“I’ve never seen anything like it,” exclaimed a long time resident of Cannes, referring to some of the worst floods the Cote d’Azur has ever experienced, just one week after my return from Monaco in late September. Ironically, I could use those very same words to describe this year’s 25th Anniversary edition of the 2015 Monaco Yacht Show. The unpredictable storm, however, was a powerful reminder that even consumers of luxury lifestyles can no longer look the other way.
Only two weeks ago, one of the world’s most influential yacht shows opened against a bright blue, sparkling sky and perfect outdoor temperatures. The weather in Monaco could not have been more perfect, except for a rather quick rain shower that came through one evening, drenching the walkways and red carpets. Looking down at Port Hercule from my apartment in Beausoleil can only be described as a sight from a fairy tale book. Every morning the sun and the sea air enveloped the region’s unmatched natural beauty, elegance and posture.
From the incredible array of perfectly docked yachts proudly extending their bows forward, to the tenders that were whooshing back and forth as they shuttled VIPs from one end of the port to the other, the buzz of new business opportunities could be heard. It’s a race to cover as much ground as possible and meet with unlimited prospects, vendors, and influencers. At the end of each day, the celebratory happy hour appeased any discomfort felt in one’s feet. We enjoyed free flowing rosé and food from heaven, including a variety of prosciutto offerings at every booth, followed by the mandatory evening parties at the Monaco Yacht Club and aboard several of the larger yachts.
Everyone seemed to be in good spirits this year compared to the more recent post-recession cautious attitudes and the abundance of smiles exhibited a new vibrant desire to turn the tide. The most important observation I made throughout the week was a palpable thread of an ecological awakening woven into many of the internationally accented conversations. There were plenty of discussions around hybrid engines, solar panels, composite teak-like materials and natural elements. At a special presentation given by BBC presenter and explorer Paul Rose, yacht owners described how the ocean had come and destroyed their home in Cap d’Ail during a storm while two young crew members told of their desire to return to the natural farming methods they grew up with at home in Tasmania.
Yacht professionals and yacht owners are becoming increasingly concerned about the ability to enjoy luxury lifestyles and the potential environmental impact caused by yacht construction, yacht design and future use of yachts. The topic of sustainability dominated the unveiling of new “explorer” yachts and there was even a gathering of shipbuilders, architects and designers onboard a 77- meter transatlantic ecological vessel to discuss environmental solutions for the yachting world of today. New yacht owners challenged naval architects and designers to integrate sustainable land based solutions to yacht design while also expressing a desire to travel to the far corners of the earth to see for themselves what is happening to the glaciers.
In the face of last week’s apocalyptic weather patterns that washed over the French Riviera, the need for sustainable luxury solutions has been elevated to a new level. The environment is on everyone’s mind and a call to action is in order. Sustainable luxury is possible. It begins with ecological literacy and awareness.