Sun, Mar 19, 2017 - Page 15 News List

‘Offshore Davos’ to bring together influential people

By Nikki Ekstein  /  Bloomberg

It takes a lot of good business to be able to afford a megayacht. However, owning one is very, very bad business, according to Aaron Simpson, founder and chairman of the members-only concierge service Quintessentially Group.

“It costs 10 percent of a yacht’s purchase price just to maintain that boat every year,” said the London-based entrepreneur. “If you spend £25 million [US$31 million] on the yacht itself, it’ll cost you another £2.5 million to run it—and to use it maybe three weeks of the year.”

So, then, why is he building the world’s biggest one?

“I had this thought back in 2007, when the world was all bling and everything was fantastic, that it would be so much easier for people to own an apartment on a megayacht than own the megayacht outright,” Simpson said, recalling conversations with boat owners who bemoaned the expense of their lavish seafaring lifestyle.

Quintessentially, a company built on the principle of streamlining the lives of influential people around the world, saw an opportunity. Its concierge team — which provides 24-hour support to members in 60 cities — is known to fulfill requests that range from hard-to-get restaurant and hotel reservations to having Madonna perform at a spectacular birthday party.

At 41,000 tonnes and 220m long, the US$304 million Quintessentially One would be 40m longer than the biggest yacht sailing the seas today, the US$1 billion Azzam, which has been tied to an Emirati royal. The price tag is lower because Simpson did not feel the need to include things like a missile defense system and personal submarine.

What Simpson is creating is not structurally unlike a Ponant ship; the French company’s large yachts tend to have between 110 and 135 staterooms apiece.

However, there is one key distinction: Quintessentially One is meant to be about the impressive people on board; the vessel is just an equally impressive backdrop.

Simpson describes it as a TED conference on the seas, attended exclusively by influential professionals you would want to rub elbows with — a floating hotel for VIPs that drops anchor outside culturally significant events and hosts the most interesting parties.

“We wanted to create a boat that you want to get onto — not a boat that you want to get off when it docks,” Simpson said.

The Quintessentially One is scheduled for completion in time for the 2020 UEFA soccer tournament — one of many global events that is to inform the ship’s sailing circuit and further differentiate it from the traditional notion of cruising. Other events will likely include Art Basel Miami Beach, New York Fashion Week, the Cannes Film Festival, and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

“We want to be in the places at the right time rather than on classic routes that follow the sun,” Simpson said. “We’re going to where the party is at and where people want to mingle.”

Quintessentially One will be an invite-only affair, making it “the world’s largest floating private members club,” Simpson said.

If you do get in, expect to spend about US$18,000 for the privilege: That annual fee will buy you two nights on the boat at your choice event. Additional nights are to cost US$2,000.

It is to have eight to 12 permanent residences that get you access year-round — architectural plans are still being finalized, but they are anticipated to sell for about US$14.6 million when they go on the market in the next few months.

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