The Caribbean Winter charter season
Tom Mukamal, CEO, IGY Marinas discusses the upcoming season…
Think back to the first time you visited the Caribbean. What captivated you the most? The crystal-clear waters, the lush greenery or the miles of sandy beaches? Maybe it was a combination of all these things, along with the smiling, friendly faces. If you’re like most of us in yachting, you’ve visited again and again since then and have many happy memories of people and places.
From the dock attendants who catch your lines to the bartenders who serve your favourite drinks, the people of the Caribbean fondly remember you as well. The yachting community is special here, made up of enthusiasts who’ve worked and played on these waters for generations. Even though visitors come all year-round, the winter charter season is the main event, when owners and their families, along with experienced and first-time charter guests, escape to this piece of paradise.
All these allures have helped to make yachting and nautical tourism an economic cornerstone of the Caribbean. St Thomas and St Maarten are adjacent to some of the world’s most sought-out destinations and are supported by top provisioners, supply specialists and more. A year after the unprecedented hurricanes, the islands and, more importantly, the people have made a strong comeback.
Waterlemon Bay is one of many beautiful, serene anchorages for yachts in the USVI.
As head of the world’s largest international marina company, with five facilities in the Caribbean’s top destinations, I’ve been fortunate to see this recovery take shape. A vast coalition of governments, non-profit organisations and private-sector businesses have worked closely with, and supported, proud and resilient local populations to obtain funding to rebuild roads, schools, hospitals and key infrastructure. I’ve also seen how important it is to support the Caribbean by continuing to visit. Recovery has taken hold and tourism is keeping it on an upward trajectory.
Whether you manage a charter yacht or plan to take your own vessel, make your decision to come back to the Caribbean based on sound, solid information. So here’s the latest on the open amenities, as well as the service providers you’ve long relied upon for your seasonal needs.
Where to go
Throughout the US Virgin Islands, attractions and beaches are welcoming visitors, ferries are running and restaurants are serving up favourite foods. Collectively across the region, billions have been spent on funding repairs. These include the airport on St Thomas that will undergo a $230-million modernisation.
There’s also good news out of St Maarten. The Dutch government’s aid package, totaling €550 million, together with contributions from other governments and non-government agencies, have helped rebuild the island’s infrastructure, public facilities, provide support to the local community and the return of tourism. Princess Juliana International Airport is receiving regular flights from across the globe.
A year after the unprecedented hurricanes, the islands and, more importantly, the people have made a strong comeback.
At our IGY properties, from American Yacht Harbor and Yacht Haven Grande in St Thomas to the Yacht Club at Isle de Sol in St Maarten, we’ve welcomed back a number of guests since last December. The fuel docks are pumping, the restaurants have tables ready for you and new shops are awaiting your arrival. Fat Turtle, the Caribbean’s leading crew bars at Yacht Haven Grande and Yacht Club at Isle de Sol, are open and offer a fun respite during what we anticipate will be a busy charter season. With IGY resources 100 per cent operational (in fact better than before), we are also heralding a new level of service delivery to our guests with further plans to advance our presence in the region on both St Maarten and St Thomas.
Service providers on standby
When heading thousands of miles away from home, you want – and need – provisions and parts delivered quickly and efficiently. You also need reliable air transportation and Internet service. In addition, although you hope it doesn’t arise, you want to rest assured that any medical emergency can be dealt with swiftly. The service providers that yacht owners, charter guests and crew have consistently relied upon in the Caribbean are ready to serve once again.
The Caribbean markets that are long-time favourites among top superyacht chefs are back selling local produce and delivering dockside. We’re grateful that every one of our IGY Anchor Club Strategic Partners is ready to handle your requests. Some of our strategic partners are directly on-site. For example, the well-known National Marine Suppliers is open at both Yacht Club Isle de Sol, St Maarten and Yacht Haven Grande, St Thomas.
Pictured: Tom Mukamal
Don't miss the in-depth coverage of the state of the infrastructure of the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 in The Americas Superyacht Report. Click here to find out more.
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