A ‘New type of high-net-worth traveller” is redefining luxury in terms of experience and exploration.
The region is fertile ground for those in search of rich traveller tales. While Phuket remains one of the most popular destinations, aided by easy accessibility and Thailand’s loosening of charter regulations, for many, part of the appeal of charter lies in finding more remote spots. There are plenty to choose from. Myanmar and the Mergui Archipelago are up there with Raja Ampat and Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands.
Trend forecasters and industry insiders talk about a “new type of high-net-worth traveller”, tired of identikit luxury at five-star resorts who seek out something with new experience and exploration at its core instead. “Once owners have decided they’ve enjoyed the Med and the Caribbean, they are taking their yachts further afield,” explains Tom Debuse, director of charter management at Y.Co. “As a result there are more yachts available and a growing market.”
There are charter brokers galore in the region now, all touting superyachts to the world’s fussiest clients. So how do these experience-hungry travellers choose which one to set sail on? “If you’re working with a good broker, they’ll be able to match a yacht to your needs,” Debuse says. Those needs, though, can vary greatly – from families seeking smaller yachts with intimate lounge spaces, to gourmet travellers who might want a Michelin-starred chef on board, to party people, whose priorities might include a good speaker system and enough deck space to dance freely under the stars. One must-have, regardless of the customer, seems to be a well-stocked toy garage.
At last year’s Monaco Yacht Show, toys were everywhere. From inflatable climbing walls and electronic surfboards to ecological golf balls that dissolve into fish food and helicopters which can land guests straight on deck after a day’s sightseeing, there seems no end of innovation. The new Aurora-6 personal submarine comes decked out with its own mini-bar and an emergency bathroom. Fractional jet ownership giants NetJets were also at the show, explaining how the most hassle-free way to reach a charter yacht in these far-flung, remote destinations is by flying private. Naturally.
The ability to ensure that time off the boat is as enjoyable as it is on board, is also paramount. Enter Based on a True Story, a company which promises to take charter to “the next level”. Founder Niel Fox explains: “Chartering a yacht for two weeks is a pricey investment, we’re an insurance policy to make sure guests experience something truly amazing.” The company organises once-in-a-lifetime experiences, choreographed to the most minute detail sometimes involving thousands of extras hired to help act out their awe-inspiring narratives. It’s no surprise that the founder used to work as a fixer for a wealthy superyacht owner. An adventure organised by his company can involve anything from running with dog-sleds on a frozen Arctic lake, to a family fantasy pursuing mythical creatures through Greece; or witnessing the enactment of ancient sacrifices by an Indonesian hilltop tribe. At the end of each trip, guests get a beautiful leather-bound book chronicling their experience.
Myanmar and the Mergui Archipelago are particularly appealing to the jaded traveller due to their remoteness It’s no surprise that charter clients who have grown tired of their regular haunts are gearing up for these thrilling experiences.