To say that John Staluppi, the owner of the new Benetti Diamonds Are Forever, likes to build lavish yachts is akin to saying fashion designer Gianni Versace liked cutting colorful cloth. Staluppi is renowned in yachting circles for an ever-increasing list of megayachts christened after James Bond movies. If you’ve been following the yacht market a while, you’ll remember Moonraker, Octopussy, The World Is Not Enough, Quantum of Solace, and, more recently, Casino Royale.
Each of these also bore Bond-themed design elements inside, mixed with an abundance of high-gloss woods, highly polished marble, and glistening fixtures. Diamonds Are Forever is just as extravagant, but also decidedly different. In fact, Staluppi and his wife Jeanette have lavished their attention on leisurely cruising, too.
Moonraker, Octopussy, and The World Is Not Enough were famed for high performance. They weren’t just fast, they were jaw-dropping, record-setting speed demons. Octopussy hit 53 knots, unheard of for a 100-foot-plus yacht in 1988. She was outdone four years later when Moonraker achieved nearly 67 knots. And, during speed trials in 2004, The World Is Not Enough topped out at 69 knots. All of these speeds remain eye-openers today.
The literal change of pace with Diamonds Are Forever was a lifestyle decision. Staluppi purchased a Benetti named Midlandia on the brokerage market in 2009, refitting and rechristening her Quantum of Solace. The 16-knot top speed that the 171-foot, full-displacement motoryacht achieved was certainly different. But so, too, was the ability to select soft goods without worrying about how to keep them ultra-lightweight, a must where high-tech high speed is concerned.
The experience convinced the Staluppis to commission a new displacement yacht from Benetti. Turns out, a partly built, nearly 200-footer was available, promising performance akin to Midlandia. She’d also save a good year on the delivery date. Thus, Diamonds Are Forever was born.
The focus on leisurely cruising doesn’t just pertain to performance. It also extends throughout the new yacht’s six decks. That sixth deck, the highest one, was specifically requested by Staluppi. It’s called the sky deck and aptly named. A fully alfresco area, the sky deck has a handful of lounges and a seating area, good for pre-dinner cocktails or just enjoying the view. An elevator connects the sky deck to the rest of Diamonds Are Forever, including the three king-size guest staterooms and one twin cabin on the lower deck.
While charter guests (Diamonds Are Forever is in the Ocean Independence fleet) will appreciate the king cabins, they’ll probably race to occupy the VIP and master suites. Both are split-level affairs, with the VIP forward on the main deck and the master directly above it. The VIP is also steps away from a beauty salon and massage/sauna room, plus a gym.
Of course, it would not be a Staluppi superyacht without an astonishing decor. The Staluppis thoroughly enjoy outdoing themselves, and in turn challenging their design team. “We knew we had to do something spectacular with this boat—John and Jeanette would expect nothing less,” says Evan Marshall, the UK-based designer who has collaborated with the Staluppis before and was tapped for this latest project.
The yacht does not disappoint. Mother of pearl, onyx, Italian marble, and crystals are incorporated throughout, as are tufted furnishings, chandelier-like lighting, and mirrored overheads. But the feature visitors can’t stop staring at is the glass treatment found in the saloon, formal dining area, foyer, and master bath. At first glance, it looks like metal sheets imprinted with patterns. It’s actually chrome-painted glass, with the paint on the inside of the glass. The floor-to-ceiling panels are attached to bulkheads with sealer paint, to prevent visible adhesive marks. Marshall felt confident that this custom work would become a signature feature for the new yacht. “I wanted to make it stand out beyond anything Benetti had ever done,” Marshall says.
Another stand-out that goes beyond all expectations is the upper-deck dining area. Aft of the skylounge, it’s rimmed with curved glass walls to let everyone enjoy the views. Marshall says that John Staluppi began wondering during construction whether it was a mistake to enclose it. After all, he and his family thoroughly enjoyed alfresco dining on their previous yacht.
A change order preserved much of the original idea while simultaneously soothing his concern. The center of the glass wall became two sliding doors that can stay open or be shut for full air-conditioned comfort. The first trip to the Bahamas proved it to be a satisfactory solution. And besides, since the Staluppis use their skylounges more than their saloons for socializing, having an indoor dining area keeps everyone together.
Diamonds Are Forever may be too extravagant for some. However, there’s no denying her owners’ keen understanding of how to entertain on the water. It shines just as brightly as the crystals embedded in her artwork, and the glossy wood on her walls.
Editor’s Note: Photos courtesy Bugsy Gedlek.