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Zen Garden Afloat: Benetti's Ocean Paradise


Benetti’s Ocean Paradise: An owner/designer’s perspective on bringing the magic of Asia to the seven seas

By Frances and Michael Howorth

THE 180-FOOT (54.8-METER) BENETTI OCEAN PARADISE first appeared in the public eye at the Genoa Charter Yacht Show in May 2013 and caused quite a stir among charter brokers. They all seemed to have one-word descriptions for this new yacht: fresh, refreshing, Zen-like, tranquil, innovative, gorgeous. Then Ocean Paradise disappeared from view, whisked back to the shipyard in Livorno to appear once again to yet more acclaim at September’s yacht show in Monaco.

The magic of Asia is pervasive on board this yacht, and it comes as little surprise to learn that Adrian Lee, her designer and owner, hails from Singapore. Lee is the mastermind behind Klapsons—a small but fast-developing chain of boutique hotels in Singapore—and is a member of the board in the family-controlled company Raimon Land, whose property developments in Bangkok and across Thailand are among the tallest and most prestigious and, he admits, “perhaps the most expensive.”

Lee designed the interior of Ocean Paradise not only for his own use, but, being a hotelier, he decided that the yacht must also earn her keep as a charter yacht. We met with him on the aft deck while the yacht was berthed stern-to in Monaco. He was frank and open about his yachting adventures.

Ocean Paradise designer and owner Adrian Lee

Ocean Paradise designer and owner Adrian Lee

“Look, nothing in my world is a toy,” he says. “I created this yacht to be the most spectacular of charter yachts, one that people will clamor to get on board. Everything has been done with purpose and everything is custom-made. That is what boutique fashion is about. There is nothing on board this yacht that you can buy in a shop. We have every element made especially for us.”

He describes the décor as “thought provoking.”

“I wanted people to come on board and relax,” he says. “We have perfected the art of relaxing in the East and I have brought that art form to the West aboard this yacht. She is restful. The Bonsai trees are there to inspire thought and question life. They need special light and glass surrounds to keep them in pristine condition on the yacht, and we spare no effort in creating the right environment for their survival.”

The same level of dedication to the environment is an ethos that runs through the design of Ocean Paradise. It is all-encompassing, covering passenger amenities such as LED lighting and an innovative refrigeration and air-conditioning system that effectively recycles air, all the way through to the silicone-based antifouling paint used on the hull, which is effective, but less harmful to marine life. It was this attention to detail and concern for the way yachts potentially pollute that won Lee and his yacht a special Green Plus award from the classification company RINA. His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco presented the award to Lee and officials from the Benetti shipyard during the Monaco show.

“Getting that recognition is important to me,” says Lee. “It helps justify the hard work we put into everything we did to create this special yacht. My family has had many boats over the years including our last, the Benetti Ocean Dream. From each of them we have learned. On this yacht, you will see there is a dayhead on each and every deck. We have created a huge upper deck with a massive amount of outdoor leisure space. We had fun designing the carbon-fiber bar around the Jacuzzi, and have you seen the gym we installed up there?

“Just as important are all the things you will not see or understand at first glance. There is so much hidden storage space on board. I do not believe there is such a thing as too much storage. I love to see every available space utilized and I love to capture the imagination of those who look around spaces that I have designed. Have you seen the way the bulkheads slide out in the bathrooms to reveal storage? Did you know that the smooth black stones that surround the bath are all hand picked from a riverbed high up in the Swiss Alps? I commissioned many of the details myself, such as the wardrobe door handles, which were designed by the winner of a design competition; the light switches; the light fixtures; the automatic hatch and panel latches; the chromatic contrasting leather stitching; and the completely clad leather interiors for lockers and closets.”

The yacht has four guest cabins, each located on the lower deck, with access from a central hall connected to the main-deck foyer. Each has its own spacious head and views of the sea through ample portholes. The owner’s suite is located on the forward portion of the main deck and spans the full beam. With its expansive head and a side balcony that can be used while under way, it is a most delightful and restful area that is flooded with light. Light is of primary importance throughout the entire vessel. Natural light filters through abundant openings in the yacht’s structure, including through a crystal skylight set into the uppermost deck. LEDs are employed throughout and feature temperature-controlled coloring to match that of the natural light.

Below the waterline, Ocean Paradise sticks to the classic configuration. Her steel displacement hull, with its displacement of 651 tons, is powered by twin 2,367-horsepower Caterpillar 3512C diesels. The configuration gives her a cruising range of 4,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, a top speed of 17 knots and a fast cruising speed of 15.5 knots that uses 85 percent of the available propulsion power.

Fast, economical and as environmentally friendly as you can get on a superyacht, Ocean Paradise is, in the words of her owner, “pretty special and unlike any other yacht you have ever seen in a magazine, and that is quite deliberate.”

For more information: 954 727 0584;

LOA: 180ft. 5in. (55m)
Beam: 31ft. 6in. (9.6m)
Draft: 9ft. 1in. (2.77m)
Construction: steel/aluminum
Displacement: 651 tons
Gross tonnage: 543
Engines: 2 x 2,367-hp CAT 3512C
Fuel: 19,495 gal. (73,800L)
Speed (max.): 17 knots
Speed (cruising): 15.5 knots
Range @ 12 knots: 4,000nm
Generators: 2 x 155kW Northern Lights + 1 x 80kW Northern Lights
Freshwater: 4,000 gal. (15,200L)
Stabilizers: Quantum Zero Speed
Classification: LABS ✠A1 Commercial yachting service, ✠AMS
Naval architecture: Benetti
Exterior styling: Benetti
Interior design: Adrian Lee and Benetti Design
Guest cabins/crew: 5 for 10 guests/7 crew
Builder/Year: Benetti Shipyard, Italy/2013