Demand for extremely luxury holidays is growing, and what could be more exclusive than a holiday on board a large yacht?
by Maria Roberta Morso
THE NEWS THAT THE 136-METRE FLYING FOX, BUILT BY LÜRSSEN and launched a few months ago, will be added to the fleet of megayachts available to charter, is highly significant. The same goes for the 72-metre Tankoa Solo, launched last year. Ultra-luxury chartering still has the wind in its sails in 2019. It’s a market reserved for a few extremely wealthypeople, known as ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), who have a personal net wealth of over US$30 million, excluding real estate (according to Capgemini and Merrill Lynch figures).
In 2018 there were 198,342 people in this category across the world, and the number is due to rise to 241,053 by 2023. There are more UHNWIs in Europe than in North America. Here are the figures by geographical area: Europe – 70,627; North America – 51,912; Asia – 48,245; Latin America – 10,457; Middle East – 8,301; Australia – 4,400; Russia & independent former Soviet states – 2,350; Africa – 2,050.
These figures are interesting because they reflect the potential client base of the ultra-luxury chartering sector, which seems to be growing in appeal every year. The chartering market is dominated by large motor yachts that, in many cases, have been designed specifically with rental in mind. They are furnished with extremely refined and expensive materials, almost always featuring unique and exquisite tailor-made fabrics, carpets and furniture.
They come with every luxury imaginable – gyms, swimming pools, spas, cinemas, clubs, helipads, speedy tenders, personal watercraft and everything to pique the interest of customers seeking something extraordinary for an unforgettable holiday. Two of the most interesting recent chartering trends are arguably the falling age of clients and the fact that for many it is their first rental experience.
Overall, the market has grown substantially, and in 2018 the large charter companies reported growth of between 15% and 17%. In terms of the total fleet, the numbers vary a lot depending on the range of boat sizes under consideration, but there are thousands of ‘large’ yachts available, if one considers large to be over 30 metres.
The luxury yachting industry is doing well as a whole, and surveys suggest that around 830 24-metre-plus craft are being built around the world in 2019. For those who love eye-watering statistics, the total length of the yachts under construction is 32.7 km. Leading the way again this year are the Azimut Benetti Group, the Ferretti Group and Sanlorenzo.
Italy and the Netherlands have recorded year-on-year growth of 9.5%, with US producers stalling and Turkey in decline. While the average gross tonnage of the 379 boats under construction in Italy is 357 Gt, in the Netherlands it is 1,300 Gt, and Germany is currently building 16 megayachts with an average gross tonnage of 5,400 Gt.
Although Benetti has recently launched three yachts over 100 metres long, and other Italianshipyards (Tankoa, CRN, Palumbo and Sanlorenzo) are also active in the megayacht sector, the quintessential producers of large yachts are still the Germans (Lürssen and Blohm & Voss) and the Dutch (Feadship and Oceanco). Large sailing ships are lagging behind in this market, accounting for only 51 projects out of a total of 830.
Going back to charter boats, one need only browse the websites of a few chartering firms to get an idea of the scale of these yachts. On the Edmiston site, costs range from $80,000 a week for Elena, a gorgeous 55-metre classic sailing ship, which can house a maximum of eight guests, to $1,119,000 to hire the 84-metre Savannah, built by Feadship, or $1,343,000 for Amel’s Here Comes the Sun, an 83-metre craft launched in 2017. The prices are similar on the Fraser website and on those of other large international brokers, who all offer prestigious yachts built by the most famous shipyards in the world.
These rates are all ‘starting from…’. So what else can affect the rental costs? First of all, the season. Then dates that coincide with major global events, Formula One races, international regattas, the America’s Cup, the Cannes Film Festival, etc. The price is predominantly linked to the shipowner’s demands, as well as being influenced by the type of yacht being chartered, the shipyard that built it, the availability of an expert captain and crew, and the location where the chartering takes place.
Then one must bear in mind that the rental price is the base cost, to which one must add additional costs such as food, drinks, fuel, marina charges, satellite connections and internet. Contracts signed following Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) rules do not include these items, which means adding between 25% and 50% to the base cost, depending on the needs of the renter.
CTI (Caribbean Terms Inclusive) contracts include more services, generally including three meals and four hours of sailing a day in the price. For any extras, a figure of between 20% and 25% of the total paid for the chartering is entrusted to the captain who, at the end of the rental period, produces a detailed breakdown of costs. Then there’s VAT to pay, with the exact details best clarified with the broker.
With the number of people chartering boats increasingand, as multiple sources testify, the ages of charterers getting younger, the destinations are also changing. Places away from the usual Mediterranean and Caribbean routes are increasingly popular, and a growing number of large yachts are available to charter in remote parts of the planet. This in part stems from the fact that a growing number of owners are heading for these areas – the extreme north, the Pacific islands and non-touristy Asian archipelagos – and so are offering their yachts for chartering in places once far removed from the concept of a ‘relaxing and luxury boat holiday’.
A boat can get to remote islands in the middle of the oceans and, while it does not exactly constitute adventurous exploration, navigating wild, uninhabited and often extraordinarily beautiful coastlines is a luxury that money can’t buy. These new charterers want to travel to the edges of the world.
In the golden world of chartering, no expense is spared and nothing is out of bounds. Today, renting a large yacht is the ultimate luxury holiday. On board the largest yachts there is an average of two members of crew for each guest, with even more on megayachts. The crew are available 24/7 to respond to guests’ every need or request. As well as yachts’ intrinsic luxury and the opportunity to reach coveted destinations and change location, bay and port every day, they offer a level of service that no large hotel can match.
Despite the prices and a fairly extensive global fleet of charter yachts, demand is so high that large chartering companies recommend booking around six months in advance for yachts and destinations at peak season.
(Charter 2019: + 17% for the ultra-luxury holidays – Barchemagazine.com – Ottobre 2019)