Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

London's docks turn into 'mini Monaco' for Olympics

By Sheena McKenzie for CNN
July 23, 2012 -- Updated 1008 GMT (1808 HKT)
The mega-rich and their superyachts have already started to descend on London's docklands for the Olympics, starting on July 27. The mega-rich and their superyachts have already started to descend on London's docklands for the Olympics, starting on July 27.
HIDE CAPTION
London's docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
London's Docklands: going for gold
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • London's docklands to be transformed into St. Tropez-style marina for Olympics
  • The East End heartland has been transformed from wasteland to luxury destination
  • Superyacht owners George Clooney and Roman Abramovich rumored to stay
  • London set to be new "launching pad to Europe" for superyacht owners

London, England (CNN) -- Forty years ago London's docklands were an industrial wasteland. The shipping companies had moved to deeper waters, factories were left abandoned and poverty was rife.

It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks the very same East End docks will be transformed into a St Tropez-style luxury marina worthy of the world's A-list celebrities.

The mega-rich and their superyachts are set to descend on the regenerated Docklands for front row seats to the 2012 London Olympics.

And high-end companies are keen to ensure no expense is spared when catering to their every whim.

The exclusive experience will include helicopter transfers, speedboat taxis, a specially-constructed beach and even pontoons with private jacuzzis.

Watch: The exclusive world of superyachts

"Tall ship" is the common term used for large sailing vessels with multiple tall masts, vast sails and long narrow hulls. "Tall ship" is the common term used for large sailing vessels with multiple tall masts, vast sails and long narrow hulls.
Centuries old and still sailing
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
The magic of tall ships The magic of tall ships
Brest is located in the region of Brittany -- home to some of the most stunning vistas in France -- taking in more than 1000 kilometers of dramatic rocky coastline. Brest is located in the region of Brittany -- home to some of the most stunning vistas in France -- taking in more than 1000 kilometers of dramatic rocky coastline.
Best of Brest
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
Sailing ahead: Why Brest is best Sailing ahead: Why Brest is best
Imagine is 65.5 meters in length and costs €530,000 ($707,000) to charter for one week. Imagine is 65.5 meters in length and costs €530,000 ($707,000) to charter for one week.
Imagine
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
Charter a billionaire\'s superyacht Charter a billionaire's superyacht
Bonnie Muddle has been working on superyachts for the past six years. Bonnie Muddle has been working on superyachts for the past six years.
The life of a superyacht worker
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
Confessions of a superyacht worker Confessions of a superyacht worker

"It will be a mini Monaco," Benjamin Sutton from concierge service MGMT told CNN.

"In terms of location you can't get any better. We're opposite the Excel Center which will be hosting the gymnastics, basketball, wrestling. We're 5 minutes walk from the Thames Cable Car to the O2 Arena in Greenwich. And the Olympic Stadium is a 10 minute drive away.

"We have preferential tickets to first class events like track and field. We tailor the package around the individual qualms of the client. Pretty much whatever they'd expect we can offer."

The high-end service comes with a price tag to match. Berths are roughly £60 ($90) a meter per day, with a 70-meter superyacht setting you back a whopping £58,000 ($90,000) for two weeks of the Games.

Celebs set sail

Among the wealthy expected at Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf, St Katharine Docks and Royal Victoria Dock in east London are Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.

The oligarch's superyacht Eclipse - believed to boast two helicopter pads, 20 jet skis, two swimming pools, hot tubs, a dance floor and a cinema - was previously chartered by music star couple Beyoncé, 30, and Jay-Z, 42.

"There is a rumor that George Clooney will also be arriving," Benjamin revealed. Though he was quick to add: "But we can't reveal for sure who is going to be there. Privacy is very important."

Watch: Designing superyachts

And when the superyacht owners come out to play, nearby restaurant and club Waterside House will be offering them the exclusive, high-end entertainment they've come to expect.

A £1,000 membership will get you into the club's Black Card lounge for the duration of the Games. It includes access to a specially built 60 meter beach and nightclub where DJ Fatboy Slim is expected to perform.

"It means by definition that the rest of the marquee is also extremely exclusive." Waterside House founder and director Ali Warburton told CNN.

"These are very, very high-end clientele. We've got Olympic contestants, oligarchs, ambassadors, celebrities and CEOs of some of the largest companies in the world.

Superyacht owners are all over it. They're all billionaires and there's only a certain amount of time they can spend on their boat
Ali Warburton, Waterside House founder and director

"Superyacht owners are all over it. They're all billionaires and there's only a certain amount of time they can spend on their boat."

London's docklands: From wasteland to luxury

It's a dramatic transformation for an area which in the 1970s had become a deserted wasteland. In fact, the grim image of a ruined city was the perfect setting for Stanley Kubrick's 1987 Vietnam war film Full Metal Jacket.

The docklands had originally secured London's reputation as a great trading city and by the 1930s was the busiest port in the world. But with the emergence of bigger cargo ships in the 1960s, the shipping industry was forced to move to deep-water ports just outside London in Essex.

By 1980 most of London's docks were obsolete. And it wasn't until the London Docklands Development Corporation redeveloped the site in the late 1980s -- including the financial hub of Canary Wharf -- that the docklands was reborn.

Watch: The new home of sailing?

The Olympic makeover is the latest development for this historic East End heartland -- one which Benjamin predicts could give it a lasting reputation.

"This is an Olympic-themed platform to launch London as a future destination for superyachts," he said.

"All these boats that used to go to the Med will now see London as a great place to stop off; a new launching pad for Europe."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
MainSail
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Over 300 miles from the nearest ocean, competitors in one of the world's fastest sailing races prepare for battle.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
London's new superyacht hotel is so enormous, authorities had to lower the water level by five meters just to fit it under a bridge.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
His mast-walking stunts have attracted over 3.5 million hits on YouTube, but Alex Thomson just wants to get back to doing what he does best.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Elizabeth Meyer talks to CNN's Mainsail about the "Armageddon battle" to restore the pioneering J-class boat Endeavour.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
Ship captains of the future won't be salty sea dogs with their hand at the helm, and the ocean at their feet.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
Like "Downton Abbey," Henley's Royal Regatta reminds its visitors of an England of old. But for how much longer?
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
VO65 'Dongfeng' Training in Hong Kong
Nine months at sea, one change of clothes, freeze-dried food and a strange language. Could you cope?
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Can a $134 million budget and the royal seal of approval bring the coveted America's Cup back to British shores for the first time in sailing history?
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Bored of lounging on your superyacht in the Mediterranean? An increasing number of millionaires are now sailing their luxury vessels to the ends of the Earth, to get their kicks.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
He's one of the great landscape artists, but JMW Turner also had a watery passion -- and his maritime travels are being retraced.
May 20, 2014 -- Updated 1022 GMT (1822 HKT)
How do you get a foot on the property ladder, when you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world? The answer may lie in the water...
May 6, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Quadriplegic yachtswoman Hilary Lister was saved from suicide through the sport of sailing. Now she is plotting a voyage across the Atlantic.
ADVERTISEMENT