For many potential charter guests she is the starting point when selecting their holiday home. Size, style, location and price are all important considerations.
Cuisine, cuisine, cuisine
Food quality on board is of paramount importance. Even if the accommodation is spotless and the crew excellent, a mediocre chef can spoil the guests’ enjoyment. Robert Shepherd, charter broker with Edmiston agrees. He said, “Once I match the yacht and location to my clients’ needs, the next thing I do is to ensure that the chef can work his or her magic.”
Charter guests are used to excellent food and expect high standards – rivalling those of the top chefs ashore – as they spend much of their time on board eating. Leisurely breakfasts glide into lunch, which eases into late afternoon snacks followed by canapés just before sitting down to dinner! There is quality time on a charter – often not found in a normal busy life – to enjoy these meals in the company of family and friends, so when tremendous foods rounds off a fabulous holiday, it really is the icing on the cake.
Superyacht chef Peter Quarrie understands this. He said, “I have one or maybe two days to get it right. The key to cooking well on charters is listening to what the guests want rather than trying to show them everything you can do. Some guests are happy to be led; others are more specific about their needs. A good chef will work well with the service team to figure out those needs straight away.”
If guests experience inclement weather and holiday activities are interrupted then the food focus becomes even more important. Kevin Feinberg, head chef aboard 65m Seanna agrees. He said, “I try to give guests an amazing week on board, serving meals prepared specifically to their palate using fresh, seasonal ingredients and also ensuring menus are relevant to the area in which the yacht is cruising. Good food and good wine play a key role in keeping guests happy if the weather isn’t perfect and can also save a charter if everything isn’t going quite to plan."
If the superyacht owner and crew are the people part of a charter yacht’s success, the yacht itself is the physical embodiment of the holiday. For many potential charter guests she is the starting point when selecting their holiday home. Size, style, location and price are all important considerations. A few years ago price was rarely negotiable but this is no longer true; with an increased number of yachts available for charter and worldwide economic gloom, there is often room for discussion and discounts are more common. For the superyacht owner keen to charter this is a mixed blessing. By reducing the price more bookings may follow, while too low a figure means the charter won’t cover its costs.
Making your yacht stand out is also all about deciding on style and this process begins when she is being built or refitted. Is she aimed at couples? If so add in king-sized beds. Is the boat for families? Consider twin beds and plenty of water toys. Where owners plan to use the boat regularly themselves, this too will reflect their personal style and family requirements.
Summer Osterman, a charter broker with Burgess, thinks the world’s largest luxury sailing catamaran Hemisphere offers a fantastic experience for family fun, providing the perfect marriage of luxury and adventure. She boasts a fully equipped PADI dive centre with two dive instructors as part of her crew. She features a wide array of water toys in addition to a 16.4m custom sports fishing tender.
Summer said, “I have had charter clients on board whose children were constantly busy having the time of their lives with multiple new fun experiences in the water, under the safe and expert guidance of the crew. Additionally, the phenomenal chef is wowing the adults’ refined and sophisticated palates while also satisfying the simple requests of the young children, keeping the entire family happy.”
Rupert Connor, of the Luxury Yacht Group, added, “It is taken for granted that the yacht will be clean, functional and well presented. The details that make it stand out are the ones that make it special.” Yachts that are stars in the charter fleet shine for different reasons as Sylvia Weston from Nicholson Yacht Charters points out. She said, “There are several favourite yachts I love to offer, and as we all know, the crew and personal attention levels are their top asset. However, what makes them stand out from the crowd are the added incentives that owners put into making the accommodations comfortable and beautiful and the variety of sporting gear offered. Extras such as an elevator, gym and even a piano make a yacht more appealing.”
Sometimes the crew themselves are the highlight and attract attention, though this comes with the risk that they may leave and need replacing. Rupert Connor highlights a deckhand on Solemates. He says, “It’s taken for granted that he’s good at keeping the yacht clean but it’s a real plus that he’s also won a world championship in the Laser class sailing.”
Robert Shepherd believes it is very difficult to single out one yacht from the 1,400-plus vessels he can offer, but says, “I would say Lazy Z for toys and family friendly crew, Alfa Nero for her swimming pool and aggressive design and Snowbird for her extensive art collection and expansive selection of toys.”
Cindy Brown, president of Ultra Marine Yacht Charters definitely agrees that it is the added extras aboard that make it easy to attract charter guests. “New-fangled toys seem to be all the rage. From inflatable climbing walls to recreational islands or electric bikes, the trend is for toys that are designed with environmental awareness, something I am particularly happy to see.” She is enthusiastic about the 42m motor yacht Just Enough, saying, “I think she is a great charter boat without an outrageous price tag.” Again emphasising the importance of the owner’s input, Cindy concludes, “The owner’s enthusiasm in creating a charter yacht geared for fun with innovative amenities makes her one of my favourite picks this year.”
VSAT for charter
Seamless connectivity is paramount aboard charter superyachts, giving one vessel the technological edge over another. Set your superyacht apart from the fleet by incorporating world-leading and upgradeable communication systems into your refit or new-build wish list from the outset. SYOG spoke to leading satellite communications company MTN to glean their top three VSAT tips for charter.
Check your itinerary: Check that your provider’s coverage extends to each cruising destination, and that the yacht is correctly equipped. Credible VSAT companies will provide references from other vessels who have recently cruised those waters, for peace of mind. Don’t just assume there’ll be a satellite ahead.
Plan bandwidth ahead: Evaluate your communications needs with your VSAT provider in advance, as the open ocean is the wrong place to realise a deficit in bandwidth. During peak periods, temporary bandwidth upgrades can be planned to keep owners and charter guests smiling.
Sing the cyber praises: Superior connectivity aboard is a real differentiator, providing a competitive advantage in a tough charter market; use it to attract clients. Being able to provide high-speed internet, HD TV, VoIP, streaming and other services will nudge your vessel ahead of the pack.