Cannes: A British Billionaire Explains Why His Yacht Rents for $785,000 a Week
Telecom entrepreneur John Caudwell tells THR about Titania, which was built in 2006 and named after a character from "Midsummer Night's Dream."
British philanthropist and entrepreneur John Caudwell, who hosted Sky 2 network's reality show The Angel and runs the Caudwell Children charity aiding disabled children, has refloated his superyacht Titania, named after the sleek fairy queen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, after a $13 million stem-to-stern retrofit.
Caudwell spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about commissioning and owning a "no-holds-barred superyacht."
THR: When did you first try yachting?
I bought my first yacht from Sunseeker 11 years ago and sailed it from Poole to Barcelona. It was quite an adventure, and I think it's fair to say that it wasn't plain sailing -- we had several incidents, inflicted by a mix of weather and inexperienced crew (me).
THR: Who chose the name Titania?
I chose the name Titania. I wanted a figurehead which was elegant and feminine. I considered several names, but Titania, a character from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, was best able to portray the image I wanted for what is a fantastically elegant and sexy yacht.
THR: What was the main reason you chose this particular boat?
It was a combination of the fact that it was a large Lurssen, and in an auction and therefore could be a really good buy. To my knowledge, it is the only superyacht to have been sold at auction.
THR: You put in a second owner's suite in a 10 million euro refit. What sort of people might stay in it?
The second owner's suite enables joint charterers to each have a fabulous cabin suite, one biased towards working since it has a sizable office, the other, being on the sun deck, has fabulous panoramic views, with 270 degree wraparound windows. The refit also included an extension which features a beach club/ nightclub, sauna and bar at sea level, so it will really appeal to people who want to party and be closer to the sea.
THR: Was the refit project as efficient and effective as you anticipated?
The work was carried out at Lurssen in northern Germany. I was extremely nervous about the scale of the contract and felt that Lurssen de-risked the job significantly. I have to say they performed amazingly.
THR: Have any celebrities been aboard?
Yes, many celebrities including A-list music and film personalities, plus members of the British Royal family have been aboard.
THR: Where is the best place to watch a film on the boat with friends?
I can safely say that there are dozens of places on Titania to watch a film with friends. I would estimate there's something like 50 televisions on board, some of which are very big-screen, some of which drop out of ceilings on the outdoor decks.
THR: Will you be anchored off Cannes at this year's festival?
Quite possible, although I have made no plans yet.
THR: How many people can use the party deck at sea level?
At least 100 people could enjoy the main deck, with maybe another 20 to 30 on the nightclub deck at sea level.
THR: Do you prefer the grand piano or the nightclub?
That's a very difficult choice. The ambience in each area is completely different, but they are each totally crucial to the atmosphere on board. We regularly have piano-playing singers onboard, so the grand piano is vital but, equally, the beach club/nightclub is a whole different fun experience. If I were really pushed, I'd forgo the nightclub, but I'd have to replace it with something that made up for its loss.
THR: Do you prefer the gymnasium and spa or the jet bikes and aqua park at the beach club?
Again, a very difficult choice. Keeping in good shape is important to me and many of the people around me, so the gym is rather vital but so are the jet bikes and aqua park for all the rest of the people onboard. I keep my bikes onboard and do a lot of cycling (everyday), so if I really had to lose something, I’d lose the gym, but I have to say it is fabulous to have it all.
THR: If you were building a new boat now, with your experience, what would you design differently?
Titania is the best yacht currently afloat of its kind and size. There is very little, if anything, that anybody would go wanting for on Titania. I have purposely progressively developed her, and there are very few aspects that could be improved. However, if I was to give myself a blank sheet in designing a no-holds-barred superyacht, then I'd design in space for a folding-wing seaplane, a helicopter hangar and a submarine bay, but this of course, would mean commissioning a far larger yacht.
THR: How do you think yacht brokers could learn from Hollywood agents?
I really don’t know, other than to make the obvious statement that people can learn from brilliant people, so a yacht broker could easily learn from a brilliant Hollywood agent but, so could a Hollywood agent learn from a brilliant yacht broker. Business is about being the best that you can be and there are always glowing examples of people that we can all learn from.
Titania, which goes for a staggering $785,000 a week, is available for charter during Cannes through yacht management company Hill Robinson.