Lal De Silva has made a serious splash with his high-quality lifestyle businesses in Indonesia. Following an early career as a pastry chef, culminating in the five-star kitchens of the former Regent, Jakarta hotel (now rebranded as Four Seasons), the Sri Lanka-born entrepreneur set up the country’s first European-style bakery chain, The Harvest, in 2004. The business grew exponentially across the country and De Silva sold it in 2016.
Living in Indonesia, with its scattering of more than 17,000 islands, De Silva then began to enjoy boat charters, specifically aboard native traditional wooden-hulled phinisi pleasure craft that are double masted, offering power under sail, via inboard motor, or both. He enjoyed it so much that he began building them, with some elevated touches of luxury.
Although phinisi cruising is possible across much of Indonesia, it was in some of the country’s most treasured aesthetic waters – the Raja Ampat archipelago – that De Silva was smitten.
“I’ve travelled around the world and seen a lot of beautiful sights,” he recalls. “However, I was on a friend’s boat and as soon as I saw the mountains of Raja Ampat, its colourful birdlife and the very nice people living there, I fell in love with it.”
He was also charmed by the character of the indigenous vessel on the voyage. “During that trip, I remember thinking that one day I would build my own boat like this and spend a lot more time enjoying these beautiful islands.”
In late 2021 he went on to commission one from a boat-builder in Sulawesi Island, where most of the skilled phinisi shipyards are based, and from there he instructed builds of a further two hulls.
Taste For Luxury
By then, De Silva had already acquired a taste for boat ownership, following his purchase of a brand new Azimut 66 flybridge motor yacht in 2016.
He selected the Italian brand’s 21m model due to its sophisticated design, high-quality materials, performance, as well as the comprehensive after-sales maintenance and services offered by its Jakarta dealership.
While enjoying cruises aboard his yacht, with its designer interiors, luxurious deck areas and high-end audio-visual entertainment systems, he thought he would really appreciate these aspects on a phinisi. This cumulative ‘Eureka moment’ led De Silva in his building of three phinisi hulls, all destined to be fitted to De Silva’s high expectations in Bali.
The first, the 37.3m Nala, was completed last year and has already seen charter action, while the next two are expected to be ready before the end of the year. De Silva selected Yacht Sourcing, founded by Boum Senous in 2016, as the Central Agent for chartering Nala.
“We looked around for an agency, I met Boum and I liked him. We had a few meetings and I liked what I heard about his plans for charter and taking care of the boat. After I made a couple of trips with the boat, they started to work with us from the end of last year.”
LDS Styles Nala
Nala’s design concepts came from De Silva himself, and were then formally drafted by his in-house team to pass to contractors. LDS Lifestyles is divided into property, restaurant and gym divisions, within which interior and graphic design are largely handled internally.
The maximum capacity on board Nala is 12 guests and 10 crew. Opting for large windows in the five en-suite guest cabins – the family cabin can sleep four – as well as the saloon, fabrics are sumptuous when possible and more practical on and around outdoor deck areas on the 6.6m-beam yacht.
Cabins and the saloon showcase textiles, wood carvings and other traditional Indonesian arts and crafts, set against clean, simple backgrounds.
With three large decks, dining can be enjoyed under canopy on the upper deck, alfresco in the cockpit, or in the air-conditioned saloon on the main deck. There’s also a lounging area in the saloon.
At night, the upper deck – among other outdoor spaces – offers guests sunset views and superb star studded night skies, and has been known to host a guest DJ or two to plug into its on-board Bose audio system. All unsheltered outdoor areas can serve as sun decks during the day, with the two main-deck cabins having immediate access to balcony space.
A trained scuba diver himself, De Silva insisted on having top equipment for exploring the depths, which is all inclusive of the charter cost, as are other water toys.
All are high-spec models from top brands. Scuba gear is Aqualung, jet-skis are by Sea-Doo and the two 6m custom RIB boats (each with 10 passenger capacity) are by Outborn. Two kayaks, each built for two users, are also available on demand. Powered by one 400hp Mitsubishi S6B engine, Nala cruises comfortably without sails at about eight knots.
Nala’s clients so far have been from the UK, France, the US and Brazil, among other places. “Indonesians tend to prefer modern yachts rather than phinisis,” De Silva says.
He adds that during the Covid-19 pandemic, as Indonesians could not holiday abroad much, the younger generation started travelling east of Bali, with several reporting on the amazing scenery of Raja Ampat and that of the Eastern Nusa Tenggara archipelago.
For instance, some visited Labuan Bajo on Flores Island, long popular with overseas visitors due to its proximity to the waters of Komodo National Park, favoured by scuba divers, and to Komodo Island by dragon-spotters.
“During and after Covid, the number of Indonesians going boating for the first time have grown. Having a dive master on the boat to supervise scuba diving and snorkelling activities is a strength for us. And with our restaurant business experience, we try to serve food and drinks to a higher level than many others, to meet the expectations of those used to dining out in Jakarta.”
This article was first published on yachtstyle.co
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