For the latest craze that’s keeping yacht owners on the edge of their helm seats, consider a trick that even world-renowned illusionist David Copperfield would find difficult: instantly transporting a superyacht 1,000 feet under the sea, allowing guests to experience the twilight zone of the ocean without ever leaving the main salon.
This scenic experience, produced by London-based Berkeley Rand, requires underwater drones, high definition cameras, augmented reality technology and a host of digital effects assistants to create. “West Coast tech titans are vital members of our audience,” says Andrew Grant Super, co-founder of Berkeley Rand. “The complexity of trying to entertain a powerful three-generation family who’s seen it all is overwhelming, but they love what we’re doing.”
Priced between $350,000 and around $2 million, the company’s activations have included a trip through the lost city of Atlantis, using both a yacht and a submersible, and a pop restaurant -up a Michelin star on a sandy shelf in the Maldives where, using advanced digital panels with 3D overlay originally developed as camouflage technology for the US military, waiters and food seemed to appear out of nowhere. Or consider an adventure from a few years ago, when Berkeley Rand helped re-enact the Battle of Midway, transforming a client’s superyacht into an American World War II battleship; effects included virtual combat against enemy fighter jets, with the scent of cordite and cannon fire drifting on the sea breeze, as well as full haptic suits so wearers could feel the ship catching ‘fire’ incoming. Each trip is overseen from the brand’s headquarters in Mayfair and supported by up to 40 creative tech experts from entertainment and tech powerhouses including Marvel Studios, Apple, Disney and Google, and even NASA.
Of course, ‘staging’, in its most common usage, relates to all technical aspects of theater production, including set design, props, lighting and machinery, and indeed many experiences are less virtual, more real – think a full costume rendition of a Broadway hit, performed by professional actors on a floating pontoon right next to the yacht or recreating a miniature Burning Man in the Arctic.
Adventure travel company Pelorus staged a Bond-themed scavenger hunt in Greenland, with yacht owners and guests marching through the arid landscape, solving clues and using abandoned radar stations as campsites for the night. Or, if that sounds too simple, consider “The Game,” Pelorus’ immersive experience in a controlled, high-pressure alternate reality using professional actors and production crews, named after the psychological thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. Guests can find themselves in car chases or extreme jungle survival missions involving special forces, intelligence agencies and counter-terrorism experts.
“It goes far beyond your typical travel and yachting experience,” says Venetia Stagg, travel designer at Pelorus. “The theme and content are tailored to individual clients, but we are calling on government officials and military contacts to help organize the bucket list event series. It’s a way of experiencing something you’ve always wanted to do but never been able to.
There’s even an NFT component, with a non-fungible token giving guests the ability to not only snooze but also own a tradable blueprint of their bespoke experience – Super describes it as an “instruction manual” that can be run (for an additional activation fee) as many times as the customer wishes.
They are currently only available in cryptocurrency, but ownership can also make the holder a royalty stakeholder if they wish to sell the NFT in the future.
If you’re part of the superyacht crowd, this new evolution in big-budget, high-production-value personalized entertainment might be just what the doctor, maybe even Dr. Who, ordered.