As far as hotel designs in Australia go, Raes on Wategos in Byron is one of the most recognisable with its white stucco buildings, towering palm trees and blue accents. How do you then transfer that signature style onto a yacht that’ll sail around Sydney Harbour?
That’s the task interior designer Tamsin Johnson faced when M.Y. Sea Raes launched in Sydney last year. Johnson said she had a clear vision for the vessel, which recently hit Sydney Harbour for a second season, available for day charters for up to 30 guests and overnight stays for up to eight guests across four cabins.
“It was important to express the coastal laidback freshness of the hotel, but with due elegance and elevation – nothing too rustic,” Johnson says. “Modern yachts risk looking tacky easily, so I wanted to remove all sensation of a manufactured look and make it more habitable, so to speak.”
Johnson says she appreciates the ‘homely’ treatment of boats made in the mid-century, whereas today, their look and feel is sporty, high-tech-looking or what she describes as ‘sleezy-sleek’. With M.Y. Sea Raes’ design, she says she had to be careful to tap into the mid-century vessels’ look without sliding backward into nostalgia.
Marty McCaig, general manager of Raes, considers the yacht an extension of Raes on Wategos, which he says is unlike any other boating experience in Australia. In addition to the vessel using the same designer, Johnson, it also uses the same executive chef, Jason Saxby.
Saxby can curate tailored menus featuring locally sourced, seasonal produce, with dishes likely to include Bay lobster alla Catalana, Bistecca Fiorentina with salsa verde and sgroppino with sorbet.
Earlier this year, the hotelier announced it would be opening another property in Byron, The Bonobo By Raes. Set to open in late 2024, it’ll house 41 apartments for short and extended stays, ranging from two bedrooms to four. The property will also include a ground-floor lobby bar, an eatery, retail spaces for local brands and a wellness venue. On its rooftop, a pool and deck will be available for guests to use.
“Inspired by Byron’s historic buildings, the façade will feature modernist brick express, which will be authentic and timeless,” said McCaig at its announce. “This will be anchored by a landscaped central courtyard that embraces natural touches and reflects the beauty of Byron’s rainforests and greenery of the hinterland.”