She may project calm and composure, but Serenity certainly isn’t idle. After her debut at the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2015 this unconventional yacht, built at Mondomarine, returned to the yard in Savona, Italy, to prepare for a 4,500-mile trip across the Mediterranean Sea, down the Suez Canal and to Dubai via Oman. And then, after the Dubai International Boat Show in March, she headed for a cruise in the Oman fjords.
It was Mondomarine’s dealer in Dubai, SF Yachts, which initiated the conversation for the concept that became the SF40. The builder and its Middle East dealer tapped Luca Vallebona, an Italian designer who’d worked with Nauta Design, to come up with a line of semi-displacement yachts in aluminium with innovative styling.
It had to be fresh and modern, said Vallebona, but not so much that it would make it difficult to sell as a semi-custom yacht to owners shopping in the mid-size range.
“This is the first unit of the Mondomarine SF line, a new concept born to provide a clean and well-balanced design, together with a new conception of internal and external volumes and layout,” says the designer. “Themes like space and its flow, as well as a general balance within the profile, are at the core of this choice.
“The clean exterior and interior lines produce a timeless sense of luxury, immune from the influence of fashion and very focused on the enjoyment of the [environment] and on the rediscovery of the essence of travel, adventure… without any ostentation.”
That was the premise for the SF line. Serenity, in the end, is the result of collaboration between designer, dealer, yard and her owner, a yachting enthusiast with definite ideas.
“The owner asked for great views from his cabin and absolute privacy from the crew,” says Vallebona, who worked on a functional layout fulfilling these two key requests. An increase in length from the initial plan —37 to 42.33 metres — helped achieve it and also benefited the exterior and interior spaces, as well as the exterior lines.
Vallebona’s exterior styling includes dramatically slanted fashion plates and dark, ribbon-like windows. “We might define the SF40’s line as classic in the sense that her silhouette is not over-designed. I didn’t feel the need to add any attention-grabbing feature to provide her with an extra feel of dynamism,” he says.
Her interesting layout and interior design earned Serenity a spot among finalists at the 2016 ShowBoats Design Awards and at the World Superyacht Awards. The layout’s signature feature is the owner’s split-level suite with a panoramic cabin on the upper deck. A huge bathroom with a dramatic freestanding bathtub, beautiful mosaics and marble floor, plus a good-size dressing area, is a few steps down.
With its 180 degree views through five big windows – fitted with adjustable blinds — the owner’s cabin is airy and bright, with fresh décor and a laid-back atmosphere. High-gloss rosewood veneer on bulkheads and custom furniture offers a pleasant contrast to a floor in Portoro-framed white Calacatta marble.
Direct access from the cabin to the forward deck area allows the owner to reach a raised plinth covered with a sunpad and relax under the sun while enjoying great views. On both sides of the cabin, fold-down balconies further enlarge the available space and bring the outdoors in.
The upper deck is dedicated wholly to the owner. In addition to sleeping quarters, there is a family lounge that doubles as a cinema room. Unfolding the curtains reveals prints of famous movies in the room’s cheerful and theme-appropriate décor. Soft fabrics and leather-covered panels by Foglizzo (complementing insulation materials) minimise noise and enhance the film-watching experience. The family lounge opens on to a spacious terrace with a dining table for up to 10 people, a bar area and comfortable seating.
Vallebona distributed Serenity’s social and private areas over three decks plus a sundeck. The bridge occupies a space mid-level between the sun and upper decks. While the design does not allow for a captain’s cabin adjacent to the bridge, it affords him superb views while the yacht is underway. His double cabin with private bathroom, along with the rest of the crew of eight, is forward on the lower deck.
Accessed through large doors from the main aft deck, the saloon offers guests and visitors their first impression and it makes a great statement. Full-height windows and fold-down balconies on both sides make it feel like a floating terrace, with spectacular sea views.
The décor stems from Fatima Ahmed Al Maidan. An interior designer from the Middle East, she previously worked on the interior of a Benetti Tradition 105 and a Riviera 77, plus high-end residential projects that share her sophisticated contemporary interpretation of Eastern style.
Clues to her cultural heritage are evident in the colour palette that enlivens the family saloon and guest cabins: rich mustard-yellow coupled with red or intense green, flashes of gold enriching fabrics and details, basin tops in sumptuous pink, green or yellow onyx.
Al Maidan gave the saloon a low-key yet luxurious tone. High-gloss rosewood and a backlit fresco accent lacquered white panels. A fireplace set inside a low cabinet divides the dining and seating areas, the latter featuring matching sofas in charcoal grey velvet by Antico Setificio Fiorentino. Full-height mirror panels on the forward bulkhead increase the feelings of space and light.
Below decks, a flavour of One Thousand and One Nights is evident in each of the four stylish guest suites. “I gave the interiors a very clean design so as not to overwhelm guests with too many visual [stimuli],” Al Maidan says. “Each suite has its colour scheme matched by the bathroom’s onyx basin tops. Fancy touches are provided by richly decorated fabrics and decorative features such as the two vibrant green vertical gardens hanging above the beds in both double and VIP cabins.”
Outside, guests benefit from a whole range of options to mingle with family and friends or relax in solitude — from the sundeck with its infinity-style pool clad in shimmering Bisazza blue tiles and large sunbathing area, to the owner’s terrace and the main aft deck with its comfortable sofa.
“The entire yacht concept is based upon maximising external spaces,” says Vallebona. “The structure is built to free space on the aft decks and on the main deck forward, too.” Helping achieve the maximum volume is the yacht’s nearly upright bow design.
Last but not least, a huge swim platform allows everyone to enjoy direct contact with the sea. Walking down one of the two staircases that flank the transom to this platform, you notice details such as well laid out teak planks with neat black caulking.
But nowhere is Mondomarine’s expertise more visible than in the tidy and expertly arranged engine room, where all machinery and systems are easily accessible. Propelled by twin MTU 12V 2000 M94 engines that occupy the machinery space’s central section, Serenity achieves a top speed of 17.5 knots. At her economic speed of 12 knots, the 63,000 litre fuel tanks provide a remarkable 4,500 nautical mile range.
There’s more to come in the SF line, which runs from an SF30 to an SF60. As Mondomarine builds upon its 100-year history, it marches on with new ownership, a recently opened Monaco office and ambition to grow in markets far beyond its historic home. Serenity is a seductive addition, sure to garner attention in the Middle East and beyond.