Living in utopia
Sailing the seven seas has probably never been quite as luxurious as what one Beverly Hills-based cruise company and Samsung has partnered up to create. Their joint project, a luxury ocean liner Utopia, offers buyers the chance to tour the world from the comfort of their own home on board the ship.
The vessel will contain 200 permanent residences over 15 decks. Floor plans start out at US$3.7 million for a 1,400 sq ft, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment to US$6 million for 6,600 sq ft four-bedroom, three-bath home. All are customisable according to the buyer's wishes - one Asian family ordered a 40,000 sq ft home on the ship, costing about US$140 million.
No extravagance is spared. It provides an array of cuisines from three restaurants, a gym, pool and spa, a 535-seat movie theatre, an art gallery with both permanent and rotating collections, and a casino. It also boasts the services of a concierge, personal shoppers, a resident art historian and medical team. There will even be a longevity clinic that will perform stem cell and cosmetic procedures.
Utopia chairman David Robb says the ship will be the most luxurious vessel in the world.
"That's without question. If you look at the specifications, the materials, cost per square foot, all the metrics add up to the highest quality to date in the world. Our service level will rival the finest resorts and hotels due to the investment in the personnel and investment training that we're doing."
Utopia's residents should expect to spend three quarters of the year in port attending the world's major cultural events such as the running of the bulls in Pamplona, docking in Cannes for its yearly film festival and enjoying the New Year's Eve fireworks display in Sydney's Darling Harbour. Robb says this will allow their residents to live as if they have multiple waterfront homes around the world.
The ship's "enrichment team" will organise a full schedule of lectures and workshops aboard the ship - a talk from a Wimbledon champion, for example.
The dynamic itinerary draws a slightly younger crowd than seen on most cruise ships. Robb says the average age of Utopia home buyers is 48.
The company says residents will find themselves neighbours with an international crowd, mixing industry titans and global celebrities.
"We have a keen interest in attracting business, political and artistic leaders from Asia. We have a dedicated Chinese-language website and a kick off plan for the fall in Hong Kong targeted towards the Chinese-speaking community."
Utopia will launch a physical presence later this autumn in Hong Kong. Interested buyers can request a Utopia spokesperson to meet them at their homes or otherwise visit the Beverly Hills showroom. So far, 80 parties have signed or are in the process of negotiating agreements.
Buyers who aren't quite ready to commit to a home on the high seas, can get a taste of this luxurious life via the far more affordable 175-room onboard hotel, which costs US$750-US$1,500 per night.
Utopia will set sail from northern Europe in 2016.