Let's first be clear, there is no yacht anchored in Lady Bird Lake, that would be silly. Yes, there is a yacht party, well, more than a "party" really, it's an experience — a luxurious, not to be duplicated experience being held in Austin on My Yacht. Again, not my yacht, but My Yacht, as in the My Yacht F1 Club and the experience is something never before seen in Austin.
"We provide high net worth clients with hospitality packages and entertainment to which they are accustomed all over the world. My clients are used to getting what they want, when they want it. They fly their jets into town, get into a limousine and they want an experience that is easy and up to their very high standards."
"The world's most wealthy individuals are coming to Austin, most for the first time. And they're not just coming for a race, they will stay for a week or two, visit many places and other cities, and they will buy jewelry and watches and expensive champagne."
This is what Formula 1 brings to Austin, Texas; delivered by Nicholas Frankl who may be one of the most interesting people in the world.
Frankl, the man behind the My Yacht Group, is a personable, self-effacing but confident man. He does not carry the ego or arrogance of someone who travels the world rubbing shoulders with the richest, most famous people on earth, in fact, he's pretty down to earth himself.
A three-time Olympian, Frankl started the Hungarian bobsled team, competing in 1994, 1998 and 2002. He never won a medal, although he was competitive. There was one team though that he regularly beat, the Monaco team, led by Prince Albert II. With all the wealth the Prince could bring to his team, he could not beat these upstart Hungarians. Soon the two became friends. "I beat him all three Olympics, but he's still a friend," says Frankl.
Frankl began his company in Monaco during the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix and that party became an instant success. It didn't hurt that Prince Albert II, the reigning monarch of Monaco is a close friend, and attends the My Yacht Monaco party every year.
"His Serene Highness [that's what the Prince is called] called me a few weeks ago and I asked if he was coming to Austin for the Grand Prix. 'I would love to be there,' he told me, 'but that weekend is Monaco's celebration of independence and I must be here."
This is where Matthew McConaughey will be drinking $10,000 bottles of Comte de Mazeray, a 24-karat gold-flecked champagne making it's U.S. debut.
Yes, it's true, Prince Albert II of Monaco wants to come to Austin.
Frankl may be the world's most connected man and he has parlayed those connections with an entrepreneurial nature. There really isn't a word to describe what Frankl does so I let him describe it over lunch a few weeks ago.
"We cater specifically to luxury brands and high net worth clients from all around the world who want to experience the very best in Formula 1 hospitality."
So Frankl built a business around providing hospitality for extraordinarily wealthy people who like hanging around with others like them.
"These are executives who fly around the world and expect to be treated well and they are used to being treated very well at home. But when they get to a foreign destination, like Austin that they've never visited before, they don't know anybody and no one knows them."
Yes, it all sounds just a little bit (ok — a lot) high brow and spoiled, but no one is asking you to take pity on these poor, very wealthy but lonely, lost people. Think about this for a moment. If you are super rich, you want to be around other super rich people. And then, think about the kind of business you could do with access like that.
Seriously — if you are Asprey or Bombardier, if you are Bugatti or De Beers, where do you take your clients and where do you go to meet new ones? (If you don't know those brands, you are simply not wealthy enough.)
My Yacht is the answer. "The idea is to bring the best, most high quality, luxury brands together with clients who can afford them."
And these folks can afford them. The My Yacht Monaco party is exclusive, very exclusive. Held on a $30 million yacht right on the Monaco circuit, Frankl hosts about 250 guests. But remember that 'high net worth" description? Those 250 guests were together worth about $100 billion. And Frankl has expanded his party to Abu Dhabi for F1, London for the Olympics, Cannes for the Film Festival and Miami for Art Basel.
Now he's bringing that party to Austin, leasing the entire Ballet Austin building for the weekend. This is where Matthew McConaughey will be drinking $10,000 bottles of Comte de Mazeray, a 24-karat gold-flecked champagne making its U.S. debut. Ron Howard is expected too along with Matt LeBlanc, and on Sunday, F1 drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Sergio Perez and more.
"I get calls all the time," Frankl says. "'Are you going to be in Austin? Are you going to be in Miami? If you are, I'm going too.' So, here I am.
"I don't know if Austin truly realizes the kind of business that will be done in this city over this weekend," he explained. "The world's most wealthy individuals are coming to Austin, most for the first time. And they're not just coming for a race, they will stay for a week or two, visit many places and other cities and they will buy jewelry and watches and expensive champagne. Many of this city's businesses, if they are ready, will reap wonderful benefits from these people making the trip to Austin."
Frankl is not a guy who revels in hanging around rich people, nor does he particularly get pleasure being paid by them — if either of those statements were true he wouldn't have been in business for the last 7 years.
He's not coming to Austin for a one-time bonanza, he's in it for the long haul — he has a ten-year agreement with Ballet Austin and on Friday he is giving back, besides the obvious benefit to Ballet Austin, My Yacht is hosting a reception for I live here, I give here and Amplify Austin.
"I don't really care if I make money this year, I just hope to break even, and so far it looks like I will do at least that. I want to make sure my high net worth clients see how great this city is and come back over and over again. And I'll be here to host them."
Formula 1 will undoubtedly be inconvenient for some, but the economic boom our visitors are capable of bestowing upon us is undeniable and men like Nicholas Frankl, who can deliver a great experience to those guests, will make for a successful event, and make Austin a truly international destination.
Tickets are still available for the My Yacht F1 Club parties Friday through Sunday, including the exclusive VIP reception for I live here, I give here at the Ballet Austin building. Tickets start at $300 and tables can be purchased for up to $9,750 per night.