The much-publicized boom in Asian boating is still just on the horizon, but the major European builders and manufacturers realized some time ago that luxury, social, boating has a different function in this part of the world. In the familiar markets of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, the concept is well understood – owners and friends, or charter guests, take off for a week or more for a spell of sybaritic luxury as far as possible from the madding crowd. In Asia, a boat is most often seen as a business entertainment platform, useful for cocktail receptions, parties, dinners and possibly day-trips, but rarely overnight stays.
This implies a substantially differently genre of boat to those seen moored stern-to in the vieux port at Cannes, or anchored in English Harbour, Antigua. Boats designed specifically for Asia require less outdoor deck space, fewer and less expansive cabins, less galley space, more air-conditioned indoor area, and more space for entertaining.
The people who have taken these new design parameters to heart most enthusiastically are without a doubt the Ferretti Group. Last year they presented Asia with the Ferretti Altura 840 Tai He Ban Special Edition. This year they have taken the re-working of the interior a stage further.
Step on board the Ferretti Yachts 870 Tai He Ban Special Edition from the stern and enjoy the spacious aft deck. Banquette seating, big table, plenty of room. But it’s sizzling here in the tropics, so let’s go straight into the very welcoming air-conditioned interior. Every boat manufacturer likes to tell you about space and light, but here it is not just brochure talk. The saloon of the 870 is a one-piece affair, from the sliding glass doors aft right through to the bridge. It’s a big space, and brilliantly lit by ceiling-to-sofa windows down the full length. If you are hangin’ out here in a secluded anchorage in Double Haven (Hong Kong) or Phang Nga Bay (Thailand), the view is going to be a big part of the onboard experience.
Long sofa seating travels down both sides of the saloon, leading to a proper bar on starboard (applause, please, for a bar in an entertaining area) and straight through into the dining area which is not huge – deliberately – and is separated from the saloon only by a decorative screen feature. And there’s a day head, right there.
The pilot house is ever-so-slightly raised, giving the helmsman an excellent level of visibility, but we are heading down below. Here there are two double cabins, one in the bow and the other to port. Both feature walk-around beds and en suite bathrooms, and in terms of actual measured size, they are almost identical. Which one is the Master and which the Guest is anyone’s guess. There’s also a twin-berth tucked neatly into a remaining corner, with over-and-under bunk beds at right angles to each other. It’s a delightfully quirky arrangement, and definitely a place for the kids, young or old.
The lower deck also features the canapé-sized galley. The description is intentional – this is not a unit designed to turn out 12-course banquets. If you want one of those, you need the 870 ‘standard version’. This is the support base for the bar upstairs, big enough for a fridge full of champagne and a chef turning out the amuse bouches non-stop.
And then, just where you expected to find the full-beam owner’s suite, there is the playroom. Call it a karaoke lounge if you like, call it a cinema, call it a mahjong room. It is designed to be all of the above. The leather paneled walls, along with the striking and thoroughly tasteful Fendi upholstery, exude richness and warmth, making this a very unique sea-going ‘den’. The high end video and AV systems are complemented by the color-pulsed lighting system to make this a perfect party pad. Plus, of course, you can switch off all the fun stuff if you must, and this becomes a meeting room or conference center, or anything else serious that you might have in mind.
Lastly, head all the way upstairs to the flybridge. ‘Top decks’ are popular in Asia. This is where you get best view when cruising the coast on a glorious summer’s day, and where you get the wind-in-the-hair look (just like in the brochure). There’s also plenty of room for lounging up here, as well as storage space for the tender. Best of all, to beat the searing rays of the midday sun, is the retractable sunroof; now you see it, now you don’t.
When it comes to designing for the Asia market, Ferretti seem to try harder than most. We like people that listen: if they don’t, we might as well be writing in the dark. Ferretti are listening to the market, to the owners and prospective owners, to the weather forecast and even to the media! Maybe being owned by Weichai Holdings has something to do with it. The 870 Tai He Ban is a class act; handsomely designed to purpose, and delivered with proper Italian style, quality and panache. It is a boat that deserves to be a real winner in Asia.
Text and Photography By Guy Nowell