By Norah Bradford
There’s only one summer playground for the wealthiest and most influential. It’s called the Mediterranean. They traverse the blue waters in their mega-yachts to make appearances at many of the world-famous party ports from St. Tropez to Ibiza. And viewing those yachts is like a show in itself. Once a mere 100 feet, yachts now reach lengths of 300 feet and beyond (with price tags to match!).
Here’s what’s happening on the Mediterranean this summer.
The third week in July builds to a crescendo where the Beau Monde and the fashionable set will make their first stop on the Côte d’Azur, for a jaunt in St. Tropez, where they can explore the decadence of Europe. Port de St. Tropez has been named as one of the top five most expensive places to dock a yacht in the world because the marina is comprised of only thirty yacht slips. (Tipping the port at least a thousand dollars a day is de rigueur.)
First up is Le Club 55 (frequented by celebrities including Penelope Cruz and U2’s Bono) nestled beachfront and featuring a private pier. This makes it easy for yacht passengers to disembark and enjoy a world-renowned lunch. Once evening falls, head to Hotel Byblos, home of hot nightclub Le Caves du Roy, frequented by millionaires, models, and royalty. Look carefully and you’ll spot Mick Jagger and Jay-Z, both of whom will relax knowing that the club’s security team will keep out the paparazzi.
On the first weekend in August mega-yacht cruisers will head to the next noteworthy stop: Monaco. The quarter of Monte Carlo is dotted with the most luxurious hotels including Monte Carlo Bay, spas, casinos, and nightclubs, like Jimmy’z Monte Carlo which attracts a young and trendy crowd. Keep an eye out for the Octopus, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s extravagant $200 million yacht, in Port de Monaco. Prince Albert II will host the Monte Carlo Red Cross Gala Ball at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club (Karl Lagerfeld has attended in the past). The annual fundraiser gathers guests for a great time and an even greater cause.
By the end of the second week in August A-Listers from around the world will dock their yachts for the weekend in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, east of Italy’s mainland. Five-star landmark Hotel Cala di Volpe, the chicest retreat on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. (Want to stay in the Presidential Suite? Be prepared to spend $21,000 a night.) A typical Sardinian evening for the elite begins with fine dining at the island’s outpost of Cipriani followed by a late night of dancing to the trendiest music at Billionaire, where you may spot Naomi Campbell or Leonardo DiCaprio. Another Billionaire fan is Swizz Beatz, who held his bachelor party here before marrying Alicia Keys. Carry the festivities into the next day by watching sunrise seaside—then repeat!
Make a quick stop on the Isle of Capri to visit the iconic Capri Palace, where the Beckhams and Mariah Carey have stayed. Are you a foodie? Don’t miss out on a meal at Don Alfonso 1890, a family-run restaurant that holds two Michelin stars.
By the third weekend of August—yachters like Sean “Diddy” Combs locate on one of the Balearic Islands just south of Spain. One of the most exclusive destinations in the world, Ibiza’s Port Adriano recently enlarged the marina to make room for mega-yachts. Cas Gasí Hotel, the isle’s best-kept secret, treats its celebrity clients (Kate Moss and Robert De Niro among them) to the most beautiful views of the island. Ibiza is known for its nightlife, and regulars like Madonna and Jade Jagger often spend evenings dancing on tables at sexy cocktail lounge Aura. This weekend the A-list crowd will be mingling on the hottest yachts, including billionaire Andrey Melnichenko’s mega-yacht A, which cost more than $300 million to build.
Though the party season in the Mediterranean may end here, yacht passengers don’t stop partying. The mega-yachts will migrate to the Caribbean for the winter, before returning once again the following year for more summer fun in the Mediterranean.