When a “prominent” buyer from Dubai wanted the interiors of his boat to be in gold, or when another “important” banker decided that an African theme would suit his cabin décor, Francesco Carbone did not bat an eyelid.
As the worldwide sales director of Tecnomar, makers of luxury boats, Carbone is familiar with requests that may not seem ordinary. But when the cheques are for over $4 million (Rs18.5 crore) a piece, every bizarre request is met with a yes and a handshake.
India ahoy! Yachts are a growing market in India; the cost of a basic 30m yacht starts from $4 million and can go up to $20 million. Photographs courtesy Emilio Bianchi
“You can have gold on the flooring if you want,” was Tecnomar’s response to the Dubai client, one of many millionaires, bankers, even football club managers the firm deals with.
Tecnomar is an Italian group that builds luxury maxi yachts. Inspired by the presence of at least six-seven yachts owned by Indians in the Mediterranean, Tecnomar decided to jump on the bandwagon and head East, “which has some of the richest people in the world”.
It moved on from clients in Italy, Greece and Spain, past Russia, through West Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore, to dock in Mumbai. Next target, after the summer: the Americas.
It’s begun testing the waters in India—last month’s Mumbai International Boat Show gave it the kind of introduction to Indian markets it wanted. “There are so many Indians among the richest in the world,” says Carbone. “It’s a market we cannot ignore. So here we are with a business plan.”
Makers of luxury boats profit from the desire of rich and sometimes famous clients to get something that’s unique to them and better than the “other guy who beat me to a tender”. So most demands come from a desire to have a boat that no one else has, with the side effect being costs increasing with every gold-plated bolt.
“Rich owners are like babies—they come and say my competitor has a bigger boat. Can you do better? So we do,” says Carbone, who uses the terms boat and yacht synonymously.
Roshini Pahlajani, business development manager of Oceanstyle, a company that deals in sales and charters, says she recently heard of an owner who was planning to build a ski ramp on a yacht.
An example of what a luxury boat can be is exemplified by the Tecnomar Mega-Yacht Velvet 30, which is 30m long and reaches a maximum speed of 37 knots, with two 1,850 horsepower engines.
Indoor décor combines a mix of smoked oak, white leather and brushed stainless steel, with art pieces by Raphaël Scorbiac, Piet Hein Eek and Martin Berger. Painted walls are dressed in waves and surfers along the hallway and stairs. The layout offers two suites, two cabins with oversized windows, allowing four crew and 10 passengers to sleep.
Captain Mathew Cherian, president, Nautilus Yachts, which is a luxury yacht and boat company with offices in Kochi and the UAE, says buying one of these products is like “getting a Rolls over a Mercedes. These are like five-star hotels, many with gyms, jacuzzis, office space and a party room. These yachts have a stabilizing mechanism, so you don’t roll or feel motion sickness.”
He mentions, without taking names, two owners from south India who are looking for parking in the soon-to-be-opened marina in Kochi, for their “two mega yachts costing Rs40 crore each”.
The cost of a basic 30m yacht starts from $4 million and can go up to $20 million, depending on the size of the yacht and additions made, with annual maintenance costing an average of 5% of the yacht price.
Carbone says luxury boats are addictive, so if someone gets one, there is a great possibility that in a few years, they will want a bigger boat. “You don’t need a boat; you buy it as a thought that comes to mind accidentally.”
For a Mumbai that’s constantly challenged by rising real estate prices, Carbone offers an option: “You can live in these boats.”