Million-Dollar Holiday

On board one of the world’s most expensive charter yachts

The story of Shahid Khan’s new 312-foot Kismet begins with an auspicious Twist of Fate. When Shahid Khan ordered his first Kismet in 2004, the capstone of the design brief was “make it impressive.” Not only would his family be using the boat for their own enjoyment, but Khan would use it for corporate entertaining and put it into charter service. That 223-footer launched in 2007 was successful on all counts but in the intervening years, both Khan’s business and his corporate guests increased in size. He now owns two sport teams, the English Fulham Football Club and the NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars, whose roster makes for some pretty bulky guests. Two hundred twentythree feet wasn’t cutting it.

Enter new Kismet; at 312 feet, her size alone is impressive. Then there is the 13-foot-long silver statue of a jaguar, its paw resting on a football helmet, that graces the bow on game days, two helipads and enough outdoor space to allow scrimmages. The number of decks for owner and guest use — five — is the same as the previous yacht. But the  cale of those decks, the accommodations afforded by seven staterooms and especially the size of the spaces dedicated to entertaining is where the new Kismet is a stunner.

There is a certain easiness about the framework when the team of a successful project is reassembled for an encore, and, indeed, the owner brought all the players back together: Moran Yacht and Ship to develop the deal and the specs and oversee the build, which again was at Lürssen; Espen Øino for the exterior design; and Reymond Langton for  he interior. Perhaps the key to how well the new Kismet flows, however, is also due to the fact that Captain Kyle Fultz and his wife, Gerry, who serves as purser, have crewed for Khan for 15 years and have the benefit of knowing how the family lives, works and entertains. In fact, the Fultzes spent two-and-a-half  years at the yard implementing the  wners’ wishes.

“They made it what it is. Sometimes they would have to take on the yard, sometimes the designers and sometimes they would have to take on the owners,” chuckles Khan. “They would say to me, ‘Yes, you can have that but you would have to give up this function.’ I knew the design has to follow the function.”

Khan, who arrived from Pakistan as a teenager to attend the University of Illinois, personifies the American dream with a story that transcends washing dishes, selling ice cream and marrying his college sweetheart to leveraging a better car bumper into a $4.9 billion auto parts company with 15,000 employees. He first tested the waters of yacht ownership in 1999 by purchasing a 130-foot Feadship named Gallant Lady from his friend and customer, the late Jim Moran of Southeast Toyota. He told broker Rob Moran that if he liked yachting, he would build a boat. Apparently, he found yachting more than suitable, and after several years aboard the Feadship, he started talking about building.

“We were six months into the specs for his [current Lürssen] when the economic crisis began,” Moran recalls. “Two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, we had a meeting. The market was falling about a thousand points a day. We were prepared to hear him say he was halting the project; instead he said, ‘Everybody thinks I’m mad, but I’m going to do it.’ He’s a forward-thinking progressive and he makes decisions other guys wouldn’t take.”

They started with a design around 85 meters (279 feet). “What was originally offered is not what you see today. He challenged the designers a lot. He’s heavily influenced by automotive shapes and he pushed the designers to the max,” Moran says. “Max” being 95-plus meters (312-plus feet).

The owner’s apartment (this page) commands the forward half of the upper deck, while guest suites (bottom left) are on the main deck forward of the cinema and salon (top left). Luxurious comfort and artistry of detail prevail in all areas.

“He asked us to scale up the drama of the first Kismet; he had seen [our work on] Serene and wanted that level of detail,” says Pascale Reymond. She and Andrew Langton responded with emphasis on strong architecture. When it comes to details, nothing is off the shelf.

Jason Macaree, lead designer on the project for Reymond Langton, credits a  ollaborative process. “She [Ann Khan] has a clear idea of what she wants things to look like and he drives things to be at the edge. He presents ideas, and they are good ideas, and we would work on them and bounce them back and then they would just grow.”

One example of this process is the space just forward of the main salon. Originally, a pair of curved stairs, like a double helix, was envisioned to rise between the floors through an open atrium and the renderings showed curved artwork surrounding the staircases. “Then it was Shad’s idea to have one staircase only with a video wall and open space opposite. Then [Ann] said she thought there might be room for a piano there and that led to the idea of creating a more intimate lounge in that space. We made a presentation on that idea and in the middle of that presentation she asked if the piano could be integrated into a bar, a piano top that was also a bar. Well, you’ve seen it, it’s a piano that can be heard through two decks and it’s a bar, but it’s really a work of art. That’s the way this entire project evolved,” says Macaree. And it is why Kismet, despite her size and the fact that her remit is to charter, is so intensely personal.

Kismet redefines the piano bar with a spectacular custom piece
made by Based Upon below a 770-pound glass-and-bronze
chandelier by Crystal Caviar, and between two video walls.
The ornate staircase leads to the&
upper deck lounge and formal
dining salon.

The video walls here — extending fully two decks high — are a unique masterwork made up of 42 individual 55-inch monitors. Sure, they can show football games or news, but they are also programmed to show digitized, high-definition moving artwork as sort of a backdrop for life aboard. “It can look like waving curtains or abstract images or even falling leaves. The shapes that make up the leather marquetry of the staircase surround — delicate flowers and leaves — have been digitized and gently cascade down from the top of the video wall,” says Macaree. The system, installed by Techno Gurus, also links to a pair of high-definition video cameras mounted outside that can convert the walls into virtual windows.

The massive Art Deco staircase between the video walls links the four primary indoor guest entertainment areas on two decks: salon and cinema on the main deck and dining room and lounge above. It is a masterful way to keep the party connected between decks.

On the upper level, an etched glass walkway offers a vertiginous view of the atrium and connects the lounge and the dining room. Farther aft, sliding glass panels flanking the upper aft deck form a winter garden and outdoor dining area in all but the worst winter or tropical downpours. Add in the bridge deck’s V-shaped bar in backlit onyx and al fresco lounge on the aft helipad and, higher still, the spacious sun deck with a huge pool and Jacuzzi, and large-scale entertainment is guaranteed. Khan says that he has space to host parties for 270 people.

The abundance and complexity of decorative features on the exterior furniture was a new challenge for the yard. “It is not something we had done to this extent before,” Peter Lürssen says. “And, of course, the stunning staircase is a feature that has brought many engineers and craftsmen a few more gray hairs. But that’s our job.”

On the other end of the scale, one of the challenges Reymond Langton faced was to create enough intimacy for family use or small charter parties. Smaller spaces, such as the cinema, the bridge deck lounge up top and the gym and spa belowdecks, show that they have not forgotten the value of coziness. In fact, there are four fireplaces aboard to ensure just that. The most intriguing one is a double-sided affair between the cinema and the piano lounge.

Kismet really shines in details. Each of the five main-deck guest staterooms not only has its own color scheme, but also a unique, themed door trim. Their location means the suites are wide and multiwindowed. Interestingly enough, Kismet features an unusual “sea cabin” carefully placed portside amidships on the lower deck, where motion will be at a minimum for guests who suffer from sea sickness. Of course, its placement adjacent to the guest gym, the spa and the starboard side fold-down tender terrace would make it coveted for other reasons.

When it comes to details, nothing is off the shelf.

“You can go one of three ways with a spa,” says Reymond. You can either put it up top and make it surrounded by glass walls for light and views; you can put it adjacent to the beach club at the stern, but that ambiance might suffer when the stern door is closed, or you can put it deep in the ship where it’s naturally going to be dark and cozy and restful with little motion. This is what the owner chose for Kismet. It’s very much a meditative space.”

Wellness is not an afterthought on Kismet. The massive heated pool on the top deck complements an extensive spa/gym on the lower deck. A fire pit adds just the right touch.

Indeed it is. Darks stones and interesting juxtaposed textures from smooth, flat rocks to glass to various wood surfaces, including a door that had patterns routed into its face and then was singed for effect, provide just the right amount of physical stimulation while the hammam, Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, steam shower and massage room are focused on relaxation. The light is soft, soothing and mysterious.

Behind all the beautifully, exotically finished owner and guest areas lies the heart of the yacht, her operations. “The first Kismet was the first Lürssen with the ‘Moran cathedral’ engine room, two stories with a separate control room,” says Khan. “Some people thought it was a waste of space, but we have factory experience and we know how much good visual connection improves the work.”

The crew passages and how they connect to stores, exterior decks and the areas they need to access quickly and repeatedly for service are brilliantly devised. The main deck placement of the galley, for example, might be considered atypical on a yacht of this size, yet it was arranged to service the social areas on the main deck and the dining areas a deck above, as well as to receive provisions. On each deck, pantry spaces are linked to crew stairs, deck access or other fore and aft passages. Nowhere is this as clever as the hidden access to the spa, so crew or visiting therapists or estheticians do not travel through owner areas. The under-deck crew passage also contains copious amounts of linen storage and connects to the laundry. These are key design elements that are often overlooked by less experienced project teams or owners. “The crew areas, both their cabins and the crew gym as well as the passageways and work spaces, have a positive impact on crew retention, our charter operation and resale,” attests Khan.

Kismet is a Turkish word that means destiny or fate, perhaps resulting from random forces set in motion long ago, such as a 16-year-old arriving in America to study engineering and ending up with a superyacht.

© ShowBoats June 2015