Champagne Wiashes and Caviar Dreams
Yacht elevator specialist Lift Emotion has produced lifts for some of the world’s most luxurious pleasure vessels.
Cakewalk, at 85.6 m the largest yacht built in the U.S. since the 1930s, launched on August 8, 2010, from Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Connecticut. When it did, it was outfitted with an elevator and dumbwaiter custom built by Lift Emotion BV, based in Meppel, the Netherlands. Mike Brandt, who co-owns the company with Eef Kwakkel, thinks that says a lot about the custom, high-end work for which the company has become known during its eight years in business. Headquartered in an approximately 3,229-sq.-ft. shop with additional outlying space it rents on an as-needed basis, Lift Emotion plans to expand into a shop five times larger by mid 2016 and add to its staff of eight full-time and 15 part-time employees who fly all over the world to take care of clients in places such as Australia, China and Turkey. The expansion is necessary to keep up with demand, Brandt stated. Reflecting on 2015, he said:
“The progress we made in 2015 was significant. [In September], we had just come back from the Monaco Yacht Show, where we spoke with a lot of potential clients. There is a lot of competition, including from the big OEMs, but I think we stand out, because what we make is never copy and paste, but always tailor made. Some people try to do what we do. Some succeed, some do not.”
With lifts built for yachts including the 70-m MY Axiomia and the newest, 47-m Majesty 155, built in the U.A.E. for a Middle Eastern client who went so far as to have his palace cigar bar replicated in miniature on his yacht, it is clear that Lift Emotion is succeeding. While the end users are no doubt the Bonos and Beyoncés of the world, Lift Emotion primarily deals directly with shipyards and interior designers and often does not know the identities of the ultimate customers. Even if they do, they keep quiet about it due to customers’ desire for privacy.
Yacht elevators account for roughly 85% of business, with private-residence lifts making up 2% and the rest offshore industry systems. Brandt estimates the company has built 100 yacht elevators since it was founded in 2007 and 160 elevators in all. The company continues to embark on new, exciting projects. For example, it is working on a custom elevator for a well-known U.S. tech company. About that job, he told Superyacht Times:
“The company was looking for a highly customized elevator, and that’s how they found us, as we deal with the most difficult and technically challenging elevators every day.”
There have been repeat customers such as a Swiss yacht elevator client who tapped Lift Emotion to create a custom elevator for his home in Switzerland. The unit was delivered in 2014. Brandt described it as a “truly spectacular” elevator with a 3.03-m-tall glass cabin with floor-to-ceiling doors. Another recent notable job was an elevator built inside (yes, inside) a bus for a Middle Eastern client with mobility issues. That job was particularly challenging due to having to work in such a tight space.
Brandt, who has an engineering background, observes that all jobs come with a mix of challenges and rewards. There are particular challenges that go with building marine elevators, perhaps the biggest one being the strict rules and regulations that vary by location. “There are always differences and different interpretations of the rules among Notified Bodies, and that can be frustrating,” he states.
All Lift Emotion passenger elevators —for yachts, vessel crews or offshore workers—are based on its standard C-line and comply with Netherlands Standardization Institute, International Organization for Standardization, Lloyd’s, DNV GL and American Bureau of Shipping regulations. They operate on open-source software, which enables maintenance to be performed by whichever company or person the client chooses, anywhere in the world. C-line features also include:
- High comfort
- Functionality and failsafe mechanisms
- A wide range of load capacity
- Fire-rated, watertight doors
- Door and cabin finishes in a wide array of colors and stainless-steel finishes
- The choice of hydraulic or traction drives
- Machinery, power pack and controller cabinet positioned behind or next to the shaft on any level
The company offers remote monitoring and can provide onsite maintenance and inspections anywhere in the world. It carries an inventory of spare parts that can be used on any marine elevator, regardless of type or manufacturer.
The greatest difference between a land- and marine-based elevator is the fact that the former is stationary, and the latter is constantly in motion. This calls for the marine unit having different dimensions and weight distributions. Also, Brandt observes, a marine elevator is subject to harsh environmental conditions—wind, water and salt, for example. Lift Emotion uses specific materials and finishes built to withstand the elements and calls on a regular group of suppliers, primarily in the Netherlands and Germany, to deliver them.
Lift Emotion’s other lift systems have proven popular, as well, and they are marketed in a very compelling way. The company has this to say, for example, about its goods lifts:
“Which dumbwaiter will transport food, wine or goods between decks for you at sea? How do you make sure that a bottle of champagne reaches the guests on your luxury superyacht in the same way it would in a five-star restaurant? Where do you find an elevator that brings 300-kg loads wherever they are needed onboard during a raging storm? At Lift Emotion, we are used to solving questions like these, and even enjoy it and take great pride in combining precision technology, experience and ingenuity to build the dumbwaiter or trolley lift that will suit your onboard needs on the heaviest seas. Our dumbwaiters and trolley lifts come in a wide range of types, functionalities, door types and loading systems.”
Beyond marine elevators, Lift Emotion’s special-build line includes the Lifebuoy Shooting Unit, which launches a life preserver from a ship’s bridge or near the bulwark with the push of a button. Another product in this category is a flexible marine elevator made especially for use on the decks of river barges. Lift Emotion says this lift “rests on the deck, allowing it to pass under low canal bridges, and be brought upright at will.”
In addition to new yachts, Lift Emotion has been a part of several noteworthy retrofits. When the 44.7-m former H2Ome was purchased and rechristened Blade in late 2014, Lift Emotion was a member of the international team assembled to handle its multimillion-U.S.-dollar makeover. For this project, Lift Emotion constructed a pop-up elevator that emerges out onto the sun deck, making the deck wheelchair accessible.
Lift Emotion’s relationships with its customers go deep, often spanning years and countless hours. Brandt stated: “It’s a tremendous amount of hours you have to devote to help and guide people, but in the end, you will get something truly special and of the highest quality.”