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Antigua Charter Yacht Show: Where Refits Rule

The 163-foot Broadwater, 164-foot Amarula Sun, 160-foot Odessa and 164-foot Victoria Del Mar are the talk of the docks

A few new charter yachts are on the docks here in Antigua this year. There are the new 74-foot sailing catamarans from Sunreef called Blue Deer and 19th Hole, along with the 138-foot Benetti motoryacht H (yes, her name is just one letter) and the 150-foot Sanlorenzo Scorpion. I’ve gotten on them all, and they are wildly different. The Sunreefs are going for a family-friendly vibe with a touch of elegance in the linens and flatware, while H is contemporary bordering on modern with lots of gray and stainless steel, and Scorpion is all about luxe interior decor (especially her colorful stonework, which is stunning).

And yet, while there is plenty to like about these new offerings for Caribbean yacht charter, the yachts I’m hearing the most about on the docks are the refits. It seems to me that following the global recession, sales of new yachts slowed, which means fewer of them will be coming out of the shipyard now, a few years later when construction would have finished. Instead of building new, a good number of owners have invested heavily in refit, and those yachts are showing up at this year’s boat show with some impressive new features and furnishings.

For instance, the 163-foot Feadship motoryacht Broadwater is on display via Worth Avenue Yachts with a 2014 interior refit by Patrick Knowles. A wall was knocked out to create an open-plan main deck, and the remaining divider between the salon and dining room is a 252-bottle, glass-encased wine fridge that is a work of art unto itself. The new decor feels nautical and traditional without being cliche, once again proving that Knowles is among the best designers working in the yacht industry today.

There’s also the 164-foot Trinity motoryacht Amarula Sun, which previously was for charter as Mine Games and is now in the Northrop & Johnson fleet. Her decor (elegant if not ornate) remains the same, but her owner has invested nearly $500,000 in an array of audiovisual technology that includes several 75-inch ultra-high-definition, 4K televisions. Capt. Albert Rodriguez told me the owner wanted the biggest screens and highest possible resolutions everywhere on the yacht–which means Amarula Sun, while 7 years old, has one of the most impressive audiovisual systems in the global charter fleet.

Another great refit I saw today was the 160-foot Christensen motoryacht Odessa (for charter with Burgess Yachts, and not to be confused with the 164-foot Proteksan-Turquoise yacht Odessa, also here, for charter through Edmiston and Company). The Christensen Odessa has an award-winning Armani/Casa interior that has been refreshed and lightened a bit, with the dark grays and reds now replaced by neutral tones to offset the contemporary blacks and browns. She looks, in a word, stunning.

Yet another motoryacht I heard lots of great remarks about is the 164-foot Delta Victoria Del Mar, which is a 2006 build formerly called Happy Days. She got a new owner in 2014, and he did a 9-month refit that knocked my socks off when I stepped aboard (that’s the new interior in the photograph above). The yacht feels bright, light and incredibly roomy, with lots of thick, textured glasswork by an artist named Chico. Victoria Del Mar, part of the Northrop & Johnson fleet, is at once contemporary and comfortable, what I would call a great charter yacht for a family with a sense of South Beach style.

The great news about all of these yachts is that while they have lots of new amenities and flourishes, they remain several years old–which means their weekly base rates for charter are still lower than what you’ll find for brand-new builds. Any charter client looking for a fresh option that’s not a top-dollar expense would be wise to give these yachts a look.

More from the docks here in Antigua tomorrow…

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