Cannes: 6 Hot Mediterranean Yacht Trips (Even for Non-Billionaires)

 

This story first appeared in the May 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

There could be no better antidote to post-Cannes overload than to charter a yacht and set off across the Mediterranean for a stylish respite at sea.

Setting up a yacht trip requires some basic how-tos: First, reach out to an elite charter company. Some of the best are Y.Co (Y.co), Burgess (BurgessYachts.com), Elite (EliteYacht.com) and Fraser (FraserYachts.com). Next, discuss the many options, from the size of the boat and design (from contemporary to classic to art deco) to type (sailing or power) and number of bedrooms (most yachts accommodate eight to 12 guests). If your teenagers are into water activities, check what's on board, such as jet bikes or paddleboards. Then, work out what should be provisioned for the trip, from flowers to drinks and food (such as all organic, if desired).

As far as what is included in the overall charter fee -- which can start in the high five figures and easily run to three-quarters of a million dollars for a mega-yacht -- crew salaries and, typically, having the yacht brought to your embarkation choice are included, but taxes, fuel and marina fees aren't. A deposit also must be put down to cover provisions; called an APA (Advance Provisioning Allowance), it's typically 25 percent of the charter fee. Between taxes and provisioning, the price of a trip often can jump 50 percent above the charter fee.

Finally, work out the itinerary (reputable charter companies are well versed in recommending ports of call, sightseeing highlights and natural wonders not to miss) and number of days of travel. Just make sure to bring a chic pair of soft-soled shoes, then take off to one of these six hot destinations (most will take at least a day to reach at a typical cruising speed of 15 knots).

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AMALFI, ITALY

The Amalfi coast remains the quintessential Mediterranean experience, with magnificent hillsides plunging to the sea and hairpin roads twisting up and down past lemon trees. "It's hard to imagine a more beautiful and charming place, especially after the madness of Cannes," says Irena Medavoy, a regular, of a region that has welcomed everyone from Julius Caesar and Jackie O to honeymooners Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. At the new Monastero Santa Rosa (rooms from $450 a night) in a 17th century monastery near Amalfi, breakfast is served on the rosemary-lined terrace. In Ravello, the leafy and luxe Belmond Hotel Caruso (rooms from $699) just launched "La Dolce Vita," a series of experiences designed to embody Italia's glam '50s and '60s, including a drive in a vintage Fiat 600 while stopping to browse former guest Jackie O's favorite shops. Although tourists choke the streets of Amalfi and Ravello, picturesque ports likes Massa Lubrense often are overlooked. Head to the dockside charmer Lo Scoglio for plates of spaghetti with clams and zucchini.

FORTE DEI MARMI, ITALY

On Tuscany's coast is a necklace of spectacular resort towns with wide swaths of sand, the toniest being Forte dei Marmi. Once a dolce vita-era playground for the Agnelli set, it was rediscovered by the fashion pack in the '90s. Decompress in a cabana at the manicured Annetta Beach Club or enjoy a sumptuous lunch buffet at Bambaissa Beach Club, part of the five-star Hotel Augustus, the Agnelli family's former vacation home. For a sundowner, sip Campari at La Capannina, a beach bar that has been serving playboys and the women who love them since Forte came to the fore.

PANTELLERIA, ITALY

Yes, it's quite a hike to Pantelleria, with Tunisia only 40 miles away. The volcanic island, which has been visited by Sting and Audrey Tautou, is worth the journey, though, because its coast is studded with hot springs and sauna-like caves. One of the best known is the Grotta di Benikula on the western rim, a beautiful rock pool with bubbling warm water. No wonder Giorgio Armani has a house there. He often makes trips to Il Golosone, a gelateria with Arab-influenced flavors like vanilla swirled with candied fruits. The town's delicacy is its tangy capers, acknowledged as the best in Italy and liberally added to the salty local sauce drizzled over spaghetti. After a bowl of that, sip passito wine, a light, sweet vino made from the region's Zibibbo grapes. And linger long enough at anchor for an early dinner at Habibi, a casual coastal restaurant in an old dammuso, or volcanic rock building.

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MARSEILLE, FRANCE

Sailors dubious about a call to the gritty old port of Marseille will be pleasantly surprised by the crop of museums that popped up during the city's 2013 stint as a European Capital of Culture. A near-$10 billion makeover includes new hotels, a waterfront pedestrian zone and gleaming cultural centers designed by an international roster of architects. They include Foster & Partners' new Ombriere pavilion with a mirrored ceiling reflecting the waterfront and the monochromatic FRAC, which was designed by Japan's Kengo Kuma and dedicated to contemporary Mediterranean art. To start the day, head to the new Mama Shelter hotel (rooms from $95), an offshoot of the arty Parisian original. With spacious white rooms designed by Philippe Starck, the property is known for its extravagant brunches laden with gravlax, camembert and lemon madeleines.

FORMENTERA, SPAIN

Four miles south of Ibiza, Formentera is the sexy, boho sibling to its brash party-girl sister island. "It's the island you go to when you need a vacation from your vacation. It's the epitome of barefoot chic," says Gypset author Julia Chaplin. The pancake-flat 12-mile-long isle is rimmed with wide beaches. Es Moli de Sal, which sits on a tiny cove, is the locals' favorite place to enjoy a lunch of fideua (a noodle-heavy version of paella). Enjoy a day on the beach at the Blue Lagoon-like Cala Saona cove -- the hotel of the same name (rooms from $330) once was a favorite hideout for Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly, who could slip in unannounced by yacht. Be aware: Formentera's beaches are unofficially clothing-optional.

MALLORCA, SPAIN

Sunny, colorful Mallorca has been luring ships to its glittering turquoise ports for 8,000-plus years. Although the sweaty parties on Ballermann Beach on the southwest part of the island haven't stopped thumping for decades, the rest of the 1,400-square-mile island quietly has undergone a revival. Along the northwest's mountainous Serra de Tramuntana coast -- marked by steep limestone seawalls and pine forests -- is Deia, a tranquil artists' colony that once attracted Robert Graves and Anais Nin and more recently Richard Branson and Mick Jagger. A bit to the north, near the fishing village of Port de Soller, is the yacht-friendly Jumeirah Port Soller hotel (rooms from $690 a night), where guests can indulge in spa treatments using local macerated oils such as aloe and orange. The bustling capital of Palma is home to architectural icons including the gothic Cathedral de Mallorca and the pink Almudaina Palace. Moor the yacht just outside Palma in Calvia at the uber-modern Porto Adriano and Marina, redesigned by Starck.

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INVICTUS

Launched in 2013, this 216-footer has a lavish cinema with stadium armchair seating, a master cabin with a breakfast deck, a formal dining area for 20, a Lalique bar, a gym, 22 satellite TV receivers and a waterfall Jacuzzi. 12 guests/18 crew; Elite Yacht, eliteyacht.com

Alexandra V

Ralph Lauren fabrics set a boutique-hotel tone on this 97-foot yacht. Its 36-foot tender even contains a WC, allowing for explorations away from the mothership. The French chef sources organic, seasonal produce. Eight guests/six crew; Neo Yachting, neoyachting.com

Sealyon

This 120-footer boasts a split-level master suite with a marble bathroom, a glass lift, a rotating circular sun bed with mist spray, a 12-person Jacuzzi and a 103-inch plasma in the media room. 12 guests/16 crew; Y.CO, y.co -- N.J.

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