Compromise is the last thing on the mind of an owner spending millions on designing the perfect yacht. However, considering the future charter potential of a yacht in the initial design phases can mean that standing out in an overcrowded charter market is far less difficult if and when the decision is made to go commercial.
“Even if an owner doesn’t plan to charter as he builds the yacht, he does still want to keep charter in mind,” says Debra Blackburn, a charter broker with Fraser Yachts in Florida. The majority of charter brokers will agree that when it comes to charter yachts, the best ones have an extremely well thought out layout. Designer Rob Doyle explains that the perfect charter yacht is more like a hotel than a personal ‘home away from home’ and as with a hotel room, everything should be obvious, easy to find, easy to use and well-planned. Intelligent flow, flexibility and excellent communal spaces are a must.
Flexibility in the layout is key in order to cater to guests, owner and crew. Mutli-use rooms are an easy way of incorporating spaces that are a high-priority on a charter guest’s wish list but may not be something the owner will use privately. “More guests are looking for gyms and spas than in the past,” says Blackburn. “I believe that many charterers, particularly our American clients, still want to have their workout time, even while on vacation, but they also want the spa atmosphere aboard.” Bluewater’s Jim Archer adds that the layout should also keep all ages in mind. Wider passageways and doors, elevators and ramps make life significantly easier for elderly guests, and as trends show, an increasing number of charter enquiries are coming from older clients.
The best charters have the best crew. It is critical that crewmembers are given the tools and space to carry out their job well. “The service areas have to be really well thought out,” says Captain Paul Bickley of M/Y Latitude, a yacht with an extremely busy charter schedule. “The passage from the working areas to the guest areas need consideration. Guests don’t want to see behind the scenes, but equally the coffee needs to be hot when it reaches them and the champagne should be cold. It comes down to clever locations for service stations, pantries and good circulation.”
With charter itineraries taking in some of the most picturesque parts of the world, outdoor space is an absolute must. “Latitude’s guests are always outside, the deck spaces are where it all happens,” says Latitude’s Bickley. “For us, the beach club is so important and I’ve also seen some really good designs out there on other yachts at the moment.” Designs for beach clubs on motoryachts are increasingly located in the stern with the swim platform, sometimes on the larger yachts even incorporating a floodable tender bay.
The crew may be top, the selection of toys may be unmatched and the layout may be perfect, but the superyacht’s interior décor and kerb appeal is probably the most important thing for attracting clients in the first place. If an interior is garish, dated or too unusual, it won’t attract the clients. Rob Doyle argues though that more original designs should not be completely discounted. “Much like in the hotel industry, where unusual boutique hotels offer a break from the norm, more unique superyachts can offer a charter novelty as well,” he says. “This can mean strong, bold styling, and sometimes form far out weighing the function of living on board a yacht for a long period. But for short charters that is fine.” Benetti’s 55m M/Y Ocean Paradise falls into the distinctive styling category, but since her launch in 2013 she has been very busy with charters and enquiries from a range of clients, say her brokers.
The ideal charter yacht is an amalgamation of so many factors and a lot of them come down to clever design from the outset, which will in turn allow the crew to shine and win the loyalty of the clients, securing that much-needed repeat business.