Hotels with Benefits

Hotels with benefits

It seems obvious, really. Why stop at four poster beds, Michelin-star restaurants and luxury spas, when you could add a yacht to the mix? The trend for five-star hotels to add floating additions to their selection of amenities is on the up for good reason. For many guests – the chance to get out on a private boat is far more exciting than bagging the biggest suite – or flying first. They’ve done all that before.


The Four Seasons was one of the first to spot a boat-shaped gap in the market. Their 39m Explorer sleeps up to 22 and sails around the Maldives, transporting guests between the best dive spots, and offering up bespoke itineraries like the recent Manta Ray Trust Expedition. “The people that use this yacht tend to be activity-centric,” explains Guy Stevens, founder of the Trust, who led the charter. “These are people who want to do stuff with their day, particularly diving, snorkelling and watersports. If you wanted to lie on the beach, you might as well be in the one of their resorts.”

Fair point, especially as the Four Seasons now has three to choose from, if you take into account the Private Island, which opened last year. Resorts, of course, are a total indulgence, and contrary to popular opinion, they also offer up activities galore, but those opting to spend at least part of their trip on board, may find that they come away with new friends, as well as a new love of yachting. “At the hotels, everything tends to be set up to offer privacy,” explains Guy. “On here, people are more likely to make friends. We have people that meet on the trips and then arrange their next ones while they are still on board.”

Another hotel group hitting the headlines with their yachting proposals is the Ritz-Carlton. They have three yachts in the offing, with the first expected to set sail by 2019. Unlike the smaller, more intimate offerings from competitors, the Ritz-Carlton’s first boat is 190m and will sleep almost 300 passengers at once. That’s nothing for a cruise ship, but those looking to sample a slice of superyacht life might not have the most authentic experience.

That said, the extra space makes for all the extra luxuries. All the cabins will have balconies, and there are two duplex penthouse suites. Beyond the bedrooms, there’s a selection of restaurants, including one by Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, along with a signature spa and all manner of on-board entertainment. The boat will travel to the usual yachting hotspots around the Med and the Caribbean, and claims to be able to reach destinations that bigger cruise ships cannot.

The newly launched 42m Satori, will no doubt be hoping for similar levels of devotion. The fact that it belongs to Tuscany’s landlocked Borgo Santo Pietro hotel may surprise some, but on closer inspection, their decision to launch a yacht makes perfect sense. For the hotel’s loyal fans, what safer place to try out yachting life? On board they can expect to see familiar faces, including Santo Pietro-trained Michelin-star chefs, as well as the same levels of service and style; all they are swapping are the rolling Tuscan hills for the gently rolling waves of the Med. Up to ten guests can stay on board at once, with an outdoor cinema, wine cellar and a spa for company.

“Borgo Santo Pietro is really only a 45min drive from the beautiful Tuscan coast,” explains Jeanette Throttrup, who owns the hotel. “It is therefore very much possible to combine both in one trip.” Jeanette also chose the yacht's name, a Japanese word meaning 'instant enlightenment', as she felt it perfectly summed up how she felt the first time she went sailing in the Mediterranean.

The list of hotels goes on – the Aman Resorts’ 52m Amandira is a heartbreakingly beautiful, traditional-style sailing ship, painstakingly handcrafted by the Konjo tribe. It sails around Indonesia, to Komodo National Park and Raja Ampat, both popular stop-offs for Asia-based superyachts. The boat sleeps ten, but for bigger parties, there’s a sister boat, the Amanikan, waiting in the wings. Elsewhere, the D-Hotel Maris offers two yachts for its guests, who use them to explore the Datça Peninsula, otherwise known as the Turkish Riviera. Even London is getting in on the action, with The Wellesley launching a 56m superyacht of the same name in the Med.

So next time you’re booking into a five-star hotel, don’t settle for an infinity pool. Only a superyacht will do.

"For many guests – the chance to get out on a private boat is far more exciting than bagging the biggest suite – or flying first. They’ve done all that before"

Dominique Afacan
Dominique Afacan
Dominique writes about all things luxury for Forbes.com, Condé Nast Traveller, Boat International and many more. Since joining the superyachting world, she's raced at the St Barths Bucket, kissed the America's Cup in Bermuda and taken a polar plunge in Antarctica.