The Good Life

Making waves

Pool parties are bound to be passé when you can live it up on massive yachts at sea

The rich and famous all over the world thrive on three Ps — power, pomp and pleasure. And in their quest for the ultimate sense of material perfection, they seek things that would ordinarily only be termed exotic. And on this list are uber fancy parties and holidays on luxury yachts — a trend that’s not new but it isn’t getting old anytime soon. 

No wonder, then, that flamboyant Indian businessmen such as Gautam Singhania, Vijay Mallya, Adi Godrej and the Ambanis all own private yachts. In fact, on a moonlit night in Mumbai, if you peer deep into the looming darkness of the great Arabian sea, before the Gateway of India, you would see around 300-400 white-mast yachts and speedboats docked at a distance, along with numerous smaller boats. Singhania owns MY Ashena (named after his wife and mother), a tri-deck luxury yacht constructed entirely out of Burma teak wood. Ashena, in fact, was used by Elizabeth Hurley during her wedding celebrations. Singhania also owns the luxury yacht Moonraker, a traditional three-masted Arabian sailing dhow Shozma and several speedboats.

Shreyas Joshi, former president of the apparel giant Raymond group and current CEO of the MSL group reminisces about the annual cruises hosted by Singhania on his yacht. Around 100 guests would be ferried into the yacht via small boats. While some of the guests would dance to the peppy numbers played by a DJ on the opulent yacht, some others would rejoice with the overflowing champagne bottles, and yet others would zoom off into the mighty sea on the water scooties docked on the deck, according to Joshi.

HK Press, former vice-chairman of Godrej Consumer Products remembers the splendid yacht party thrown by the Essar group’s Ravi Ruia in 2009 to celebrate his 60th birthday. He fondly recalls the lounge cocktails on board, the delicious food and the company of Ruia’s close friends. But the most impressive Indian yacht is Mallya’s Indian Empress, purchased in 2006 for an estimated €72 million. It is 92 metres long, originally owned by the royal family of Qatar.

There is no dearth of players in this space to satiate the urges of the wealthy. And to make access even easier, yachts are now available online. For instance, online marketplace Snapdeal sells a line of yachts in partnership with West Coast Marine Yacht Services.

Those interested can purchase the yachts by making an initial payment of ₹2 lakh. West Coast will contact the buyer, understand their requirement, customise the yacht and deliver it. Vicki Parris, national brand leader India, Flight Shop, says luxury yacht holidays are a niche-yet-growing segment among the well-heeled in India. “We offer yacht holidays in the Maldives, Australia, Miami, Croatia, Tahiti, etc,” he says. 

Similarly, Ocean Blue Boating, a player in the luxury yacht segment, has on its charter list around 25 yachts. Simon Murthaty, COO, says, “Though the leisure boat business is a little slack, it has the potential to grow. In the past one year, we sold quite a few yachts, but we need one more marina in Mumbai or in the vicinity.” The size of the luxury yacht market in India is around ₹100 crore and set to grow to ₹500 crore over the next five years, according to Murthaty.

Yacht parties, too, will pick up over the next few years as more players come up with better servicing and customisation of yachts, according to Murthaty. Of course. Who wouldn’t like to sip a fancy cocktail amid sheer luxury, against the cinematic backdrop of the iconic Gateway of India?