Ahpo’s Monaco debut reflects Chinese heritage
Lürssen’s spectacular 115m Ahpo makes her debut at Monaco Yacht Show in September and, if the syllables are separated to Ah Po, she may be more widely recognised as perhaps the first superyacht with a real Chinese name.
Words: Bruce Maxwell
Photos: Guillaume Plisson
Sleek, stylish lines are used to project a powerful profile, reminiscent of her 86m predecessor Quattroelle
The owner, an experienced yachtsman born in the Caribbean of part-Chinese descent, has told the world’s largest superyacht yard Lürssen that Ahpo is “the phonetic pronunciation of the Chinese pictogram meaning Grand Lady”. In Chinese dialects Ahpo can also translate as Grandma, and is used in various other Stately Lady senses.
Wealthy Chinese own a whole fleet of superyachts, kept in Asia-Pacific and elsewhere, but they began by calling them Asean Lady and Vanguard, and then a spectrum of names including White Rabbit, La Baronessa, Sea Shaw, Elysium, Saluzi and Zen. There are many other renowned vessels in Asia alone.
White Rabbit and Saluzi refer to fêted animals in Chinese folklore, but no private yacht owners, to our knowledge, have so far used an actual Chinese name for their vessels.
Nuvolari Lenard handled exterior and interior design
A prior connection to Ahpo’s present Caribbean-cum-Canadian owner is the Singapore and Malaysian developer David Eng, who back in 1998 built the 60m La Baronessa now Pearl in Wisconsin. It was the largest private aluminium motor yacht in the world.
His captain was the son of a Norwegian seafarer and a Borneo princess, who went barefoot on the bridge, and like David took up golf. I was among those who headed off into the Great Lakes, clutching our Smithsonian histories of the region. Also aboard was a handsome young man called Dan Lenard, representing the new naval architecture and yacht design outfit Nuvolari Lenard, based in Venice.
David presently owns the 52m Elysium, often cruising the azure Andaman Sea off Phuket in Thailand. It was previously called Quantum of Solace in John Staluppi’s long line of yachts named after James Bond films. The fledgling Nuvolari Lenard, meanwhile, rapidly climbed the ranks to become one of the industry’s highest-regarded designers.
A spacious salon
They later caught the eye of Ahpo’s owner, as did Lürssen, and at the 2013 Monaco Yacht Show all three presented an earlier combined effort, the 86m Quattroelle. She was immaculate, and the name again hinted at esoteric thinking. It means Four Ls, and those Ls were Love, Life, Liberty and Luxury.
Fast forward to 2022 and the new Ahpo, 115m overall, is the centrepiece of the Lürssen display at Monaco Yacht Show. Nuvolari Lenard are again the chosen exterior and interior designers. Ahpo is available for charter in the Caribbean in winter and the Med in summer, through Moran Yacht and Ship, the substantial American agency which supervised the build on behalf of the owner, with whom they have a long-standing relationship. The rate is a relatively attractive €2.5m a week.
She has accommodation for 16 guests in eight immense staterooms, and four staff cabins for security, a nanny, or other auxiliary staff. Altogether 36 crew are carried.
A lovely protected winter garden which can be arranged for summer or winter conditions
Notable amenities include a two-story owner’s apartment, and an enormous beach club, hammam, plunge pool, sauna, massage room and beauty salon. Her forward helideck is commercially compliant, and available for use in charters.
“For us,” says Peter Lürssen, “the task was to build a motor yacht for a repeat client, an upgrade from his 86m Lürssen. He has many years of owning and chartering yachts behind him, and required top-notch design and engineering as well as sea-going comfort for his family, guests and crew.”
The early brief for the interior was to link all the elements of nature, harmoniously balanced throughout the yacht, with a pallet of colourful and sophisticated materials. Flowers and plants are a distinct theme on board, a favourite of the owner’s wife. The outcome is a stylish, grown-up environment with beautiful bespoke pieces of furniture framed against a more muted, tasteful background.
Beach Club and Wellness Centre astern have imaginative layouts using contemporary mosaic tiles and premium woods
The 205sqm beach club and wellness area on the lower deck has real impact and is a fitting place for guests to step aboard. Beyond the transom door, a large bamboo grove is encased in backlit frosted glass, which forms a stunning backdrop to a stylish bar on one side and a luxurious massage room on the other.
In contrast to this zen atmosphere is an explosion of coloured mosaic tiles which make up the hammam and day head, as well as the jacuzzi and plunge pool that form the central focus.
When at anchor, an open sea terrace means guests can enjoy their own private living room at water level thanks to a contemporary sofa and coffee table set-up. Further forward is a luxurious 12-seater cinema, complete with proper armchairs and a bespoke wallpaper that replicates the mosaic design of the spa.
An 8m pool has counter-current flows for serious swimmers
Just down the hall is one of the yacht’s most pleasantly surprising areas, a glass walkway through the engine room. This futuristic addition allows the owners and guests to view the impressive engines and mechanical set-up.
Above on the main deck, a large conference room aft boasts as its centrepiece a beautiful custom table with an antique map of Jamaica engraved in bronze and surrounded by deep blue resin sitting under an eye-catching crystal chandelier. Sliding doors allow this to be a contained, private working environment. When desired, the doors open to reveal the main salon, an elegant, formal space with a self-playing Steinway piano.
Further forward, another set of doors open into the formal dining room. Having these three distinct areas together on the same deck means that as well as somewhere to relax and unwind, Ahpo is also a functional working environment where one’s business and pleasure can co-exist without crossing paths.
The grand staircase depicts an olive tree, and a striking crystal sculpture hangs from the ceiling
Also on this deck is the bespoke wine display with individual, walk-in sections that can be tempered accordingly. This was requested right in the initial layout, and provides an interesting talking point among guests.
The centre of the yacht is dominated by a grand staircase, accessible at all guest levels. The staircase itself represents a path and depicts an olive tree that grows up to the sky, surrounded by cranes and other nature-themed decor.
A striking crystal sculpture hangs from the ceiling, composed of falling feathers, each built by hand. The accent marbles change on each deck, acting as a subtle map of Blu Onyx, Green J’adore and Grey Lilac, with the floor always Calacatta Borghini and White Onyx for the petals, complemented by a bronze balustrade.
Extensive master suite is spread over two levels and can be kept completely private, even if guests are arriving on the foredeck helipad
The owner’s deck takes a different theme. Its informal lounge is contemporary and convivial, with a colourful interpretation of the universe in the carpet and a striking latticed wood pattern running throughout. Three white curved sofas create a focal entertaining space, while a bespoke bar and a games table caters to guests of all ages.
On the aft deck, an enormous custom 16-seater dining table stands proud within a winter garden that can be completely open or closed to the elements thanks to a complex set of sliding and folding glass doors. This ensures that the space can be used to entertain and relax with family and friends in any weather and at any time of year, ensuring one of the great joys of owning a yacht isn’t confined to traditional summer seasons.
Lots of greenery and rattan furniture is the theme, evoking a bygone golden era in a stylish and fresh way. Past the dining area and the second set of sliding doors is an area dominated by two semicircles of comfortable, informal sofas, providing ample space for everyone to come together after a meal and relax or take in the sunsets and sunrises.
Both bathrooms feature remarkable tubs, hers in rose gold and copper
Directly above on the upper deck is the swimming pool, and by no means a token one. At over 8m long and 1.2m depth, plus a counter-current system, it has been designed specifically for swimming, not simply cooling off.
For those who want just a quick dip, there is a self-contained jacuzzi on one side of the pool with large sun pad seating flanking the other side. A large bar and relaxed low-level seating make this a favourite for informal family days.
Also on this deck is full service gym, one of the largest on any yacht, with multiple machines and equipment and stunning views out over the water on both sides.
The final aft deck space, on the bridge deck, has been left unencumbered, making it a completely flexible area. Open to the sun, it can also be protected by casual fabric shades. Moveable furniture and sun loungers can be placed here or it can be left open as both a sunrise yoga platform and midnight dance floor.
Forward on this deck is the bridge itself. Rare to have this high up, it provides the crew with unparalleled views for manoeuvring the 115m-long, 18m-wide yacht. Designed more like a guest space than a traditional crew area with premium woods and leathers, it is smart and high tech.
Another elegant salon has a self-playing Steinway grand piano
The unique location also means the ship’s office and captain’s cabin can be together and away from the guest areas, and enables perhaps Ahpo’s most standout, innovative feature, the duplex owner’s apartment. This is made up of a large 245sqm master cabin on the owner’s deck and a 95sqm panoramic salon on the upper deck above, joined together by a grand, private staircase.
The owner’s cabin is spacious and cosy all at once. The master bed’s custom fabric headboard replicates the mosaic found in the master bathrooms and represents the maple tree leaves and blue birds which recur in the room décor. A custom-designed breakfast table in the same tinted lacewood timber as the rest of the room and mother of pearl sits at the front, while two reclining sofas flank either side of the bed.
The private deck space here is similarly cosy. A semi-circle sofa and coffee table face out to sea on recessed balconies on each side, cocooned into a quiet corner thanks to glass bulwarks.
Back in the owner’s suite, his and her bathrooms and dressing rooms up the ante with impressive and ornate mosaic patterns and bold marbles.
In both bathrooms, there are impressive freestanding tubs, crafted by hand and themed black and gold for his and rose gold and copper for her. Both bathrooms have crystal chandeliers which match the colours of the rooms.
An immaculate setting for more formal dining
The lobby of the master cabin also follows Ahpo’s distinct theme of trees and nature with two glass columns engraved with maple leaves and with a red maple tree inside flanking the entrance hallway which leads to the staircase and the salon above.
The panoramic salon is in the area traditionally given over to the master cabin, forward on the upper deck, and it enjoys 180-degree views over the bow. Two beautiful, custom desks flank each end of the salon, turning the room into a private office if so desired. This means that there is a clear delineation between places to work and places to sleep, if the owners want to have a private external meeting that it is kept separate from the sleeping quarters.
“The owners are extremely happy with this solution. It suits them and their lifestyle very well,” says Carlo Nuvolari. “It was an unusual design idea that we decided to implement and they are pleased with the outcome.”
There are seven guest cabins on board with two on the owner’s deck, four on the main deck and one on the lower deck. The two cabins on the owner’s deck are designated for specific family members and enjoy their own colour themes of pink and green, chosen by the family to distinguish the two.
“The owner was very interested in every detail, and was always close to the project,” says Peter Lürssen. “He visited the shipyard as often as he could and between his visits was kept up to date on progress by his representative at the shipyard.”
Paradise is subjective, but when there is so much thought and design put into each space, it is hard to argue that paradise hasn’t been found on a yacht such as Ahpo.