— February 2005
By Kim Kavin
|Part 2: At a base rate of about $400,000 per week, Sherakhan will take 24 guests or accommodate a whopping 140 day-passengers.|
The owners of the 325-foot Christina O made a huge splash when they refitted her in 2001 to accommodate 30 guests (see “The Rebirth of Christina O,” August 2002), and she has reportedly commanded close to $600,000 per week as a base rate ever since. That’s the type of thing that gets the attention of men like Verkerk, just as it did several others who are also rushing to fill the mega charter market hole. In fall 2003 Swiss businessman Rene Herzog launched the 241-foot, 24-guest Giant (see “The Giant Experience,” May 2004). Just six months ago Princess Tanya owner Andreas Liveras launched the nearly 280-foot, 36-guest Annaliesse. She’s commanding a stunning $840,000-per-week base rate in her first charter season, as will her 280-foot sistership, Alysia. Another new competitor is the 271-foot O’Mega, which recently completed an extensive refit in Greece and will take 28 guests for a base rate of about $450,000 a week.
Sherakhan, which was expected to be completing sea trials in Europe at presstime, is like the Liveras yachts in that she hopes to get a head start in the emerging niche by building on her owners’ already-solid reputation in the charter industry. Verkerk and Ryntjes managed the massive refit themselves so they could add “dream” features and design spaces they’ve been discussing with guests and charter brokers for several years aboard Jaguar.
Verkerk, acting as project manager, began the refit in June 2002. He cut the former Dutch education vessel down to her sheerline, extended her steel sides upward and painted them dark blue, and added an aluminum superstructure. Ryntjes handled interior design details, giving the guest decks a classic look with what she calls a modern wink: lots of teak with stainless steel accents and plenty of color. At a base rate of about $400,000 per week, Sherakhan will take 24 guests or accommodate a whopping 140 day-passengers. “Think about the festivals,” Ryntjes says. “We’ve been at the Grand Prix and needed special permits for the day charters (aboard Jaguar). Now we won’t need that.”
Five of Sherakhan’s seven decks have guest access. The wheelhouse deck, for example, includes a window-encased observation lounge and a Jacuzzi that fits as many as 20 people at a time. The size was an important factor to Ryntjes, who always wished Jaguar’s Jacuzzi could have accommodated more people.
The glass-bottom, lighted Jacuzzi shines down into the owner’s deck on Sherakhan, and the light continues to beam down through an amoeba-shape chunk cut out of that deck’s sole, creating a massive atrium that overlooks the main-deck dining area. That’s right—guests sitting down to a formal dinner on the main deck can see straight up to about 21 feet overhead, where the opaque glass Jacuzzi bottom sits.
Ryntjes included a piano bar with a small dance floor in the interior design, a commonsense extension of the way guests aboard Jaguar used that boat’s saloon for after-hours parties. She also plans to add a harp, enhancing the luxurious atmosphere.
She included mini-bars, computer ports, walk-in closets, and safes in each stateroom, plus Jacuzzi tubs with push-button light therapy and music in each guest head. All the two-person beds are king size, and the singles are doubles instead of twins. Two suites connect to smaller cabins suitable for children, nannies, or other staff. In keeping with today’s luxury standards, the owner’s cabin takes up much of its entire deck and includes a private Jacuzzi and terrace, plus a revolving bed and private study.
Sherakhan’s lower deck is what Ryntjes calls “a world of body pleasure,” and it includes features only a charter yacht of this size could handle. There is a bar adjacent to a full-size gym, plus a massage area, sauna and Jacuzzi, not to mention a beauty salon and tanning bed.
The couple also built in features that long-serving crew members have discussed with them aboard Jaguar. For example, hatches allow for loading supplies into Sherakhan’s huge bottom-deck freezers; there’s a hobby room for making theme-night decorations and bedtime gifts to leave on guests’ pillows; and the laundry room contains five washers, five dryers, two ironing machines, and three hand irons. “The first year I was on Jaguar, I did all the laundry myself, and I know what a (lousy) job it is,” Ryntjes says. “So I tried to make it nice, with television and radio.”
Sherakhan is expected to charter primarily in European waters, and DeBuse says there was a booking lined up before the yacht officially launched. Ryntjes says the Caribbean is a possible winter cruising ground if there’s enough demand; if not, the yacht will stay in the Mediterranean.
The other high-capacity charter yacht owners are certainly watching how the market will evolve, as well. “Up until now, demand has increased and increased,” DeBuse says. “Historically, people have known that they’re limited to 12 guests. Now that they’re not limited to 12, they’re interested in seeing how far they can go.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.