Desirable Destination: Monaco
The Magnificent Med | May
Think of Monaco, and if you’re of a certain generation, more than likely you recall the wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. You may even remember that a few days before the two ceremonies in 1956 (one civil, one religious), the Hollywood actress and her wedding party sailed into the harbor aboard a cruise ship. All of this put the world’s second-smallest independent state (after the Vatican) into the front of many an American mind.
For some of you of subsequent generations, however, the first thing you think of is the glamour of the principality’s renowned casino, thanks to travel magazines—or even your own roll of the dice amid its glitzy, fresco-adorned chambers, where jackets are required and the croupiers effortlessly switch from French to English when addressing chance-takers.
While I find the history and glamour of Monaco palpable whenever I visit, for me it all comes down to one word: megayachts. To be more specific, megayachts in the month of May. Why? Easy: One of the world’s most famous sporting events runs right along the harbor during that time, attracting some of the world’s most famous yachts, and in general that same harbor is the spring and summertime home for some of those same yachts.
No matter how comfortable your La-Z-Boy is, it can’t possibly compare to the aft deck of a megayacht, whether she’s your own or a chartered one, for viewing the Monaco Grand Prix. In fact, the prime berths in Port Hercule, the marina, start booking well in advance, since the Formula 1 drivers pass so close to the water’s edge that you can’t distinguish the scream of the engines from the throbbing of your pulse.
Between the Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival, which is held the same month a little farther along the coast, Port Hercule is the ultimate place to yacht-spot. Upwards of 500 yachts ranging in size to 400-plus feet can—and do—fit in Port Hercule. It’s not cheap—but then again, if you own a multimillion-dollar yacht or are ready to spend six figures on a week’s charter, you’re not about to start pinching pennies. You’ll see Lady Moura and Atlantis II, but chances are you’ll see other famous yachts like Pelorus and Utopia, each of which have observed the race in recent years. And if you’re an avid reader of The World’s 100 Largest Yachts and America’s 100 Largest Yachts, no doubt you’ll recognize many of the following, all of which were present last May: RM Elegant, Kogo, Dilbar, Savarona, Alexander, Capri, White Cloud, Lionheart, Sokar, Fortunate Sun, and Annaliesse.
So what do all these owners and charterers do during the festivities? When they’re not watching the race, they’re watching each other. Yes, even yacht owners like to indulge in the fine pastime of spectator sports. If I had a dollar for the number of times an owner and/or owner’s rep admitted to me that his yacht’s good looks were “borrowed” from another, I’d be well on my way to owning one myself (well, at least a tender to one).
This May the Grand Prix runs from the 22nd to the 25th, and the Cannes Film Festival is the 16th to the 27th. Book early—and as the croupiers say, bonne chance (good luck).
January: British Virgin Islands
February: Great Abaco Island / Bahamas
March: Little Harbor Cay / Bahamas
April: Los Sueños / Costa Rica
July: Washington, D.C.
August: British Columbia
September: Montauk, Long Island
October: Hudson River, New York
November: Half Moon Cay / Belize
December: St. Barts
This article originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.