As the coronavirus continues on its destructive path, it is becoming increasingly clear that nations around the world were ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic. Everyone is now asking the same question ‘What do we need to do to prevent this from happening again?’ Here, we take a brief look at some of the strategies being used by ultra-high and high-net-worth individuals to ride out the global pandemic.
Since the outbreak began, most of the ultra-rich have left their urban dwellings behind and decided to escape to smaller communities. Many have chosen to flee to the often-overlooked corner of the world that is New Zealand. The country was praised as one of the first to successfully deal with the virus having taken robust early measures to contain it.
Some have been looking for more open space locations, choosing to put a seas distance between themselves and the virus, by purchasing their own secluded island. The privileged few who can afford such extravagant isolation are exploring their options with new enthusiasm. Sales agents are allegedly flooded with enquiries from Asia’s wealthiest seeking an investment opportunity that can serve as both a pandemic escape and a long-term investment. While some of these private idylls sell for up to $100m, some go for as little as $55,000.
For the less committed one-percenters who are just seeking to escape for a few weeks, prices range from a relatively reasonable $500-50,000 per night on the likes of Richard Branson’s Necker Island or David Copperfield’s Musha Cay in the Bahamas, which includes ‘anything you could possibly imagine.’ Make of that what you will.
While the global pandemic has absolutely flattened commercial airlines, private aviation has witnessed a steep increase in enquiries. Private aviation allows travellers to avoid large hubs identified as entry-points for coronavirus and mitigate against contact with strangers.
A sudden surge in hiring private jets has caused tectonic shifts within the aviation industry. Companies have enforced additional hygienic measures to safeguard their passenger’s health. Some operators offer to quarantine their flight crew for 48-hour priors to departure. Aman Private Jet, part of Aman Resorts, says it ensures the gallery, cabin and cargo compartments are disinfected with Bacoban, one of the best cleaning agents, before and after use. “Hand sanitiser is offered upon boarding the jet as well as throughout the journey. “The crew wears masks and gloves, and we offer passengers the option too should they want to wear them,” says Roland Fasel, COO on Aman Private Jet. “After a flight, all blankets and cushions are dry cleaned,” he adds.
Other providers, like VistaJet, have installed telemedicine devices, named the Tempus IC2 that provides an opportunity for the flight crew to measure and relay clinical data to MedAire, which has 24/7 centre staffed with medical personnel.
A new item has been added to the wish list of ultra-wealthy: exclusive healthcare options. Self-isolation has evoked a return to the roots of wellness.
The proof of that would be the developing concept of intravenous nutrition and vitamin booster shots. Lanserhof, a private medical facility at London’s Arts Club, a private members club, has seen an 18% jump in the number of inquiries for its Immune Plus Support Infusion. The £300 ($387) session provides an IV infusion which contains a high dose of Vitamin C, as well as “immune-boosting amino acids and also Zinc which plays a crucial role in our immune system functioning well.”
During the pandemic, Insignia members have frequently enquired about online health consultations and other VIP healthcare services, that include custom mask fitting.
Yacht charters and purchases
Other well-heeled travellers are hoping to avoid the pandemic by self-isolating on superyachts. There was a noticeable surge in enquiries about “alternative” remote locations for chartering, such as Alaska, islands in the South Pacific and the tip of Chile. Hiring a yacht in such locations isn’t easy on the wallet though, you can expect to pay £100,000 a week plus crew costs and provisions for vessels of up to 150ft, rising to £500,000+ for the very largest yachts. One plus for the larger vessels is that they can easily hold enough supplies to last for several months, minimising the need for resupply trips.
Like most other industries, the superyacht business was negatively impacted by COVID-19. However, numerous shipyards declared a high demand for first-time buyers of large yachts, which could indicate that a wider clientele is seeing the benefits of owning a yacht, especially during a global pandemic.
While some have chosen to charter private jets to escape to holiday homes, others are seeking more permanent living options. Companies that sell underground shelters have seen an unprecedented demand during the last few months, and not from the usual doomsday preppers.
These bunkers are state of the art, fully equipped with special air-filtration systems and fortified to withstand any violence due to a breakdown in society. A year’s worth of food and supplies can be stored in bunkers that are as large as some homes and are sold for prices in the millions of dollars.
A Texas-based company, Rising S Bunkers, has confirmed that the company has been manufacturing underground bunkers for private use for several years now and interest in them surged even before COVID-19. However, manufacturers are anticipating even more interest.
One of their luxurious options is the spectacular “Aristocrat” Complex, which costs just over £7m to build and easily outsizes most hotel penthouses. As you would imagine for that hefty price tag, the structure delivers luxurious amenities, bullet-proof doors, a two-foot dead-bolt lock, and an inconspicuous above-ground ‘safe house’ which serves as a secret entrance to your underground pad.