Imagine this: Beluga’s sleek black sails gently catch the Croatian breeze, the sun is beginning its gradual descent into the silvery sea and you laze dreamily on Beluga’s cushion-covered deck with a glass of champagne in hand and nothing but the Adriatic sea ahead of you. Welcome onboard Beluga – the world’s most decadent gulet - and a rare chance to experience the private world of Anouska Hempel.
“Everything I do is influenced by the sea”, says Hempel. “I love its romance and its mystery. I especially love that time of day, very early in the morning, when the sea and the sky blend into one silvery slick. I think I would be very happy living on the back of a sardine. I just adore that silvery colour.”
While this design doyenne has received international acclaim for her iconic hotels, private residences and gardens, her beloved yacht Beluga has – until recently – been a well-kept secret, reserved only for close family and friends. Rock-stars and royalty have languished on-deck and bathed in her enamel (Kate Moss is a fan), but Beluga is no longer ‘By Invitation Only’ and now available for private charters around Croatia’s unspoilt islands.
As one would expect, everything about Beluga is immaculate. This 28 metre Turkish gulet has been entirely re-built and beautifully designed in signature Hempel style; a complete one off. The colour scheme is of Hempel’s signature monochromes. The expansive deck space is covered in bold over-sized cushions. The mahogany mast is dressed in dramatic black sails and, at the stern, sweeping black drapes frame views of the sea. Antique linens adorn her three cabins and nothing but the best bone chinaware is served at the table. Hempel’s favourite onboard luxury – after Andrew the butler – is her and Sir Mark’s twin-slipper enamel baths that peer out to sea. “Everyone told me I couldn’t have a proper bath on a boat but why on earth not?”
Beluga was designed for lively lunches and sophisticated dinners. “This boat was always about entertaining. We could have designed another cabin but instead we preferred to have additional space for relaxing and letting go. We can fit 18 people around the table so it’s easy to collect friends from port to port and invite for dinners onboard.”
Alongside trusty Captain Nihat, Beluga’s crew includes a chef straight from Blakes Hotel and her beloved butler Andrew; both who seem to disappear discreetly until cocktail time when they intuitively reappear to dish out martinis and discuss the delicacies of the next menu.
There is a galley that would look luxurious in a New York apartment. Here, your chef de cuisine and his team prepare authentic Dalmatian cuisine for an average of twelve guests per day. Enjoy oysters pulled straight from the sea and lobsters barbecued off the stern of the boat. Other local favourites include scallop and zucchini gratin, fresh fig salad with rosemary and goats cheese, Dalmatian hams with smoked cheeses, Croatia’s famed black squid risotto, truffle and scampi tagliatelle, grilled Adriatic calamaris and slow-cooked marinated lamb. Of course, menus are tailor-made around personal preferences and an extensive food consultation happens within the booking process.
An experienced local engineer and deck hand are onboard for seamless sailing adventures, expert advice on island activities or to wiz guests around the archipelago’s many bays on Beluga’s 4.5m RIB for water-skiing, snorkelling and scuba-diving adventures. A qualified PADI certified diving instructor is onboard with diving equipment for guests to explore the underwater world of the Adriatic Sea and its mesmerising array of wrecks ranging from Roman galleys to second-world war planes.
Beluga accommodates a maximum of 6 guests and is available exclusively through Dalmatian Destinations from €45,000 per week of a full-board basis.