£250,000 for a week of luxury on world's tallest yacht

Does a sailing holiday sound enticing? How about one with cabins whose beds are two metres wide, which has en suite bathrooms and where there are two dining rooms and two full-size cinemas?

If that sounds interesting, and you have £250,000 to spare, then give Joe Vittoria a call. You could hire his yacht – the tallest single-masted vessel made – for a week.

The Mirabella V, under construction in Southampton, cost £30m and is due to launch late next year.

Understated it is not: the superstructure alone is more than 70 metres long. And at 90 metres (295ft) from carbon-fibre mast-tip to sea, it is as high as an Olympic ski jump, yet will move at up to 20 knots, driven by a sail area of 2,791sq metres (0.7 acres).

But it's the luxury that attracts the most interest. "We've already had one person who has asked us to hold a period in February 2004 for him to book," said the owner, Mr Vittoria, 67, a former president of the Avis car rental company and lifelong sailor.

He says those who can afford the sort of money he will charge are virtually immune to recession. "To make the project pay, I only need 20 of these people a year to sign up for a week's rental," he said. He expects to use the boat for about four to eight weeks of the year.

Those who do book will be on board a boat that is a technological marvel. Capable of taking 12 people in its six cabins, besides the 14-strong crew (whose cabins are "slightly smaller"), it also has a gym, sauna, two swimming pools (one salt, one freshwater), two jetskis, four Laser sailing boats, a barbecue area, bar, and an inside saloon. There is also an owner's suite which has a king-size bed, office and en suite bathroom.

While the price might sound outrageous, it is no larger than the amounts demanded by other big single-charter yachts already sailing the world. But those are mostly motor yachts. "There's no participation," Mr Vittoria said of his competitors. "On our boats, the guests gather around the steering console and the captain will encourage them to steer the boat. There are enough boats out there. But this one will be unique."

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