What Money Can't Buy Page 2

What Money Can’t Buy

Part 2: “Anything can be arranged,” explains Jackie Phillipson.

By Kim Kavin


The Mayflower
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• Part 1: Sunseeker Charters
• Part 2: Sunseeker Charters continued

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Last winter, the team announced the birth of Sunseeker Charters, which they created in cooperation with the builder. The idea is to help other Sunseeker owners move up to bigger boats with the assistance of charter revenue that Ward and Wertans generate through bookings by their team. The charters are open to anyone, but some of their referrals will come directly from Sunseeker dealers who want to expose clients to bigger boats.

“We’ve shown through experience that we can bring in about ten to 15 percent income,” Wertans says. “We know that we have sold a £2.5-million [$4.5-million, at presstime] boat because we can charter it. They can afford it, but they have categorically said that if not for us, they wouldn’t have bought it.”

The British boatbuilder’s offerings include everything from a Portofino 35-foot cruiser to a 105-foot motoryacht (with plans for a 120 and a 140). Wertans and Ward have been plucking new, nicely kept models from that range to create the Sunseeker Charters fleet. So far they have boats available for charter in the South of France, the Caribbean, Florida, Malta, Mallorca, Croatia, Greece, and Italy, as well as in their home base of the United Kingdom.

While Sunseekers are certainly comfortable, stylish yachts, Wertans and Ward want to set their fleet apart from other charter operations by offering more than a week aboard for guests who demand as much—whether that means exclusive spa appointments or private wine tastings, they can organize just about anything through the personal connections of the boat owners they represent.

“Anything can be arranged,” explains Jackie Phillipson, who handles marketing for Sunseeker Charters. “If somebody wants a celebrity chef, we know them. We’re building relationships with golf clubs, hotels, everything so there will be elite options. Maybe you want to learn how to cook Italian food while your husband plays golf on the other side of Sardinia. Say you’re a clay shooter and you want to go from Heathrow [Airport] straight to [the high-end gun-maker] Purdy. We can do that through our contacts.”

As further evidence that the company can make good on such bold promises, Wertans and Ward arranged for me to enjoy a night out at The Mayflower theater my last night aboard, when we cruised back into Southampton. It was standing-room-only, but through their friend, the theater’s chief executive Dennis Hall, they garnered me a seat in the director’s row. Hall stopped by to introduce himself during a preshow dinner for select patrons upstairs and treated me to champagne at intermission in a lovely private room that offered leather club chairs and a bathroom separate from the stalls being used by the crowds.

As the curtain began to rise on the second act, Ward turned to me with a smile. “This isn’t just what we want to do in London,” he said. “It’s what we want to do everywhere. If somebody’s in Timbuktu, we want to provide this.”

I would imagine a pair of proper knickers and front-row theater seats might be hard to come by in that part of the world, but if anyone can make it happen, Wertans and Ward can. They understand the charter business from the boat owner’s perspective, and they grasp the subtle fineries that elevate the experience for the guest, as well.

Since they served as my hosts aboard High Energy, I can’t comment firsthand on what kind of crew guests will find should they choose a package, but I can say that the duo’s personal standards are impeccable—and that they are hands-on in managing their fleet. They know good service, they know good fun, and they truly know their boats.

“People think of Sunseekers as a sun boat,” Ward said one afternoon as we cruised toward the Isle of Wight, “but really, it’s an all-weather boat.”

It occurred to me that people think of charter as a boat vacation, but that really, it can be an experience that encompasses quite a bit more.

Sunseeker Charters Phone: (44) 1202 682 890. www.sunseekercharters.net.

Previous page > Part 1: Sunseeker Charters uses personal connections to create one-of-a-kind vacation experiences. > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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