How the mega-rich secure Christmas with Covid
One thing the very rich avoid at all costs is Christmas in Britain. The most magical time of the year is miserable when you’re not spent aboard a superyacht in the Caribbean or partying on a Maldivian beach. With the omicron spinning, however, escaping Britain’s overcast skies has become a matter of extreme urgency – not just for Christmas, but until any potential lockdown is over. “They don’t care what to spend,” says Julia Perowne, luxury travel consultant, founder of Perowne International. “British billionaires are scrambling to book villas, chalets and yachts with five-star facilities. The problem is, they can’t get in anywhere.
Most have fled before, so even with all the money in the world, you can’t book a serviced villa in the Caribbean before Easter. Eden Roc in St Barts, where manned properties cost £ 386,000 per week, is gearing up for its best season ever, as is Harbor Island in the Bahamas. The same goes for yachts – charter companies, sensing a bumper winter, moved their entire fleet to the Caribbean this fall, where the super rich are paying up to £ 600,000 a week to spend Christmas on ships secured by Covid with spas, Michelin chefs and water sports instructors.
“Rather than having to create the joy, we can just enjoy it,” says the mother who charters a 165-foot motor yacht in the Caribbean through Northrop & Johnson. “My husband and I feel like kids again as the crew take care of the hallways; we reconnect with the rest of the family in complete privacy without worrying about preparing for the holidays. On charters with Cecil Wright and Partners, guests can choose to spend Christmas Day on board with a turkey and a tree, or in their own private club set up by the crew on a deserted beach. “It can be themed for the kids – Pirates of the Caribbean is proving popular,” says Lucinda Rosen, a broker for Cecil Wright & Partners.
Mexico is the first choice for those who missed the Caribbean; Perowne’s billionaire friends are booking hotels like Esencia on the Riviera Maya for the next two months. Meanwhile, in Europe, Scandinavia is the destination of choice, especially now that France has locked us in; at luxury resorts like the £ 1,700-a-night Loggers Lodge, billionaires can embark on an outdoor adventure before returning to their Covid-secured cabin, complete with chef, wood-fired sauna and hot tub outside.
“Lapland is going to be so cool – we’ll be taken by huskies in a heated basket,” enthuses an entrepreneur who flies to Swedish Lapland with her husband and three children on Christmas Eve. “The thousands I spent on thermal merino clothing for children will probably turn out to be a waste of money.”
Meanwhile, in Switzerland, Ski Verbier Exclusive is running a Covid-friendly ski vacation, where guests are taken daily on heliskiing or gentle ski tours with a decadent picnic basket, completely avoiding the ski lifts. “I don’t miss my Christmas skiing fix, but I don’t go near a crowded mountain restaurant either,” says a luxury real estate developer who is flying to Switzerland next week. Those who had gone to Courchevel in France have turned to luxury chalets costing up to € 225,000 per week in Lech in Austria, which is now out of lockdown, although après-ski is canceled.