MUCH like the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, I’m sat on the deck of a multi-million pound yacht.
Unlike Belfort, I don’t have money to burn, but you don’t need millions to stay on the world’s first five-star superyacht hotel – The Sunborn.
I’m approaching the island of Gibraltar and as the plane lands it looks like I’ve bought the dreary British weather along with me. Here, it’s raining, while back home Brits have just enjoyed the hottest weekend of the year — typical.
Not that I’m too bothered, as I’m arriving as a guest of Sunborn — the company changing the face of luxury hotels around the world.
As I board the monstrous 142-metre-long vessel, a smile of disbelief beams across my face at the penthouse suite I’ve just been given the keys to.
The room itself has a spacious living room, marble bathroom, huge king bedroom and a private deck at the front of the boat — I’m the only one staying here but there are sofas and loungers for up to 16 people.
The ELECTRIC CURTAINS, flat screen TVs and king-sized bed, all controlled remotely, are exciting, but the most impressive thing about this luxury superyacht hotel is the price.
Unlike many high-end retreats in the sun, this one’s affordable, with rooms starting from just £193 a night and flights with Monarch from as little as £69.99.
The £200million, custom-built ship has already attracted attention from around the world. Despite having done little marketing, eager guests are desperate for a piece of the floating hotel.
Middle Eastern Royalty and celebrities, including Rihanna, have already enquired about staying, as have the world’s press.
The Sun is the first to sample the five-star, eco-conscious ship, which will be fully completed in a month’s time, when the spa and gym and casino are finished.
At the moment, the atmosphere on board is relaxed, but getting the superyacht here hasn’t all been plain sailing. “Initially, the locals opposed to the Sunborn docking in Gibraltar”, says Head of Sales Tiernan Redmond.
“Many were concerned that the sheer size of the boat would look out of place here, and because it’s so new locals were worried it wouldn’t fit into the dated landscape. Fortunately the Government are investing millions into the Rock for a facelift — so concerns have since died down.
“The Government also wanted a five-star hotel here but there isn’t much room on land, so the Sunborn superyacht in the harbour was the perfect solution.”
Situated in the newly renovated Ocean Village area of the dock, the yacht is surrounded by a hive of activity. There are bars, restaurants, nightclubs and a casino seconds from the boat.
As night falls I know I should go out, but I’m finding leaving my luxury room a bit of a problem.
When I finally do leave, I’m immediately greeted by home comforts. British pubs, familiar restaurant chains and English speaking people fill the bustling area.
Despite being alone, I don’t feel out of place, and it’s not long before I meet some local residents and the conversation quickly turns to the superyacht, standing tall behind us.
They’re not even staying on it and the locals are just as excited as me.
Having seen the boat for themselves, which towers over all the others in the harbour, most local residents seem convinced this is a good idea. All of whom have been invited to a Wolf of Wall Street themed open day in June, to see first-hand what all the fuss is about.
The superyacht is the first of a new fleet set to open around the globe, in New York, Barcelona, the Maldives and London. That’s along with further superyacht hotels planned for the Middle East and Russia.
As I sit on my over-sized balcony on my second day on board, I look at the view across the harbour, and struggle to believe a stay in a place as glamorous as this would ever be in the price range of anyone other than the mega-rich.
“The Sunborn hotels are all privately owned so we can set our own prices. We want to make the hotels available to everyone, not just those with money”, Redmond tells me when we meet for lunch.
Even the food is cheaper than what you’d expect to pay in a normal five star retreat. In fact it’s even cheaper than the surrounding bars and restaurants in Gibraltar — something I imagine restaurant owners won’t be too pleased about when the word gets round.
As I’m given the guided tour, grinning staff are more than happy to wait on guests’ every need — and it’s impossible to not be impressed with what I see.
The Grand Ballroom, able to hold four hundred people, is already a popular venue for wedding receptions. It also boats humongous, rounded chandeliers, costing around £100,000 in total, hanging from the ceiling — each of which can be controlled from a laptop anywhere in the world.
On the seventh floor, the aptly named Sky restaurant has a retractable roof, so diners can gaze at the stars while chowing down at dinner. An open air roof terrace, open to non-guests allows everyone to come and enjoy the stunning views.
Designed to be permanently moored, the boat still has working engines which mean moving away is no trouble, if need be.
Although mightily impressive, the Sunborn is not without its teething problems. A design fault with the 45,000 litre pool means it’s been drained because one of the underwater light bulbs has already blown.
Spa areas, the gym and a casino, which will have minimum £500 gambling chips, are still being worked on. Plus, in the penthouse room I’m staying in, the volume on the plasma TVs is a bit crackly and the electric curtains aren’t working. I guess I’ll just have to put up with opening them by hand.
Otherwise there’s little to complain about.
The ship is incredibly sturdy and there’s no sign of lifeboats on the decks — as the ship’s not going anywhere — there’re no sounds of engines whirring either. It’s easy to forget you’re even floating on water.
The biggest challenge Sunborn face may be convincing regular people they can afford to stay here. I myself wouldn’t have expected to be able to afford to stay in such luxurious conditions.
“We’re so proud of the product we want everyone to be able to enjoy it. Its cost nearly 200 million Euros to get to where we are, so we don’t want to hide it away from people by being ultra- expensive”, adds Redmond.
More and more locals and holidaymakers are climbing aboard, many just to have a look round.
Sunborn are endearing themselves to the Gibraltarian people by sponsoring local football teams and festivals — as well as creating hundreds of jobs on board the hotel.
As the sun sets on my stay here, I might not have had the money or the girls like Jordon Belfort would have, but standing proud on my private roof balcony, I can say I lived on just as good as a boat as he could afford — if only for 48 hours.
Meanwhile, the famous Gibraltar monkeys are soon going to have to get used to being the island’s second biggest tourist attraction, as this attention-grabbing beast is here to stay.
The Sunborn Gibraltar took six years to build costing nearly 200Million Euros
The superyacht is 142 metres long, with 189 rooms and 15,500 Metres squared of floor space
There are seven hotel floors and one floor below deck
Sunborn is a privately-owned Finnish company
Flights with Monarch take 2.5 hours from London Luton.