High-End Living on the High Seas – The Yacht Life!

Here’s a fun way of living! Would you take the plunge and live on the high seas? I think I might – maybe some day, right?  -John Petel

High-End Living on the High Seas

Multimillion-dollar ships are sporting amenities more commonly found in luxury condos.

By Arian Campo-Flores

Looking for floor-to-ceiling windows, a terrace overlooking the ocean and a poolside spa? You might consider a home on the high seas.

Builders are designing yachts that replicate the aesthetic and amenities of luxury lofts and condos, with clean lines, ample glass and indoor-outdoor spaces. Many are outfitted with cutting-edge technology, such as interactive, high-definition video walls for movies and art. High-tech toys range from Seabob water sleds to minisubmarines for underwater cruising.

A 140-foot Veloce by Italian boat maker Benetti recently made its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The $45 million vessel, which can travel 21 knots, includes two pools, a gym and a massage room. At the touch of a button, part of the wall in the fitness center opens to become a balcony, bathing the space in natural light.

On the lower level, the back end of the boat folds down to created a “beach club,” with a bar, grill and sun deck at sea level where guests can stretch out on lounge chairs or dive into the water. The decor is sleek and subdued, featuring white leather sofas and slate-gray wood flooring.

Yachts “are becoming more modern, more minimalist,” said Daniel Ziriakus, chief operating officer at yacht brokerage Northrop & Johnson. “What you see with new buildings in Miami is transferring over to boats.”

The trend is driven in part  by a new generation of buyers. Unlike older boaters, who favor a traditional layout of distinct spaces, such as formal dining rooms and casual outside decks, younger ones want to break down those barriers, said Timothy Hamilton, director of Feadship america, the U.S. arm of a Dutch shipyard.

He said the company is discussing a possible design with one client, a businessman in his 30s, for a 230-foot vessel that would feature a two-story, glass-walled garage to house a sports car, motorbikes and small boats. When the yacht is anchored and those items are removed, the space can be transformed into an enormous loft-like lounge and workout space. The price hasn’t been determined.

“That is completely breaking the mold of a boat,” Mr. Hamilton said.

The most cutting-edge yachts are erasing divisions between interior and exterior spaces, said Michael von der Heide, project development director at Blohm+Voss. A new 260-foot yacht, the BV80, being built by the German shipyard has a beach club that blends into a spa with a yoga studio, a sauna and a Turkish bath. One level  up, a large lounge has floor-to-ceiling glass panels that can open the space to the elements or seal it off from bath weather. The director wouldn’t discuss the price.

Glass is more popular than ever. The deckhouse on a new $6 million, 85-foot yacht by Italian builder Arcadia Yachts that was introduced at the Fort Lauderdale show is made almost entirely of double-pane glass and topped with solar panels to recharge the boat’s batteries. The design yields expansive views and a light, airy feel. “It gives a sensation of space, of freedom,” said Francesco Guida, the boat’s designer.

The 152-foot Como, which Feadship completed this year, has a continuous band of glass panels around the yacht, and bulwark windows that are about 20 feet long. A sun deck that can accommodate 50 people is equipped with a bar, grill and pop-up TV, and is surrounded by glass that can be retracted.

Incorporating so much glass on a boat, where it must endure heavy loads and intense pressure, presents tough engineering challenges. Tests on the Como’s portholes, which are the maximum size allowed, included dropping a steel ball on the structure from 20 feet up.

Behind much of the innovation is a simple idea: People want to feel connected to the water.

Italian yacht-builder Wider is making a $31 million, 150-foot yacht. One novel feature is a rear space that holds a 32-foot boat. When the craft is removed, the area transforms into a beach club with lounge chairs, a movie screen and side doors that open to the sea. It also holds a pool that fills with ocean water cleaned by recirculating pumps.

“You have the security of your own swimming pool,” said Darren Datson, president  of Wider Yachts USA. “But you look out and feel like you’re in the ocean.”

Source: Wall Street Journal