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City Of Floating Mansions: Monaco Yacht Show

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Picture this. You’re mingling amongst the mega yachts and their mega rich owners.

You’ve swerved the noise and street chaos of the Grand Prix in May and instead donned your deck shoes (Ferragamo or Bally, of course) for the annual migration of the uber-rich to a spot called Port Hercules in September. This is Monaco’s second most significant event, and it’s the 25th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show.

Each year, the world’s smallest country hosts some of the world’s largest congregation of super yachts in an exuberant celebration of all things nautical. Did we also mention exclusivity?

Nautica De Elegance

This year the show will run from the 23rd through to the 26th of September and it will not be open to the public, per se. A daily pass which can be bought at the door is not cheap at €150 per person but if you’re a yachting industry professional, €500 will buy you a four-day pass. Kids are free and as in neighbouring France, small dogs are de rigeur.

Most importantly, if you’re not in the market for a 80 to 262ft, motor or sail – most worth millions of Euro – you can certainly look the part and hope for an invitation from a yacht brand or brokerage to one of the myriad of VIP soirees under the marquees. All this is fuelled by mouth-watering morsels and lubricated by Champagne of course.

Dress To Impress

As you can probably tell, this is no ordinary boat show. Even the casually dressed guests are decked out in discrete designer rigging. Here the promo girls wear Armani or Prada, so take a leaf from the locals and make an effort in your appearance.

This is where individuality is prized, and no sartorial statement is too outlandish, but in Breton stripes or ubiquitous white, you can’t go wrong. As for shoes, you’ll have to chuck them in a basket – albeit elegant – before you board each yacht. So ditch the dressy monk straps and opt for slip ons (and make sure your toes are tidy!)

Docking In Style

Before you even arrive in Monaco, you can start your yacht show odyssey in fine jetsetter style by chopper. At around €100 one way, the flight is just seven minutes from Nice airport and the best way to get your bearings on the Cote d’Azur.

There are several companies running hundreds of flights per day, so you’re guaranteed a spot, though don’t plan to lug tonnes of LV luggage. Passengers are limited to one 25kg bag in the hold and a small piece of hand luggage in the cabin.

Why You Should Experience It

Now in its 25th year, MYS as it’s known in circles that refer to all the big shows on the circuit by their acronym is a must-do for industry, owners and prospective clients.

Truly a spectacular sight, Port Hercules glimmers with a fleet of 115 superyachts at the marina – and just as many moored in the harbour. Drawn from 41 countries, including Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, US, Turkey and representing the southern hemisphere, New Zealand, some 40 yachts will be making their world debut, complete with lavish unveiling parties and a flurry of media in attendance.

“Tricked up with canopies, carbon fibre and in some cases accommodation, these supertenders are pitched as day boats for coastal cruising and arriving with impact.”

Dockside, there are 500 exhibitors comprising shipyards, brokerage houses, charter companies, yacht designers, nautical suppliers, tenders, yachting federations and associations, private jet and helicopter companies, and a swathe of prestige brands you would associate with this lifestyle.

Along with superlative superyachts such as Grace E (73m) from Perini Navi-Picchiotti shipyard, Solandge (85.5m) from Lürssen and Equanimity (91.5m) by Oceanco, the smaller but no less covetable supertenders made an impression in 2014.

Ferrying clients and VIPS between yachts and the Yacht Club and acting as the platform for sealing the deal, this new generation of support vessel has been re-engineered as a connoisseur craft. Rarely is a Riva outshone, but this was the case at MYS, as a bevy of beefed-up limousine boats wove between the behemoths, corks popping over contracts.

Tricked up with canopies, carbon fibre and in some cases accommodation, these supertenders are pitched as day boats for coastal cruising and arriving with impact. Some, like the Dutch-designed and US-built VanDutch 40 with its twin 480hp engines, can reach speeds of up to 40 knots, delivering performance as well as pose factor.

Gaelle Tallarida, MYS’ Managing Director explains that today the event is more than just a boat show.

“Over 100 events are organised onboard the yachts, at the stands, or in the Principality’s top hotels. Awards, business lunches, gala dinners and cocktail parties are some of the many highlights that enable formal and informal networking and attract those who buy superyachts.”

MYS attracts around 34,000 high net worth clients, a handful of them attended by patron, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Moving suavely around the show cutting ribbons, Albert is a highly personable chap who supports two philanthropic causes close to the hearts of the organisers at MYS – OnlyWatch, an auction of exquisite timepieces which benefits research into a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and the oddly named ‘Wood Forever’, which encourages yacht builders to use alternatives to Burmese teak in construction.

Where To Stay

One rule: Book your accommodation early, or you’ll miss out. The best hotels fill quickly and by July, options become narrow. Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo, which adjoins the Casino de Monte-Carlo is surely Monaco’s most renowned, and is undergoing major renovations – the first in its 150 year history.

Monaco’s most famous hotel is also the home of the triple-Michelin starred restaurant Louis XV. At €1,100 per night for a courtyard facing junior suite (minimum four night stay) it’s a hefty investment in what is definitely an unrivalled cultural experience. It is Monsieur Bond’s preference, after all.

Among the yacht fraternity’s favourite hotels are Le Meridien, famous for its breath-taking absolute water frontage and private beach.

If you’re not averse to a meander down the scenic coast road, Eze is a perfectly preserved Medieval village that hides several five star establishments. Chateau Eza is an icon and historic villa with a dramatic cliff top position and views over the Mediterranean, and the equally sublime Chateau de la Chevre d’Or hotel, Walt Disney’s favourite European haunt with a pool any mogul would be proud of.

For those wishing to save their Euro for other worldly delights such as dining or clubbing, renting an apartment is the other way to go. TripAdvisor’s Holiday Lettings is a sure-fire way to book decent digs, many with water views, all charming.

Beyond The Boats

When you tire of big white boats, there are many more delights to while away your time in Monaco. For a pocket-sized Principality, there is plenty of sight-seeing to be had. Window shopping or the real thing is a joy in this haven of luxury.

It’s not all Cartier and Christian Dior – although the Principality has more than its share of Carré d’Or boutiques. Allées Lumières opposite the Casino is worth a look for the lust factor alone. The Fontvieille Shopping Centre has regular stores and even a McDonald’s. La Condamine around the Port offers around 200 shops and a traditional produce each morning.

Places To Be Seen

Night falls and Monaco dons its sequins and shimmies, nowhere more so than Jimmy’z, an icon for over 40 years and still a magnet for the international it crowd. This indoor-outdoor club is over the top in every way, including pricing. Expect to spend a princely sum to enter, stay and play.

The Living Room is another Monaco hot spot which comes to life around 10pm and parties well into dawn. For fans of blues, jazz and live music, Black Legend on Port Hercules is open seven days a week and reasonably priced.

Otherwise there’s Brasserie de Monaco, a brewery and beer garden offering a fine selection of local beers and menu to compliment it. And if all else fails, the Fairmont hotel’s Saphir 24 is a 24-hour bistro lounge and bar.

NOBU restaurant is just next door and in summer, the pool on the 7th floor becomes a pop-up Nikki Beach Club where from noon until late, guest DJs, champagne and canapés are consumed with the dazzling backdrop of the Riviera.

Some of the main attractions in Monaco don’t cost a lot to visit. Others you will need to beg or borrow a Black Card to simply buy a Coke.

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