The 200-foot Lūrssen motoryacht Solemates is among the most impressive new launches into the charter market for 2010.
First Impression: Solemates
Date toured: December 2010
One of my first assignments when I joined Yachting magazine in 2000 was to fly to France and spend a week cruising to Italy aboard the 171-foot Feadship motoryacht Solemates. I can still remember—quite vividly—entering the colorful harbor at Portofino, where our motoryacht was so enormous compared to the others that a crowd of onlookers gathered on the dock to watch us tie up. As I stepped off the passarelle to take a look around town, an American tourist shuffled up to me and asked, almost sheepishly, “Excuse me, but is that your yacht?” I remember smiling about as wide as any motoryacht beam as I replied, “Yes, at least for this week.”
Yacht charter in the South of France is a culture of seeing and being seen, and visiting aboard one of the most impressive new motoryachts afloat is the way that any self-respecting A-lister chooses to go. Just ask entertainment mogul Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, who, in December 2010, made global headlines when he became the first charter guest aboard the newer, bigger version of the motoryacht I was aboard a decade earlier. He chose the owner’s newly launched Solemates, a 200-foot Lūrssen, for a New Year’s family vacation in St. Barth’s, which is the Caribbean equivalent of St. Tropez. My tour made it easy to understand why.
Simply put: The new Solemates makes every bit the spectacular impression as the owner’s previous yacht, with the addition of every conceivable modern amenity for charter guests to enjoy.
The décor aboard Solemates is what the industry calls “neutral elegance,” meaning natural tones and classically styled furniture that is at once refined and comfortable.
Solemates is the kind of yacht where a person could feel equally at home in a ball gown or a beach sarong, depending on how the crew arrange the music and lighting. Some of the onboard spaces, including the master bathroom’s tub, are breathtaking in handcrafted beauty. Other spaces, such as the sundeck’s disco light-and-sound system, are unforgettable for the experiences they offer.
In general, because of Solemates’ sheer size, the guest areas all feel exceptionally roomy. I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a six-course dinner in the fo
rmal dining room, which, after several hours of sitting at the table, could easily have felt stuffy. Instead, the chairs remained endlessly comfortable and the crew had all the room they needed to provide precision service. (And I do mean precision: The four stewardesses delivered plates by chef Grant McLellan to the table with the timing of Swiss watch-makers.)
I’m told that Mr. Combs and his family were delighted with the charter they experienced, which is really saying something, as he has a history of booking some of the most-talked-about motoryachts on the planet. The experience of having the newest and best that the world of yacht charter offers, I suppose, just never goes out of style, no matter where on earth you cruise.
Solemates is managed for charter by Luxury Yacht Group. Her lowest weekly base rate is €450,000 for 12 guests. Any reputable charter broker can tell you more or help you book a week onboard.—Kim Kavin