The world of luxury yachting is undergoing a profound transformation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, giving rise to innovative and exclusive experiences both on and off the vessel. These experiences encompass a wide spectrum, from providing private access to renowned art collections to offering Michelin-star dining in Europe’s most coveted cruising destinations and hosting “pop-up” restaurants on secluded desert islands. There’s also a growing focus on bespoke digital artwork and virtual reality (VR) encounters that transport clients to entirely new realms, and even more unconventional ventures aimed at turning an owner’s dreams into reality.
According to designers in this evolving industry, the driving force behind these experiences, both tangible and virtual, is the ever-present scarcity of time – or, more precisely, the art of crafting time in the most imaginative ways possible.
Anthony Lassman, the founder of London-based Nota Bene, succinctly sums it up: “We make three days feel like seven.” Nota Bene caters to an elite clientele, including celebrity figures like Michael Kors, but primarily serves ultra-high-net-worth individuals who pay an annual fee for exclusive access to the most enchanting locales across the French Riviera, Amalfi Coast, and remote Greek islands, often while aboard chartered superyachts.
A recent yacht excursion along the French Riviera exemplifies their approach. The trip was meticulously designed based on the clients’ preferences and Nota Bene’s extensive local knowledge. It included visits to the Lerins Islands, Porquerolles, and Port Cros, followed by a limousine journey from Toulon-Hyere to Chateau la Coste for a private tour of pavilions designed by architect Frank Gehry. The itinerary continued with dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Helene Darroz and an overnight stay at the classic Villa la Coste.
Given the clients’ passion for wine and art, Nota Bene arranged visits to some of Provence’s most exclusive vineyards, as well as a private tour of the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, guided by the organization’s curator. This adventure concluded with a helicopter ride to rendezvous with the yacht in Saint-Tropez for an overnight journey to Corsica.
Although the itinerary may sound demanding, Lassman emphasizes that it was both challenging and deeply rewarding. “The goal is to extract the best an area has to offer in a limited timeframe,” he explains.
Going beyond curated itineraries, another company has adopted a broader perspective when it comes to crafting extraordinary, one-of-a-kind yacht experiences. They range from orchestrating a loud, lifelike virtual World War II battle near the vessel using augmented reality and other emerging technologies to staging a nighttime fashion show aboard the yacht. In the latter case, models gracefully strut their stuff on specially constructed catwalks adjacent to the mothership.
“We are turning fashion into theater on the superyacht,” declares Andrew Grant Super, founder of London-based Berkeley Rand. “The idea is to create a private fashion show that turns into an experiential one-off event for the guests, with private unseen collections and haute couture fashion brands collaborating with us.”
To achieve this unique look, the company employs swarm-drone lighting that dramatically alters the models’ appearances, transitioning from vibrant technicolor to black-and-white silhouettes. Alternatively, they can set up a pop-up restaurant on a deserted island, providing owners with the opportunity to savor Michelin-caliber cuisine in an idyllic setting. The 3-D-printed café’s design can be tailored to match the yacht’s location perfectly. For instance, the restaurant pictured above was specifically crafted for a remote sand shelf in the Maldives, designed to complement the yacht’s unique curves.
In addition to such physical experiences, digital firms are now specializing in creating customized artwork for yachts. Immersive International, known for its installations in large public spaces, also collaborates with private yachting clients on more intimate and interactive pieces. These may include content for a fully automated nightclub, with artworks in rooms that evolve over time. Their process combines 3-D software, photography, and AI integration to create time-based artworks that change gradually over days and weeks.
The company also explores specific journeys for yacht owners by capturing scenes using 360-degree VR technology, both above and below the ocean’s surface. These images are then transformed into immersive memories tailored to the client’s preferences.
Immersive is taking this concept even further with what they call a “dream machines” experience. Individuals can share their dreams, and later in the day, an animated film is created, featuring interpretive content based on the individual’s narrative.
These initiatives promise an unprecedented level of intimate and bespoke experiences, often with a touch of therapeutic value – all against the backdrop of a luxurious yacht.