Billionaires and Their Superyachts Are Ready for Summer: Photos

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

For many wealthy boat owners, a private spa is a must-have on board. A sauna is a nice touch. A Jet Ski or two makes days at sea way more fun. And if you don't have someone on board who can whip up a Michelin-star-worthy meal, you might as well stay on land.

In the world of massive yachts, there's no such thing as too much. After all, if someone spends eight or nine figures to design the vessel of their dreams — or at least $500,000 a week to charter one — more is more.

“Yachting. It's not rational; it's emotional,” Ralph Dazert, the head of intelligence at SuperYacht Times, told Business Insider at the Palm Beach International Boat Show, where dozens of superyachts — often defined as vessels over 30 meters in length — were on display.

And while there are certain classic features, such as jacuzzis and bars, what superyacht owners want is evolving, insiders at the show said. That might mean more crew members, more space for helicopters, or more water toys, but might also include manicure salons and putting greens.

The massage room aboard the Talisman C, a $60 million superyacht for sale at the Palm Beach show. Courtesy of Burgess Yachts via BI

“The bar of what is the baseline expectation has increased exponentially just over the last four or five years,” Anders Kurtén, the CEO of brokerage Fraser Yachts, said. Clients are “spending more time on the boat and really wanting to extend the lifestyle they lead on the shore.”

A lot of this can be chalked up to the pandemic. Superyacht purchases and charters spiked as life and luxury travel on land screeched to a halt. While the market has moderated slightly, the number of superyachts on order — 1,166 as of September, according to Boat International's Global Order Book — is still above pre-pandemic norms.

“What the pandemic really showed is that the appetite for being out there at sea, sort of living the marine lifestyle, is still as valid as ever,” Kurtén said.

That means there's a lot of money on the water. The total value of the 203 superyachts over 30 meters delivered last year was $6.4 billion, according to data from SuperYacht Times. New custom builds from the world's most prestigious shipyards — Lurssen, Feadship, Oceanco, Benetti — can run into the hundreds of millions. Even used superyachts at the Palm Beach show cost as much as $75 million.

And it's not just traditional buyers like retired wealthy couples looking for a place to relax or celebrities looking for a place to party away from the paparazzi. New clients are often younger and have families, so want areas to work and watch movies. They also want pricey water toys, access to fitness equipment, or even pizza ovens for picky eaters.

Nero gym

The gym aboard the Nero superyacht has 360-degree views of the water and a number of cardio and weight machines. Courtesy of Burgess Yachts via BI

“This would've never happened in the nineties,” said Giovanna Vitelli, the vice president of the Azimut Benetti Group, the world's biggest producer of superyachts. “You would go with your beautiful woman, Champagne — the idea of yachting was much more showing off with your jacuzzi and things like that.”

Pure opulence has made room for function.

When Benetti's Nabila set sail in 1980, its 50-person crew, gold-and-diamond-encrusted interiors, and lavish parties captured headlines and even inspired the Queen song “Kashoggi's Ship.”(Seven years later, Donald Trump bought Nabila for $30 million, renaming her the Trump Princess.)

“Life on board was considered very formal — big formal dining rooms, boats were high on the water, you would be segregated from the rest of the world,” Vitelli said, remembering another client who insisted on a replica of the Sistine Chapel above the dining table.

Nabila yacht

The Nabila yacht, which launched in 1980, was emblematic of a more opulent era of superyachting. Courtesy of Azimut Benetti Group via BI

But the ostentatious, palatial-like interiors that used to be highlighted in yacht brochures have made way for lists of more functional features.

Rather than esoteric novelties like an extra-large safe for rifles that one builder had to construct per a Russian yacht owner's request, the superyachts on display at the Palm Beach show featured basketball courts, saunas, and ice baths.

Owners want elevators and luxury gyms. Pampering options, be it a massage room, manicure station, or a professional-grade facial machine, are a dime a dozen. Some bathrooms have fancy Toto toilets, which can cost around $20,000.

Sterns (that's the back of the boat) used to be built high to guard guests' privacy. Now, they're built as “beach clubs” — an open swim platform.

Triumph bathroom

The roomy bathroom of the Triumph, which costs $650,000 per week to charter, includes a steam room. Courtesy of Breed Media via BI

And what good is a massage room if no one on board can give one? Many superyachts can hold twice as many crew members as guests, if not more. One broker, representing a boat that didn't have a masseuse, said it could be quite a “tricky” issue because if a charter wants one, they have to find someone who can massage guests and “pull their weight with the crew.”

“It's not uncommon to look for a deckhand who can also mix a martini, play an instrument, maybe entertain the guests with singing, and ideally even give a massage,” Kurtén said.

Of course, a crew comes at a cost. Most are considered full-time employees, requiring salaries and benefits like health insurance. Captains, first mates, and chief engineers often make six figures a year. That's without tips; a charter guest will typically spend six figures on gratuities for the crew who worked during a weeklong vacation.

Benetti Grateful

The Grateful, which costs $15.9 million, exemplifies the open feel of today's superyachts — particularly its “beach club.” Courtesy of the Azimut Benetti Group

For the superrich, there must be room for toys.

It's not just the onboard amenities that count. What's known as “toys” in the industry — water slides, eFoils, Jet Skis, and underwater scuba diving jets — are popular, and costs range from merely hundreds of dollars (banana boats) to millions (submersibles, which are still popular despite the recent tragedy).

“Tenders and toys, the sky seems to be the limit,” Kurtén said. “More is more.”

If you can't fit all those toys in the yacht's storage space, you can just use another boat. Jeff Bezos' support yacht is a superyacht in itself, measuring 75 meters and costing tens of millions of dollars. (His main yacht, Koru, cost a reported $500 million.)

Support yachts are also faster, meaning the crew can get to a destination first and set up the Jet Skis, seapools, and the like, Dazert said. “By the time the owner arrives on the main yacht, everything's set up, and he can go and have fun.”

Nero yacht exterior

Modeled after J.P. Morgan's yacht, the Nero is available to charter for about $500,000 a week. One of its custom tenders is also pictured. Courtesy of Burgess

Even tenders, the smaller vessel that brings guests from the ship to the shore, are getting glow-ups. The Nero, a 90-meter beauty available to charter for about $500,000 a week and modeled after J.P. Morgan's 1930s ship, has custom-built tenders to match the design. The most expensive ones often cost seven figures. Nero has three.

“It used to be a tender was a tender,” Jeffrey Beneville, who handles yacht insurance at NFP, told BI. “Now they're called limousine tenders. Think of an incredibly luxurious gondola that's got a hard top so nobody's hair gets mussed when they're being dropped off at the Monaco Yacht Club.”

One thing that clearly hasn't changed in superyachting: showing off. If the boat next door at the marina has an indoor-outdoor cinema, it's natural to want one too. Ditto a wine cellar or helipad.

“It's a bit of a celebration of your success in life, of wealth,” Vitelli, whose company is behind the Lana yacht Bill Gates chartered for a birthday party three years ago, said. “You push it a little more.”

And that's a boon for yacht makers and brokers catering to the super-rich.

“Our job is to make clients' dreams come true,” Kurtén said.



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