To many people the idea of a cruise on board a luxury yacht is the holiday of a lifetime. An on board swimming pool, or sometimes two, a choice of restaurants consistently serving fine food, bars dotted around the ship, a grand ballroom for evening functions, and beautifully appointed cabins combine to provide everything a holidaymaker could wish for.
Now, in the British protectorate of Gibraltar, the tiny rock at the southernmost tip of Spain, you can have all that, but on a luxury yacht that is going absolutely nowhere.
The concept of the yacht hotel combines all the luxury of a cruise ship with the elegance and amenities of a modern hotel. There are a number of advantages, not the least of which is that it is now possible to build a luxury hotel where there is no available land, as is the case in Gibraltar. For the operators it also means that they can move the hotel for economic or political reasons if an area should become unstable, and it also leaves no environmental footprint after it has left. It can also be used for temporary functions such as the Olympic Games.
The first of these Super-yacht hotels, the 108 meter Sunborn Princess, was launched, if that is the correct word, at Naantali Spa resort in Finland in 2002. Now this is being followed in early 2014 with the opening of Sunborn Gibraltar. At 142 meters long this $200 million luxury yacht hotel has 189 rooms, cocktail bars, conference rooms, spa and gym, a casino, and to top it all a grand ballroom.
Sunborn Gibraltar will be permanently moored in the Ocean Village Marina and approached via an enclosed glass bridge. Although floating, it will be moored to the dock by six vast hydraulic arms which weigh in at eight tons each. According to Brian Stevendale, CEO of the company, once on board guests will feel no difference from a hotel on land. All of the power cables and services will be buried underground.
The yacht was originally built in Malaysia and at seven storeys high will tower above the vessels in the surrounding marina. According to Stevendale “it’s intriguing that something so large can literally just be plugged into a port”.
Guest rooms have floor to ceiling windows to capture the Mediterranean sun and have marina, sea or Rock views. Most have a private balcony and the rooms are spacious, light and airy. En-suite bathrooms together with contemporary furnishings and smart storage combine to give that five star feel.
Eighteen of the 189 rooms are suites, including the Superyacht Penthouse Suite, and boast the last word in luxury and elegance featuring bespoke bathrooms, bespoke furniture, extensive dining facilities, a polished wood floored patio with a jacuzzi, dining area and huge space for lounging in the sun or simply taking in the views.
Luxury furnishings and exquisite materials complete the picture. There is also a dedicated room and concierge service.
Prices for rooms and suites range from $300 to $3,000 per night.
Service is, of course first class and the Superyacht provides multilingual staff to attend to their guests needs at any time of day or night. Room service is available at any time and there is concierge help to book theaters, restaurants, taxis, transfers to and from the airport, or even a round or two of golf. The motto is: whatever you need, you only have to ask.
The luxury pool and spa are situated on the seventh storey sun deck. Here you can take a dip in the pool, sunbathe on reclining loungers, or sip an ice cold pina colada under a parasol while reading the daily papers and feeling that, no matter what is going on anywhere else in the world, here in your own little private corner of it all that abounds is luxury and elegance.
In the spa, there is a variety of skin and facial treatments available and top class salon experts provide one to one consultations to ensure you look your most glamorous at all times. There are even treatments which couples can enjoy together if required.
The third floor cocktail bar offers a wide range of cocktails, wines, spirits and champagne and is an excellent place to start the evening with pre-dinner drinks. Enjoy a Tom Collins or Harvey Wallbanger while browsing the menu for the excellent fine dining restaurant next door. Top class international chefs create spectacular dishes which change with the seasons.
On the top deck of Sunborn Gibraltar is the all-day restaurant and pool bar. With a retractable roof and floor to ceiling windows it’s a great place to enjoy Sunday lunch in the sun, or lunch any day for that matter, or dinner by moonlight in the warm Mediterranean breeze.
For a couple getting married and wishing to enjoy the ultimate in luxury, holding their fairytale wedding on Sunborn Gibraltar is an experience that cannot be beaten anywhere. Whatever you can imagine, the Superyacht staff are on hand to create it, including a wedding planner who will handle all the fine detail for you. The wedding ceremony itself can take place on board and the hotel can cater for everything from a small, intimate gathering up to accommodation for 400 guests.
If you want to hold your corporate event or meeting on the yacht there is a total capacity of up to 600 people. The conference suite itself has flexible walls and can hold up to 180 while the ballroom will hold 400. The lobby bar or the Sky bar with pool will each hold 100 people.
For businessmen using the area the yacht has every facility. All rooms have Wi Fi and a centralised multimedia system as you would expect. Copying and fax services can be provided and flexible meeting rooms booked as required. Transport links are excellent with a brand new $140 million airport having just been opened.
The marina itself has wonderful views across the Strait and is dotted with waterside bars, fine restaurants and boutiques to cater for every whim. It is, of course, a stopping off point for yacht owners who have sailed across the Atlantic or have just been exploring the Mediterranean itself. The local beaches have facilities for snorkelling, scuba diving and jet skiing and you can simply go fishing or take a dolphin watching trip as the mood takes you.
Everything is located close at hand, with the old town and main street offering designer brands and restaurants and cafes, all of which use sterling as the currency, and there is no VAT. This is all only a few minutes from the beach.
There is plenty to do and see on Gibraltar, from a visit to the famous Alameda Botanical Gardens to St Michael’s Cave, or the Moorish Castle and Tower of Homage overlooking the bay.
Certainly, a stay at Sunborn Gibraltar is an experience of a lifetime and offers the discerning traveller and holidaymaker a unique and elegant place to relax in luxury and simply forget about the cares of the everyday world.
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