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Super Yachts: Trend Spotting at the Monaco Yacht Show

The Monaco Yacht Show, promoting creative excellence in the world of super yachts since 1991, is the place to be if you’re in the market to purchase or charter a vessel

It may be best-known for its fairytale palace, Grand Prix circuit, and cohort of expat residents, but this month, Monaco becomes a mecca for boating aficionados with its eponymous yacht show at Port Hercule, one of the most glamorous harbors on the planet.

This unmissable event is about much more than good looks and an exotic location, however. “The Monaco Yacht Show was founded to bring together the largest collection of second-hand yachts in the world,” says superyacht broker Chris Cecil-Wright of Cecil Wright & Partners, who has attended every show since the first in 1991. Then, he explains, there was not much more to it than a display of the finest private super yachts afloat: “But now everyone involved in yachting, from submarine engineers to glassware and china suppliers, aims to have a presence.”

Progressive yacht owners are excited about new materials that are durable, easy to maintain, responsibly sourced, and abundant in nature—Mark Boddington, Silverlining Furniture

Yacht from the air showing several decks to relax on
Built in 2013, Giraud, pictured above, measures 39.8 meters and sleeps 11 in five cabins. The yacht is on sale for €12,950,000 VAT paid ($12,907,394). Credit: Stuart Pearce

Mark Boddington, founder of Silverlining Furniture, which has designed for David Bowie, Madonna, and Tom Ford, and kits out some of the finest multi-million-dollar yachts in the water, believes attendance is essential.

“It’s a meeting place for the world’s leading designers, engineers, and other creatives driving innovation and craftsmanship in every aspect of superyacht build—a must for potential or current owners and brokers looking to charter, build, buy, or sell,” says the designer, who will be launching a range of outdoor furniture as well as new finishes for the bespoke interiors, which are de rigueur for today’s superyachts.

So, what will today’s visitors be looking for? The buzzword in new-build yachts is green technology, according to Alex Holden, strategy director at superyacht brokerage Edmiston, who explains: “The industry has changed dramatically in the last two years.”

Trend 1: Sustainability

“We are seeing an increase in new developments in technology and infrastructure,” Holden says. “Innovation in propulsion systems, including hybrid systems, advances in battery technology, and alternative fuels are being more widely adopted.” These, he explains, enable yachts to cruise in silence on battery power while cutting the use of fossil fuel.

Yacht sailing towards setting sun
Arience, part of Cecil Wright & Partners charter fleet, sleeps 12 in seven cabins and can be chartered for €595,000 ($599,000) per week. The vessel is led by Captain Dean Pilatti, who is supported by a talented chef, interior team, and watersports deck crew. Credit Stuart Pearce

Sustainability is a focus in smaller ways too, adds Holden. “Recycling and waste management have traditionally been difficult on board yachts, but are a big talking point at the moment.” To this end, Edmiston has formed a partnership with climate tech company Levidian and is working with maritime charity United Kingdom Sailing Academy and the Conservation Collective.

When it comes to interiors, Boddington sees new notions of what constitutes luxury. “There’s a trend for designs that combine craftsmanship, technology, and sustainability,” he says. “Progressive yacht owners are excited about new materials that are durable, easy to maintain, responsibly sourced, and abundant in nature, like our local British timbers, or carefully created in lab conditions, like bacterial cellulose leathers, which are cruelty- and petroleum-free. We’re also noticing an increased interest in working with traditional materials in brand-new ways, like laser-etching stone surfaces.”

Trend 2: Exploration and Working on Board

Boddington reports a trend towards “explorer yachts with multi-functional spaces for arctic, temperate, or tropical exploring, whether for vacations or permanent worldwide living. Owners of such yachts often contribute to marine science while realising their dreams, so spaces are designed to be used for science and work, as well as family pleasure.” To accommodate this, he cites a demand for adaptable designs such as a dining table that extends and splits to convert into multiple smaller pieces, including a desk.

Dining area on deck with seaviews
Kiss, which measures 46.6 m, boasts a private owner's deck, not often seen on a yacht of less than 50 m. It can sleep 12 in six cabins and has an asking price of €31,500,000 ($31,669,400).

Holden endorses the increased demand for explorer yachts and also underlines a shift in focus for those chartering. “We are finding that clients are looking to spend more time on their yacht to travel to more remote locations,” he says. “Expectations of a charter holiday have also changed. While some clients are still looking for a week’s holiday to completely disconnect, others want to be able to stay connected to the outside world and their business whilst on the water, and therefore spend longer on their holiday,” he says.

Trend 3: Changing Ownership Demographics

Cecil-Wright says clients from the East Asia, “notably Hong Kong Chinese”, are coming into the market, and there has been a strong resurgence of interest from the United States. “The strong dollar makes Europe an attractive option.”

Although the demand for super yachts continues to outstrip supply, he says 30 percent of the year’s display is likely to be new boats, “ranging from 45 meter (148 ft)  production models from shipyards built in a limited edition, to 150 meter (492 ft) entirely bespoke yachts whose owners have died or lost their fortunes before the build was completed.”

Sundeck jacuzzi
Yacht Kiss features include a rooftop Jacuzzi and adjustable platform, from which guests can step straight into the sea or use for diving when the platform is raised.

We are seeing an increase in new developments in technology and infrastructure. Innovation in propulsion systems, including hybrid systems, advances in battery technology, and alternative fuels are being more widely adopted—Alex Holden of superyacht brokerage Edmiston

But discounts are not to be expected when owners need to sell—there is no shortage of potential new buyers, he says: “with a new billionaire created every four days”. In fact, the resale potential of yachts has made them an investment vehicle for some, adds Cecil-Wright, who expects to bring up to four vessels to this year’s show.

Trend 4: Relationships Vital for Chartering Success

Yachts for charter as well as for sale will be on show in Monaco, but while attendees get the chance to walk aboard some of the world’s most desirable craft, it may not be the best time to make an informed booking: “If you show up on the dock unaccompanied, you will be competing for time with other customers,” points out Cecil-Wright.

Bedroom with panoramic windows on board a yacht
There’s a dedicated owner’s deck on Kiss, including a salon with doors to a private terrace. The rest of the guest accommodation includes an office, a double bedroom, two twin rooms, and a bunk cabin on the lower deck.

That’s just one reason to seek out a reputable broker and meet them ahead of the show, he says: “It’s very difficult to tell the difference between several large white boats when looking at them without an expert’s eye, so it’s best to walk through the show with one who has already taken the time to understand your needs and priorities.” These are as important to evaluate for would-be charterers as those thinking of buying their own yacht, he adds: “Because the key to a successful charter is the relationship between a client and their captain and crew.”

What to See and Do in Monaco and the Surrounding Area

Monaco’s great glory is its harbor, but there is also much charm in Monaco-Ville, the villagey main town accessed by a pedestrianized alley opposite the Royal Palace. which sits atop the cliff known as Le Rocher. The top-end sleeping and dining destination is the Hôtel de Paris on Casino Square, where the rooftop Le Grill enjoys views of the harbor, and the American bar is de rigueur for Yacht Show week.

Laurent Locchi, director of Miells & Partners, the Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in Monaco, recommends the Quai des Artistes, right by Port Hercule, the restaurants of the Hôtel Hermitage, and a new restaurant, La Môme. He also recommends the Beefbar, which is in Fontvieille, the site of a new harbor surrounded by apartments (pictured below).

An overhead shot of Fontvielle harbor in Moncao
Work on the Port of Fontvielle began in 1966 when land was reclaimed from the sea. Finished in 1973, today the port has berths for 160 vessels, although it cannot accept vessels more than 30 meters in length. Credit: Alamy

While there is also a botanic garden, an oceanographic museum, and a sculpture concourse above Lavrotto, Monaco’s only beach, Nice, just 23 minutes by train or a scenic drive via one of the three corniches clinging to the mountains, is also an option with its world-class cultural offerings. Cimiez, a neighborhood of lavish fin-de-siècle villas, is home to both the Chagall and Matisse museums, while on the famous Promenade des Anglais, the Radisson Blu offers a hip perch overlooking the Med and private beach club.

Book well ahead to dine at Chez Davia, whose chef-patron, Pierre Altobelli, gained a Michelin star in Asia before returning to cook typical Niçois fare in the restaurant founded by his grandmother. And don’t miss an aperitif at the Negresco, an iconic sea-front hotel designed for art lovers. Waterborne visitors mooring in Antibes have the chic resort of Juan-les-Pins down the road, with the Art Deco Belles Rives—once home to F. Scott Fitzgerald, offering Michelin-starred dining with a view of beach, jetty and yet more white, bright super yachts stretching into the distance.

*The Monaco Yacht Showmonacoyachtshow.comruns for four days from September 28, 2022

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Banner image: Monaco Harbor. Credit: Alamy