- Talkmoreblog sea tests a new service for those looking to sail off in a floating palace with the minimum of fuss
- Swish digital platform Yotha allows an entire yacht charter to be organised online
- Peter Allen tried out the service on the French Riviera, sailing between Monaco, Cannes and Saint-Tropez
There are all kinds of questions that spring to mind when you’re powering along the French Riviera towards Saint-Tropez on a £150,000-a-week superyacht.
Will the Charlize Theron lookalikes serving the vintage Champagne and Michelin-starred canapés be auditioning for the next James Bond film?
How many members of the Kardashian family or minor Royals would fit into the upper deck hot tub?
Swish digital platform Yotha allows an entire yacht charter to be organised online. Peter found out that it’s possible to rent the superyacht of your dreams. Pictured is the Philmx, which he boarded on the French Riviera
Who’s paying for all this?
Well, not me, I’m delighted to report, but I felt very privileged to be on board the Philmx to sea test a new service that is revolutionising the rarefied world of floating palaces.
It involves Yotha, a digital platform that allows an entire yacht charter to be organised in cyberspace.
This means that if you’ve just won the lottery, or signed for Manchester City, you can click on the site and organise everything from the kind of jaw-droppingly luxurious cabin you want to sleep in, to how much Beluga caviar you want with your bubbly.
In essence, it’s a kind of nautical version of Airbnb, Booking.Com or even Uber – just far more sophisticated, and a lot more fun.
You not only avoid the hassle associated with traditional brokers, but also cut their commissions by at least 50 per cent.
Peter said that life on board involved Charlize Theron lookalikes serving vintage Champagne and Michelin-starred canapés
Among the many features on the Yotha website is the chance to pre-plan all your meals, while being able to see exactly what they will look like. And what they look like is generally splendid, as this image from the Philmx shows
Negotiating on final price is also allowed, and can easily be done in real time thanks to an exceptionally friendly messaging system that is manned round the clock.
The 142-feet-long Philmx was chosen for my weekend on the Mediterranean because she is owned by Philippe Bacou, the French founder of Yotha.
Let’s get the only sad moment out of the way – when we learned that the yacht used to be called Philmi, after Philippe’s wife, but it was renamed Philmx after she became his ex.
Beyond that unfortunate domestic drama in her history, Philmx is now a much-loved testament to an industry Philippe knows inside out.
‘I’ve spent the past 16 years observing how people have been chartering yachts, and there has been plenty of disappointment,’ he told me.
‘The aim of Yotha is to improve and simplify – to make it far easier for people to enjoy themselves to the full.’
The 142-feet-long Philmx is owned by Philippe Bacou, the French founder of Yotha
Bacou said: ‘I’ve spent the past 16 years observing how people have been chartering yachts, and there has been plenty of disappointment. The aim of Yotha is to improve and simplify’
Well, there was no chance of that not happening. Every second on board Yotha was an absolute delight.
The sense of fantasy escapism started in Monte Carlo when I joined five other pasty-skinned guests who had flown in on Monacair helicopters (I arrived by train, strolling the 10 minutes from Monaco rail station to the port, where it had a prime berth right by the Grand Prix grandstand).
The principality is packed with celebrities – from Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton to Beatles legend Ringo Starr – and most are regular yacht charterers, for example Kim Kardashian, Elle Macpherson and Gigi and Bella Hadid.
Supermodels are particularly drawn to superyachting because there is no obligation to binge eat or drink gallons of beer, as many Brits are prone to do when out on a jolly on the water.
On the contrary, the basic price for the Philmx does not include food, and it is entirely up to you what you consume on board.
The Philmx has bars, a gym, a vast swimming platform, jet-skis, and kayak, fishing and scuba diving equipment
The Advance Provisioning Allowance – or APA – covers your meals and snacks, and you also pre-order alcohol and other drinks.
What you can be certain of is that there will be a cordon bleu chef on board who – together with the Charlize lookalikes – will serve you whatever you want, whenever you want it.
Japanese wagyu beef and black-headed gull eggs are the kinds of delicacies regularly ordered by demanding clients, but staples such as late night hamburgers and bacon butties in the morning are also unsurprisingly popular.
One of the rather swish bedrooms on board the Philmx, which was built in 2014
Floating villa: The ship can sleep 10 people in five bedrooms and has five bathrooms
‘Supermodels are particularly drawn to superyachting because there is no obligation to binge eat or drink gallons of beer,’ writes Peter
Among the many features on the Yotha website is the chance to pre-plan all your meals, while being able to see exactly what they will look like.
Our first meal was just off Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, under warm May sunshine, yet in sight of the still snow-capped Alps.
Exotic gardens surrounded us – all of them part of the Belle Époque estates enjoyed by aristocrats, heads of state and Hollywood stars throughout the decades.
Pictured is the Philmx’s captain – Youri Drouin, who grew up in France’s Atlantic port of La Rochelle
Peter pootles out to his temporary floating-swank-pad home
It was here that Captain Youri Drouin, a highly experienced seaman who grew up in France’s Atlantic port of La Rochelle, showed off the Philmx.
Beyond the exquisite technical performance of a much-loved superyacht he has commanded since delivery in 2014, he enthused about every detail, from her bars, gym and vast swimming platform to her jet-skis, kayak, and fishing and scuba diving equipment.
I was duty bound to ask about the most popular toy in the superyacht locker and – yes – there was a huge inflatable slide which would allow you to scream maniacally as you plunged into the Mediterranean at speed while moored outside Brigitte Bardot’s St-Tropez villa.
Fuel during a relatively unambitious week bowling around bays, resorts, and other places of interest will be around £15,000.
You can then add around £10,000 in tips to that, but of course how you reward perfect service is up to you and whoever manages your overdraft.
We did a lot of sailing during our trip, but also enjoyed wandering around Saint-Tropez, going to the excellent restaurant at the Hotel de Paris, and enjoying Cannes just before the resort’s annual Film Festival.
Lunch on the fabled beach at Ramatuelle was a particular highlight – it meant leaving the Philmx at sea, and then steaming ashore on the Zodiac tender.
There was no better feeling than eating glorious fresh fish in the open air Club 55 restaurant while admiring our home-from-from bobbing up and down on the azure waves.
Yes, it was only ours for a weekend that went far too quickly, but if that call ever comes in from City manager Pep Guardiola, I’ll be straight on my laptop booking another few days in paradise.
The PHILMX, which can accommodate up to 10 guests in five cabins, can be booked directly online at www.yotha.com for €170,000 (£140,000). All kinds of other superyachts are also available. Peter was onboard the Philmx as a guest of Yotha.