Domani: The 45 metre custom Benetti yacht built for today
by Clare Mahon
The first time I see Domani is on the dock moments before the owner and his family board to begin their summer holiday. Despite the blazing heat of Viareggio on Italy’s north Tuscany coast, the joyful chaos, harried adults and four excited children make the occasion feel something like Christmas.
The owner’s family run to hug the crew as if they are long-lost relatives, then fan out to explore the new yacht. I hear them calling excitedly to each other — “come see, come see!” — as they discover each new space on board Domani.
My visit is only brief as the engines are running and the owner, his family and crew are eager to begin their summer cruise, but I manage to grab a quick tour and an explanation of the name. “I started working for Domani’s owner 15 years ago, when his first Azimut-Benetti yacht, an Azimut 100, was almost completed and his wife was pregnant with their first child,” says the captain.
“We got to the shipyard a couple of weeks before delivery and would ask daily when the yacht would be ready. They’d always smile and say ‘domani’, which in Italian means tomorrow. The yacht was delivered on schedule but we decided to make the shipyard’s joking answer our theme.”
Three more Benetti yachts — a Classic 115, a 45 metre Vision and a Classic 121 — brings us to today and this custom 45 metre steel and aluminium Benetti. The second time I board the latest Domani is after the yacht has been put through her summer paces cruising from Viareggio to Croatia and back: a two-month maiden voyage. How did it go? “Very smoothly,” says the captain. “We’ve done 3,000 nautical miles with no technical issues at all.”
A long talk and tour with the owner uncovers the heart and soul of the yacht. “I think the path that led me to Domani is typical of many yacht owners: you start small, maybe just looking for boats that you can afford. You live the onboard life that a specific boat lets you live, you adapt to it and its spaces,” he says.
“Then you get more sophisticated. Maturity brings a better understanding of what matters in your life, what you value and how you want to live. You start looking for a boat that matches your lifestyle and habits, a boat that really expresses who you are. You know what you want at that point; you want your own kind of spaces and your own kind of look. Then you start looking at a custom build.”
The owner and his family live on board for a few months a year and all share a real love of the sea and everything that has to do with it: watersports, fishing and being together. They are also people with sophisticated tastes and, in Domani, they have created a yacht that fully reflects their lifestyle.
“I am a property developer and get very involved in everything I do, it’s just the way I am. Domani’s build was my escape valve, a project that I followed very closely, but that was just for pleasure. I travel frequently from South America to Spain, so every two months or so I would add a couple of days to a trip to Spain to go follow Domani’s build.
“After building five yachts with them, I can safely say that I know Benetti very well. We have an excellent working relationship and I know exactly what I want from them and where to direct my attention,” he says.
The owner’s crew is as faithful to him as he is to Benetti. “I guess you could say that our chef is the rookie,” he jokes. “He has only been with us for eight years. We are a well-established team, a real managing team I’d say. All my core crew can speak English, Spanish and Italian so they can deal with the shipyard directly.
“They have followed all of my Benetti builds so they know the purveyors and craftsmen as well as the shipyard hands and management. And they know what they want and where they want it.”
Knowing exactly what he wanted is what makes Domani so special. “It came to me one day when we were aboard the previous Domani: we had never once used the dining room,” says the owner. “We are outdoor people. It might be a little hot or a little cold, but we want to be outside.
“That’s the way we want to live on the sea. I wanted this yacht to have the kind of outdoor spaces we could really enjoy and I started with the flybridge.”
Domani will usually cruise in warm climates such as the Caribbean. “I like the yacht’s wide beam and low draught because we can enter shallow waters,” he says. “But even if you’re in a warm area, up on the flybridge it can often be too windy to really be enjoyable. That’s why I designed the curved glass veranda.”
With the sundeck veranda open, Domani’s deck is a single space with an aft sunbathing area, a bar and dining area amidships and a superyacht spa pool with sunbathing area forward. When it is closed around the tigerwood and steel dining table it creates three different zones.
“The veranda really activates the flybridge’s potential and makes it 100 per cent usable. It’s a real area for living. The kids love the spa pool and outdoor shower, and with a dayhead it’s also perfect for entertaining,” says Domani’s owner.
The upper deck aft has just the kind of wide and open outdoor space that the owner wanted. There are generously deep couches and armchairs in teak and steel, a bar in tigerwood and glass and a teak, tigerwood and steel dining table for 12.
“The outdoor deck spaces don’t compromise the interior, they actually pick up and repeat the same themes, colours and materials so that indoors and out are lived as a whole,” he adds.
The upper deck saloon is a cosy home cinema that reveals the owner’s love of Italian design. “I wanted to use as much ready-made Italian furniture as I could; in this area it’s mostly Flexform. I was lucky to work with the interior designer Carlo Galeazzi because he didn’t want to impose his own designs on me.
“I think that furniture by top Italian manufacturers is as close as you can get to perfection. Flos, Minotti, Poltrona Frau, Cassina, Maxalto [B&B Italia] just to name a few; they all work with great designers and have a quality of production that can’t be beat.
“The Italians design for spaces that look perfect yet warm, which isn’t an easy balance. I really enjoyed going to the Salone del Mobile in Milan to scout out pieces for the yacht.”
Also on this level, the upper deck VIP cabin has the same steel-framed Cassina bed that is used in all of Domani’s cabins, Vittoria bedside tables and luxurious grey leather curtains. The VIP bathroom is fitted with white marble. While there is only one captain aboard, there are four chairs in the wheelhouse because the children enjoy watching the action with “Uncle Capi” when the yacht is underway.
Another section where Domani's owner lavished his attention and design input is the upper deck’s forward area. Here, he designed the couches and loungers upholstered in Minotti outdoor fabric and the sail-like awning that is mounted on four slim poles. “This is another space we used extensively and one that the children love,” adds the owner.
On the main deck, Domani’s foyer has a dramatically lit superyacht staircase in dark oak and marble with cream leather walls and polished steel details. It leads forward to the owner’s suite with a study, dressing rooms and his-and-hers bathrooms, featuring the same white Statuario Carrara marble that Michelangelo used.
The sliding doors are by Rimadesio and the walls are in highly polished tigerwood and textured leather by Foglizzo. Built-in storage is concealed under the Cassina bed, as are elements to keep it tethered in rough seas. The most striking detail in this harmonious full-beam suite is actually a feature that breaks its symmetry: a private opening superyacht terrace that can be furnished with a table and chairs for enjoying a quiet moment.
Large windows and sliding glass doors give Domani’s main saloon panoramic views and flood the elegant space with natural light. The play of contrasting tones and materials continues here with dark brown oiled oak floors set off by thick white carpeting. Dark wood wall panelling also contrasts with polished steel and cream textured leather panels, and polished white ceilings with steel accents.
A round Maxalto dining table in book-matched calacatta marble is surrounded by nature-themed art and boat models from the owner’s collection. While the owner and his family have just enjoyed two months of intense use out of Domani, everything looks contemporary, elegant and absolutely pristine. “I didn’t use any fabrics on board that aren’t wet bathing-suit proof,” he says with a smile.
The real wet bathing-suit area is the spacious main aft deck that has access to Domani’s opening beach platform right below it. “We did an opening side door for launching the tenders so the beach club is a real space for living, with no technical stuff around. There is a shower, a dayhead and even a bar. It’s a really pleasant space for relaxing and enjoying, not just a platform for getting on and off the tender.”
The owner comes across as perfectly content with his new yacht, but will number five be the last Domani? “Oh no,” he laughs. “I’ve already made an appointment with Benetti’s CEO Vincenzo Poerio to talk about the new Domani I have in mind. We’ll meet at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.” Because domani is another day.
First published in the January 2017 edition of Boat International