Potential superyacht owners have a key decision to make: buy new or buy something that’s out there and spruce her up. For the owner of Dream, a 60-metre Abeking & Rasmussen launched in 2001, the calculation was simple. “We looked at building a new boat but didn’t want to wait the 18 months of planning and the three years of construction,” he says. This led him to acquire the then Excellence III in the spring of 2012 and embark on a refit: “By buying an extremely well-built German boat that had a layout we liked and refitting it, we could get a boat with a new interior in about a third of the time compared to the four years it takes to plan and build a custom boat.”

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Dream’s refit included a new hull colour from the original blue

The owner wanted a yacht that he could cruise himself but that would also hit the sweetspot with charterers. “Having chartered extensively we knew what we wanted and, more importantly, we knew what didn’t work. With seven cabins, an office and a yoga/spa room, this yacht had the ideal profile for our family, and would have many more amenities than any boat her size,” he says.
But the serious work was only just starting. “One very important factor was to redo everything that was dated. Many times you will see a boat that has had a refit in the master and main salon, but the rest of the boat has barely been touched,” he says. “We changed all the furniture, the carpets, the fabrics and the window treatments. All the audio-visual and internet systems were upgraded. To get the feeling of a new boat, we redid all the cabins, the outside deck areas, and had new tenders and toys. Now anyone visiting for the first time thinks it is a new yacht.”

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The upper lounge cinema has become the focus for guests

The owner has long been an admirer of the work of Bannenberg & Rowell, citing the company’s work aboard the Lürssen Pacific and the A&R Elandess as particularly striking. “After meeting with them we liked their attitude. My wife and I had very clear ideas of what we wanted and Dickie and Simon presented us with many choices. We went back and forth many times and they kept trying until we were satisfied. We wanted an uncluttered yet sophisticated look, more the feeling of a loft or an art gallery than the usual look many boats have these days. I believe they have succeeded in that mission.”

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The new desk was created from a wing section of a Grumman Albatross

While the owner was pretty happy with the arrangement of the yacht – “the layout of the boat was excellent” – some changes needed to be made to allow better access to the swim platform: originally, you had to go along a dark interior staircase in the garage. “Guests had to meander through the toys and tools in the garage,” says the owner. “So we created an elegant curved staircase that goes directly on the outside from the aft portion of the main deck to the swim platform. This gives easy access to the swim platform and the crew doesn’t have to worry about guests tripping in the garage.” He says that the extension added three metres to the boat’s length, which “streamlined her profile nicely”.

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The original upper lounge on Excellence III

The yacht is now on charter through Northrop & Johnson from $425,000 per week, as well as providing a great place for the owner’s own cruising. “There are so many great areas aboard Dream. Inside, we love the sky lounge. We created very comfortable sofas that are really daybeds. By using supple, water-resistant Italian leather you can put your feet up with a good book or take a nap. But the fun really starts when you watch an HD movie on the 103in plasma. It is super-bright and you can enjoy it in broad daylight unlike TV projection systems that require blackouts. Having a cinema on board is an excellent way for up to 12 people to gather and end a day of fun activities,” he says.
And a favourite space outside? “The sundeck feels like a corner of South Beach with comfortable chaises that you can easily move around protected from the wind. In addition, there are funky seating corners and removable awnings that can provide shade to some areas while leaving others uncovered for the sun-worshipers. A bar and Jacuzzi are additional features on that deck that we love,” the owner says. And judging by the interest shown in Dream already this season, this refit has clearly met the owner’s brief of a yacht that will appeal to family charter parties.

• this story first appeared in SuperYacht World Issue 38