At 107 metres, Lana is one of the biggest superyachts ever to be launched by Italian shipyard Benetti and is currently hitting the headlines as the charter yacht of choice of Bill Gates and party guest Jeff Bezos. Take a glimpse on board...
At 107 metres, you’d think the most noteworthy features of Lana might be her sweeping dimensions or the warren of spa facilities in her belly. But actually, it’s the minutiae – because every chair, door, nut, bolt and widget of this vast yacht represents a careful judgement by a fastidious and deeply involved owner.
“This is the first build Imperial has ever done where the owner was climbing around the bilges, checking the spaces – his idea of quality went down absolutely to the nth degree,” says Julia Stewart, director of Imperial, which oversaw the build for the owner. Fittingly for such a mindset, Imperial has a microscopic approvals process that means “hundreds and hundreds” of samples are sent to the principal, and then on to the yard for reference: “Every fabric, every little hinge, every door handle, every piece of carpet – everything,” says Stewart. While potentially onerous for a builder, she believes this way of working ultimately benefits everyone, because when a subcontractor asks, “Is this OK?” the builder can point to the sample and say, “No, this is the standard.” And that, says Stewart, was a fundamental plank of the brief – vertiginously high quality.
The yard in this case was Benetti, the Tuscan builder who launched three 100-metre-plus yachts in just 100 days between 2018 and 2019 – all three were on site together at one point. Lana, the second, was arguably the “most Benetti” of the three, penned inside and out by the yard’s own design teams. In the last decade, Benetti had built a 90-metre (Lionheart) and a few boats around the 70-metre mark, but it is better known for its 50- to 65-metre superyachts.
Constructing three “gigayachts” at the same time, therefore, involved a serious change of gear. To this end, the yard built three 130-metre-long sheds and took over a Livorno dry dock that could take 80,000 tonnes, for launching and recovering the yachts. They also moved staff to an office closer to the dry dock when the boat was there, so they could keep an eye on her. The on-site manpower required was enormous: whereas a “standard” build would involve 100 workers, Lana required 300 people on the yacht every working day for four years – and that ramps up to 1,800 if you count those working on the project off-board. To manage the build – and all the extra staff – Benetti’s usual managerial team of five per yacht grew to 20 for Lana.
And then there was Covid-19. “It was close to being finished but about six months before delivery, it hit,” says Stewart. “Obviously a lot of contractors were affected by it. Tuscany wasn’t affected as much as further north but all the contractors’ facilities are up there.” There were also issues with getting flag surveyors to the boat, although having 18 crew on board added a helpful flexibility for such visits. The yard, meanwhile, kept the project moving and did not close.
Leading the charge for Benetti was Elisabetta Maria Di Noto, who joined as project manager in 2018, fresh from the build of Lionheart, Benetti’s flagship before the 100-metre-plus hat-trick. “The giga client is very different from, say, the ‘normal’ client,” she says, describing the approach of Lana’s owner. “He’s a very powerful person, a very precise person, firm and confident – the highest-demand client I’ve ever met.” The yacht was to be a reflection of those qualities, and to that end, “he followed every single phase of the construction, every single design, every line.”
During ideas meetings, more and more horizontal elements were removed from the exterior design until only long, low lines were left, with mild undulations for balconies and wing stations. “The extreme horizontal lines give it a very robust, masculine persona,” says Benetti exterior designer Michele Guerrieri, “while the three-dimensional elements add fluidity and elegance to that.” Despite this sleek appearance, the 2.7-metre head-heights are described by all involved as the most astounding aspect of the interior – a magic trick you can only pull off in a boat this big. “It’s almost cathedral-like,” says Stewart. “It’s a very airy, light boat.”
This frame is flattered, says Di Noto, by “soft colour palettes that offer a feeling of tranquillity.” The idea was a relaxing interior that was neutral enough that you would not get bored after a few cruises. The natural materials that run through the decor – largely leather, ayous wood and marble – have been worked by Italian artisans, whose skill is a point of pride for Benetti. “I don’t like fussy objects and endless detail,” says Benetti interior designer Mauro Izzo. “There needs to be a balance – not too much, not too little, but everything has to be special.”
The main saloon is suitably grand, with pale grey sofas by the Luxury Living Group arranged around a white leather, marble and stainless-steel coffee table, which was designed by Izzo and built by Viareggio furniture-maker Sealine. Forward, the dining saloon is flooded with light via huge sliding glass doors that entirely open up the space on both sides. The dining table is made of wood, leather and stainless steel, inset with an engraved brass panel, while each chair is “inset with a hand-carved crystal lion.”
The combination of airy dimensions and decorative mastery is also on show in the bridge deck master suite. Full beam, on a yacht with a 14.4-metre beam, is something to behold. In the cabin there’s space enough for seating areas both to port and starboard, while full-width sliding doors on to broad balconies open up the space even more. The suite’s study features a custom-made desk with Bentley armchairs and bespoke lamps decorated with tiger’s eye gemstones to complement the suite’s cream carved carpets and milk chocolate-toned ayous wood. The bathroom forward is lined with cool crema marfil marble that was selected in Valencia and worked to a polish in Sicily. “It’s luxurious without being aggressive; it’s opulent but accessible,” says Izzo.
The area also showcases a more pragmatic aim of the project – privacy – in both the spatial sense and in terms of sound transfer. To the first point, the master suite is self-contained, with its own pantries. It’s also positioned on the bridge deck, between two non-social spaces – the bridge zone, with the captain and first officer’s cabins, and the stairwell. If the suite were in an aft deck position, there might be a deck space connected to the lower decks via stairs, or at least a view of those decks. Here, the master cabin benefits from two broad but very private balconies: “we have ceramic heating outside here,” notes Stewart. Throughout the boat, the intersection between guest and crew areas has also been carefully routed and planned.
And sound? Well, the boat has been strategically and amply insulated to keep auditory separation between spaces. In the 80-square-metre bridge deck piano lounge you’ll hear the tinkling ivories, rather than the state-of-the-art Sonus Faber Olympica sound system of the saloon-cum-cinema just forward (which is connected but can be closed off via highly insulated sliding doors).
Top-quality, reliable tech was another facet of the brief, and it’s everywhere, down to the sophisticated LED lighting system that produces little heat and therefore saves energy by sparing the air conditioning. The seven (yes, seven) VIP cabins, with an average size of 32 to 33 square metres, on the main deck all feature 65-inch 4K OLED televisions and the sundeck features every bit of party tech imaginable: a California Audio Technology system with 10 speakers and two subwoofers; a space prepped for two club-standard speakers with two built-in K-array subwoofers; and a set-up for DJ decks. Not to mention the four 55-inch 4K SunBrite outdoor televisions. With plenty to look after, Imperial made sure the AV/IT guy got his own mini-office.
But this isn’t the only impressive technology on board. Lana is powered by eight diesel generators, controlled by a highly responsive power management system that means the minimum energy is used to satisfy power requirements. There are also two high-tech side-launching Benetti-built tenders stored on the lower deck – a 14-metre limo tender designed by Giorgio Cassetta, and a nine-metre open tender for watersports and diving, which was penned in-house. Then there’s the treasure trove of toys, an ample dive store and even golf clubs with biodegradable balls. These can be put to good use on the fold-down balconies of the 120-square- metre beach club – where the atmosphere is anything but “outdoorsy.”
“The furniture features handles made of ammonite fossils, and then we have niches made of turquoise turtle, hosting corals,” says Di Noto. There’s a huge central seating area, off which lie a gym, hammam with mosaics and RGB “stars” and a massage room.
Throughout the boat, the finish in deck areas is taken as seriously as it is indoors. “Outside, the ceilings are made of natural oiled teak, so they give a more precious feeling in the exterior areas,” says Di Noto. “All the external tables are made of teak, stainless steel and glass – a very complicated design – and the exterior sofas are made in wood and stainless steel, and in some areas they are underlit.” The dining tables on the main and bridge decks aft, for example, feature backlit onyx, stainless steel and high-gloss teak. And the exterior aft deck tables can be converted into bioethanol firepits.
The sundeck’s eight-metre pool, vast sunbathing areas and shaded dining table with a backlit honey onyx base (this al fresco dining area measures 100 square metres) will likely be the daytime hub, as well as party central at night. The top deck, meanwhile, is more intimate and feels like a spot for a quiet coffee or maybe cocktails.
Imperial is rightly proud of its achievements in Lana, and for Benetti she’s part of a new chapter in the yard’s story. “This,” says Di Noto, “will, I think, remain in Benetti not only as a physical investment in terms of sheds and materials, but also as know-how and experience that everybody can apply to other projects in the future.”
Closer look: Lana's 3D-printed chandelier
The chandelier-cum-sculpture in the centre of Lana’s lobby both highlights the grand scale of the space it sits in and demonstrates the perfectionism that went into every detail of the yacht. “We went through 10 different renderings before settling on the one the client wanted,” recalls Benetti interior designer Mauro Izzo. The piece was commissioned from Italian lightmaker Luce5. “It was quite challenging for them because to actually show the owner of the boat how it was going to look, they had to build it in a 3D printer,” says Julia Stewart, director of Imperial.
Once the real thing was moulded in mirror-polished stainless steel, installation offered its own difficulties: “At six metres in length, it’s not so much a lighting feature as an architectural element of the boat,” notes Izzo. From a structural point of view, it sits above a glass table and marble floor, intersections that were carefully managed. “A lot of vibration testing was done and it’s got steadying bars for heavy weather,” says Stewart. Within the thin strip of metal lies a track of lights that had to be changed four or five times to get each spot and glint in the exact position the owner wanted. The end result? A freely looping, pirouetting ribbon of light that belies the hard work beneath its surface.
This feature is taken from the January 2021 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.SHOP NOW