Courtesy Benetti

The Family Yacht

Oli's sense of informal elegance is a beautiful study in contrasts.

Naming a yacht after a wife, a girlfriend or even a queen is not uncommon. But how often does the name fit the yacht’s personality?

The owner of the first Benetti Mediterraneo 116 christened her Oli, his wife's nickname. The moniker is warm, friendly and has a simple elegance. It's a perfect match for this yacht.

Moving to Benetti from another brand, the owner wanted a 100-plus-footer that was ­casual but graceful, a "play palace" with a style that would accommodate his large family. He chose the ­Italian yard because it is known for customization, even on semicustom designs like Oli. "I wanted a yacht with a classic and elegant look," he says, "and without giving up too much to modern fads, it had to integrate modern features and details." I stepped aboard Oli at the Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and saw how a design moves from concept to reality. I appreciated how choosing the right materials helped them stay fresh after a year of extensive family use — including monthlong cruises in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Benetti Oli

Front and Center

One of Oli's smartest design features is her two-tier bow. The lower foredeck is the working area with windlass and lines, and it has a clear separation from the playpen 5 feet above it. Many superyacht builders make the foredeck strictly for crew or, increasingly, use it as a social area. Benetti did both, separating the spaces with a hot tub. The upper section has a six-person sun bed with seats that fold up or down. Aft is a lounge that could seat another six. The hot tub, offering uninterrupted water views, is an almost imperceptible barrier between the guest and crew areas.Courtesy Benetti

What most impressed me was how a relaxed, minimalist design could look elegant and still be homey. The owner wanted a "modern and cozy" boat. He told designer Giorgio Maria Cassetta to create large external areas and light-filled interiors, with a seamless connection between them. To that end, the salon's sole-to-ceiling windows with chrome frames provide unobstructed views of the water from anywhere in the open-plan room, while semicircular sliding doors connected to the cockpit allow for an uninterrupted corridor from Oli's stern to the dining area forward of the salon. With the 7-foot-wide rear doors open, the aft deck turns into a social terrace. With the doors closed, the salon is warm and intimate, a place for family gatherings.

Benetti’s interior designers chose leather end tables and custom but informal Minotti chairs covered in white fabric for the sitting area in the salon. The dining space has bench seats and a family-style wooden table instead of the usual formal table and chairs. Light-brown teak soles and gray-blue “Tai Mat” oak walls (neutral in color and UV-resistant) give the space a down-home feel, while the stainless-steel accents add a touch of refinement. The look is designer Italian but without the frills, fragile art and unspoken “don’t touch me” admonition. It’s clear kids are welcome.

The same décor is in the sky lounge, a smaller space used as a cinema room or a rainy-day hangout. The aft deck on this level has a dining table for eight, protected by an overhang. A bar here and dumbwaiter from the galley below make crew service easy for alfresco meals.

Benetti Oli
The owner wanted large external areas on his 116 Mediterraneo. This family-size alfresco dining area and chaise-longue section illustrate his vision.Courtesy Benetti

Oli's real playground is her sun deck, an open-plan area with separate zones that total 860 square feet. Aft are free-standing lounges for sunning, with another lounge forward. Amidships is a hardtop with an opening center section above yet another dining table and a wet bar on the port side. Forward are a sun bed to starboard and a single-seat helm to port, reserved for the owner (who loves to drive).
Arguably, Oli's greatest design bonus is the foredeck, which has a hot tub, fold-up sun bed and lounge. Getting to the space is an equipment-free walk past the pilothouse, with the forward guest area separated from the working end of the bow by outside stairs and the hot tub in the center.

One of Cassetta's goals with the Mediterraneo 116 was to design a yacht that felt larger than her actual length overall. That goal was certainly accomplished with the sun deck and foredeck spaces, but that's not all. Oli feels large in her master suite too. Like the salon, it's simple and practical, with the gray-blue Tai Mat oak walls and teak sole, but the sense of space is unusual for a yacht this size. That the master spans full-beam helps, but the sole-to-ceiling picture windows on both sides of the bed and the 7-plus-foot headroom augment the feeling of size, as does the window in the master's office.

Benetti Oli
Less is more was a design cue for this 116-footer. The goal was to create a modern look with a homelike feel.Courtesy Benetti

Benetti used contrasting white statuary and black Marquina marble in the head, which has a walk-in shower and double sinks. Belowdecks, the four guest staterooms (two VIPs and two with twin berths) share the same Tai Mat oak paneling and black and white marble. The windows stand about 2 feet from the sole and are more than 5 feet wide. They allow for a significant flow of natural light on a yacht this size. Crew quarters for six are belowdecks, in addition to the captain’s quarters near the pilothouse. For the crew spaces, Benetti employed the same levels of fit and finish as seen on the rest of the yacht. And, in keeping with the owner’s wishes, ­Cassetta designed a crew corridor so stewardesses and deckhands wouldn’t cross paths with the family.

According to Benetti, two other Mediterraneo 116s under construction will have significantly different designs. Oli's owner, however, isn't concerned with those. "We achieved what I wanted," he says, "with both proven solutions and innovative designs." She should keep her namesake happy for years to come.

Benetti Oli
We’re sure the family spent quality time and movie nights here during their Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising.Courtesy Benetti