If a yacht is the ultimate status symbol, then the owners of these are at the top of the heap. These floating palaces are super-sized, stunning and packed with a whole new world of over-the-top amenities. “To have a swimming pool, helicopter pad — that’s de rigeur,” notes Jill Bobrow, author of the book "Outrageous Yachts" and editor-at-large for Yachts International Magazine. To be truly outrageous these days, she adds, “A lot falls on the interior design — it’s whether you have gold-leaf faucets or not. Plus, there is a lot of innovative technology.”
You’ll find $40,000 bath knobs on Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko’s 394-foot A — along with Baccarat crystal tables and a room wallpapered with white-stingray hides. And technology rules on the 197-foot Solemates (recently chartered by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs for $850,000 a week), on which passengers use an iPad to control most everything but the steering wheel.
Then there’s the 289-foot Maltese Falcon, owned by hedge-fund superstar Elena Ambrosiadou. One of the world’s largest sailboats, it boasts a revolutionary, computer-controlled rigging system with sails that deploy at the touch of a button from three freestanding masts that rotate to tack the ship. Inside, a striking circular stairway zips through a light-filled atrium to unite three decks with transparent floors. Other finishing touches include a full gym, massive works of art, staterooms for up to a dozen guests and a black leather–floored dining room. Plus, there’s an onboard collection of water toys that includes four small sailboats and six sets of dive gear.
Spaces to carry sailboats, snazzy tenders and personal submarines — as well as more than one helicopter at a time, so friends can drop in for visits — are among the currently in-demand amenities for megayachts, notes Marilyn Mower, Superyacht Editor for Boat International Media group. Also increasingly popular: DJ consoles, fancy water features such as infinity pools or waterfalls, and spas. “Elaborate spas with steam rooms, Finish saunas and cold plunge pools — plus beauty-salon spaces and massage rooms — are becoming standard,” Mower says.
At least one superyacht that’s got it all is the 557-foot Eclipse, the largest and most expensive private yacht in the world, belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It has a 5,000-square-foot armor-plated master suite, two helipads, a 16-meter pool that transforms into a disco, a cinema, salon-spa, restaurant — and an anti-paparazzi device that ferrets out nearby cameras and shoots them with a paralyzing beam of light. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, curiosity-seekers.
Not all tycoons are aiming solely for an ostentatious aquatic display of wealth. Ice, owned by Russian billionaire investor Suleiman Kerimov, is the first “green” megayacht. In addition to being stocked with plenty of over-the-top amenities, the 295-footer has reduced noise, vibration and pollution thanks to an alternative propulsion technology called Azipod. The system is powered by eight electric generators that replace the two large main engines typically found on a yacht of this size. Any exhaust that is produced by the boat passes through a soot-removal filter before expulsion, and there is a wastewater management system onboard.
© 2012 Forbes.com