With preparations for the winter superyacht charter season in full swing, the big question for owners is: which yacht to pick? With an exceptional selection of charter vessels on display at Monaco Yacht Show 2021, one in particular captured the attention of potential guests. Moskito, built by Heesen Yachts, is the latest in the Dutch shipyard’s celebrated 55m steel category. The speculation yacht elevates the series with bold but chic interiors by British firm Bannenberg & Rowel and improved internal architecture which maximises group living and heightens the connection to the sea.
From the outside, her contemporary yet sporty exterior lines, by Frank Laupman of Omega Architects, are instantly captivating – when at sea, her sleek hull cuts easily through the waves to create a smooth ride for guests in all weather conditions. Inside, she’s inviting yet classy, with generous facilities including an opulent spa and beach club, and extensive use of glass. It’s no surprise that Arthur Brouwer, CEO of Heesen, calls Moskito a “fine example of Heesen’s DNA”.
At 55m, Moskito is not the largest yacht on the charter market, but she’s certainly got broad appeal. From her contemporary colour palette – think sycamore, eucalyptus and smoked oak with herringbone floors running throughout – to the attention to detail in both owner and guest suites, she has plenty of features that make her an excellent option to suit all tastes and backgrounds.
As she hits the charter market for €350,000/week, Dickie Bannenberg and Simon Rowell of Bannenberg & Rowell Design, talk Forbes through their favorite design elements and explain why Moskito could just be the most charter-friendly superyacht in the world.
Of the 12 projects you’ve worked on for Heesen, what’s been unique about this particular project?
Bannenberg: This is the fifth we’ve done in the Heesen 55m series. It’s one of a pair which were built on spec. They were codenamed Castor and Pollux – the twins. Heesen allow us amazingly free reign to come up with an interior. Heesen is the customer – there’s no individual at that stage – so we have to steer a line between doing something which is broad enough to appeal to the widest possible market, but equally avoiding being safe and flat.
The owners – who bought this boat last October when she was about 95 percent complete – wonderfully and miraculously said ‘we love everything, just leave it as it is’. On top of that, they asked us to pick some art for them, so we curated a collection mainly by young British artists. It was very nice, as design control freaks, to be able to curate that because we don’t always get a chance to deliver something complete.
Rowell: It was a very smooth process. The only challenge was global events and getting stuff that’s been purchased all over the world into Europe. That was a bit of a challenge, but it went very smoothly in the long run.
How has the design evolved from the previous yachts in the series?
Rowell: I think that one of the benefits of this being is the fifth in the series evolution is that spaces have been optimized. Windows are improved, spaces are improved, technical areas are tightened up, and the guests and the owner benefit from that. So that’s really the benefit of an evolving series.
One of the big features we got involved in these two projects was much more glass, much bigger windows and more appearance of space and real space – we wanted to make sure that was key to the design. So, it’s got an open plan, more metropolitan feel than a lot of yachts, with not too many visual disturbances. We really want to maximize that, especially in the owner’s suite which features beautiful, long windows and no partitions. When you walk on board, you get the feeling that this is really quite a big yacht. There’s a lot of breathing space. Everything in terms of the architecture is based on that.
What are your favorite architectural elements?
Rowell: We’ve created this sort of rippling architecture, so we’re not fighting with the windows too much, but we’re also defining rooms a little more subliminally than using walls. If there’s a piece of equipment, we’ve tried and sculpt around that and get in great spaces and practicality – there’s even a little wet bar area hidden in one of the chests.
The other element on the architecture, from an interior perspective, the sills have dropped from previous yachts. We wanted to enhance that – you’ll see a lot vertical themes on blinds and creating the impression of even taller windows, including discreet lighting so you’ve got really good ambiance at night.
How would you describe the interior styling?
Bannenberg: I’ve always thought that this interior works very well at both ends of the spectrum. It’s good for sitting around in a pair of shorts but also works equally well for smarter events. I think it’s just very liveable. It’s smart but it doesn’t make you sit on the edge of the sofa feeling too formal.
Rowell: I think that probably appealed to the owner incoming. It’s not a great, glossy, old fashioned yacht interior. Even some contemporary yachts can get pretty untouchable and museum-like but I think this feel like an open plan residence. It’s got to be approachable, but it still dresses really smartly and tailored when it has to present itself.
What else makes Moskito so charter-friendly?
Rowell: She already looks very catalogue-friendly because her palate is quite photogenic, so she’s very saleable. Also, charters quite often are quite convivial – it’s quite often a group coming on board and these spaces are great for groups. There’s a big sky lounge and a big, open rooms for entertainment. And the cabins are great. One of my favorite bits is the guest bathrooms. We spent forever designing them. Some of our competitors will just create a lite version of what’s in the master cabin, but we’ve designed each to feel really special. You want your guests to feel like this is a luxury experience.
What’s the response been from the charter market so far?
Bannenberg: It’s been very busy already. I was talking to the first officer the other day and they’d had Chinese guests, they’d had Americans, Russians, Ukrainians – it’s been pretty international.
Rowell: This has got to be the most charterable yacht in the world.
What are Bannenberg & Rowell Design’s principles and how did you bring them into this build?
Rowell: We create yachts have an identity and have a bit of soul about them. We also try and make sure that there’s no lost opportunity. When you’re spending 40 or 100 million euros, there should be no lost opportunities. That’s enjoyable for us but it’s a discipline. You’ll never hear us say “that’ll do” or “that’s good enough”.
Bannenberg: Our ideal of ‘total design’ extends from doing a graphic identity for the boat to picking out notepaper. Sometimes we’ve even got involved in uniform design. It’s all about attention to detail. We have a famous thing in the office that dates back to my dad’s days called the ‘snail tong’ list. It’s essentially a schedule of all the interior things which we need to source, down to china and glass. It’s called the snail tong list because years ago, my father designed and delivered the boat to the owner and the very first meal they had onboard was snails, and the one thing he had omitted to supply was snail tongs.
Do you prefer working on speculation yachts like Moskito or fully custom yachts?
Rowell: I really like a mix. What we do here with Heesen is very efficient, but we still do battle because they’re under pressure to keep costs under control and they’re exposed every step of the way until it’s sold. So, it’s not that it’s a nice cozy arrangement, but it’s really nice to have a chunk of your work which is less volatile and a more familiar territory, in a good way, not in a complacent way.
You’ve worked on a series of different sized yachts for Heesen. Why is the 55m class so popular right now?
Rowell: We’ve seen a gradual progression of the size. The very first project we were involved in at Heesen was 37m – they no longer offer a 37m. We then moved onto a 47m, then a 50m and then 55m. From a yachting market aspect, we’ve seen a shift upwards in size, so we’ve been part of that journey. This particular segment of 50-55m yachts is very competitive and it goes into proper big yacht territory, but Moskito is very approachable. When you’re working on projects of this size, you’re still at a human scale. You do think, how would I live on this yacht? When you get bigger boats, it’s very exciting and you can do all sorts of stuff, but sometimes you’re dealing with a room that’s been made enormous because it can be enormous, so you’re always working against thing such as a room being too wide for its ceiling lights. It’s a totally different set of challenges to try and bring that back to a human environment.
Moskito will be available for charter from €350,000 per week via International Yacht Collection. She’ll be in the Mediterranean in summer and in the Caribbean in winter.