"owning one gives them membership of an exclusive club."
India’s wealthy have different obsessions when it comes to luxury items. A prominent one is their fascination with yachts.
Coming in all shapes and sizes, yachts are the ultimate luxury purchase when it comes to the business tycoons of India.
Costing tens of millions of pounds, the likes of Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal are prepared to pay big bucks in order to get something that is unique to them.
Unlike cars, yachts can be designed and built to a person’s exact specifications. The owner can then use it to travel wherever they want with whoever they want.
Anju Dutta, of Marine Solutions, the company that represents yacht company Ferretti, said that India is still quite new to the market.
He went on to say that they will become as popular as luxury car manufacturers.
Dutta said: “Old-fashioned business tycoons did not believe in flaunting their wealth, but that is no longer true of the present generation.
“They believe in showing off and not everyone can afford a luxury yacht, so owning one gives them membership of an exclusive club.”
With yachts being a popular purchase of the wealthy, we look at some of the yachts that are currently or formerly owned by India’s business tycoons.
Reliance Industries tycoon Mukesh Ambani is known for his extravagant purchases which include supercars and lavish planes.
He is also a lover of yachts and the one he owns is like a floating palace on the sea.
The uniquely shaped yacht is 58 metres long and 38 metres wide. It may not be as large as some of the other superyachts around the world but it screams luxury.
It features a retracting solar glass roof and has three decks full of incredible features.
A 25-metre pool, spa, helipad, sauna and massage room are just some of the inclusions. There is also a piano bar lounge, dining area and reading area to suit different people’s preferences when onboard the luxury liner.
The decks are connected by stairs but for those who want to get to each deck quickly, there is also a lift.
Ambani’s yacht also has a huge outdoor space for sunbathing.
This yacht is more like a house on the sea as it also provides personal suites for guests.
Although no official price has been declared, it is rumoured that Ambani’s floating palace is priced over £78 million (Rs. 7 Arab).
When it comes to Indian businessmen owning yachts, Mallya was the one who started the trend in 1998.
He owned the famous Kalizma, a 50-metre liner which had been previously owned by Hollywood icon Richard Burton.
However, Mallya’s most impressive yacht is the Indian Empress which he purchased in 2006 for approximately £60 million.
Measuring 95 metres, the yacht was originally owned by the Qatari Royal Family.
The double-deck spectacle has artwork from Mallya’s personal collection adorning the walls.
There is also two master staterooms, three suites and 11 twin rooms. Each room offers extensive views of the sea and all bathrooms are furnished with gold.
The Indian Empress also features a helipad, a gym, a salon, a massage room, a jacuzzi that opens out into the sea and a lift. Despite all the additions, one which stands out is a baby grand piano which once belonged to Elton John.
It first made waves when Mallya hosted a party for Formula 1 VIPs, including Bernie Ecclestone off the coast of Monaco.
Even though Mallya does not own the yacht anymore due to legal battles, it one of the world’s most iconic yachts.
Raymond Group chairman Gautam Singhania is an avid collector of luxury vehicles and that includes yachts.
He has been the owner of two eye-catching vessels. One was Moonraker, however, it later sunk due to leaks caused by external damage.
The other and arguably more famous is the MY Ashena. It is a tri-deck yacht made entirely out of Burma Teak wood.
The 153-foot power yacht was handcrafted by over 200 traditional boat builders from a village in Gujarat. It took five years to construct.
It is powered by two Volvo engines which give it a top speed of 11 knots.
The luxury liner accommodates 12 guests and has a crew of 11 people.
Singhania’s yacht has been hired by international celebrities for their events including English actress and model Liz Hurley who used it for her wedding.
But, the yacht has previously been involved in controversy when it was seized for being registered in a foreign country in 2012.
As per customs regulations, a yacht or any vessel registered in a foreign country can be anchored in Indian waters only for a limited duration.
However, the yacht was allegedly anchored beyond the stipulated time.
Though the matter was resolved, a maximum penalty of 100% of the yacht’s value can be raised, which meant that Singhania could have paid up to Rs. 51 Crore (£5.4 million).
Not to be outdone by his older brother, Anil Ambani purchased a luxury yacht in 2008. But it was not for himself, instead, he bought it for his wife Tina.
Though it is not known what the official price of the yacht, it is reported that Ambani paid a total of £63 million. This includes construction and import charges.
It was built in Genoa, Italy, by Ferretti, the Ferrari of yachts.
Upon completion, it was christened TIAN, a combination of the first two letters of his and his wife’s first names.
Apparently, it had been a dream of Tina to own a luxury yacht. Thanks to her husband, that dream became a reality.
The power vessel measures just over 34 metres and is powered by MTU engines, giving it a maximum speed of 26 knots and a cruising speed of 23 knots.
It features six lavish cabins which can accommodate up to 12 guests.
It was not a surprise gift by Ambani as Tina had a huge say during the creation process. Much of the interior such as furniture was selected by Tina and that too was all custom made.
Though the yacht is usually anchored near the Gateway of India, the business tycoon and his wife do travel to exotic locations in it.
Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal may be based in the UK but his superyacht is moored near his Mediterranean home.
Named Amevi, it is one of the largest yachts in the world at 80-metres.
While it is mainly in the Mediterranean, Mittal has travelled in the vessel to India, Norway, Spain and Gibraltar.
It is Mittal’s personal yacht, having ordered it in 2007 and paying around £113 million. It was built in the Netherlands.
The yacht has twin engines with a total power of 9,100 horsepower, allowing the yacht to reach a maximum speed of 18.5 knots. Its cruising speed is around 14 knots (26 km/h).
Amevi features luxury public areas and 8 VIP staterooms. Guest cabins are twin and quarter-sized, each with an en suite bathroom.
Mittal’s cabin is much larger than the other cabins and features lavish furnishings, including Italian marble in the bathroom.
Guests can also enjoy the facilities such as the jacuzzi and two outdoor bars. A pool, gym and even an onboard cinema are part of the yacht.
Amevi was originally all white but in 2012, the hull was painted dark blue which makes the yacht even more noticeable.
While some business tycoons like to rent out their yachts, that is not the case with Mittal. Amevi is just for him and his guests.
Even though the yachts are expensive, they are not anywhere near the price tag of other superyachts. The famous Eclipse is owned by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and he paid over £500 million for it.
Nevertheless, the vessels owned by these Indian businessmen are the pinnacle of lavish living.
While Anil Dutta believes that they will become as popular as cars in the country, Shakeel Kurolli, of Aquasail Distribution does not feel the same way.
Kudrolli believes that it is just a fad and that the market will move away from yachts, saying:
“Its a fad, the market can’t sustain as India does not have a marina, nor does it have workshops for repairs and maintenance.”
Despite the mixed opinions, they do not stop India’s richest from scouting for luxury yachts which they can dock off the coasts of Dubai or Monaco.