It is often said that taste is a personal matter, so how can you create a charter yacht that satisfies clients with a wide range of preferences? Expert interior designers reveal some foolproof tips for designing the ultimate charter yacht…
Talk to any designer and the sentiment remains the same: superyacht interiors that try to please everyone – both owners and charter guests – may end up pleasing no one.
It can be a real conundrum for owners, who want to create the boat they’ve always dreamed of – as well as something that sells when they’re not on board. As a result, common pitfalls include compromising on an interior that is too neutral or using materials that are obviously too hard-wearing, which can take away from the luxury aspect of the design of the whole project.
The thorny question of cabin size is also an ongoing issue for superyacht charters. A vastly superior master stateroom is ideal for the owner, but if a group of charter guests are looking at an undemocratic stateroom suite, this can be problematic – especially if they’re splitting the bill. Obviously, the owner won’t want all cabins to be the same size, but each cabin should have its own unique selling point.
Any owner refitting or designing a superyacht for the charter market should also be aware of the lifestyle trends influencing superyacht design, to ensure their boat sings for its supper. Extras are hugely important on a charter yacht – that means a well-stocked toy box with not just the usual jet skis and tenders, but also state-of-the-art paddle boards, kayaks and snorkel gear .
Beyond that, recent developments in superyacht design mean that fitness areas, gyms and spas are now as essential as entertainment areas. A spacious terrace equipped with enough sunbeds for everyone, a spa pool, a dance floor and large entertainment areas are also in order. Daniela De Marco, Head of European Charter Management at Fraser, remarked that “outdoor cinemas are hugely popular right now, and we are seeing more and more of them incorporated into charter yachts.”
Playing with all of these elements is an exciting proposition for superyacht designers. “The client who approaches the world of superyachts for charter expects a unique experience, with maximum service and comfort”, says Francesca Muzio, founder of the FM Architettura studio. “So, rather than an aesthetic approach to design, I would adopt an experiential one. Each space must [help to] create a different experience, which changes throughout the day.
“I believe the charter world has positively influenced yacht design in recent years,” she continues. “Changing the traditional and I would say a bit static way of interpreting layouts and styles. In fact, today, almost paradoxically, we often find ourselves interpreting requests usually made for charter yachts, on private yachts.
The traditional indoor formal dining area and outdoor informal dining area is a configuration that is simply out of step with modern superyacht living. Instead, Muzio is prioritizing more and more flexible spaces where customers can eat and drink.
“This is what happened in the last two projects built by Feadship: Zen and Somnium,” she explains. “We have extended the concept of western and eastern cuisine by creating culinary fusion experiences, with the ability to grow your own vegetables directly in special hydroponic refrigerators.”
FM Architettura also designs luxury hotels, which helps inform the design process. Muzio emphasizes that the operation part on a charter yacht should look like a hotel – for example, the pantry and bars should be close to the dining areas. “Even the storage space dedicated to linen and china is decidedly more important than on a private yacht, as is the space reserved for water toys.”
This question of space and its use permeates all aspects of design. Muzio emphasizes the importance of maximizing cabins on a charter yacht. “Take one of our newest concepts, Freedom, developed for and with Feadship,” she says. “On this ship, the garden suite is an element of surprise that introduces a deep connection with nature. We have moved all the cabins to the main deck and created a connecting element, a garden between two VIP cabins. Thanks to this element , we give guests the opportunity to connect with nature, as well as enjoy a larger cabin when the ship is not at full occupancy.
The garden is a cleverly designed lounge area between the two cabins, with a folding balcony that can be opened when at anchor. One of the cabins will have a separable or lift-up bed, which can be transformed into a lounge area. The cabins will be connected by a sliding wall and will share the garden between them.
In addition to cabins, personal care areas are also competing for space on board. “Spas, wellness spaces and gyms are a must,” says Laura Pomponi, CEO of Luxury Projects. On Nero, she created a state-of-the-art gym with the latest Technogym equipment and ample full-height storage. Every exercise whim was catered for with free weights, yoga and Pilates equipment. Pomponi explains that “we have transformed the existing gym into a beauty salon with a multi-functional full-body treatment chair, allowing the on-board beautician to offer manicures, pedicures, hair treatments and massages. Massages can also be offered in the seventh guest cabin, where the team has designed an extremely comfortable sofa, creating a space that can be transformed in three different ways: lounge area with sofa, additional guest cabin or massage room.
Pomponi has also cleverly imagined a pantry that turns into a guest bathroom and a saloon with a convertible sofa bed that becomes a cabin over 43 meters Polarisas well as an upper deck saloon that can convert into a full-beam VIP cabin on a 47-meter Feadship project.
For her, art, light and detail are the perfect ways to personalize the design of a charter yacht. “The basic design is kept calm, which means floors, walls and ceilings are made of materials and colors that are pleasing to the eye,” she says, and it makes sense to be a little bolder here. , as these elements can easily be swapped out to suit different tastes and create different moods.
Pomponi and its in-house lighting design manager, Enzo Treviglio, also create bespoke lighting elements together: lighting systems and special technical ceiling devices (mainly made using sources of invisible and indirect lighting), bespoke light sculptures and decorative fixtures, they help create attractive and unique atmospheres on their yachts to add a point of difference.
“I think there should be no compromise when it comes to design,” says Ramon Alonso, founder of Miami-based architecture and design studio Radyca. “When talking about superyachts, the level of expectation of a refined charter client is as high as that of the owner.”
In Alonso’s opinion, there are essentials that all superyachts need. These include “good, quiet zero-speed stabilizers and redundancy of all major operating systems.” He also highlights the need for a reliable and strong Wi-Fi network, and the post-pandemic need for remote work areas, for owners and guests alike.
For him, designing yachts for charter is synonymous with simple and pure luxury. “The key is finding the right balance and contrast between the elements. We tend to use natural stones, woods, leathers and glass, and play with their different tones and textures to achieve a warm, neutral simplicity. We then incorporate the use of color for certain details and a carefully curated selection of artwork and accessories to personalize each space.
His work on laurentia, which was not originally intended to be a charter vessel, shows that what an owner wants is very often what a charter guest also wants. “We included features such as outdoor cinema, leather and suede panels throughout, multiplex awnings and numerous tenders and toys among many others. In the end, the owners decided to offer her for charter, and she has achieved outstanding performance and reviews among the most discerning charterers, while the vessel is still in immaculate condition.
The new wave of yachts that have found success in the charter market recently shows that customers are buying into a more fluid lifestyle, which is no small feat. From distinctive design to spaces that house a huge range of activities, there is no doubt that the yacht charter interior presents the ultimate design challenge. Get it right, though, and the reservations speak for themselves.
First published in the April 2022 edition of BOAT International. Get this magazine delivered straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue