Explore the new wave of luxury yachting as we dive into the latest industry trends

By Dominique Afacan | 15 Jul 2019

Why superyacht owners are travelling further, playing harder and even developing an eco-conscience

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Superyachts were once pretty predictable toys; built for extreme luxury, high-profile lounging and James Bond-style jaunts between glamorous ports. Today, there is change on the horizon.

The next generation of yacht owner wants to travel to places that none of their friends have been before – and they also want to give back to the far-flung communities that they visit. They want to see their destinations from the sky and from the ocean floor – and they have all the gadgets to enable them to do just that.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE

A few years ago, taking your yacht out to the Med for the summer and then zipping to the Caribbean for winter was pretty much the done thing for the superyacht crowd. But while bragging rights may once have come from securing the best berth in the likes of Monaco or St Barths, or bagging the top table at Nikki Beach, today’s owners and charter guests are heading further afield. Much further afield. Specially adapated ‘explorer yachts’ are enabling travel to destinations as far away as Antarctica, where colossal icebergs loom in every direction, and gin and tonics even come served with ice plucked straight from the water. Guests might have penguins or humpback whales for company, but it’s unlikely they’ll spot another human for the duration of the trip.

Ben Lyons, CEO of Eyos Expeditions, a company which accompanies yachts on these journeys, believes this thirst for adventure is a reflection of a bigger movement. “There is an overall trend towards experiential travel now,” he says. “People want a more immersive, interactive experience than simply sitting on a yacht in the Med. There is an awareness that you can use your yacht as a platform for experiences now – that yachts are able to take people to areas that they couldn’t go otherwise.”

Beyond Antarctica and the Arctic, destinations including Papua New Guinea and the islands of Raja Ampat are also garnering attention, the main draws being incomparable diving opportunities, pristine beaches and stunning seclusion.

It’s all a far cry from the old, crowded haunts – although show up in Monaco at the height of summer and it’s pretty clear that it’s still business as usual. Yacht owners today are simply enjoying the best of both worlds. And why not? >>

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MAKING WAVES

Superyacht owners have become increasingly proactive about helping the destinations and natural environments they are passionate about. Some are inviting scientists on board to carry out ocean-based research as they travel; others are helping move aid or providing disaster relief to coastal communities. The latter is often carried out with the help of organisations such as YachtAid Global, which recently completed Operation Beagle in the Galapagos Islands – its title a nod to Charles Darwin’s time in the archipelago aboard the ship of the same name .

“We teamed up with superyachts DragonFly, Nomadess and ArcticP to bring clean water access, reusable metal water bottles, and school supplies to local schools,” says Zoran Selakovic, YachtAid Global’s director of operations and strategy. Their efforts resulted in 8,000 children getting access to clean water.

There are many more examples – Tara Expeditions organising scientific research voyages on board Tara, a sailing yacht owned by fashion designer Agnès B; REV, a mammoth superyacht currently in build which will incorporate laboratories, a conference centre and an auditorium into its 183 metres; and Dunia Baru building a learning centre in Raja Ampat.

For the owners, these efforts are solutions to conserve the places they love to travel to. “By building this learning centre, which hopefully will be the first of many, we are investing in the future of the region. It’s exciting,” says Mark Robba, owner of Dunia Baru.

SEA CHANGE

Once upon a time, if your superyacht had a Jacuzzi on board and a couple of jetskis in the garage, you were doing well. Today, standards have taken a leap. Instead of a Jacuzzi, there’s likely an infinity pool with built-in waterfall and swim-up bar. On Okto, the aft deck pool can even change colour – thanks to underwater lighting that swaps between blue, red and green on demand. Meanwhile, instead of jetskis, there are electric surfboards, Seabobs and Chanel paddleboards (yes, really). Some owners are even bringing along an extra boat – a ‘support yacht’ – to cope with all the extra kit.

Yachts have been getting bigger, too, which means there’s often scope for helipads and bigger toy garages. Helicopters are on the up, in every sense, as are personal submarines. “Instead of using yachts solely as vehicles for entertainment and transportation, many owners are now using them as exploration platforms; and submarines provide unique access for these ocean adventures,” explains Karen Hawkes, co-founder of Deep Flight submarines (below), who build some of the most advanced personal subs in the business.

Back on the surface, you can expect gargantuan inflatable slides, climbing walls and even yacht golf, where the eco-friendly balls are made from fish food. And no superyacht worth its (sea)salt comes without a fully equipped gym. On Enigma, it’s glass-sided and located on the main deck, so you needn’t forfeit those epic views for your morning workout. No excuses!

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