The term ‘luxury boat’ can mean many things, from a glittering superyacht to a sleek sports boat, and a whole lot in between. Traditionally, luxury yachts were superyachts, and even when we refer to a ‘small’ superyacht’ we are discussing yachts in the 38 feet to 100 feet category. But there is a whole new breed of small luxury boat on the market, and they are coming from surprising new angles. A few years ago, the idea of an ultra-luxury pontoon boat was almost comical, the mostly freshwater float boats having long been known for fun and stability but certainly not speed, elegance and luxury. The trusty workhorse RIB has also had a five star make over, with ultra-fast, James Bond style small luxury sports boats gracing the seas. So before we dive in to see some of these new small luxury boats with a difference, let’s take a look at what we’re comparing them to.
The Top Small Luxury Yachts
The top superyacht manufacturers in the world, from Beneteau to Ferretti Yachts, Princess Yachts to Azimut, Mangusta and might draw global press attention with their largest builds, but their ranges of smaller superyachts are pushing innovation and luxury too. Whether it’s a 38 foot Sunseeker Hawk 38, perfect for summertime cruising, or a 30 foot wooden Riva Aquariva steeped in elegance and artistry, you can guarantee the superyacht experience. But what other types of small luxury boats are there? From jazzed up trawlers to beautiful catamarans, sleek sailing yachts, futuristic daysailers and center console boats, and express cruisers reminiscent of luxury limousines the market is a very different place in 2023.
Luxury Pontoon Boats: The Trusty Float Boat gets a Hollywood Makeover
The idea of a pontoon boat being a small luxury yacht is a bit of an oxymoron. But a whole new generation of fast, well-equipped and downright sexy pontoon boats are making their way onto the market, with some of them having price tags as high as half a million dollars. The fun yet uninspiring float boats popular in the Midwestern Lakes are now equipped with full galleys, joystick docking, towsports packages and can reach speeds of up to 78mph. There are lots of jazzy new models hitting inland and coastal waters, are here are a few of our favorites.
Bennington 25 QX Sport
When you look at a pontoon boat and think James Bond would look cool driving that, you know we’ve entered a whole new era of float boats. This futuristic looking design screams mean machine, with its edgy color palette of silvers, blacks and red leather, and powerful Yamaha 425 outboards. With a sports interior which rivals any sports boat, and luxuries such as an integrated fridge and full-range sound system it is most certainly a head-turner.
Photo credit: Bennington Marine
Barletta Pontoon Boats
Barletta’s range of pontoon boats cover all budgets, and at their most luxurious end they offer the Sport Luxury Corsa and the Premium Luxury Lusso. Offering beautiful classic styling, swankyand ultra-comfortable seating, and a sleek helm packed with technology, it’s much more than your average pontoon boat. With versatile floor plans offering plenty of lounging areas, as well as a push button bimini for instant shade, there is no shortage of features and luxury accessories
Photo credit: Barletta Pontoon Boat
It makes you do a double take to see a 12 foot pontoon boat with two enormous 425-hp outboards on the back and a waterslide curling down from a second story deck. The juxtaposition however is utterly delightful. The Escalante 350 is both rip-roaringly fun and luxuriously powerful. With huge deck space for entertaining, a well-equipped galley and joystick control this is the ultimate luxury family boat.
Photo credit: Premier
Luxury RIBs: Speed and Toughness Combined with Ultra-Luxe
The hardy RIB (rigid inflatable boat) has long been used for is superior toughness and ability to withstand harsh sea conditions. Used widely in the commercial sector for everything from rescue boats to dive boats, they are also popular day boats and tenders. But the RIB world has had a facelift in recent years, and while powerful workhorses are still as widely used as ever, a new breed of luxury RIB is emerging too, specifically the Maxi RIBs and luxury open cruisers.
One of the top manufacturers to focus their efforts on these types of luxury RIBs are SACS Marine, whose range of Maxi RIBs offer hard tops, sun decks, comfortable seating and a sleek design. At the smaller end of the size scale is the pocket Strider 15, with its option of outboard, sterndrive or inboard propulsion, a stylish design and revolutionary look. Going up in size to the 14m Rebel 47, we see a very different looking boat to the usual RIB. Resembling more of a sports boats, this small luxury cruiser incorporates a cabin and head, deck sunbeds, a wealth of luxury finishings and can accommodate up to 18 people in the utmost comfort.
And there can be no mention of SACS Marine without discussing their industry-changing TechnoRib boats. A simple glance at the Pirelli Walkaround range tells you these are no ordinary RIBs. With teak wrap around decks, a sophisticated interior cabin, galley and head, and wide bow sunbathing area they have taken the robustness of a RIB and turned it into one of the most luxurious small yachts on the market.
Photo credit: SACS Marine
Another manufacturer making waves in the Maxi RIB market is Italian Magazzù. With their large Gamma MX range offering luxury RIBS from the 36 feet MX-11 Spider to their flagship 57 feet MX-18 Coupè, there is plenty to choose from. With a master cabin in the bow, an additional guest cabin, two bathrooms and a dinette, the interior of the MX-18 Coupè is as impressive as the sleek exterior, whose stern deck is large enough to accommodate a Jet Ski.
Photo credit: Magazzù
The Luxury Collection by Technohull says it all about this manufacturers intentions when it comes to Maxi RIBs. The Omega 45 and Omega 47 offer impressive performance and great comfort all wrapped up to create ultra- sleek luxury boats. With cruising speeds in the range of 80 knots, a deck designed to give a luxurious five-star experience, and a cozy cabin, the Omega range show just what a small luxury yacht can be.
Photo credit: TecnoHull
Hybrid Luxury Motor Boats and Sports Boats: Eco-Credentials Wrapped up in a Pretty Package
The green revolution is upon us and the yachting world is no exception. While the industry is notoriously not very good for the environment, manufacturers are making huge efforts and strides in creating both greener building technologies as well as more environmentally efficient boats (read more in our article ‘Eco-Friendly Superyachts’). But it’s not just the superyacht world that is going green…enter hybrid small luxury sports boats and motor boats.
As their name implies, Greenline Yachts are surging forward with their innovation and technology in hybrid and electric small luxury motor boats. Take the elegant 36 foot Nero, for example, whose standard twin electric Torqeedo outboards give it a top speed of 16 knots. Optional twin 300hp Mercury engines can increase that to 45 knots however. Able to accommodate 14 guests the Nero has expansive decks, a below deck cabin and hydraulic swim platform creating the perfect compact luxury day boat.
This Swiss manufacturer Boesch has been crafting beautiful sports boats for lake and sea use for over 100 years. Sticking with the classic silhouettes of bygone eras, they are retro, sophisticated and downright luxurious. But they’re also very firmly in the 21st century with hybrid engines offering a quieter, gentler ride as well as the assurance of doing your part for the environment. With models ranging from 20 to 25 feet, these hybrid boats can give as much as 21 knots.
Photo credit: Boesch
If you’re looking for a sports boat with a difference, then look no further. Iguana have managed to create the world’s first fully electric amphibious sports boat. And if that isn’t impressive accolade enough, it is also comes complete with folding foils and retractable caterpillar tracks for a truly futuristic image. Measuring 33 feet, the Iguana Foiler rises up on three retractable foils to soar across the water using its electric 300HP EVOY outboard which can generate 30 knots of quiet, emission-free ride. If you want to turn heads on the water and on land, then the Iguana Foiler offers the ultimate in comfort, sustainability and luxury.
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