The vibrant Giovanna Vitelli, executive vice president for Azimut|Benetti Group—the yacht-industry conglomerate founded by her father, Paolo Vitelli—is busy these days as she prepares to take over the massive business from Paolo. Formerly a lawyer, she now juggles work with positions on several boards. No doubt her charisma and enthusiasm will keep her afloat as she takes on even more.
How do you see the state of the superyacht industry?
Azimut|Benetti Group has been the top company in this segment (yachts above 78 feet) for the last 19 years. From this observation deck, I see a sparkling market in yachts 80 to 120 feet. From a demographic point of view, we may cautiously say there are younger new owners of yachts, due to the fast wealth generated by the new economy.
What are you doing to change things up?
We are introducing new concepts, designers and lifestyles on board for both the Azimut Grande and the Benetti brands. Azimut Grande has enjoyed enormous growth because of a wide range of products, from the Azimut Grande 25 Metri (82 feet) up to the 35 Metri (114 feet)—but much more is to come. Achille Salvagni—the designer who created the interiors of all the Azimut Grande yachts so far—likes to say: We create a prêt-à-porter product with a haute couture appearance.
Any trends you see?
The concept of luxury is going through an important process of change. Luxury is doing away with the excesses of the past: those over-the-top messages, the shouted opulence from 30 years ago. Today, luxury provides a sense of sophisticated elegance expressed through a refined and unexpected architecture, through a skillful use of the light, through the attention to precious and handcrafted details that may make a difference and create a unique style.
I believe the yachting industry is going through the same process: We see requests for yachts with all the features that are typical of a “luxury good”—uniqueness, emotion, aesthetic relevance, excellent quality, avant-garde technology and, finally, tradition, which is what makes a “luxury good” equal to an art masterpiece.