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Mediterranean Marvels

Kim Kavin

The gray days of winter offer charter-yacht customers ample motivation to plan summer holidays in the Mediterranean. With June fast approaching, these sun worshippers are calling harbormasters from Antibes to Portofino to reserve marina slips—?especially for events such as the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival. They are confirming launch dates and discussing itineraries with the captains of soon-to-be-completed builds.

The time to reserve a luxury vessel in the range of $100,000 to $1 million per week is now. An exceptional array of yachts is available this summer, and in the following pages, Robb Report spotlights several of the most impressive charters that will troll the western Mediterranean. This varied flotilla includes the largest yacht ever built in Taiwan, the latest Feadship, and a racy, silver-sided yacht that cruises at 25 knots—a speed sufficient for leaving behind those lingering memories of winter’s gray days.

COCO LOCO ? The 124-foot Coco Loco is one of a new generation of Broward Marine motor yachts available for charter. It is also hull number two in Broward’s 124-foot walk-around series. "What makes this ship different from hull number one is that it has an extended swim platform," says charter manager Anita Dodds of Fraser Yachts. "There’s also a garagelike compartment with a crane that passengers can use to hide Jet Skis. The idea was to keep as much deck space as possible clear for guest use."

Coco Loco’s interior, by the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., design firm Marty A. Lowe, is high-gloss cherry with inlaid marquetry. The main salon’s custom-made wool carpet complements chairs and sofas that are upholstered in suede, leather, and a cashmere-and-silk blend. Two works by artist Mary Pat Wallen adorn the walls. Other tasteful touches in Coco Loco’s comfortable living spaces include inlaid limestone marble and cappuccino onyx marble, as well as linens fashioned from silk and Egyptian cotton.

Charter guests, particularly families, are likely to discover that Coco Loco is built for fun. Its spacious sundeck features a Jacuzzi, a large sun bed, and a shaded area for enjoying cocktails and meals. "There’s lots of space to move around," Dodds says, "and plenty of room to seat 10 for dinner."

Yacht: Coco Loco
Builder: Broward Marine
Length: 124 feet
Guests: 10
Crew: 6
Special features: Zero-speed stabilizers; a 31-foot Bertram tender fully rigged for fishing (available at owner’s discretion); indoor/outdoor flat-screen televisions; iPod docking stations; VSAT broadband Internet access; Wi-Fi
Lowest weekly base rate: $130,000
Management: Fraser Yachts (Monaco), ?+377.93.100.450, www.fraseryachts.com

NOMAD ? Charter enthusiasts might know the 228-foot Nomad by its previous names: Floridian and Aussie Rules. The Oceanfast vessel debuted in 2003 to much fanfare, and then its original owner, golfer Greg Norman, sold the yacht to Blockbuster Entertainment founder Wayne Huizenga in 2005. Like Norman, Huizenga kept it in charter; he sold it in July 2007. The new owner rechristened the vessel Nomad in November 2007, shortly before sending it to Genoa, Italy, for a seven-month refit. The coming charter season will be Nomad’s first in the Mediterranean under new ownership, with a fresh crew and redesigned spaces.

Broker Marco Vandoni of Ocean Independence says the refit included the installation of audiovisual systems, Wi-Fi, and new carpeting and wall covers in the guest cabins, and the rebuilding of the upper-deck galley, bar area, and hot tub. The owner has also purchased new water toys, including WaveRunners.

Nomad’s crewmembers are all new to the ship, Vandoni says, though some have worked on other charter craft and prominent yachts, including the 347-foot Lady Moura. "Most are from Eastern countries—Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania," he says.

One thing that remains the same aboard Nomad is the helipad, which can accommodate a 6.5-ton, 12-passenger helicopter. "It is one of the characteristics that have made this yacht such a popular charter," Vandoni says.

Yacht: Nomad
Builder: Oceanfast Luxury Yachts
Length: 228 feet
Guests: 12
Crew: 16
Special features: Digital safes in all staterooms; Linn entertainment system; cinema room; Steinway piano; scuba gear for 10; gymnasium; one stewardess trained in massage and spa treatments
Lowest weekly base rate: $593,484
Management: Ocean Independence (Monaco), +377.97.70.38.80,  www.ocean?independence.com

DRAGON ? The 136-foot Palmer Johnson Dragon, with its fire-red sun pads and silver hull, is one of the most eye-catching motor yachts available for charter this summer in the western Mediterranean. Its cruising speed of 25 knots is roughly twice that of most traditional motor yachts its size—a definite selling point. "Dragon entered the charter market in summer 2007 but had quite a lot of owner use early in the season," says Marta Iglesias, charter director for Merrill-Stevens Yachts. "When it finally became available for charter in the later months, we ended up without a single day of availability left. At every harbor it entered, even at crowded Saint-Tropez, Dragon made people’s heads turn. I was getting inquiries for the 2009 season as early as last May."

Iglesias describes Dragon as part of the new trend in megayacht styling. The trend, she explains, blends the interior comfort of traditional motor-yacht design with the sleek, sexy look of performance watercraft. Originally Dragon accommodated 10 guests in five cabins, but this summer it will take just eight guests so that the crew can deliver the level of service that charter clients expect.

Hosting two fewer guests will also make the boat’s lounging and dining areas feel more spacious, according to Iglesias. "It is as comfortable as traditional motor yachts," she adds, "only faster and better-looking."

Yacht: Dragon
Builder: Palmer Johnson Yachts
Length: 136 feet
Guests: 8
Crew: 6
Special features: 25-knot cruising speed; foredeck hot tub; Castoldi jet tender; private master-suite lounge
Lowest weekly base rate: $166,68
Management: Merrill-Stevens Yachts (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), +34.971.700.445, www.merrillstevens.com

BIG CITY ? At 141 feet, Big City is the smallest of several new Trinity launches that will enter Mediterranean waters this summer. The ship’s owner wanted to build a yacht that could squeeze into charming European ports but also offer the amenities of larger vessels. "It’s the largest-volume boat of this length that I’ve ever seen," says Billy Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for Trinity Yachts. "It is a five-stateroom vessel, with every stateroom big enough for a king-size bed."

Big City’s owner has tapped Patrick Knowles, who recently earned accolades for his work aboard the 164-foot Trinity Mine Games, to design the vessel’s interior. Though Trinity is keeping many details of Knowles’ plan confidential until launch, Smith does reveal that the yacht will feature a relaxation area forward of the wheelhouse.

Big City will also have what is becoming a common feature on Trinity launches: an oversize swim platform. "It’s an actual hull extension that is only a foot above the water, not a tacked-on platform," Smith says. "It’s a fantastic place to sit at night, with the yacht’s underwater lights on below you."

International Yacht Collection, the ship’s charter manager, has yet to announce a weekly base rate. However, given that Big City will accommodate the same number of guests as some larger yachts, its weekly costs will probably be attractive.

Yacht: Big City
Builder: Trinity Yachts
Length: 141 feet
Guests: 10
Crew: 7
Special features: Zero-speed stabilizers; panoramic-view sky lounge
Lowest weekly base rate: To be announced
Management: International Yacht Collection (Monaco), +377.97.98.24.24, www.iyc.com

SHEAR FANTASEA ? In August, longtime clients of the Sacks Group Yachting Professionals bought this 112-foot Crescent motor yacht, which they will be offering for charter this summer. The 2001 build will enter the season as one of the few Mediterranean motor yachts priced for charter in U.S. dollars instead of euros, with a lowest weekly base rate of $75,000 for eight guests. The high-season rate for July and August will be $80,000.

"Shear Fantasea is an immaculate boat," says Sacks Group Yachting Professionals broker Barbara Stork, "and when you compare that dollar rate against similar-size yachts charging 65,000 or 70,000 euros a week, it’s going to be a great deal."

According to Stork, the ship’s previous owner was so invested in upkeep that the new owners did not have to renovate anything. "They are installing underwater lights, but everything else was originally built and maintained to an exceptionally high standard," she says. The vessel also has numerous toys for water-skiing and snorkeling.

The new owners hired Wayne and Natalie Nolander, their favorite crewmembers from previous charters, to serve as Shear Fantasea’s captain and chef. (The two previously worked aboard the 100-foot Hargrave Katina.) Natalie is a French-trained chef who specializes in the cuisine of the western Mediterranean. "As longtime charter clients themselves, the owners of Shear Fantasea understand exactly what charter clients expect," Stork says. "They plan to continue this yacht’s history of top-notch maintenance and make sure the crew excels in the yacht’s size range."

Yacht: Shear Fantasea
Builder: Crescent Custom Yachts
Length: 112 feet
Guests: 8
Crew: 5
Special features: Pricing in U.S. dollars; underwater lights; French-trained chef
Lowest weekly base rate: $75,000
Management: The Sacks Group Yachting Professionals (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 954.764.7742, www.sacksyachts.com

ALIBELLA ? Benetti’s 2008 launch Alibella makes its charter debut in the Mediterranean this summer. This 164-?footer is not the owner’s first Benetti: He has a 151-foot 1991 build christened Kaleido Beau, plus a 203-footer currently under construction in Italy that is slated for delivery in the fall. Alibella is special to him, however, because he conceived the yacht specifically for charter, and he personally chose everything, from fabrics to water toys, with his future clients in mind.

During the design phase, the owner paid particular attention to Alibella’s interior decor because, he says, he wanted to create a relaxing, uplifting environment, similar to that of a vacation home. Consequently, the yacht does not incorporate heavy textiles or dark paneling. Instead, neutral tones with richly detailed gold edging and lacquered fittings brighten many interior spaces. Shades of cream and white create visual depth without making the interior feel heavy. The owner says he also wanted the yacht to be spacious, inside and out. He especially likes Alibella’s large sundeck, which offers multiple zones for guest relaxation.

Like many Benetti yachts, Alibella has a sleek, somewhat futuristic profile—a look the owner sought specifically for its appeal to charter customers. He says he intends to offer all three of his Benetti launches for charter, with the 203-footer available for summer 2010.

Yacht: Alibella
Builder: Azimut-Benetti
Length: 164 feet
Guests: 12
Crew: 10
Special features: Zero-speed
stabilizers; outdoor exercise equipment; VSAT broadband Internet access; Wi-Fi; satellite television
Lowest weekly base rate: $259,000
Management: Burgess Yachts (Monaco), +377.97.97.81.21, www.burgessyachts.com

HURRICANE RUN ? Those who follow the ponies will undoubtedly recognize the names Thunder Gulch and High Chaparral. The two racehorses have earned millions for their owner, who has, understandably, named two luxury charter craft in their honor. Now this yachtsman is preparing to launch Hurricane Run, a 175-foot Feadship named for his latest Thoroughbred racing phenom. "The layout of the boat is very similar to that of High Chaparral, which has been very successful as a charter," says broker Alex Lees-Buckley of Camper & Nicholsons International’s Monaco office. "We have gone back to the De Vries Shipyard, and we are using the same interior designer, Terence Disdale. He will create something contemporary and modern, very different from the traditional Disdale interiors."

High Chaparral’s longtime captain, Emile Coetzee, left that yacht in late September to oversee the last six months of construction on Hurricane Run. Coetzee, who will take command of the new yacht when it launches in May, is regarded by many charter brokers as among the best in the business—the captain they recommend to their most demanding, discerning clients. Coetzee and his crews are known for providing elegant service that appeals to adult groups who appreciate fine food, wine, and ambience.

Hurricane Run will accommodate 12 guests, with five regular cabins and a sixth that converts from a gymnasium to a stateroom that is ideally suited for children or staff.

Yacht: Hurricane Run
Builder: Feadship
Length: 175 feet
Guests: 12
Crew: To be announced
Special features: Main-deck gymnasium; zero-speed stabilizers; large sundeck
Lowest weekly base rate: To be announced
Management: Camper & Nicholsons International (Monaco), +377.97.97.77.00, www.cnconnect.com

NATORI ? The London-based design firm Bannenberg is creating the interior of the 138-foot Natori, which will launch from Italy’s Baglietto shipyard early this year. Details of the Bannenberg design are well guarded, but broker Jeremy Comport of Camper & Nicholsons International’s Cannes office does say that "it is young, vibrant, and very detailed. There are fun fabrics, textures, polished metals, mirrors, and motifs on glass."

Comport says that Natori will also have interesting exterior characteristics, thanks to Baglietto’s naval architects. The yacht is a semi-displacement build that will achieve 18 to 20 knots with an "advanced hull shape . . . designed for performance and to ensure good seakeeping with at-anchor stability," he says. The hull includes a bulbous bow, a feature more common to fast ferries than to yachts. This, plus Natori’s zero-speed stabilizers, should keep guests comfortable in virtually any sea.

The yacht will host up to 11 guests in five cabins, including a full-beam, main-deck master and two full-beam, identically sized VIP cabins on the lower deck. A fitness room on the bridge deck forward of the full-beam sky lounge will afford a sea view.

Ample deck spaces on Natori will be well-suited for outdoor dining. The deck adjacent to the sky lounge, for instance, will be large enough to hold an athwartships table completely covered by the overhang of the sundeck.

Comport says that members of the Bannenberg team drew on their backgrounds in hotel design to create efficient, discreet crew areas. Furthermore, the locations of pantries and stairwells should make service all but invisible, whether it is in the main-deck dining room or at the sundeck barbecue.

Yacht: Natori
Builder: Gruppo Baglietto
Length: 138 feet
Guests: 11
Crew: 8
Special features: Full-beam master suite; two identically sized, full-beam VIP suites; shaded outdoor dining for 12; blinds and lights integrated into the audiovisual system’s touch-pad controls
Lowest weekly base rate: To be announced
Management: Camper & Nicholsons International (Monaco), +377.97.97.77.00, www.cnconnect.com

MISS ROSE ? The 132-foot Horizon Miss Rose is the largest yacht ever built in Taiwan. This luxurious vessel has set new quality standards for the shipyard and for the island’s entire yacht-building industry. The 2008 launch is international in style, with naval architecture by Canadian Greg Marshall and interior styling by Florida-based J.C. Espinosa. The boat is also the first new build for its American owners, who had been charter customers themselves. "One of the things we found out when we used to charter," one of the owners says, "is that if you go with another couple, one couple always gets the master suite and the other couple gets something a little less. We designed Miss Rose for our own use. But we also kept the charter option in mind, so she has two master suites of equal quality and size. We believe that will have great appeal for people who want to charter with their friends and split the bill."

The owners also made crew quarters a priority, recognizing the need to keep top-notch crewmembers comfortable. Miss Rose’s captain, who is experienced in charter operations, lived in Taiwan for 10 months in order to supervise the build.

The owners say they would rather not lease Miss Rose to families with small children, preferring adults-only groups or families with teenagers instead; many of the ship’s interior features are customized, and the owners want them to stay in top condition. For this older crowd, Miss Rose has a 16-foot tender and twin WaveRunners. The sundeck features a Jacuzzi, a bar, a dining area, and a day head for guests who want to relax or entertain friends on the top deck day and night. "These are things we like to do," one of the owners says, "so we assume other people might like to do them as well."

Yacht: Miss Rose
Builder: Horizon Yachts
Length: 132 feet
Guests: 10
Crew: 8
Special features: Kaleidescape audiovisual system; Wi-Fi; iPod docking stations; zero-speed stabilizers; 65-inch plasma-screen TV in main salon
Lowest weekly base rate: $177,122
Management: Burgess Yachts (Monaco), +377.97.97.81.21, www.burgessyachts.com

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