachts and their lifestyle aficionado owners. The fully serviced marina offers 120 berths able to accommodate superyachts up to 328 feet in length.
Magnus Lewin, British Virgin Islands-based CEO of TradeWinds, a company dedicated to high-luxury sailing excursions, was so compelled by Canouan’s potential that he has decided to berth his company’s new yacht at this latest prestige port.
“We now have incredible facilities at a location where previously only very basic facilities were available,” he tells us, “including the runway of the airport, big enough to accommodate a Boeing 737.”
The new vessel will be christened Turquoise Dreams II, in honor of the very first boat that launched the TradeWinds fleet 23 years ago. On the metrics that led him to venture into the superyacht space, Lewin remarks, “It is clear that our customers are looking for ever-more luxurious and high-end experiences, making it clear that we are heading in the right direction by investing in the biggest and most luxurious vessel to date.”
Looking to escape the Eastern Seaboard, but too burned out to venture far? Meet the glittering marina lighting up the mid-Atlantic. Overlooking Hamilton Harbor, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club’s 60-berth Princess Marina is primed to host superyachts spanning up to 500 feet.
The hotel, which was renovated in 2016, originally opened in 1885 and is known as the “Grand Dame of Bermuda.” The full-service hotel marina offers integrated pump-out facilities, custom-metered electric service, and gourmet catering. The marina concierge welcomes global travelers, arranging room service or scheduling onboard spa massages.
Across the island at St. George’s Marina, Bermuda Yacht Services can fulfill just about every nautical need imaginable. Along with custom berthing and mooring assistance island-wide, they can also aid in pre-clearance, visas, guest and crew transfers, fueling, and provisions. The marina lies near the much buzzed-about St. Regis Bermuda Resort in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Town of St. George.
The soon to open five-star oceanfront hotel will be home to a Robert Trent Jones designed 18-hole golf course and a signature St. Regis Bar. Remnants of Fort Albert will be reborn as a world-class spa, treatment rooms tucked into former cannon wells. A facial certainly worth a tender ride in, for the feelgood endorphins alone.
Sail Bermuda’s spellbinding coastline, simply made for leisure and love. By day, sunlight sparkles on a jewel box of shades in the sea—turquoise and aquamarine in the shallows, jade and amethyst in deeper waters. Here, it’s all about salt water; the multitude of shades leaves an indelible impression on sailors and artists alike. By night, the tide turns translucent on diamond dust-fine pink sand, sea meeting shore luminous and inseparable.
To manifest a mutiny from the mundane, steer your ship to where sapphire waves sweep the feet of emerald mountains, fringed by black caviar-like sand. Tahiti, the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, epitomizes the far-flung tropical escape in our view.
Despite raw beauty and bounty, Tahiti is well equipped to cater to international guests arriving by sea. Superyachts of any size moor at Marina de Papeete or, ten minutes away at Marina Taina, yachts up to 196 ft. may sail to safe berth. World-class dive sites remain a draw; Marado off Tahiti Iti thrives with a Willy Wonka wonderland of technicolor tropical sea creatures. Cruise to the closest island to Tahiti, Mo’orea, to swim with manta rays in deserted lagoons.
Like a scene stolen from Gauguin’s sketchbook, Bora Bora remains a perennial haven for couples who are loaded and in love, or trying to recapture love. Picture jaw-dropping views with every turn of the stern, and volcanic ridges chiseled by the teeth of the South Pacific. A new generation of purpose-built explorer yachts is ideal for such waters. This standard of long-distance offshore cruising in complete autonomy has never been an option, until now.
Innovated to attract a progressive and prodigious clientele, Dutch design studio Vripack recently unveiled its latest coup, the 216-foot superyacht concept Futura [see sidebar]. A fully fossil-fuel-free proposal, her design draws intelligence from nature, mimicking wildlife’s inherent ability to propel through water with an expedient expenditure of energy.
A drone’s eye view reveals a sophisticated cocoon-like superstructure and streamlined bow, echoing the elongated curves of a whale. The future-forward design takes glass to the next level, decadently exploiting all the material has to offer. A cross-hatched diamond effect is reminiscent of the iridescent scales of the priceless Platinum Arowana fish.
Futura is both supermodel-slender and superintendent-efficient, curvaceous lines drawing from a confluence of organic shapes. “We’re always studying new ways to create, and this geodesic dome allows us to create shapes which remind us of fish scales,” as Marnix J. Hoekstra, Co-Creative Director and Partner at Vripack, tells us. “Nothing else could have been more fitting to create sex appeal with a natural shape derived from the sea.”
A radical departure from a traditional deck setup, she is a “split and merge” concept with a loft-style mezzanine, blurring the boundaries between exterior and interior, upstairs and downstairs. According to Vripack, Futura is outfitted with the latest in electric/diesel hybrid superyacht technology, primed to reach a maximum speed of 16 knots and cruising at a respectable 12 knots.
Capable of holding 100,000 liters of fuel, she can run solely on biofuel made from renewable raw materials such as used cooking oil, and possesses bio-based batteries constructed from natural materials such as salt, sand, water, and plants. The battery bank is charged by a clever kite on an electric winch, deployed at the touch of a button, and fully biodegradable.
Remote expeditions in high luxury also served as inspiration behind Nzuri, Kyron Design’s new concept. This 230-foot explorer yacht will feature a fully-equipped exploration equipment room, an estimated maximum speed of 22 knots, and range of 4,000 nautical miles when built. The main deck makes a statement with chic bar and entertainment areas, sprawling enough to house a pair of self-driving Audi AI: TRAIL Quattro EVs, in the pipeline for the German marque. Two tenders loaded with six jet skis each await, for sun-kissed days when you want to give off-roading a rest.
Kyron Cooper, Creative Director and Naval Architect at Kyron Design, set out to create a yacht that reflects the ambition of its potential owner. As a marine engineer with a structural engineering background, a third mate (unlimited tonnage), a former U.S. Jones Act shipbuilder, and a native Bahamian, he was able to create a validated design, leading from an informed position.
“I believe strongly in humanity, sustainability, and our planet,” he tells us. “I think anyone who has that same respect for the environment and a sustainable future would love this design. I’ve always wanted to push the limitations on how we can use various materials in our designs. I prefer designs that are manipulative as I myself think of life that way. Nzuri had to have different elements because of the basis of her ethnicity. She speaks for a great many people in need of inspiration for forging ahead, and for a design character that represents experimentation, innovation and speculation.”
With the launch of the new Cala del Forte, along with the Princess Marina, and the Sandy Lane Yacht Club, marina culture hits opulent new heights Onassis himself would marvel at. Certainly, concept yachts like Futura and Nzuri are rising to meet this appetite for style, substance, and enduro performance, heralding a new age of seven-star luxury on the high seas.
On to the Future
Futura Designer Robin de Vries on one of the coolest new yacht concepts
“Our design approach is governed by a playful interaction between beauty and function, intuition and intelligence, proportion and performance,” says Robin de Vries, a senior designer at Dutch studio Vripack which produced the 216-ft. Futura yacht concept. “Because of our holistic experience and approach, we know exactly how to achieve the perfect balance.”
Counter-intuitively, he doesn’t prefer to begin with a blank slate. “Carte blanche isn’t actually fun at all,” he explains. “When a client gives me a design brief which asks for a mansion to be incorporated in a single story studio is where my creativity starts to spark.” Futura is a floating mansion to be sure; standout features include a dining table large enough to seat 20, a DJ booth surveying the upper deck observation area, a helipad, a spacious swimming pool, and whirlpool located forward.
When marveling at how he was able to achieve all this at a third of the height of a comparable 200-ft.-plus superyacht, he clarifies, “Here I give credit to our naval architecture team which made that happen. Me and my team had the vision which they made into reality by creating the hybrid drive train and subsequent engine room with a lower air draft.”
He explains further, “With that single puzzle piece, I could continue with a split level architecture which results in the extreme low height and subsequent dramatic look of her.” The reductive approach to Futura’s design gives her an otherworldly silhouette. “The prime shape is derived from the low profile body, or hull as we call it, which carries this whale like superstructure,” de Vries observes. “To emphasize her relation with nature, we opted for a never seen before full glass geodesic dome that looks like it’s made of fish scales. Completed with this shark grey color she looks like a creature riding the seas.”
As a designer, is he driven to deliver on a higher purpose—perhaps a significance or meaning—beyond simply a slick expression of prosperity? “One hundred percent yes. I always want to make sure my designs are exceptionally safe and durable offering a strong rational, sensory and emotional appeal.”