The lifestyle of a billionaire wouldn’t be complete without the purchase of a superyacht.
We’re not just talking about luxury yachts to hold a few parties to cruise around the shores of the mega-rich’s playgrounds like St. Tropez or Monaco — these are palatial boats that rival the best hotels in the world and use cutting edge technology to give them the on-water speed equivalent of a Ferrari.
Having some nice bedrooms, a dining room, and a party platform is no longer just enough for the mega-rich — they want waterfalls, infinity pools, several dining areas, and enough room to hold a billionaires’ party of the century.
So, Business Insider spoke to Sara Gioanola, a manager at Heesen Yachts, to get a glimpse into the insanely awesome world of superyachts.
Heesen Yachts is a Dutch company that builds these luxury titans of the sea in a South Netherlands’ shipyard.
BUSINESS INSIDER: So firstly, how much do these superyachts cost and what are the options for customisation?
SARA GIOANOLA: Talking about prices is always a delicate subject but we can say that you’re looking at entry prices of €66 million (£48 million, $US74 million) for the smallest and most uncustomised superyacht.
We have two choices for our clients. They can either come up with their entirely own concept and project or they can have a semi-customised boat.
Usually our clients already know a lot of very experienced architects and engineers and come to us to build it but then we have many people who like to do the semi-customisation using our own architects and engineers which takes less time to build than the other choice.
We can modify super structures, add or take away features. The list is probably endless in the type of extravagance and customisation they want but if they can imagine it — we will do our very best to build it.
BI: What are some of the coolest trends developing in terms of what billionaires’ want on their yachts?
The big trend at the moment is that clients want bigger platforms to fit more guests and, at the same time, be closer to the water and the surrounding environment.
They are wanting infinity pools, which are pools that give a visual effect of the water extending into the horizon, as well as waterfalls. The waterfalls look beautiful but they can also create a water banner, depending on the amount of water gushing, to enable a privacy shield. They can also be used to project movies onto it.
A major, and quite impressive, customisation requirement is actually an engineering one, rather than design. One client wanted their 70-metre superyacht to have a 30+ knot speed (around 35 miles per hour). We added a third engine, a Rolls-Royce central booster jet to increase the speed.
BI: How long does it take to make some of these superyachts, considering the level of customisation, and how do they pay for it?
SG: For a semi-customised superyacht, I would say 2.5 years on average and for a fully customised superyacht, depending on the complexity, it would be 3 years onwards.
We currently are building 10 superyachts at the moment in the shipyard for delivery between 2016-2017 and it’s pretty much split 50/50 on semi-customisation and full customisation.
When purchasing a boat, the clients would have to sign a letter of intent and then pay a 10% deposit. We then work with the client on an agreement for payment instalments and a delivery date. When the final payment is made, we hand over the boat.
BI: Are you seeing growing demand from any region in particular for these superyachts?
SG: To be honest, everyone around the world is buying our boats — apart from China. We’re very popular with people in the US and in Russia. Russian clients really appreciate the terms of the agreement we lay out for clients and our track record of financial stability and delivering the boats on the delivery date we agree on.
BI: What makes Heesen Yachts different to other superyacht builders out there?
SG: It’s first Dutch shipyard to uses all aluminium and super structures and precious metals in its boats. Aluminium is a lot more precious than steel, is lighter, more flexible and allows the boats to go faster.
After being founded in 1978, we have delivered around 170 boats so far and the shape is very unique, compared to other builders because of our heritage and where it is built.
We have a serious limitation on the length we can build, our yachts range from 35 metres to around 70 metres because our shipyard is in the heart of the South Netherlands and the boats have to be able to navigate the canals and go under nine bridges to reach the North Sea.
That means we have a maximum air draft – the distance from the surface of the water to the highest point on a boat. So, when you get a superyacht from us, you’ll get a more streamlined vessel because the build is very much influenced by where we build our ships.
However, our dry dock is 90 metres in length, meaning we can build vessels up to 80 metres.
We also invest heavily in technology as demands are always evolving. Because of this, we have introduce a number of innovations to the yachting world, including a type of wing, which is like a spoiler on a F1 car, that increases stability and comfort for those on board by 40% and decreases fuel consumption by 35%. It’s a huge breakthrough as it saves the client a lot more on fuel costs too. But it’s not just us saying it, we’ve won lots of awards for our boats since we began.