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Benetti Bistango: Versace On Safari

Bistango, which appeared at the 2010 Monaco Yacht Show alongside another example of Benetti’s FB series, combines gold leaf, Swarovski crystals and animal prints to create sheer opulence available to charter guests.


Chief Stewardess Elizabeth Kavanagh takes a few steps from the skylounge barstool, whose horsehair covering has been dyed to appear cheetah, and gazes at the decorative columns on either side of a black-panther portrait. The columns are not of the identifiable fluted or Corinthian variety; their design looks like oversized rose petals or fish scales climbing upward, lavishly bathed in gold leaf. “I call them the artichoke columns,” Kavanagh says. “The owner designed them himself. They really bring his personality into the boat.”

Bistango is, without question, a custom yacht that reflects its owner’s vision and taste. At 203' LOA, the mid-2010 launch dwarfs the owner’s previous Benettis, which include the 164' Alibella (owned for just a few months in late 2008) and the 150' Kaleido Beau, a 1991 build. Bistango offers a real evolution of the owner’s tastes and, in particular, a refinement of interior style. Whereas Kaleido Beau might be called classically elegant, Bistango is a portrait of neoclassic opulence.

The modern take on sophistication is evident in everything from the master suite’s majestic skylight, which is surrounded by burl wood panels, to countless Swarovski crystals embedded in black lacquer furniture. The décor features many custom design details, such as the dining room chandelier. Dozens of pieces of crystal dangling at varying lengths diffuse LED backlighting across 12 rounded, upholstered dining room chairs. The selection of fine Italian marbles (including Botticino, yellow Siena and gold Calacatta) is also noteworthy.

“The owner wanted the best yacht that he could build, the most luxurious and most opulent with the charter market in mind,” says Captain Tony Griffith, who, like Kavanagh and Chief Engineer Paolo Figari, was involved from the project’s inception. “I’m confident that we achieved that.”

Bistango’s owner put thought into what types of charter clients might be aboard, as well. Griffith says a great deal of discussion went into the design of the sun deck, for instance, so that high-profile guests can relax in privacy if seen from multiple angles. Similarly, every exterior window on the yacht is coated in a reflective, mirrored finish so that, as Griffith puts it, “no prying eyes can see inside.” In addition, international business leaders will find VSAT, Wi-Fi and GSM telephone service designed to allow meetings from anywhere the yacht cruises. “If one system isn’t working in a particular area, we have backups available,” Griffith says. “It is intentionally designed that way.”

That’s because Bistango’s owner plans to explore farther afield than the traditional Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising grounds. Charter clients inquired about availability in the Indian Ocean, and that’s just the beginning of Bistango’s options. “He wanted a boat that can go anywhere on the planet,” Griffith says, “so we put extra insulation in for colder climates, and we upgraded the air-conditioning system so that if we go to the Middle East, we won’t have rain inside from condensation. We were very diligent on that front, to make sure everything will work no matter where we are.”

Bistango was built to have a 5,000-nm range, but has exceeded that by an additional 2,000 nm at 12 knots, Griffith says. He attributes the significant change to the original 60m design being stretched by two meters, creating a longer waterline and more economical performance.

“Really, though, the boat is about the interior,” Griffith says, “and all of the features for charter guests.” They include a space on the sun deck, close to the helipad, where a nook for a treadmill is great for an open-air run. An air-conditioned gymnasium with Turkish bath is nearby, and there is also an outdoor Jacuzzi. Another guest-friendly detail is the skylounge’s Yamaha baby grand piano, which can be switched into self-playing mode to entertain 12 charter guests and friends. In fact, this deck’s outdoor dining table comfortably seats 16 guests, if anyone should stop by for dinner in port.
Griffith’s favorite outdoor feature is the mast on the foredeck, which folds down to provide unobstructed forward views from within the master suite. “It’s something that I had experience with previously,” he says. “We were at the Monaco Grand Prix one year, and the charter client asked if there was any way to remove the mast for a clear view, and we didn’t have a way to do it. So when the owner broached the subject on Bistango, I said absolutely, let’s do it.”

Overnight accommodations have been designed to suit owners and guests alike. The main deck’s three-room master suite’s private salon features a sofa, which the owner designed for multiple modes of relaxation. The shimmering taupe sofa with painted black sequins frames four ottomans, which can be configured however guests desire. Bistango’s VIP cabin is forward of the skylounge with large windows that provide outstanding natural light. Leather accents on some of the room’s walls are a cowhide stamped to look like crocodile skin, Kavanagh says, and gold leaf details are especially intricate in the molding above the mirrored closet doors. “I watched them put tape over every half-inch slat in that molding to hand paint it in the shipyard,” she says. “The attention to detail is amazing.”

Four additional guest cabins are on the bottom deck, which is accessible via an elevator that services all levels. The aft cabins on the bottom deck, with queen-size beds, are slightly larger than the forward cabins. The forward port cabin has oversized twin beds plus a Pullman berth, and is the only guest cabin with a shower as opposed to a shower-bathtub combination. The forward starboard cabin has a king-size bed plus a Pullman berth. In all of these cabins, the crocodile pattern appears again on brown and green leather walls. A snakeskin-patterned bedspread in the king-bed cabin, which Kavanagh affectionately calls the Python Room, contributes to the animal theme. “It’s Versace on safari, this boat,” she says. “It really is.” ■

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LOA: 203'4" (62m)
Beam: 34'3" (10.5m)
Draft: 11'5" (3.5m)
Hull construction: steel
Superstructure: aluminum
Engines: 2 x 1760 MTUs (3,520 hp combined)
Gross tonnage: 1,026 GT
Max speed: 16 knots
Cruising speed: about 14 knots
Range: 7,000 nm @ 12 knots
23’ Castoldi, 315 hp jet drive
16’ Castoldi, 150 hp jet drive
Zodiac rescue tender
Stabilizers: Quantum Marine ZeroSpeed
Design and exterior styling: Stefano Natucci
Interior design: Benetti/Mauro Izzo
Naval architecture: Benetti Yachts
Builder: Benetti Yachts
Classification: ABS Maltese Cross A1 E AMS - MCA compliant
Charter management: Burgess Yachts