Monaco summit examines the “exploding” explorer yacht market

The third annual Explorer Yacht Summit was held on Thursday at the Yacht Club of Monaco, a world-first international conference dedicated to expanding the explorer yacht market.

On Thursday 10th November, yacht owners, charterers, brokers, designers, builders and suppliers were welcomed at the full-day event to network with experts at the forefront of the field.

Explorer yachts are a growing niche, making up 6% of the global superyacht fleet. The last two decades have seen an explosion in the market, with more new builds in production than previous decades. Since the start of the 2020s, 69 new build projects have been commissioned, bringing the total to 740 globally. Some of the largest vessels reach up to nearly 140 metres in length and can be home to permanent crews of as many as 60 people.

Unlike usual luxury yachts, these vessels are often ice-capable and enjoy long-range facilities and equipment. They can give access to some of the most remote and “off-the-beaten-track” destinations, even in the roughest of conditions — something that has great appeal.

They add a new dimension to the yachting experience, says Zelda Swindell, Senior Charter Manager with brokerage house Northrop & Johnson, who attended the summit: “You can really have it all with these vessels: you can have the luxury, but you’ve also got the adventure, the location. These vessels really are unique and cutting-edge.”

Glacier Bay, Alaska, photo source: Northrop & Johnson

Why explorer yachts?

The Explorer Yacht Summit began in 2019 with Patrick Coote, Managing Director of Northrop & Johnson Monaco, after identifying a gap in the market.

“We could see a rapidly growing interest in yachting off the beaten track,” he explains. “People were starting to get fed up with the typical milk run between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.”

Monaco has always been a hub for explorers since the days of Prince Albert I, who was also known as the Explorer Prince. The summit brings this global community together each year in the Principality, reinforcing Monaco’s position on the global stage as the world capital of advanced yachting. Indeed, the event has gone from strength to strength in recent years, says Coote, and has quickly established itself as a firm fixture in the superyacht calendar.

Having spent his career in various aspects of the yachting industry from shipyards to brokerage houses, Patrick Coote has seen superyacht trends come and go, but he says explorer yachts are here to stay.

“An explorer yacht offers an array of possibilities. A robust and stable platform is perfect not only for long passages at sea but also for a wide variety of exciting activities, be they under the water, on land, or in the air,” he says. “Whatever appeals to you, be it expeditions, adventure sports, submarines, heli-ops, research or science, everything is possible.”

Future good

In addition to their primary purpose as luxury leisure vehicles, explorer yachts, have incredible potential to contribute to marine science. Approximately 70% of the world is still unmapped, says Victor Voscovo, keynote speaker at the summit and owner of an explorer yacht himself. That includes parts of the Mediterranean, and contributing to this pool of knowledge is something yacht owners and charterers can easily do.

“There is a general appreciation among expedition yacht owners that we need to conserve the marine environment and play an active role in its protection,” explains Coote. “This community of owners is more active than most in the fields of Marine research, science and education.”


Photo above: Antarctica, source Northrop & Johnson



Monaco’s Sun Casino gets new lease of life as the Grand Salon

The former Sun Casino at the Fairmont Hotel has reopened after a massive make-over and transformation of the space into a gleaming events facility with a capacity of 1,500.

The Grand Salon, the new and dedicated events space at the Fairmont Hotel, was inaugurated on Thursday 10th November, hosting a crowd of some 500 guests. 

The 1,465m2 space inhabits what was, in another era, the SBM-operated Sun Casino, which shut definitively on 14th March 2020 to make way for the new incarnation. The works needed to transform the space took place from May to early November for an undisclosed sum.  

The Fairmont says it intends to use the Grand Salon, which can accommodate up to 1,500 people, for conferences, weddings, exhibits and other events.  

“This new room makes the Fairmont the hotel with the largest lounge space in the region,” said Pierre-Louis Renou, General Manager of the Fairmont.

For those looking for remnants of the old casino, there will be only a few. The spectacular chandelier in the room’s centre is still there, as are a few ornate mirrors, but otherwise it is a beige-hued blank slate, allowing those who rent the space to decorate according to their own needs and tastes.  

The inauguration of the new Grand Salon at the Fairmont Monte-Carlo

The inauguration of the Grand Salon was also an opportunity to launch a new brand, Grand Events, which offers in-house catering services. 

Charlotte Bohler, the director of Grand Events, says, “The objective is to relaunch events and give a new image to the Fairmont.”  

But the revamp has not stopped here. Renovations in the luxury establishment’s restaurants, public spaces and 596 rooms are also in the works, with the rooms overlooking the Formula 1 circuit currently being transformed so that they are ready for next year’s Grand Prix.  

Completion of the total project is expected by April 2024.  



Photo credits: Cedou/Fairmont Monte-Carlo

Exhibition honours the Monte-Carlo Opera’s Raoul Gunsbourg

As Jean-Louis Grinda gets ready to pass on his baton as Director of the Monte-Carlo Opera, he takes a look back at his predecessor, Raoul Gunsbourg, in a retrospective exhibition dedicated to this “incredibly talented storyteller”.   

The former director of the Monte-Carlo Opera for six decades, Raoul Gunsbourg, had an incredibly illustrious career marked by successes, raising the bar for the Monaco-based establishment and making it known the world over as a class act in a world of classical acts.   

His reign spanned from 1892 to 1951 and was an inspiration to those who came after, notably outgoing Director Jean-Louis Grinda, who has organised an exhibit as a tribute to his work alongside Eric Chevalier, who curated the show.  

Grinda, who will be debuting a new version of the Berlioz classic The Damnation of Faust on National Day, chose the Espace Indigo at the Grimaldi Forum as the place to hold the Gunsbourg show, which he created as an entertaining way for people to pass the time during the opera’s intermission period. 

The exhibition isn’t limited solely to opera-goers though. It is free and open to those who want to soak up a bit of history and to discover more about this near-mythical man, who always had a smile and a story to tell.   

“He’s a fabulous storytelling character,” explains Eric Chevalier. “Certain points of his life [are] very difficult to tell if they are authentic or not. For example, at 18, when he was a nurse, he took part in the Russo-Turkish war in the capture of Nikopol in the Ukraine, and he noted in his memoirs – he was then 95 years old – that he single-handedly took the entire garrison prisoner of the Turks. The Tsar Alexander II, on learning of this, brought him to Saint Petersburg. He must have had fun telling such stories. There is a part of truth in him; but also a bit of fantasy.”  

The inaugural event on Friday 11th November drew a vast crowd, including Prince Albert II and Cecilia Bartoli, who will be taking over as Artistic Director from Grinda in 2023.  

For more information, please click here. 



Photo source: Opéra de Monte-Carlo


No Finish Line kicks off with a Princely start

The charity running race No Finish Line kicked off last weekend with a send-off by Prince Albert II. 

After two years of special versions of the event, one completely virtual and the other an abridged hybrid offering, the original live and in-person format began its 23rd edition on 12th November with more than 8,200 runners and walkers ready to try and hit the 2022 goal of reaching a combined 400,000 kilometres over eight days.

In all, there will be 320 teams taking part to achieve this ambitious aim, with one euro donated by Children & Future for every kilometre travelled on the 1,400 metre Monaco circuit.  

Prince Albert was at the Chapiteau de Fontvieille start line to wish racers well and officially start the race. The mood was jubilant and the racers were ready to go.  

“We are here for all good causes,” said Ariane Favalaro, the president of the Children & Future association. 

The event doubles as an opportunity to collect toys, trainers and clothes for the region’s disadvantaged with the support of organisations such as Semeurs d’Espoir and Abbé 06.  

The event will continue until Sunday 20th November.

For more information, please click here. 



Photo credit: Danielle Provenzani

When does the ski season officially begin?

With snow already capping the highest mountains of southern France, the countdown is on for the official launch of the winter season. Keen mountain folk will be glad to hear that there’s little over three weeks until the first resorts open. 

The first round of skiing destinations – which include Auron, Isola 2000 and La Colmiane in the Alpes-Maritimes as well as Montgenèvre in Hautes-Alpes and Montclar Les Deux Vallées in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence – open on Saturday 3rd December.  

Others such as Praloup and the Val d’Allos in the Alpes de Haute-Provence as well as Valberg in the Alpes-Maritimes and Serre Chevalier in Hautes-Alpes, which is roughly a five-hour-drive from Nice at the limit of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, will open the following weekend on Saturday 10th December. 

By Saturday 17th December, the vast majority of the region’s domaines de ski will have officially launched their winter season, including Gréolières les Neiges, one of the more popular resorts with families on the French Riviera due to its proximity to the coast at around an hour and a half’s drive from the cities of Nice, Antibes and Cannes.  

Resorts at lower altitudes, such as the picturesque Serre Eyraud near the Parc National des Ecrins (Sunday 18th December) and the village of Beuil les Launes that borders Valberg (Saturday 24th December), will tentatively open later in December, snowfall permitting.  

Even more cautious are the family-size destinations of L’Audibergue – La Moulière and Val Pelens in the Alpes-Maritimes, which, in addition to Le Chazelet in the Hautes-Alpes, will hold off until Saturday 7th January before opening their pistes.  

An update on the Tende-Limone tunnel

Over the border in Italy, the resort of Limone in Piedmont will launch its season on 8th December.

Since the tunnel linking Tende on the French side of the border to Limone on the Italian was destroyed by Storm Alex in October 2020, winter holidaymakers have had to make a considerably longer journey than before to reach the attractive alpine village. Although the train line reopened in 2021, allowing a quick connection from Nice or Ventimiglia in Italy to Limone, the road tunnel will remain closed until late 2023.  

“We are constantly updated on the progress of works and we strongly hope that [construction group] Anas’ declarations of respect for the deadlines will turn into reality,” says Fulvio Dalmasso, the director of LIFT Riserva Bianca, the company that manages the Limone resort. “Work on the Tende tunnel is vital for the economy of the valley, and for Limone Piemonte, as well as for all our loyal customers who today have to travel many more kilometres to reach our Riserva Bianca area.” 



Photo source: Go Montgenèvre via Unsplash

Covid latest: Incidence rate climbs to 230

There were 90 new cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Monaco in the week ending Sunday 13th November, indicating the virus is on the rise again. 

According to the government’s weekly communication, 1,202 PCR and antigen tests were conducted in the Principality last week on residents and non-residents, 16.2% of which came back positive. That’s an increase of 2% on the previous week.

There are currently 10 Covid patients being cared for at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre, including seven residents, and one non-resident in ICU. Meanwhile, 41 people with mild symptoms are being monitored at home.

The incidence rate has climbed to 230 in Monaco after remaining stable at around 160 for two weeks.

It is a similar situation in the neigbouring Alpes Maritimes department, where the incidence rate sits at 240, above the national average of 220. ICU occupancy across the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region remains manageable at 13%.

The third and fourth doses of the Covid vaccine, which are effectively the first and second booster doses, are available to residents aged 18 and over in Monaco without a prescription.

Two vaccines are offered by the Vaccination Centre: the Comirnaty Original vaccine and the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 vaccine is offered to people who have completed a full vaccination schedule, regardless of the vaccine previously administered. This vaccine is adapted to the variants currentlycirculating.