Behold; the 136-metre charter yacht Flying Fox. A superyacht like no other and one of the very few in her class that has raised the industry’s standards to heights once believed unrealistic. As superyachts have been growing in size over the years, so too have the options available for charter with a good number of 90-metre plus variants now on the market. With the Lürssen superyacht Flying Fox, an experienced and hands-on owner put the ball in Imperial’s court to help him create the ultimate holiday-ready superyacht and elevate the charter experience to an entirely new level.Photo: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Though her initial brief did not strictly involve chartering, you can be forgiven for thinking that Flying Fox was made for it. The functional layout, calming interior decor and guest favourite features such as a world-class wellness centre (more on this later) exceptional cuisine and a fully-stocked watersports store, are all characteristics that would instantly make any guest feel at home and ready to switch off. Lying in the bay of Monaco, Lürssen’s project manager Florian Preuss tells me more about this one-of-a-kind project as we make our way to Flying Fox on board one of her five tenders. “It was great to work with such an involved owner. Some owners prefer to distance themselves from such a big construction project but this was not the case and this client knew exactly what he wanted.”Photo: Guillaume Plisson / ImperialPhoto: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Having acted as owner’s representatives during the construction period, joining Imperial in the project’s creation were designers Espen Øino and Mark Berryman. These heavyweights last joined forces in 2005 on the 60-metre Lürssen Arkley (now Caipirinha) and were given another crack at working together to create a timeless icon. Øino came with a very distinctive design of flowing lines that appear to give Flying Fox a unique shape as you view her from just about any angle. No two angles are the same and this sculptural effect becomes even more evident walking along the deck where you can truly appreciate the intricacies of his handiwork and meticulous craftsmanship of Lürssen who first launched the vessel in 2018 as project SHU.Photo: Guillaume Plisson / ImperialPhoto: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Having worked with the owner in the past, Berryman joined the project with a pretty good idea of what was expected. With the added space offered by a vessel of this size, he knew that this would not simply be a copy and paste job from the previous Flying Fox, and seized the opportunity to create something he has never delivered before. “At this size, there are many regulations to consider and it is paramount to get them right. When you’re building and designing at that scale you want to give your client something that nobody else has, and although there are certain design factors which you must always take into account, with the right planning, you can achieve this whilst still creating something truly spectacular for your clients.”Photo: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Wellness on board
If Flying Fox was built with one purpose in mind, it would be spiritual and physical wellbeing. Not only has a considerable part of the vessel been dedicated to offering guest this service, but it is an integral theme that runs through every level and space onboard - from the smooth lines of her exterior to the oriental-inspired guest areas. This becomes all too evident as I board via the enormous swim platform and is greeted by the impressive resort-style wellness centre. The onboard spa of 400 square metres is located over two decks and leads from the main deck down here to the beach club where a dual-tank Jacuzzi (can be changed from hot to cold within 10 minutes) and the world’s first cryosauna installed on a yacht can be found. This experience provides an invigorating sensation as guests get to stay in a -110 °C environment for a maximum of three minutes. Used by professional athletes, guests leave the cryosauna, refreshed and energised, if not a little chilly. Photo: Guillaume Plisson
A cut-out in the ceiling of the beach club retracts into the deck above revealing a fantastic split-level arrangement with guests on the main deck above being invited down into the relaxation area below. From the spa reception on the main deck, guests can book treatments ranging from hydro baths and rain showers to Hammam treatments and even a visit to the onboard beauty centre for a haircut or facial, operated by Flying Fox’s dedicated team of beauticians. Another speciality is a wet massage where guests are invited to lay down on a water bed while a soothing shower decompresses the mind as the multi-skilled therapist transports you into a state of relaxation. Photo: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Had something more physical in mind? To port, guests will find the fully-equipped gym that comes complete with top-of-the-range equipment, a personal trainer and a view over the sea as it opens out onto the deck. Head back down to the beach club after your morning workout where Flying Fox’s trained and certified watersports team is standing by to take you from zero to hero in disciplines ranging from kite surfing, SCUBA diving and jet boarding. Technical dives up to 100 metres can be performed from onboard with special rebreather equipment on board that is backed up by a dive chamber and even on-call medical staff if needed. For those starting out, guests can complete their first dives in the main deck pool on the aft deck. Photo: Guillaume Plisson / ImperialPhoto: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
As one of Flying Fox’s most defining features, the unique swimming pool on the main deck is the gateway to all watersports fun onboard and has become a popular gathering spot amongst guests. Placed athwartships and nearly stretching across the full beam of the deck, the engineering team had to come up with some innovative solutions to counter the effect of the ship’s roll on the water inside the pool when at anchor and underway. “If like today, where we have some swell in the bay,” explains her captain, “we have central baffles below the waterline that break up the movement of the water and stops it flowing over.” Other smart features of the pool include a swim jet on the one end and a massage jet on the other. In addition, the floor can be raised to decrease the depth of the pool, ideal for young children, or can be fully flush to be used as a bandstand area for entertainment. Photo: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Outdoor spaces are spread across the four exterior decks and start at the top on the commercially rated helideck. With two helicopter decks onboard, the upper aft deck has a D-value of 18 metres, able to accommodate larger craft like an Airbus H175 while the forward one at bridge level has a D-value of 14 metres. Not only used for guest transfers via helicopter, the upper helideck deck can also be transformed at night for special occasions onboard, tells her captain. “We have used this for outdoor dining experiences and we recently hosted an event here for a party of 70 guests with a band set up - so it's a great venue deck.” The two levels below are both dedicated to al fresco dining and outdoor relaxation, with firepits placed on both the bridge deck aft and owner’s deck aft. “This is a great place for guests to come and relax at after a busy day of watersports. You can enjoy a drink while you watch the chef prepare dinner and a fantastic view over the stern of the yacht.”Photo: ImperialPhoto: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
A guest favourite is the outdoor dining experience on offer here on the bridge deck aft. A proper exterior galley takes centre stage and immediately lets you know that this is not any normal superyacht setup. Complete with teppanyaki station, Josper and Churrasco grill as well as a tandoori oven, this space is designed for interactive and engaging dining moments with your closest friends and family. “This has been particularly popular with younger clients,” tells the captain. “It’s a great place to make your own pizza on pizza nights.” Guests get to choose to sit ringside at the chef’s table where the action happens, or at the humongous 22-seater dining table which can host the entire family and more with tasteful Cantalupi lighting systems on each deck adding just the right amount of glamour. After dinner, an outdoor cinema setup transforms the space into a cosy gathering area to end off a perfect day on Flying Fox.Photo: Guillaume Plisson / ImperialPhoto: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Equally as impressive are the awnings that adorn just about every exterior space. From above, these triangular shapes are hard to miss and have been custom designed for practicality and aesthetics. The three-pointed shape makes it easy for crew to set up the canopy of canvases on each deck, while the gaps in between each section allow for crucial airflow in between, allowing these to stay in place even during helicopter operations.
Guests enter through the main lobby on the main deck starboard side that is designed as an open atrium with a splendid split-level effect that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the interior spaces. Here one can truly appreciate the materials and relaxed palette of elements that are found throughout the rest of the yacht. Photo: Guillaume Plisson
“Our interiors are contemporary with clean lines and hints of Asian influences,” explains Berryman when asked about his personal style. “I have a real passion for Japanese design and we like to use natural finishes such as bamboo and rattan. We’re also all about the tactile side of design, with our aim being to encourage owners and their guests to come into a space and be drawn into the materials and finishes.”Photo: Guillaume Plisson / ImperialPhoto: Guillaume Plisson
And that is exactly what Flying Fox is all about. No flashy accents or over-the-top shiny surfaces here, instead, guests are drawn into a soothing environment that is touch-provoking, with real-world solutions for social gathering spaces and remote working environments, not unlike you will find in your own home. One of the bolder statements has got the be the impressive oval-shape spiral staircase that connects each deck along with an adjacent elevator. This tunnel of light provides crucial natural rays to a number of communal areas via a skylight at the very top of the yacht’s mast structure, all the way down to the lower deck. In contrast to this serene environment stands the central elevator which was requested to remain exposed with all its intricate engineering features as a statement piece on its own.Photo: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
Green with envy
Unmissable as you gander through the interior is the abundance of greenery all around the yacht. This, perhaps more than any other element, makes you completely forget that you are in fact on a floating yacht at sea. The collection of bonsais and other indoor-friendly trees truly binds the spaces and you can almost not even imagine the interior without these natural touches. “A central irrigation system is programmed to give each plant just the correct amount of nutrients and water,” explains the captain. Special UV lights also provide the needed ‘sunshine’ required for these plants to thrive and have no effect on the materials around them, not bleaching these surfaces as natural UV rays do. Photo: Guillaume Plisson
With high-end charters in mind, Flying Fox’s accommodation arrangement has been set up to match the lifestyle promoted by the yacht’s fundamental elements. Revolving around wellness and a relaxing, bordering on spiritual, atmosphere, all guest accommodations are located on the main deck allowing for each of the 10 suites to open up onto its own side deck balcony. Instead of standard room numbers, cabins take on identities such as the Turtle room and Walrus room and can be divided outside by individual separations that fold flush into the bulkhead when not used. “Alternatively, we can accommodate families in two neighbouring suites with a common balcony setups which works really well with children and parents,” adds the captain as we explore the various living arrangements. Photo: Imperial
The decor and size of these spacious guest cabins, each finished with their own ensuite and private lounge area, are virtually identical and follows the central main corridor directly aft where the pool and treatment centre awaits.
Flying Fox boasts her own onboard cinema that is jam-packed with the latest tech in home entertainment. This Hollywood-grade setup features a D Box 4D system with interactive seats for a true cinema experience and can welcome up to 14 guests in complete comfort. A trailer screening of a recent blockbuster gives just a taste of the intense experience the Dolby aqua sound system can deliver as the hairs on my neck raise with every impact on screen. Atmos speakers and VR gears are the cherries on the cake of this virtual experience that is guaranteed to redefine movie nights on board. For gaming fans, the latest consoles including Xbox and Play Station 4 can also be found here with hundreds of games to choose from. Photo: Guillaume Plisson / Imperial
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