With bigger boats, clued-up crews and more adventurous guests, the superyacht industry is setting its sights farther than ever before. Those chartering a luxury yacht in Cannes will always have friends. But a Seadoo safari off Sumbawa or a blowout on the Black Sea are positively on-trend.
In the first of a five-part series, luxury yacht charter agency Y.CO’s destinations expert, Tristan Rutherford, details where the super-rich will be sailing to next year next year. This month’s hotspot: Hainan Island, China.
Sail southeast from Vietnam’s Halong Bay and you reach an island three times the size of Cyprus. It’s a whole lot hotter than the Mediterranean too, with an economy growing faster than Greece’s sovereign debt.
Welcome to Hainan, China’s answer to Hawaii, and a paradigm of Eastern promise.
Situated southwest of Hong Kong in the South China Sea, Hainan was off-limits to foreigners for decades. It’s still a rare blend of tropical island paradise, with only one emerging megacity to spoil the view. Virgin forests and coconut palms are interspersed with rare wildlife, including the Hainan peacock and the Hainan gibbon monkey.
Yet these shores are set to become a serious yachting hub. In 2012, the southern city of Sanya approved ten local marinas that will boast a total of 6,000 berths. The annual Hainan Rendez-Vous, China’s largest superyacht and invitation-only aviation show, draws tens thousands of well-heeled mainlanders each spring. Over the past four years, the event has rapidly propelled this Asian island into the luxury limelight.
Just east of Sanya, the sandy sweep of Yalong Bay is clustered with Bali-esque boutique hotels. Its focus is more on decadent relaxation than cultured luxury: more Forte dei Marmi than St Tropez.
But experienced sailors head east yet again to Haitang Bay. For the moment, these tropical shores are still pristine – although luxury resorts are moving in fast. Golf aficionados should schedule in an afternoon at Mission Hills Hainan. In true China style, it’s the largest golf resort on the globe.