Charter Choice: Deep Relaxation
When Liveras Yachts of Monaco decided, in 2007, to transform a small cruise ship into a luxury charter vessel, there was plenty of room for big design ideas. The biggest came to fruition in the form of a sumptuously outfitted onboard spa that ultimately would make the 295-foot Lauren L one of the most luxurious charter yachts available.
Originally launched in 2002, Lauren L was then known as Constellation, a ship designed for by-the-cabin bookings. A Russian investor bought the vessel in 2004 and converted it into a personal yacht. Liveras acquired Constellation in April 2007 as an addition to its fleet of supersize charter yachts, which included the 280-foot sister vessels Alysia and Annaliesse. (Liveras sold Annaliesse late last year.)
In addition to rechristening the ship Lauren L and adding 5 feet to its length, Liveras reconfigured the guest cabins into suites and built an entirely new master suite. The company also moved the helideck from the stern of the ship to the bow to free up space for extra tenders, one of which is a rare wooden Cantiere Motonautico Serenella day boat built in Venice, Italy.
The most significant changes to Lauren L occurred on her top deck. Designers turned a tangle of metal rails, fixtures, and furniture into a teak relaxation hub with a hot tub, bar, and lounge that are adjacent to a tastefully appointed relaxation room. The ship’s amenities include a gymnasium, an aquarium, a sauna, a steam room, a health-and-beauty salon, an aromatherapy room, and a massage-and-facial room. "A lot of boats have gyms and saunas onboard, but few offer a full line of treatments," says Sophia Dafnia, a Liveras director who was instrumental in Lauren L’s refit. "The big, open windows in the sauna and steam room are unique also. Usually on the larger yachts, these rooms are down below and have no view."
For more than a decade Liveras has been a leader in providing onboard spas. By the time Annaliesse launched in June 2004, some charter providers had followed the company’s lead and replaced small beauty salons with full-blown spa areas for men and women. But Liveras continued to outpace its competition: When the company sold Annaliesse, the boat had large Turkish- and Roman-style baths. Liveras was also among the first charter companies to hire a dedicated spa staff—as opposed to yacht stewardesses with spa training who gave massages when they were not making up rooms and serving meals.
With Lauren L, the company has raised the bar again. The yacht incorporates relaxation rooms, as well as aromatherapy and other spa services, that are often missing on charter vessels. For example, the Caracalla bath features lights that change to complement the specific type of essential oil a bather selects. In the relaxation room, which offers views of an onboard aquarium and the sea, charter customers can soak their hands and feet in hot paraffin while sipping nonalcoholic drinks ordered from a special spa menu. All of this as Lauren L glides leisurely from island to island.
"People work almost nonstop now, and they’re so tired," Dafnia says. "The onboard spas have become essential for our charter customers. The men love the massages, and they even go for the facials. The ladies want to look nice and have their hair done, while enjoying the wraps and all the other services."
Liveras makes Molton Brown bath and body products available in Lauren L’s guest suites and bathrooms. The spa features Thal’ion, Agrimer, and OPI products. According to Dafnia, spa staff members receive onboard training from the cosmetics companies to ensure proper mixing of powders and creams, and some have previous experience working with the products at land-based spas. "Hundreds come for the interviews when we put out a call for crew," she says. "We have room to be choosy."
Typically, three spa staff members are on duty during a Lauren L charter, but the crew can arrange for additional yoga and Pilates instructors or weight trainers, should charter guests request them. Guests must make appointments for treatments, just as they would at a land-based spa, but all of the services and use ?of the Technogym equipment are included in the yacht’s weekly base rate of about $1 million (plus expenses) for as many as 40 guests. (This winter, Lauren L is available for charter in the Caribbean at a weekly base rate of approximately $810,000.) Lauren L’s sheer size, in part, enabled Liveras to transform the yacht’s top deck. A spa of this magnitude on a 175-foot yacht would take up almost every inch of outdoor deck space. However, with Lauren L, designers simply shifted guest-gathering areas to other parts of the spacious vessel. Liveras plans similar layouts on two vessels it is building in Portugal. When the 300-foot-plus sister ships launch in 2011, they will be among the largest private ships available in the charter market, and will no doubt possess unparalleled onboard spa services. "Lauren L was a refit, so we had to work within the space that was there," Dafnia says. "On our new boats, we are giving the designer and architect some ideas about light, heat, water, colors, aromas, and relaxing sounds. We are thinking of new features so that we can surprise everybody."
CHARTERING LAUREN L
Builder: Cassens Werft (Germany)
Year launched: 2002
Year refitted: 2008
Length: 295 feet
Cabins: 20 suites
Cruising Speed: 14 knots
Winter cruising area: Caribbean
Summer cruising area: Mediterranean
Special features: Top-deck spa; gym; conference room with seating for 17 people; dining for 42 people; lounge/bar for 60 people; library with five Internet-enabled computers; personal computer in every guest suite; children’s playroom; digital on-demand audio/video system.
Lowest weekly base rate: Approximately $1 million
Management: Liveras Yachts (Monaco), +3184.108.40.206.10, www.liverasyachts.com