#1: How to snap up a su­per­luxe su­per-yacht

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

I’m at Nice Cote d’Azur Air­port, queu­ing for a he­li­copter, when there’s a ker­fuf­fle in front of me. Aflus­ter, an im­pec­ca­bly dressed man be­gins to pluck pur­ple slips of pa­per from the ground like a chicken peck­ing corn. It tran­spires that a tightly pressed wad of €500 notes in his hand had sud­denly un­furled and flown free. We’re both go­ing to the Monaco Yacht Show – in which con­text, see­ing some­one throw their money away seems strangely ap­pro­pri­ate.

The ultimate su­pery­acht show­case, the Monaco Yacht Show puts 125 of th­ese ex­tra­or­di­nary ves­sels on dis­play in Port Her­cules har­bour ev­ery Septem­ber, while a fur­ther 250 con­verge in the ad­ja­cent bay; it’s an in­cred­i­ble spec­ta­cle. Tourists can buy a day pass for €160 (£144) and gawp at the boats, but they’re re­ally here to serve as bob­bing ad­ver­tise­ments for ship­builders and bro­kers. The for­mer show off their lat­est cre­ations to bil­lion­aires per­haps keen to com­mis­sion their own; the lat­ter are ready to fa­cil­i­tate sales and char­ters.

To en­sure that ev­ery de­sire of the su­pery­acht com­mu­nity is catered for, a com­ple­ment of stall­hold­ers sell su­per­cars, child-sized jet-skis and seabobs with in­te­grated selfie-ready cam­eras. Flit­ting from Rus­sian to French to Ital­ian, beau­ti­ful and in­scrutable clip­board-wield­ing women de­ter­mine who is per­mit­ted on board which ves­sel.

There are a few choice yachts for which I have se­cured clear­ance. First up is the 136ft Fly­ing Dag­ger, for sale for €11.3mil­lion through Aqua­ma­rine Yacht Group. Bro­ker Irina Ily­ina shows me the “ag­gres­sively shaped and sexy” yacht’s all-white in­te­ri­ors – think Mi­ami ho­tel lobby – and its mother-of-pearl coun­ter­tops, and ex­plains that the most pri­va­cy­con­scious, high-pro­file visi­tors in fact come di­rectly be­fore or af­ter the show, when the yachts are in place but the crowds smaller. They are of­ten, I am told, the type who tip the crew $30,000 (£23,000) in cash be­cause they don’t want to carry it back to their pri­vate jet.

More tours fol­low. The in­te­rior de­signer of the 163ft I Nova tells me its im­mense din­ing ta­ble is made from a 30,000-year-old New Zealand kauri tree. Aboard the 254ft ice­breaker Leg­end, the owner talks about re­cent trips to Antarc­tica, Alaska and Green­land (the ship’s he­li­copter comes in handy for heli-ski­ing) and to Pa­pua New Guinea (its sub­ma­rine can be used to ex­plore ship­wrecks). A week’s char­ter costs from €460,000.

Aboard the 361ft Ju­bilee – the largest yacht ever to ap­pear in the show, com­plete with vast ham­mam, beach club and pool with an in-built aquar­ium – a thick blue car­pet feels strangely brit­tle be­neath my feet. “It’s made en­tirely from silk,” I am told.

But I’m most im­pressed by En­deav­our II. Made in Italy by Rossi­navi and in­spired by its Ger­man own­ers’ love of Asia, it is beau­ti­fully fin­ished with tatami mat floor­ing, sober but stylish cus­tom-made fur­ni­ture and slen­der oak col­umns de­signed to re­sem­ble bam­boo rods. Their taste chimes so loudly with my own that I want to move in and sud­denly en­vis­age my­self en­joy­ing lan­guid moon­lit pas­sages along Ha­long Bay and days ex­plor­ing de­serted is­lands in In­done­sia.

It’s a re­minder that ev­ery el­e­ment on each of th­ese yachts is cre­ated to its pur­chaser’s pre­cise spec­i­fi­ca­tion – and that th­ese ves­sels of­fer the world’s most pow­er­ful peo­ple the pri­vacy and free­dom to see and do pretty much what­ever they want.

Ear­lier, at a party aboard the An­cient Egypt-themed Le Pharaon, I had squeezed past the model David Gandy to catch a glimpse of etched hi­ero­glyph­ics and a fake – I as­sume – sar­coph­a­gus that re­minded me it would be bor­ing if we all liked the same thing. Clearly its own­ers weren’t con­cerned with its re­sale value (though it’s on the mar­ket for €14mil­lion through Ed­mis­ton, if you’re in­ter­ested) and ev­ery­body I met was frank that th­ese ves­sels are in­tended purely for plea­sure rather than as in­vest­ments. “A su­pery­acht is a hole you pour money into,” one bro­ker told me, “but they’re fun.”

John O’Ceal­laigh is The Tele­graph’s lux­ury travel ed­i­tor; fol­low his trips at tele­graph.co.uk/ tt-johnoc and on so­cial me­dia @johno­ceal­laigh. Les­sons in Lux­ury re­turns next month.

The next Monaco Yacht Show takes place from Sept 26-29 2018 (mona­coy­acht­show.com). For more on Monaco, see vis­it­monaco.com.

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