With her rich, art deco-inspired styling and a layout that focuses on entertaining, 90 metre Phoenix 2 feels like the floating version of Jay Gatsby’s mansion. To get a feel for her star quality, Katia Damborsky steps on board.
“I think it's great if you go on this boat and you haven't seen it for five years,” muses Andrew Winch, whose team designed every inch of Phoenix 2’s eye-catching exteriors and remarkable interiors. “You will find things that you recognise and remember, but you will also find things that you didn't see the first time around.”
As soon as I step on board Phoenix 2 a few weeks later, I discover Winch is right. Phoenix 2 treads a fine line between wow-factor features that are impossible to forget - such as cherry velvet floors and a gold-gilded grand piano — and subtle details, evident in the owner’s brief for all-custom everything. Perhaps unsurprisingly for an owner with a penchant for music, the balance is in perfect harmony.
You'd never guess this yacht was delivered over a decade ago. Not only is she subject to rigorous maintenance periods that keep her in immaculate condition, she also has an air of elegance that suggests she’ll never look tired or dated – in fact, she shares the same timelessness and charm as The Great Gatsby itself.
Phoenix 2 was completed by Lürssen in 2010, with Robert Moran overseeing the build and Winch Design undertaking the creative concept. Prior to Phoenix 2, the owner had a previous Winch designed-Lürssen, and over the course of his ownership, he came to know Peter Lürssen well. “They became very good friends, which is something that’s typically hard to do with a client,” says Michael Breman, sales director at Lürssen. “So when he decided to build the boat, it was quite logical that he would come in to talk to Peter.”
But when it came to building his next boat, which would be his first new build, the client “didn’t really want a repeat of his current yacht, which was based on art deco Paris,” says Winch. Every major city in the world has its own take on art deco, explains Winch, and with Phoenix 2, the brief was to capture the art deco spirit of New York. Why New York? “The client was inspired by the New York skyline and wanted to interpret that in the yacht. These buildings are symbolic of power and strength and the New York skyline was his inspiration” says Winch.
From the outside, Phoenix 2 captures that strength in her soaring lines, poised silhouette and a 5.7-metre phoenix figurehead that rises up from the bow like the eagles mounted on the Chrysler building. Phoenix 2 was the first modern yacht with a figurehead flying from the bow, as opposed to hugging the underside, and it adds to the yacht’s imposing stature.
On the interior, the yacht’s strength comes from her character; after all, it would be impossible to see a picture taken inside Phoenix 2 and mistake it for any other yacht. In the dining saloon, a six-panelled gold bas-relief structure, a bespoke piece by DKT Artworks, overlooks the dining table. Sitting opposite is a statue of a conductor and the backs of dining chairs are embroidered with different orchestra members, which marry up to the place settings at the dinner table.
“The owner adored music and had built friendships with some world-class concert pianists who were were invited as guests to come and play for him,” recalls Winch. It’s easy to imagine an extravagant soireé here, with the custom-designed Steinway being played and fine wines from the owner’s collection being ushered in from the adjacent Sommelier Room.
Design choices that might make other designers recoil have been embraced by Winch. Bordering the dining saloon are thick, dark curtains, reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy, and black tones feature heavily throughout other areas of the yacht. “The thing is that wherever this boat is cruising in the summer, it's never going anywhere where it's not sunny,” Winch reminds me. “And you can go outside and have too much light and wear your sunglasses and hat to give you shade. So when you go inside, it's actually relaxing.”
And then there’s the sparkle. “To have a darker interior is not sombre; it's sparkling,” says Winch, and he’s right (again). By keeping darker elements in the interior, the light feels like a glittering, golden air that dances through the boat, illuminating bronze phoenixes on the overheads and making the yacht’s 100 metres of uniquely shaped, polished stainless steel handrails glisten.
But then there’s that subtlety again, reining things in. The yacht plays host to a Modigliani sculpture, an epic piece that some owners might like to display front and centre – but on Phoenix 2, it’s hidden in the hallway that leads to the master suite. “Why put it in the hallway? Why put it somewhere private? Because it's even more of a drama,” laughs Winch.
The owner considered his guests’ reception to his yacht a lot when it came to the design, and nothing was more rigorously considered than custom details. During my tour, I stop and ask about where certain features were supplied from, and almost every time I’m met with a wry smile. “He didn’t want people to walk in and go ‘I see you've got a piece of a light from X, Y Z, shop’,” says Winch. “He wanted to be able to say: ‘It's the only one in the world.’” To this end, even the door handles and cutlery are unique, one-of-a-kind miniature art pieces.
Her show-stopping design even extends into the engine room. This space is usually a concealed area that guests and owners rarely visit – but on Phoenix 2, this cavernous chamber packed with state-of-the-art technology is actually a sought-after stop-off on most tours around the boat.
Phoenix 2 is about to enjoy her first charter season with Edmiston, and Victoria Verhovskaia, the firm's charter fleet manager, predicts she will be a popular addition to the fleet. “July and August are fully booked in the western and eastern Med,” she says. “She will definitely have repeat clients.” Crowd-pleasing features include a 7.5-metre pool attached to a spa pool and bridge deck complete with a gym, hair-dressing salon-cum-massage room and a truly decadent hammam.
In the belly of the boat, there is a cinema. A foyer influenced by Radio City Music Hall in New York hides a machine that produces hot, buttery popcorn and the cinema room itself volunteers five double chaises finished in black ostrich with mink and cashmere throws. Fibre optics paint a starfield across the black carpet and a velvet curtain slides open to reveal the enormous cinema screen.
From the lower deck, a spiralled staircase and a glass-encased elevator serve all decks. The staircase is aluminium and finished in a riveted style that speaks to the second industrial revolution that prevailed in the 1920s. The bannisters follow a phoenix wing theme and the silhouette of a skyscraper is ingrained in the carpet, widening as the staircase ascends.
The skyscraper motif is repeated again in the backs of the barstools in the owner’s lounge, which sits on the upper deck. Here, there is an airier feeling thanks to a central skylight that lets light pour in. The lounge can be closed off for privacy or connected to the winter garden, a favoured spot on board according to Captain Ian Howcroft.
Here, retractable glass windows create a hybrid indoor-outdoor space that’s easily capable of hosting up to 120 guests – but when Phoenix 2 isn’t in party mode, it serves as a dining spot. A dining table is flanked by a pair of buffet-style tables and bordered by a small lounging area on the aft deck. “When the buffet tables were first installed, the owner told me to sit in the seat that he usually sat in,” says Howcroft. “He said, ‘now look out there,’ and I said, ‘I can’t, so we changed it!” Now, the buffet tables move up and down at the touch of a button.
The owner certainly knew what he wanted when designing Phoenix 2, and there is no more compelling evidence of this than the owner’s suite. It’s a visually striking space that’s accessed via a glass spiral staircase set against the backdrop of a busy mural depicting a scene of New York. An entire, unbroken black ring circles the bed, transitioning from the plush white carpet onto the marble of the en suite.
A cleverly concealed wardrobe allows the owner to hide away their belongings while the yacht is chartering, and a sliding mirror divides the bathroom into two perfect segments. Private areas are hidden behind large artworks, but I manage to pop my head in during the tour and find that the rumours about black toilet paper are indeed true.
The custom vanity table in the owner’s suite is Winch’s pride and joy. Sitting elegantly by the window, its milky pearlescent finish makes it look like it’s emitting its own light. “The vanity [looks like] it could have come out of Breakfast at Tiffany's,” agrees Winch.
With her glittering interiors and Hollywood charisma, Phoenix 2 is a yacht that shines both literally and figuratively. It may be 12 years since she was delivered, but it's safe to say that sparkle isn't going anywhere and it was well worth the wait to peer behind the velvet curtain.Read More/The world's most expensive superyachts for charter