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Opulent Air Travel
There are many ultra-wealthy people who fly commercial, in First Class. But you’re opulent, remember?
The benchmark state-of-the-art luxury private jet is the Gulfstream g650. With a huge, spacious cabin, the g650 has every single amenity that you can think of and get you there in style. Each aircraft is built to custom specifications, and has a maximum fueled range of 7,000 miles.
The g650 is also the fastest private jet that you can currently buy, with a maximum speed of just under the speed of sound. You’ll be able to fly with 8 of your closest family and friends, provided you employ 4 crew members as well. That really shouldn’t concern you since the plane itself is a cool $58-$65 million.
But maybe flying just under supersonic isn’t fast enough. You want to get there faster. There aren’t any vintage Concordes on the market (yet) for refurbishing, but you can have the next best thing — a private Supersonic Business Jet.
Well, get in line. You’ll have to call Aerion Corporation, which is taking orders for its Mach 1.6-capable private jet with near-supersonic long range supercruise capability. Its got all the luxury goodies of the g650, but the needle-shaped plane is a bit more cramped. You won’t care, because you’ll be able to get from Chicago Midway to London Heathrow in just under six hours.
Of course, the plane won’t be delivered to its first customer until around 2014 or 2016, and it will set you back about $80 million not including staff and operating expenses and support infrastructure, but hey, you’re opulent, right?
If you want to buy a supersonic aircraft NOW, you’ll need to seek out the countries of the former Soviet Union. During a credit crunch, from time to time they’ve been known to unload vintage MiG-21 and modern Su-27 Mach 2-capable fighter aircraft from anywhere between $5 and $15 million each.
That’s a bargain, when you consider the price of the luxury jets above. Of course, you’ll have to fly it yourself, you’ll need to make probably two to three in-air fuel stops to fly any serious distance, and they burn anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of fuel an hour, but that’s peanuts, right? You has OPULENCE.
Well it turns out none of these are nearly expensive enough to take the top spot on this list. In 2009, Prince AlWaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud commissioned the French Airbus company to build him a personal A380 jumbo airliner, for a whopping 400 million dollars.
The airframe was eventually sold before the prince took delivery and all the amenites were fitted, but still...
Why in the name of Allah would you ever need an aircraft this big or expensive?
Had it been actually built, this three floor sultan of the skies with a staircase and an elevator would have had its very own a concert hall, a spa with Turkish bath, a garage, twenty first class seats, four large deluxe sleeping quarters, a room with a transparent floor for viewing the earth below, and a holographic briefing room as well as its own private "Air-mosque" that used virtual prayer mats that always point towards Mecca.
Okay, now that's opulence.
Opulent aircraft will get you to where you want to go, but no self-respecting Bond Villain or ultra-rich person would be without a yacht. But not just any yacht, you want something massive, imposing, a home away from home on the water. Comfy, and yet terrifying to anyone who gets in your way. You want to rule the seas.
There are plenty of standard multi-million-dollar yachts that you can buy. Even ones that cost tens of millions. But I’m not talking about that kind of boat, I’m talking about the type of yacht that would make Emilio Largo get an inferiority complex.
Back in the 1980’s, big, disgustingly expensive yacht meant Khashoggi-style. In those days, his 281-foot yacht set records for opulence (and was actually used as a Bond Villain boat in the re-make of Thunderball) but from there they just got bigger. They eventually passed the 350-foot mark, and then 400, and finally 500.
Not do be outdone by the sheiks, In 2009 Russian billionaire and oil magnate Roman Abramovich launched the Blohm & Voss-built Eclipse, his 557-foot megayacht (his biggest of three huge boats) equipped with helipad, bullet-proof and armor-plated windows, a German-designed missile defense system and even a “laser-powered anti-paparazzi shield” which can scramble any camera or electronic equipment from a distance.
Would you believe he had a pool of sharks with frickkin’ lasers installed in it as well? Probably not, but we do know that the estimated $400M-$800M plus behemoth of the sea has its own miniature submarine.
And apparently, there's even a bigger boat than the Eclipse on the water, the Azzam. And it's so expensive that nobody even knows who owns it yet. Only that it was commissioned by an "undisclosed Middle Eastern Billionaire."
But Abramovich's ship, and the Azzam, while impressive, just aren't, I dunno, bat-guano crazy enough. They don't pass the Super Bond Villain test.
To pass the Super Bond Villain test for extreme opulence, you'll want to engage the folks over at Yacht Island Design, which will build you such floating displays of ostentatious and disgusting wealth that even the people who brought you the Las Vegas strip might even tell you to tone it down.
Yacht Island Design's most current project is The Streets of Monaco, a 1 billion dollar plus floating micro-representation of the tiny Mediterranean principality complete with scaled down versions of the Monte Carlo Casino, the Hotel de Paris, and even the Grand Prix racing course, complete with go-carts on the deck of this 500-foot floating freak show.
Okay, I admit, I'm really digging the Utopia. And I bet you can get it equipped with a sharks with frikkin' lasers pool, if you throw them enough cash.
Opulent Space Travel
I know what you’re thinking, you don’t want to be tied down to terrestrial travel. Understandable. Unfortunately, the limits of technology and the current level of maturity of the private space industry prevents you from has hundred mile high club with your mail-order supermodel girlfriend.
If you’re willing to wait, you can sign up for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which will be offering suborbital space rides from $200,000 and up. But it will be several years before the service is operational and while incredibly exciting, the flights will be short, lasting less than an hour.
And if the short ride wasn’t enough of an indignity, you’ll have to share your ride with simple millionaire hoi polloi. So if you’re truly opulent, like Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth, you’ll want to step in front of the line and have a private vacation in space.
In 2002, Shuttleworth climbed aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-34 mission, and spent eight days at the International Space Station participating in experiments, after undergoing a year of training and preparation at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The cost? A mere $20 million.