We bring you our guide to three of the most important boat shows in the calendar – Monaco, Fort Lauderdale, and Abu Dhabi – from what to see and where to stay, to how to party
When it comes to showing off top-end transportation, there’s everything from hugely prestigious concours car shows to aircraft extravaganzas, but nothing comes close to a yacht show. Attracting some of the greatest floating fortresses ever created, the glitz and glamour of seeing hundreds of superyachts moored up in a sparkling bay is unparalleled.
Like a parking lot for the world’s wealthiest individuals, Monaco is the jewel in the crown of the yacht show calendar, which takes place 27-30 September. Following that, attention turns across the Atlantic to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show between 25-29 October, before the year is all but rounded off with the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show from 16-19 November.
With more than 200 boats heading to Monaco’s majestic Port Hercule, 1,300 expected to be floating in the bay in Fort Lauderdale and a further 50 lining up in Abu Dhabi, the yacht industry clearly remains in rude health. But it’s not just about the boats. Parties, plush restaurants and super high-end shopping experiences await yacht show attendees. Here’s our guide on how to navigate the biggest and best yacht shows of the season.
What To See
While there’s no shortage of yachts, tenders and all the toys that go with a life well-lived at sea, not all craft are created equal. Sailing in to steal the show in Monaco is the 90m Lurssen Phoenix 2 on sale with yacht broker Cecil Wright for the handsome sum of €124.9m (EU VAT paid). With her interior and exterior based on the theme of Manhattan art deco opulence, she features a beauty salon, movie theatre, spa, a hot tub on the roof, a beach club and a gym. Built for the late Polish billionaire Jan Kulczyk in 2010, Phoenix 2 has room for 12 guests and 28 crew. For those looking for something a little more sustainably-minded, the 39m sailing yacht State of Grace is for sale for a snip under €12m.
Making their debut at Fort Lauderdale – the world’s largest boat show – are two UK-built yachts: the 29m Princess Y95 and 27m Sunseeker Ocean 182, flying the flag for home-made luxury and craftsmanship on the high seas. While a smaller selection of yachts are on offer in Abu Dhabi, there’s still plenty to see from yacht builders Cranchi, Feadship, and Gulf Craft, as they showcase their greatest offerings in the Middle East.
Off the water, all three shows have an extensive list of events, covering everything from sustainability summits to adventure areas selling all the weird and wonderful yacht accessories you could dream of and even supercar shows. If you’re in the market for a multi-million-pound superyacht, you might as well buy a suitable motor or a submarine to match, right?
Where To Stay
From Monaco to Miami, all three cities are awash with some of the finest hotels. Monaco’s decadent Hôtel de Paris in Casino Square is the place to be, with its three-Michelin-starred restaurant and appearance in two Bond blockbusters ensuring it’s full to bursting by the time the yacht show comes about. Failing that, check out the Monte-Carlo Bay, Hôtel Metropole, Hermitage or Columbus – all within walking distance of the show.
Across the Atlantic, Miami’s Fort Lauderdale is home to all the biggest names in the hotel business – from the Ritz-Carlton to the W. With most backing onto the beach and a stone’s throw from the show, the tried and tested hotel chains are hard to overlook when it comes to finding a place to kip on America’s East Coast.
As a city home to some of the most extreme urban architecture, it’s worth staying high in Abu Dhabi and soaking up the sights. From the imposing Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental to the relatively low-rise Abu Dhabi Edition. The city is well-equipped and welcoming of visitors, so accommodation in one of its super hotels is plentiful and easy to access.
How To Party
Playing it right is the key to any yacht show, especially when surrounded by the rich and famous. No one wants to be escorted down the passerelle after spilling a tray of Pol Roger, so it’s wise to go armed with as much self-control as you can muster. Unsurprisingly, exclusivity is the key to the best events so bagging an invite is an art in itself.
Those in the market for their own superyacht will easily slip under the velvet ropes, otherwise it’s a game of knowing the movers and shakers in the superyacht party scene. For those failing to find an invite, Monaco’s well-established party scene will be in full swing with Jimmy’z, Quai des Artistes and Buddha Bar all firm favourites.
In Miami, the beach beckons for most yacht shoppers in need of some rest and relaxation, while Miami’s Art Deco Historic District along Ocean Drive is the perfect architectural escape. Sit and soak up the sun, sea and palms and sample Miami’s laidback lifestyle.
In Abu Dhabi, the yacht show backs onto Formula One’s grand finale just a few days later between the 24-26 November. Held at the YAS Marina circuit, less than 30 minutes away by car, the race always attracts some of the biggest superyachts in the world, making it the perfect place to combine yachts with some high-octane racing and celebrity spotting.