Cycling has seen a huge resurgence over the last 10 years – with road racing (despite its controversies) showing no signs of losing its ‘Formula 1 with pedals’ charm. Far from it in fact, as The Tour de France still has the record of being the largest annual sporting event on the planet. Heroes like Alberto Contador, Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich have inspired cyclist around the world to invest in lycra and get those Shimano Ultegra cranksets spinning. Having a base of operations and somewhere to rest/fix your bike is essential, with many riders being in the enviable position of having a van at their disposal, kitted out with a tool chest, workbench and mattress. However, for the Owner of Lürssen’s Areti, his pro cycling team gets a lot more than a 2006 Mercedes Sprinter, as we’re just about to find out.
We’re in Monaco, it’s early evening and we’re onboard Areti’s Pascoe tender heading towards her swim platform. As the 85-metre superyacht grows steadily larger, we take a minute to admire her Winch Design lines, which although sharp, are far more muscular than the Owner’s previous (much smaller) superyachts. Despite the dimming light, Areti’s first surprise becomes obvious. In her early release pictures (she was originally called Project Sasha), we had assumed her hull was white, but as she gets closer, her subtle colourway becomes obvious. The hull has been painted in a soft cream, topped by a crisp white superstructure with grey accents picking out detailing. Stunning!
As we’re boarding by tender at the swim platform and not via the usual main deck passerelle or the starboard tender dock, our first impressions of Areti will be something completely different and how right we are. The Owner, who’s a keen cyclist – and by that we mean a pro racer and a member of the USSR Olympic national cycling team in the 1980s – has created the lower deck especially for the recuperation of his own racing team. So, after a brisk spin (even the climb out of Monaco via La Turbie is 22kms long with some 13% inclines) the guys can return here, park their distinctive red Canyon road bikes in the spa’s dedicated bike garage and enjoy the facilities. Firstly, this is a spa like no other on the water; or for that matter, on land. The entire aft section is a wet area, which is not immediately obvious as there are no visible drains on the floor. What we can see is a hand crafted rose mosaic from famous Serbian mosaic artist Andjelka Radojevi, this sets the tone for the area, calming those inside with its relaxing, earthy tones.
Here, there is of course a hot tub, steam room and sauna, however, this is the first time we’ve seen a full depth plunge pool and ‘experience showers’. Possibly the highlight of the spa, these take the humble ‘rain shower’ to the next level. The showers have multi-temperature, light, acoustic and aroma settings that can simulate a Niagara waterfall or even a Caribbean storm. The all-important treatment room is where the riders come to ease their gristle-like muscles, making the most of the special massage chamber with heated marble massage table and Vichy shower. There’s a salon here too, which features professional hairdressing basins. To top it off, there’s a full banya experience, complete with traditional birch and eucalyptus branches, timber knives and felt hats. There’s a bar here too, which is wet in both terms, but expect the barman to serve you fresh fruit juice, or protein shakes. It’s all a bit overwhelming and totally unexpected and as we walk past the ice machine (for the drop baths) into the lower deck accommodation, we’re already in awe of the quality of this build.
From the spa we head forward into the lower deck guest accommodation, or as it happens, the team cabins. Here though, the décor is not what we were expecting, considering we’d just walked past a garage of ultra high tech carbon fibre racing bikes. The Owner, along with Winch Design have gone for a traditional layout and filled it with a combination of straight grain and figured Makore timber, hand-embroidered silks on the soft furnishings and brushed, antiqued brass ironmongery. It’s a classic look, which actually feels quite relaxing to be immersed in – much like having a floating reading room. It’s laid back, inviting and unpretentious – again, ideal for the down-time after a race. Interestingly, as we head up the staircase to the main deck, we learn that not all the wood is as it seems. Areti, with accommodation for 22-people, has been built to the PYC (Passenger Yacht Code). This safety focused regulation is ideal for superyachts as it is not as strict as the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements, which is aimed at ships and not so much luxury vessels. Even so, the Passenger Yacht Code does have its rules, one of which is that veneers must be of a certain thickness to stop the spread of fire, or in Areti’s case a lot of the wood is actually painted on – not that you’d notice, as it’s so well done.
After the cool tile and marble of the spa deck, the main salon, with its sumptuous sofas, wood detailing and soft carpeting is warm and inviting, with cycle- inspired artworks now the only hints as to the Owner’s passion. To port is a walnut Steinway piano, which despite its traditional ‘grand’ looks, is actually a digital masterpiece, which can play all by itself. Controlled by an iPad, the Spirio can play hundreds of recordings from the likes of Mozart, Liszt and Tchaikovsky to Coldplay and Adèle.
A colossal dining table makes the most of Areti’s 15-metre beam, seating up to 16 guests on hand-turned silk dining chairs with hand-embroidered decorative back-panels.
Forward is the main lobby with its staircase and elevator (reaches every level apart from the sun deck), and a heated marble floor with a nautical compass inlay, formed from dark Emprador, light Emprador and Botticino marbles – stone that feature throughout the entire yacht.
Two guest suites can be found forward of the lobby, each decorated neutrally, except for an accent colour of emerald, dandelion, camino, blue, crimson, indigo, lilac or coral, portrayed in the scatter cushions, hand-sewn curtains and other soft furnishings.
In typical Areti fashion, the Owner’s deck also features two VIP cabins forward, which are intended for the Owner’s family. His and her’s dressing rooms with en suites can be found at the entrance to the Master Suite, with each featuring a unique detail, such as a watch display in his and a several handbag and shoe racks in hers. The master bedroom with its 180-degree panoramic windows is open, light and inviting, with the glazing bordered by made-to-measure curved furniture tailored to fit the arched window.
A heli-landing area takes up a large amount of foredeck space, but even so, Winch Design managed to fit in a private Owner’s deck with a Jacuzzi for four, a spacious sunbed, breakfast table and small seating area – perfect for taking breakfast in the sun.
Heading aft we arrive at the sky lounge, with its giant sofas, armchairs and a huge flat screen TV, disguised behind a sailing scape exclusively commissioned from artist Alexander Creswell. A granite-topped bar with custom made stools keeps the guests hydrated, while for more formal drinks, the Owner, his family and guests can head through the near full beam glass doors out onto the upper aft deck where a custom teak table can comfortably sit 16 guests.
You’d think that guest’s heart rates would drop after leaving the lower deck spa, but a well-stocked gym on the bridge deck sees that they don’t. Here, elliptical cross trainers, wellness balls, free weights and a treadmill keep users in tip top condition and for a more gentle way of keeping muscles taught, there is a selection of bespoke yoga equipment to hand. To be honest, we’ve spotted the sunpads and custom made, 12-person Jacuzzi aft – much more our style, as is the sundeck up top. Here, you are out of the way of prying eyes and camera lenses, with nothing but the sky above and the huge sunpad underneath you.
Whereas most superyachts feel like they’ve been designed by the Owner solely for his own tastes and uses Areti appears to be the complete opposite. After exploring her from spa to sundeck, she comes across as friendly, inviting and relaxing – like the Owner designed her with his family, friends and racing team ahead of his own requirements. Areti feels like a happy home and she always has a warm welcome for anyone who’s lucky enough to be invited on board.