Moonen Yachts On Refit Creating A New Lease On Life

By Ben Roberts

Emile Bilterijst is the respected CEO of Moonen Yachts, a Dutch yacht builder with pedigree located in the beautiful backdrop of Hertogenbosch. With this pedigree in mind, we spoke to Emile about the refit side of the business and how knowing every inch of the boats he’s built leads to the ultimate renewal solution.

The CEO of Moonen Yachts believes that the yard’s approach to refit hasn’t changed, but the fact that more and more Moonen new builds changing hands over 20 and a continued relationship with owners has led to a more than stable refit department.

“We have been focussing, as just part of our business, on refits for the last 20 years,” explains Emile Bilterijst. “It’s not that something has changed, or that we’re focusing on it more than we did before, but what we see happening now is that - because over 20 years more Moonens have come onto the market - every 4 to 6 years these yachts are being sold to a new owner and then they’re always interested in upgrading and changing things, so they often come back to us for these refits.”

“That’s just one reason,” says Emile, “what we actually focus on is maintaining excellent contact with these owners and become very involved in the sales process as a yard. We try to be as helpful as possible in that process, knowing most likely that the owner may wish to change something and is likely to bring it to us to make those changes; 80% of the refits over the last 20 years is because of this contact.”

The cycle of yachts returning to their birthplace for a complete update with a new owner is a process which is creating a legion of meticulously maintained Moonen yachts on the world’s waters; however, how does the yard approach the bigger, more ambitious projects?

“In terms of complete renewal, we have two Moonen 97s in the yard right now, built in 2008/9 respectively,” adds Emile. “One is not a big refit in the sense we’re going to change a lot - it’s more upgrading audio-visual, teak decking and systems - but the other yacht, we’re going to change a lot in the interior to create an entirely different atmosphere without moving layout. New upholstery, doors and bathrooms being changes, it’s a big project.”

While the size of the project may not act as a deterrent to the renewal cycle underway at Moonen Yachts, we asked how the process of refit is fueled creatively after building constantly evolving new ranges and then returning to a previous project with a new outlook.

“First of all, it’s very important that we know everything about these yachts, that’s why the owner comes to us because we know everything about how we built it. The fact that we’re doing new build as well allows us to better understand it retrospectively and it makes it a lot easier to do our own yachts than other yards; however, over the last 20 years we’ve done refits (8) from other yards as well.”

“Our main job is to make the owner happy,” concludes Emile, “we do our best to accommodate any request, and a lot is possible.”

By Ben Roberts
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