This is an ongoing series on Monaco by Knight Frank.
Nick Edmiston, founder of Edmiston & Co, has led the way in Monaco’s super-yacht industry for 30 years. Here he talks about life in the privileged Principality whose yachting scene has a prestige that is unrivalled.
The Yacht Club displays all the requisite accessories of the luxury lifestyle – the watch and fashion boutiques, the fine dining, superyacht berths and priceless views over the Grand Prix track.
Physically and symbolically, the Yacht Club de Monaco’s new home, which opened in 2014, sums up what this wealth, water-loving nation is all about. It is also a natural home for Edminston and his yacht company.
“I used to commute regularly between London and the south of France and was going to live in Cannes, but Monaco is more convenient and there are advantages to running a business here rather than in France,” he comments. “That’s one of the most important reasons for me to be here as, unlike other countries that are in flux, Monaco has a very structured financial regulatory system. It’s a good place to do business.”
It is arguably the only place to be if you hope to find success in the super-yacht business. While newcomers such as Montenegro are making their mark on the world yachting scene, “Monaco is the Mediterranean centre of yachting and it has a prestige that nowhere else can replicate.
His advice to prospective investors is never to spend more than 10% of their net wealth on a yacht – then to budget for 10% of that figure in the annual costs. “The cheap thing is buying it. The expensive thing is running it. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about it,” he says. In his early days in Monaco, €20m was considered top whack.
“Now yachts are getting ever bigger and more sophisticated. The most expensive one I’ve sold was €350m,” he says. Gyms, pools and helipads have become staple features. “I know one yacht that can land four helicopters at any time. The owner said ‘I’ve got mine, but what about my guests?’” Edmiston recounts. “There’s nothing you can’t do on a yacht now.”
Like its yachting industry, much has changed about Monaco in the 30 years he has been there. “It was fairly traditional and village-like when I arrived, but the advent of new and very heavyweight money has made it into a very cosmopolitan and sociable place. There are now 3,000 British expats and about 150 Russian families resident here,” he says. “The Brits were mainly older, established retirees.”
Monaco is now shifting towards a younger profile. They have successfully sold their business or are still running a business in yachting, banking or investment. There is more of a trend to continue working while living here and it’s becoming more attractive to families with kids. The schools here are fantastic and most children are at least bilingual,” says Edmiston.