Call from the global market
Take off for east!
But first things first. The 1990s saw the opening up of the Eastern Europeanmarket. After completing a series of exclusive hotel and property projects in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, we have been keen to take advantage of the prevailing spirit of optimism and to expand. But the competitive pressure was intense at that time, we were searching for a niche. And found it, with a focus on highest quality. Within a short time, we gained a reputation as a top outfitter on land with a number of prestigious projects including the Hotel Kempinski in Moscow, the LIM Center in Warsaw, the Marco Polo Hotel in St Petersburg and the Hotel Louis C. Jacob in Hamburg.
What sounds simple actually involved a number of major challenges during this period. The technical standards of communication were in no way comparable with those of today. This called for a high degree of flexibility from the project teams in Austria. Globalisation was still in its infancy and the political situation during perestroika and in post-Soviet Russia was not always easy for Western Europeans.
At the Hotel Kempinski in Moscow, we were on site with a small project team for about four months in a row. In addition to the scope of the contract, the main challenge was the standard required. This was more demanding than in our previous hotel projects. Craftsmanship and detailed work were required due to the many inlays (marquetry).
The conversion of the Hotel Louis C. Jacob in Hamburg into a luxury hotel extended to several buildings. In addition to the existing 19th century hotel, further buildings were purchased and an additional hotel complex built from new. What´s more, almost the entire building was listed as a historical monument.
Despite many challenges, our teams successfully completed one international project after the other. Hotel Louis C. Jacob – comparable with the hotel Sacher in Vienna – marked the turning point in our company history. The client was very satisfied and led us to the MS Deutschland, where we were commissioned to design and fit the cabins and interiors of widely different areas of the cruise ship.
You could say that our entry as an Austrian company into the market for luxury interior fittings in the shipping sector happened by chance. We say that one thing simply blended into another. Like one piece of the puzzle to the other, like one workpiece to the other. But it was also necessary to rethink and change our strategy quickly. Actually, activities on water are subject to completely different guidelines from those on land. The two areas of fire protection and weight control, for example, play an even more important role and must meet specific requirements. Organisation and coordination of the numerous protagonists are more extensive, the technical challenges more complex.
The MS Deutschland was quickly followed by other orders for interior fittings on vessels of the AIDA and DISNEY fleets, as well as some super-fast ferries.
In the tender for the interior outfitting of the MS Deutschland, we impressed with our experience gained from various projects in the premium hotel industry and thus implemented our first project “on water” with the “Dream Ship”.
Although still a newcomer in the maritime sector at the time, we were appointed for the initial fit-out of 196.35-metre The World – Residences at Sea. We impressed with our quality, implementation and perseverance and today have a long-standing partnership with the vessel.
Large-scale project …
Within a short time, we therefore established ourselves as a quality-conscious provider for all-round project management. The step into unknown territory had paid off. What´s more, with our know-how in planning and preassembly, we were a driving force for the entire industry. We were able to bring our skills to bear in the case of The World – Residences at Sea. This project was a milestone in our company history from every point of view. We were involved from the very beginning in the largest private residential yacht in the world and were in charge of the interior outfitting for all private apartments and suites as well as various public areas. This led to us setting up sample rooms in Austria, far from the oceans, so that we could discuss them with designers and future owners. The World took to the seas in 2003. Since then, we have handled over 320 refits, from small renovations and refurnishing to complete rebuilds and retrofits. To this day, The World is the project responsible for the highest turnover in our company’s history.
… luxury yacht …
Another watershed event occurred while we were still busy with The World. Towards the end of the 1990s, we fitted out a motor yacht for the first time, the MY Al Salamah. The MY Al Salamah is 139 metres long, making her one of the largest superyachts in the world. Shortly afterwards, we had our first appearance as turnkey interior outfitter in the luxury segment with the 63 meter long MY Lady Lola. The fact that the yacht was showcased at the 2002 Monaco Yacht Show and was anchored directly in front of the List GC stand was another lucky coincidence. It meant that the yacht was available to us almost exclusively during the show as an impressive reference project.
… & sailing legend
New yachts are in a class of their own. So too are refits, because they call for a special flair for craftsmanship and technology. That was the case with the SY Sea Cloud I from 1931. The 110-metre sailing yacht had suffered fire damage and in 2003 dropped anchor in Croatia for repairs. Working with a team of 10 people, we spent 12 months restoring the interior and bringing it up to the state of the art. Some ceilings had to be reconstructed, extended and finished in gold. As is so often the case, it’s the details that determine the overall impression.
Our first refit was commissioned in 2003 after fire damage to SY Sea Cloud I. The original requirement to carry out minor repair work quickly turned into a comprehensive project. A team of ten people was deployed for about a year to carry out not only the reconstruction of the damaged areas but also various renovations and modernisations.
It was the owner’s wish to set new standards in European luxury yacht building with MY Alfa Nero, and that is exactly what he got! The 82-metre luxury yacht represents spectacular engineering, ambitious design and high-quality craftsmanship, and is still one of the most extraordinary yachts in the world.