Ritz-Carlton will debut yacht product in 2019 in what the brand calls the first cruise operation by a luxury hotel operator.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection will start service on the first of three 623-foot vessels that will accommodate as many as 298 passengers in 149 suites, each of which will have private balconies. The new vessels will also have two 1,485-square-foot penthouse suites, a restaurant, a spa and a wine bar.
Ritz-Carlton will start taking reservations next May. The Yacht Collection will operate in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. Cruises will be seven to 10 days.
Ritz-Carlton has inked a long-term management agreement with Oaktree Capital Management, which will finance yacht construction along with investors Douglas Prothero and Lars Clasen, Victor Cai, and Erik Bredhe. Ritz-Carlton didn't disclose how much the three vessels would cost to build.
Oaktree Capital's lodging investments include the Fairmont San Francisco and Sea Island Co., operator of the Cloister at Sea Island and the Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia. Oaktree Capital was also part of a group that acquired the Westin Maui Resort & Spa Kaanapali this spring for about $317 million.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's managing directors will be Clasen, former CEO of A'Rosa River Cruises, and maritime industry veteran Prothero.
"We are focused on developing the finest cruise yacht experience imaginable," said Prothero, adding that the new division is "hoping to include pre-and post-voyage opportunities to link the sea with land-based properties and offer guests a new, and complete brand experience."
Ritz-Carlton says its yachts will be able to sail to Capri, Portofino and St. Barths.
Ritz-Carlton joins Four Seasons among luxury hotel operators expanding their brand beyond the hotel sector. In 2015, Four Seasons debuted its private jet itineraries.