Plvs Vltra was the first Amels Limited Editions 242 to hit the water and, for opulent yet family-friendly splendour, it shot straight to the top of the class.
Amels’ Limited Editions concept is one of the superyacht industry’s great success stories. Each boat in the range offers a high degree of interior customisation and there’s just enough in Tim Heywood’s curving exterior lines to make a yacht feel individual, while a shared technical platform hacks time and cost off a project. And, with every repetition, the process gets smoother, the unknowns diminish.
Heywood maintained the Limited Editions signature look, which he says is “strong and functional”. “It complements the flowing lines very well, which I describe as athletically feminine,” says Heywood. “I must admit that these curves are not necessarily the easiest forms to build, but Amels rose to the challenge.”
The paint — jet black between Matterhorn white decks — gives Plvs Vltra a dose of individuality. “I also added those curving jet black highlights to echo the curve of the wing station and then reversed it in the superstructure,” he says. “That form is echoed again in the mast structure. And finally the marlin blue waterline stripe.”
The owners previously had the Limited Editions 180 yacht Step One, which was also project managed by Moran Yacht & Ship and delivered in 2012. "The owner and his family greatly enjoyed Step One and he decided to build a larger yacht with Amels as he was happy with the shipyard and struck up a strong rapport with sales director Rob Luijendijk," president Rob Moran adds. The Plvs Vltra project was managed for the owner by Moran Yacht & Ship.
But lifestyle needs meant the layout required a thorough rethink for Plvs Vltra. “The main requests were a large swimming pool on the main deck, two 10 metre tenders, a large master suite forward on the upper deck, a huge spa with all of the features of a top class facility, and large exterior areas to enjoy with friends and family," Moran continues.
“They want their family to be with them and they want to spend a lot more time on board”, says Andrew Winch of Winch Design, who penned the interior. “They said, ‘At this size, we don’t really want to get off’.”
In short, the owners wanted a full-time residence, not a holiday boat. That informed every aspect of the design, splitting Plvs Vltra’s accommodation into an owner’s deck, two VIPs on the main deck and three guest cabins on the lower deck, so that three generations can have their own space or come together as desired.
But as Winch puts it: “The spa was where it kicked off at the beginning.” This lower deck, amidships space incorporates a spectacular central spa pool, massage area, steam room, bar and sauna with a window on to a broad, fold-down balcony to starboard.
There’s an elaborate mosaic of a dandelion by Sottoriva on the wall of the steam room and, on the floor, mystery white and rosa egeo marbles curve out from the superyacht spa pool in a shell pattern. Above the pool there’s an artwork of gilded porcelain shells by Valeria Nascimento. All this enhances the feeling of it being a space to linger in, rather than a utilitarian area to use and then leave.
“It’s quite normal for them to go there for four or five hours,” says Winch. “They can have an oil massage on the bed and when they’ve finished have their hair done. And when they leave the spa they are ready to put a dress on and go and party. It is a sequence of functions that are all about pleasure. Each area is a passage of time.”
The superyacht balcony, with an inflatable watertight seal, is positioned high enough that even stray waves that did make it to this part of Plvs Vltra would be unlikely to worry guests — but there are prodigious drains inside, just in case.
Routeing has been thought about carefully, with a smooth-running glass-fronted lift that whisks the owners down here directly from the lobby aft of their upper deck suite. There’s also a side-boarding ladder from the main deck to the fold-down balcony that means children can spend whole days outdoors, padding from Plvs Vltra’s aft deck swimming pool, with its counter current jets for lap swimming, extensive sunpads and bar, down to the superyacht spa.
But the position of the space is arguably Plvs Vltra’s greatest asset. “It was a deliberate choice of Amels to put the beach club in the middle, or tipping point, of the ship,” says Konings. “It is the most comfortable place to be at any time at sea. So when it gets a bit rough, the Jacuzzi can stay filled and guests can actually use the spa area.” This position also leaves the aft of the boat as a purely functional garage for tenders and toys.
Another consideration towards creating a more residential feel in Plvs Vltra is the absence of long corridors — a feature usually distinctive of planes, trains and boats. Where possible, the design eschews them in favour of more useful or atmospheric spaces.
Outside the main deck VIPs, for example, the area is divided into a circular lobby with painted, lacquered blue and white panels designed by Canadian artist Peter Gorman. Just aft, there’s a small library with two armchairs. “The two windows are lined up with the two windows in the ship’s hull, so you have natural light,” says Konings.
Slanting windows flood the VIPs themselves with light while the lower deck guests get spectacular marble en suites — and the head height throughout is excellent.
Décor was just as vital to the project as layout. “If you take a look at some of the hotels in the South of France, such as the Hotel du Cap, they are classical and they are about wonderful sea views with very light interiors,” says Winch. “They wanted, architecturally, a classic interior, classical mouldings, classical selections of marbles and furniture. They wanted variety and individuality to the boat.”
It’s a highly decorative design, with intricately veined marbles, stained woods and plenty of crystal but, thanks to the blend of neutrals with soft Cote d’Azur tones of blue and yellow, the effect remains light and relaxing — and more like a house than a boat.
In Plvs Vltra’s main saloon, there are substantial pillars, hand laid with moon gold leaf, customised Italian upholstery in ivory velvet by Pozzoli of Milan, crystal-based lamps with silver leaf and silk shades by Baldi, as well as a bespoke silk and wool carpet by Winch Design with Tai Ping.
The mosaic in the main deck lobby is as much a work of art as the bronze Alexander Krivosheiw sculpture that stands over it — slivers of marble in mystery white, blue jeans, labradorite weiss, golden spider, calcite azzurra and cream Valencia in an intricate pattern by Winch Design, created by stone artisans Magma in Sicily.
Other aspects of this detailed residential effect were a particular challenge. “We have never been asked before to do chandeliers that appear to be free-hanging,” says Winch. “If you go back to Victorian yachts, they would have free-hanging chandeliers but here you can’t afford a rattle, something to be tinkling or breaking.”
The solution for these fittings, in the main and dining saloons, was fixing the hundreds of individual crystal droplets with tiny metal pins. They were penned by Winch Design and manufactured by Czech crystal specialist Preciosa.
Up in the owner’s lounge things are more relaxed, with blue-stained sycamore panelling, loungy seating in front of a concealed cinema screen and full-height windows that open on both sides, for a breeze that runs all the way through.
Forward, there’s a limited edition Parallèle piano by Hilton McConnico and aft, a backlit rock crystal bar, behind which the wall is clad in pearlised lacquer with copper brick inlays. Back again on the long aft deck there’s a dining table and bar.
The full-beam master suite forward on the upper deck has a central bed and access to the foredeck from doors either side of the windows. The palette of green, neutrals and metallics is repeated in the organic patterns of the silk and wool carpet, again by Tai Ping and Winch Design, as well as lustrous Rubelli curtains.
The most spectacular piece is a hand-painted and embroidered silk wall covering of birds on a blossoming tree, penned by Winch Design and produced by Fromental.
All of this interior refinement was achieved on a pre-agreed budget, as Moran explains: “The biggest challenge our team faced, was that the client would not accept any cost changes. We accepted this gamble and we met our promise. Andrew Winch, who is a very good designer, is not known for his frugality, but we managed to provide an exquisite interior that came within the budget. Such a task has never been previously achieved on an Andrew Winch designed yacht.”
Aft of the master cabin, a corridor was necessary to lead between his and hers en suites to the bedroom, but it has been enhanced as far as possible. “Because of the way we planned the positions of the showers, with their own windows and inboard curved walls in glass, you get light through both bathrooms and into the middle of the corridor,” says Winch.
Those en suites are as decadent as they come, with sand-etched, curved glass panels enclosing massive showers with every bell and whistle, as well as glamorous vanities with rock crystal fronts that glow in the sun.
The owner’s office, off the lobby between owner’s suite and lounge, strikes a very different note from the rest of Plvs Vltra’s décor. It is dark and serious: black stained Newood, red lacquer, gold leaf panels and an ebonised timber desk with gilt detailing and an oxblood red leather top. “It’s a more male space,” says Winch.
Up on the bridge deck things are far brighter, with a much-used superyacht gym that leads out to a sprawling combined aft deck and touch-and-go helicopter pad, with an oversized elliptical sofa for watching films on the screen that drops down from above the gym door. Plvs Vltra’s sundeck has a spa pool and sunpads made ultra private by a position forward of the mast.
Heywood really went to town on the mast, with a sculptural form and decorative stainless steel touches. Other less glamorous aspects of the build have been thought through carefully, too. “We have a main stairwell and right on the back of it there is a stairwell for the crew, so the crew can service the whole ship without ever being seen by the guests,” says Konings.
A full-beam crew mess on the tank deck leaves the whole nose of the lower deck for crew accommodation, while a good-sized galley sits amidships on Plvs Vltra’s main deck.
Apart from consulting Damen Research to reduce noise and vibration through calculation and simulations, the generators are insulated in their own room — an idea taken from another Amels 74 metre, Ilona — giving better maintenance access than by boxing them in, while protecting the eardrums of those who work in Plvs Vltra’s vast engine room all day.
“It surprised everybody. The sound of vibration is phenomenal, unbelievable,” says captain Simon Truelove. “Plvs Vltra’s a big boat, she’s got a lot up top as well, but she’s got stabiliser systems that balance out. The 180 is a great boat and standing on the bridge this seems exactly the same — but actually there’s another extra 20 metres on the back of her and you’re higher up.” It’s one aspect in which the yard will be pleased to know that two of its Limited Editions can’t be told apart.
First published in the March 2017 edition of BOAT International.