|What Money Can’t Buy|
Sunseeker Charters uses personal connections to create one-of-a-kind vacation experiences.
By Kim Kavin — October 2004
A woman named Alla smiled and handed me what she referred to as “optional knickers.” I was in a London spa, wrapped in a white towel, and I didn’t immediately grasp that in the Queen’s English, “knickers” is not a synonym for “pants.” I learned as much when I examined the G-string, which comprised fewer square inches than a Whopper wrapper. I suddenly regretted my years-long love affair with high-carb sesame-seed buns.
I tried to relax on the warm tile bench.
I eyed those tiny knickers the way most American men would suspiciously view a Speedo. I fussed and fidgeted and found it all a bit unsettling until the strangest thing happened: I started to breathe—deeply. I felt like I’d been set free from a flu I didn’t even know I had. I exhaled and settled into a state of relaxation I’m quite sure I’ve never before known.
Knickers, Enya, and women named Alla certainly aren’t part of most typical yacht charter experiences. But then again, my host in London—a new company known as Sunseeker Charters—is definitely not your typical charter company.
The folks at Sunseeker Charters had arranged my afternoon at Illuminata, one of the hottest spas in the city, a place where landing the kind of half-day appointment I enjoyed can take months of planning, pleading, and praying. By the time my treatments were done, I’d been lotioned and cleansed and buffed to the point that my rounded stern would give an Apreamare a run for its money. If charter guests want the same experience, Sunseeker Charters is ready to create it—or anything else the imagination can conjure. The company’s goal is to make each charter a unique vacation with many facets.
“The majority of what we do is normal charters, but we can make it anything they want,” explains Stefan Wertans, co-owner of the company. “What we want to do is try to have personal packages.”
In my case, Wertans and his partner, David Ward, set up the exclusive spa appointment to demonstrate what can be arranged for charter guests who want to slow down and relax before they even set foot on a boat. That evening they used their local pull to get me a table at one of the city’s finest French restaurants, Le Gavroche, and a suite at the exclusive 47 Park Street, a fractional-ownership residence whose head concierge has 22 years’ worth of personal connections to offer. I took him up on a private backstage tour the following morning of The Royal Opera House, including the Royal Retiring Room behind the Queen’s seats.
These are the kinds of money-can’t-buy experiences that Sunseeker Charters is eager to provide before, during, and after a charter. When I left The Royal Opera House, a car was waiting to deliver me to Southampton and my charter yacht, the 68 Predator High Energy. She’s the eighth Sunseeker that Wertans and Ward have owned during their 25-year relationship with the boatbuilder, ten of which they have spent chartering the various versions of High Energy they have owned. They started out with a 28-footer and are eagerly anticipating their trade up to a new 82.
Next page > Part 2: “Anything can be arranged,” explains Jackie Phillipson. > Page 1, 2
This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.