on 4 Jan 2021
As travel eases, interest is booming in luxury yacht charters. The ‘bubble’ afforded by the controlled environment of a private charter can offer guests true door-to-door seclusion: a precious commodity in the wake of the pandemic.
Many locations in Asia will be popular among guests who are looking to charter a yacht through a resort this year. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced that as of July 1, 2021, Phuket is the first destination in Thailand to reopen to vaccinated international visitors without quarantine.
The Maldives kept its borders open to tourists of all nationalities for much of 2020 and has been one of the few travel success stories of the pandemic. The Seychelles has also been rapidly vaccinating its small population and is also opening for tourists.
While many high-end resorts in Asia can help arrange a third-party yacht charter, a select number offer a dedicated yacht for in-house charter, which is operated to the hotel’s standards. It is a great way to try yachting for the first time.
Here are some of the newest, most luxurious, and most exciting resort-based yachts currently on offer across the Asia-Pacific.
1. AMAN RESORTS: AMANDIRA
Amandira at Padar Island, Komodo National Park | Courtesy of Aman
The flagship yacht of the ultra-luxe Aman Resorts, Amandira is an elegant 52-metre twin-masted phinisi handcrafted from teak and hardwoods in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
She takes private charter guests on three distinct voyages throughout Indonesia. Guests can explore the legendary Spice Islands of the Banda Sea, Komodo National Park or the exceptional dive sites of Raja Ampat.
Guests can tailor each expedition to their interests, whether it’s hiking volcanoes, swimming with manta rays, or performing sun salutations at dawn. Amandira blends her classic stylings with contemporary amenities, including state-of-the-art dive equipment plus an experienced divemaster on board.
When exploring onshore or underwater, professional guides can accompany guests and arrange kayaking and hiking expeditions. New divers can gain Padi certifications, while experienced divers can use nitrox to spend more time getting face to face with sea creatures.
Guests can tailor each expedition to their interests, whether it’s hiking volcanoes, swimming with manta rays, or performing sun salutations at dawn
There are three king cabins and two bunk bed cabins, accommodating up to 10 guests. Amandira’s crew of 14 includes a spa therapist, waiters and a private chef.
Dining options include everything from al fresco on deck to private feasts on deserted beaches. Meals can be tailored to a wellness-focused menu. Speciality wellness menus and cruises are also available, incorporating everything from wellness-focused menus to restorative yoga on the sundeck and meditation sessions.
2. ANANTARA KIHAVAH VILLAS: OCEAN WHISPERER
With its spectacular underwater restaurant and wine cellar, Anantara Kihavah Villas resort in the Maldives already has a unique connection to the ocean. The resort also boasts 24-metre Ocean Whisperer, a two-masted gulet, or traditional wooden Turkish sailing vessel, which cruises the Indian Ocean and is available for private charter.
Perfect for intimate dinners and deserted island exploration, the yacht has two spacious ensuite cabins that can host four guests, each with lounge seats and king-sized beds.
There’s adventure to be had with snorkelling and diving experiences at sites across the Maldivian archipelago, with suggestions and information on hand from the resident marine biologist. Multi-lingual diving instructors are on hand to present courses ranging from Dive Master and Adventure Diver to Digital Underwater Photography and Padi Enriched Air Diver.
SEA, the resort’s underwater restaurant and wine cellar
Guests on half-day or full-day charters can take in dolphin and turtle-watching, a photoshoot on a sandbank and visits to a local island, while overnight charters offer sunset champagne and dinner served under the stars by a private chef.
And, if you want to push the boat out, the resort can arrange an exceptionally romantic package that allows you to say “I do” as the sun sets over the water.
3. SONEVA FUSHI: SONEVA IN AQUA
The 23-metre motorsailer Soneva in Aqua is a decadent floating villa that sails between Soneva’s two resorts in the Maldives. The crew includes a captain, chef, a barefoot butler and wellness therapist, plus an astronomer and divemaster on request.
Soneva in Aqua has two cabins accommodating four adults and two children. The main cabin ensuite features an extraordinary glass-bottomed spa tub, which is only rivalled by the outdoor jacuzzi on the main deck. Soneva in Aqua generally cruises in the remote Baa Atoll, which supports one of the largest coral groups in the Indian Ocean and is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve.
The overwater villas at five-star Sonevea’s resorts are the perfect start and endpoint for your yacht journey. They include outdoor bathtubs, glass floor panels, a waterslide and a retractable roof for stargazing.
In March 2021, Soneva launched a post-Covid collaboration with charter specialists Alexa Private Cruises, offering guests curated itineraries lasting 10, 14, or 21 days, spread across land and sea. Guests can split their time between Soneva in Aqua and Alexa J, a 38-metre schooner with a crew of six and just one VIP master cabin for two.
4. FOUR SEASONS RESORT KOH SAMUI: MINOR AFFAIR
In 2018, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand opened its opulent Owner’s Residence, a four-bedroom private villa perched on the tropical hillside, with ocean views, an infinity pool and a personal chef. The Owner’s Residence Package also includes access to Minor Affair, the resort’s customised Sunseeker Manhattan 60.
She can accommodate up to 12 people during the day or six guests in three lower-deck cabins overnight. There are many spectacular day trips possible from Koh Samui, including excursions to Koh Tao, a popular dive destination, and the Koh Si Koh Ha group of islands.
Onboard Minor Affair, guests can discover the beauty of Thailand’s Ang Thong National Marine Park during an overnight excursion, which cruises the park’s rainforest-fringed islands and avoids the daytime crowds.
Infinity pool view from the Owner’s Residence at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
Snorkel among the parrotfish, stingrays and colourful coral before heading back on board for sunset cocktails. Enjoy a barbecue and bonfire on a private beach, then wrap up the night with a spot of stargazing on deck. In the morning, you can choose from a sunrise excursion to the Emerald Lake on Ko Mae Ko or a leisurely jungle hike, before enjoying lunch on board and cruising back to the hotel.
5. ANANTARA LAYAN PHUKET RESORT: MAJOR AFFAIR
Guests at the Anantara Layan Resort can explore the deserted white beaches, craggy limestone karsts and tropical islands that dot Thailand’s Andaman Coast aboard Major Affair, the resort’s customised 27-metre Sunseeker 90.
The Sunseeker 90 is designed for maximum outdoor space. The flybridge has a wet bar and dining area with sunpads. The aft cockpit has a large dining area, while the swim platform accommodates a 4.6-metre jet tender, leaving space for toys including water skis, a wakeboard, kneeboard and two-seater jet ski.
Major Affair is available for charter by day, by night or for an entire week, and can sleep a total of eight guests in four plush, ensuite cabins (one master aft, one VIP forward, one starboard and double port cabin). An additional cabin can accommodate four crew. Charter itineraries are customisable.
Guests can sunbathe on the white-sand beaches at uninhabited Bamboo Island, take in the unreal spectacle of Pileh Lagoon, or cruise around Phang Nga Bay. Keen divers should voyage out to the remote Similan Islands, a low-lying archipelago that has been ranked in the world’s top 10 dive sites. In these clear and biodiverse waters, visitors can hope to spot manta rays, leopard sharks, Kuhl’s maskrays and even whale sharks.
6. ST REGIS MALDIVES VOMMULI RESORT: NORMA
There are few better ways to explore azure Maldivian lagoons and secluded Indian Ocean atolls than aboard the 20-metre Azimut Flybridge 66 Norma, which can be chartered exclusively by guests of St Regis Maldives Vommuli.
Every cruise aboard Norma includes a St Regis butler, a personal chef and a babysitter (if required)
Norma takes her name from the yacht Nourmahal, a 250-foot yacht owned by the American business magnate John Jacob Astor, who founded St Regis in 1904. There are four cabins accommodating up to eight guests.
Norma can be chartered by day or night for a wide variety of expeditions, including diving and snorkelling in the Dhaalu Atoll, dolphin and whale shark watching, tours of local islands and lavish sunset cruises with Champagne sabering.
Guests can charter Norma for airport transfer directly from Malé International Airport. Every cruise aboard Norma includes a St Regis butler, a personal chef and a babysitter (if required).
St Regis Maldives Vommuli, which resumed operations with enhanced cleaning procedures in October 2020, is an upscale private island resort in the Dhaalu Atoll. The resort’s three-bedroom, 1,533-square-metre John Jacob Astor Estate private villa is the largest overwater bungalow in the Maldives, and it offers an expansive terrace and private infinity pool.
7. ALILA HOTELS & RESORTS: ALILA PURNAMA
The 46-metre phinisi Alila Purnama is based in Indonesia and is managed by Alila Hotels and Resorts, which has resorts in Bali, Jakarta and Central Java. Alila Purnama features the traditional phinisi design used by Bugis seafarers from South Sulawesi.
This hand-made yacht can accommodate up to 10 guests in five suites, all of which are air-conditioned with ensuite bathrooms, double wardrobes and queen-sized beds. The Sriwijaya master suite boasts large, wraparound windows, a private balcony and an ensuite with bathtub.
For 2021/22, Alila Purnama is sailing year-round on a charter schedule that alternates between the jagged mountain peaks and crystal-clear waters of Komodo National Park and the richly biodiverse Raja Ampat archipelago. Full-ship chartering is available for a minimum of four nights for 2-10 guests all year round.
Alila Purnama is fitted out with custom furniture in teak, rattan and other locally sourced materials. She offers a library, lounge, bar and indoor dining area seating up to 10 guests, as well as a large main deck with oversized day beds and umbrellas for absorbing the sea views of Indonesia. Alila Purnama also has a fully licensed Padi dive centre.
8. PANGKOR LAUT RESORT: YTL LADY II
Set on a tranquil private island three miles of Malaysia’s western coast in the Strait of Malacca, Pangkor Laut Resort is a lush hideaway framed by white sand beaches and wild rainforest. The resort features a world-class spa, and its spacious villas overlook the sea and jungle – many have outdoor bathtubs and private balconies.
The signature Straits to Luxury package, available from late winter to early summer, is a five-day, four-night cruise up to Phuket
Guests have access to YTL Lady II, a sleek 26-metre Princess 85 flybridge that can accommodate six guests in two double and two twin cabins, all en suite, along with two twin crew cabins. With a fully equipped galley and a range of 290 nautical miles, YTL Lady II can even manage trips to Penang and back. She can be chartered for custom itineraries that span the Malacca Strait.
The signature Straits to Luxury package, available from late winter to early summer, is a five-day, four-night cruise up to Phuket. The itinerary includes a chance to explore the mangroves and local villages of Langkawi, swim at the uninhabited Thai island of Ko Rok Nok, and take in the scenery of Ko Phi before berthing at Ao Po Grand Marina in Phuket. Here, you can choose to remain in Phuket or arrange a return to Pangkor Laut.