Benetti — Told U So
Benetti once again shows its willingness to go all out on the interiors, developing its semi-custom series to meet the expectations of an owner who’s had to meet the highest expectations
Kirk Lazarus earned a fortune in the oil business. Along the way, he wound up wining and dining various heads of state – people who obviously expected the best. Lazarus found himself using a private game reserve property in his native South Africa as a place of quietude and wonder. That property evolved into the Molori Resort of South Africa, and has become recognized as one of the top-end places to stay in that country. Lazarus used this gambit into the luxury resort business to exercise one of his favourite passions, interior design.
Molori, which means dreams in a South African native language, have now expanded to include the original safari-themed resort in northern South Africa, a coastal retreat near Cape Town and a resort in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Lazarus has even added a private air charter business that includes a Boeing 727 that includes Nelson Mandela among its passenger list.
Add all this up, and it’s no surprise that the luxury-lifestyle entrepreneur decided to add a yacht to the Molori collection. “I chartered the best, the newest and the biggest yachts, and each time there was something amiss,” said Lazarus in a statement. The result of Lazarus’ design dream at sea is the confidently christened Told U So, a yacht built for charter as part of the Molori Group.
Lazarus ultimately wound up working with Italian superyacht builder Benetti of the Azimut-Benetti Group. The purchase was one of the builder’s fiberglass semi-custom series, the Vision 145. The 145 is one of Benetti’s most popular models, with Told U So being the 16th hull. And while the engineering and hull design is certainly part of a series, the guests aboard Told U So will certainly feel like they are in a world all their own.
The Eclectic Light Orchestra
One of the things you notice about the design tastes of Lazarus is that they reflect his time spent globetrotting. Venetian accents, American pop culture, Chinese furnishings – all sorts of impulses and reflections find their home on Told U So. The yacht is a visual riot to say the least.
Lazarus’ stated aim is to create an at-sea equivalent to the Molori experience, and that requires not just a feast for the eyes, but a matching level of service and convenience as well. Notably, there is a full-size chef’s kitchen that is big enough to facilitate a dinner for up to 60 guests and has added features such as pizza ovens, allowing Told U So’s chefs to bake fresh breads and pizzas daily rather than having to bring it in from port.
Lazarus likes to tout the fact that unlike most yacht designers, he is a user and owner as well as a designer (some yacht designers may want to contest that statement), and therefore understands the needs of owners better.
To that end, Told U So features some modifications that are designed to enhance the sensory experience of those on-board. The beds have been raised five inches – allowing guests who are enjoying a lazy lie-in to view the water from their beds. Steps have been widened and shortened to make them more accessible for guests that have more difficulty walking – for whatever reason. Lazarus made the windows wider and doorframes higher in order to allow more light between rooms and to create a more spacious feel.
Molori properties are also noted for fusing the indoor and outdoor areas – an aim of most yacht designers these days. This past experience has certainly been put to use on Told U So. The dining area on the upper deck becomes an alfresco space thanks to retractable glass walls and oversized windows. This allows plenty of light and great natural views – whatever the weather.
Lavish accommodations, state-of-the-art technology, and a layout that encourages group interaction and entertainment evoke the feeling of a luxurious second home. Televisions are hidden in cupboards or behind works of art on the walls, creating a less-intrusive atmosphere when desired, or quiet solitary entertainment if wanted.
The main saloon is a show of light and flair. There is a divide between what would be the saloon and the dining areas on most yachts, but instead of a dining area, there is the antique Chinese sofa instead. The dividing element is the one-metre lobster lamp. Light wood paneling matches with cream fabrics and flooring with touches of black lacquer and dark wood providing intriguing contrasts. Centre-stage is an L-shaped and very comfortable settee. Towards the aft deck, one finds a piano built into the bookshelf (with a complete set of National Geographics – perfect for trips in more exotic locales), while opposite there is a full service bar (perfect for appreciating those Nat Geos).
At the touch of a button, the saloon lounge transforms into a state-of-the-art cinema, exposing a wide screen hidden behind magnificent contemporary art. Here, guests can soak up the 16th century Chinese couch (upholstery included) while taking in their favourite flicks.
The eclecticism runs rampant in the main saloon, and the transitions from stream-lined and very modernistic looking bar run very counter to the curvaceous lines of antiques and classically-styled furniture. Moving forward to the main entrance area, this trend continues, with a sleekly-styled staircase set against an antique chest of drawers and lighting that draws inspiration from Victorian classicism.
But the main saloon is almost tame compared to the upper dining area on the aft deck. The upper saloon dining space features probably the most ornate alfresco dining room one could imagine. A room that seems to draw inspiration from the Palace of Versailles suddenly opens up completely to the open air and the surrounding sea of some enchanted bay. The selection of woods and fabrics recall the gold leaf of European palaces, while Lazarus has opted for eight unique, baroque-styled chairs for seating. The 180-degree, floor-to-ceiling windows retract completely. When closed, the glazing allows for perfect climate control. Surely, this has to be one of the more exotic ways to enjoy a pizza.
Of course, one of the great pleasures of being on the water in a luxury yacht is the open-air comfort. And on the superb sun deck, guests can enjoy an additional outdoor dining area complete with a state-of-the-art BBQ (serviced by full kitchen and custom-made food elevators), a plunge pool, a powder room and an outdoor shower for convenience.
The forward area of the sun deck features a large sunpad that can be transformed into a dining area with a few quick adjustments. This dining space will surely be a favourite, with lounging settees and plenty of pillows to prop upon while tasting gourmet goodies. Guests will be sorely tempted to spend an awful lot of their time up on the fully equipped sun deck. Aside from the amenities, the plunge pool is enormous aft-and fitted with a handsome teak frame. At night, the whole area comes alive in candle lighting and LED accents that are sure to please.
What could a luxury yacht bearing the Molori mantle be without an extravagant owner’s suite? There are no hints of quietude or restraint here, as the lead charter party will surely find. Start with the view: there are 180-degrees of large windows wrapped around the centrally-aligned, forward-facing bed. The master suite is located on the main deck forward, and this opened up a fantastic opportunity – something Lazarus is used to exploiting. Heading forward from the master suite, one exits on to a private outdoor owner’s terrace fitted with lounge and a six-person Jacuzzi. This is probably a first of its kind, certainly for a semi-custom yacht of this size and one that’s been geared to private charter.
The master suite’s bed features designs by Italian Design House Missoni. There are his and hers bathrooms with tubs and a steam shower with Venetian glass mirrors selected by Lazarus himself. A quick bit of champagne and a dip in a Jacuzzi before finally getting to bed – sounds perfect.
Below decks, the other charter party guests may not get their own Jacuzzis, but they certainly get a big dose of Molari styling. Each of the four suites has a distinct look, with comfort and pleasure mixed in equal measure. Woods and stone finishings are paired with art-deco features. Mock-croc skin covers each door, but lends a unique hue to each entry. Told U So sleeps up to ten guests, and can accommodate cocktail parties for up to 60 people. To emphasize the unique nature of each of the guest suites, they have been named: There is the White Room, The Zebrano Room, The Limed Oak Room, and the Ebony Room. Interestingly, you won’t find twin bunks for kids aboard Told U So, hinting at the kind of fun that the grown ups can have on-board.
Toys R Us
Naturally, being on a superyacht requires tenders, toys and more. No one understands this more than Mr. Lazarus himself, often seen on a jet ski. The transom door opens down completely to form the mandatory beach club/rec area, while revealing the toys garage. Stowed here is a Novurania Equator 540 tender with inboard engine, which can be used for wakeboarding or waterskiing. A Novurania Chase 38 is also available for fishing or sport. There are two Sea Bobs, two Yamaha Wave Runners and two sets of kite surfing gear, plus Scuba gear for four.
A crew of 12 is comfortably accommodated for, which means guests will be very well looked after. And despite the design flair of Told U So, this is not a yacht for just sitting in a marina. The Vision 145 has a range of 4000 nautical miles at 12 knots – very respectable performance – with a top speed of 15 knots.
Underscoring that range, Told U So was recently available for charter in the Maldives, and is reportedly making an excursion to Thailand and Singapore in 2012, possibly to be exhibited at the coming boat show season.
To charter: www.molori.com
Technical Specifications – Benetti Vision 145 Told U So
LOA 43.6 m
Maximum beam 9.26 m
Maximum draught 2,72 m
Full load displacement 390t
Fuel capacity 60,000 litres
Fresh water capacity 9,500 litres
Main Engines: 2 x CAT C32 Acert 1300HP, 970 kW @ 1.800 rpm
Range at 12 knots 3,500 n.m.
Generators 2 x Kohler 125 kW
Bow thruster VT Naiad Marine VT77 77 kW
Stabilisers Stabilization at anchor VT Naiad Marine
Propellers Benetti design
Electric and Electronic System BEST Benetti’s Exclusive Sea Technology
Integration of bridge navigation systems
Exterior Styling & Concept Stefano Righini
Interior Design Molori Design
Classification ABS Malta Cross A1 Yachting Service AMS – LY2 compliance (option)