Gin palaces go upmarket
“It’s NOT a junk” insists Kylie Waterstrom who runs Elite Charters. She’s talking about the newly refurbished 86-foot motor yacht the Mahala Lin. “It has two massive caterpillar engines, not little garden lawn mower junk engines. It’s an ocean-going vessel, it can go anywhere in the world. We’ve even had enquiries to go from Hong Kong to Tuscany.” So far the most exotic request has come from the president of Russia, asking if he could hire the Mahala Lin for an APEC meeting. As luxury yachts go, this is a big one, licensed to carry 60, including crew. So whether you want to spice up a corporate think tank, throw a lavish 50th party or get married or have your stag or hen do onboard, now you can do it. And hook up with a helicopter or private jet either end – you design your own trip, she adds. Of course none of this comes cheap, but then this is a major gas guzzler or a gin palace.
Cheaper to charter
Charter fees for an eight hour day trip taking in Sai Kung, Bluff island and High Island will set you back HK$29,500. Or for a few thousand more you can go further afield, departing from Pak Sha Wan pier, going past Sai Kung and out to some of Hong Kong’s best beaches, to Long Ke Wan and Tai Long Wan. You can take off overnight too, for two days and a night, taking in Sai Kung, Long Harbour and Double Haven, but you’d need to really like your colleagues to do that one.
You can get away from it all on the boat, but not from them. That’s always seemed to me the problem with boat trips and cruises – there’s no escape, it’s like house arrest. You can add on days or change the itinerary as you wish, with the basic charter rate starting at Hk$57500. Now before you gasp and think that’s excessive, weigh up the cost against owning your own Sunseeker and mooring it in Aberdeen Marina. It costs at least 8 million pounds sterling to buy, plus about HK$30,000 a month mooring fees and then it chews up HK$25,000 in gas to get you to Sai Kung and back. Like most things in life, it’s a lot cheaper to rent. You can wine, dine, swim, sunbathe and do all the onboard goodies, including putting on top deck golf mat like the one Tiger Woods uses, complete with harbour-approved biodegradable golf balls. These guys have thought of everything. There’s wifi and airplay on board, five bathrooms, ten berths, including two queen and one king size, LCD TVs, and of course the obligatory karaoke machine, plus chef and crew taking care of you.
This week the Mahala Lin became the latest vessel to join those targeting the business and super-rich. After a few false starts - there’s another “Elite Charters” in the Hong Kong phone book, I tracked down Australian couple Kylie Waterstrom and Stuart Walker by googling “Mahala Lin.” They set up Elite Charters, specialists in boat, helicopter or private jet hire. They say the boat is designed to rival the facilities of luxury venues on dry land with catering by the firm that owns Sal Curioso and Madam Sixty Ate, which I’m told featured in the Michelin Guide. Then there’s the award-winning cocktail mixologist among and other extras such as massage. I can see this becoming a favourite for laddish stag weekends. Just remember, unless you really hate your boss or your friends, booze and boats don’t mix that well, especially at night. Even if everyone says they can swim.