The next time that you’re waiting in the economy line at the airport, or pulling in at Howard Johnson for a night’s sleep, spare a thought for our less fortunate brethren who can’t experience the joys of traveling on a budget. Unlike most of us, the megarich have to put up with an intolerable amount of luxury, and have no opportunity to experience the character-building joys of modern vacation travel.
Let’s start with something relatively modest – the motorhome. While the average middle-class family might have a camper van or perhaps aspire to a Winnebago, the recreational vehicles available to those who have money are in a different class. A case in point is the Vantare Platinum Plus motorcoach, which is basically a mansion on six wheels. For a very reasonable $2.5 million, you get an interior complete with sofa and chairs covered in the softest Italian leather, many marble and crystal accents, a king-sized bed, a real bath that you can soak in, and of course all of the latest shining stainless steel appliances. You will also find touches of antique bronze, onyx and copper throughout the vehicle.
However, the real party piece isn’t inside the coach. Located under the vehicle, where you would normally find luggage storage on a mundane Greyhound bus, there is a slide-out compartment that – and this is truly incredible – Is designed to take a sports car. Of course, you could fit a little Mazda in there, but what will the neighbors think? Try a Maserati or a Ferrari instead.
Of course, traveling on the road will only get you so far. Sometimes, you have to take to the air, and that’s where finding an airplane for sale comes in. Now, we’re not talking about a Cessna or Beechcraft here. You should be able to pick up a used Boeing 737 for $4 million to $6 million, but that would be cheap. Instead, take a page out of the book of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who is the proud owner of a customized Boeing 747, which is fitted out with two bedrooms, a dining table that seats 14 people and even a throne. He only paid $220 million for the plane, and it looked for a while that he wanted something a little more upmarket. It seemed that the double-decker Airbus A380 might be more to his liking, and it is reported that he placed an order for a VIP version that included a concert hall with a baby grand piano and seating for 10, a steam room, and even a parking spot for his Rolls-Royce – and accommodation for his horses. However, the financial crisis seems to have got to everyone, and apparently he sold the plane to an unknown private buyer for an undisclosed price before taking delivery. He still does have the 747 however, along with a 420-room palace in Riyadh.
When it comes to yachts, Prince Alwaleed really isn’t at the top of the world league tables. He has a yacht, the Kingdom 5KR, which he bought from Donald Trump in 1991, but that is only 282 feet, making it a dwarf compared to others – such as the 414 foot Octopus owned by Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft. The Prince has commissioned a new yacht, the New Kingdom 5KR, which he is going to take delivery of in 2014. However, despite the $500 million price tag, the yacht still won’t be the largest one in the world.
The honor of having the world’s largest yacht used to belong to the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who owns, among other toys, the Chelsea football club in the UK. His Eclipse, launched in 2009, came in at 536 feet and held the title until 2013. Initially, the cost of the Eclipse was supposed to be about $475 million, but there are rumors that the final cost was nearer to $1.5 billion. For that, Abramovich got a boat that included two helicopter pads, a disco hall, two swimming pools and a small submarine. This is one of five yachts that Abramovich owns, although he has had others, including one he gave away as a gift, and another that went to his ex-wife in a divorce settlement.
The undisputed champion of the seas is now the Azzam, launched in 2013. It is over 50 feet longer than the Eclipse, and is said to have a spectacular open plan interior that includes a 90 foot long main salon, although other details of the internal facilities have not been made public so far. For a long time, it wasn’t known who had actually commissioned the yacht, but it turns out that it’s the floating palace of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nayan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Abu Dhabi.