Yacht concierge services cater to your every need, no matter how challenging.
By Chris Caswell
A yacht owner wants to host a party for 80 of his friends on a deserted islet, serenaded by big-name singers while dining on gourmet cuisine. His yacht management company turns to its concierge division. Four months of planning and three weeks of construction sees a stage erected and a restaurant-grade kitchen installed. Generators are helicoptered in and temporary housing is provided for the workers. The guests have the night of their lives. Rumor has it, Michael Bublé and Stevie Wonder arrived via private jets. The cost? Don’t ask. What was important: The concierge made it happen.
Yacht concierge companies function just like the concierge at a five-star hotel, but often on a far grander scale. Some operate as part of yacht management companies while others are independent. Some handle only a specific geographical area, such as the Caribbean, while others roam worldwide to satisfy requests. The one thing that defines each is a “black book,” a carefully guarded compilation of essential resources, from the cellphone numbers of maître d’s at exclusive restaurants to florists willing to provide arrangements at 3 a.m.
Having a yacht concierge makes life very special. A service can uncomplicate your plans afloat, from making airline reservations to staging parties aboard to arranging a golf tee time at an exclusive course or delivering hometown newspapers to your boat. Some can even find a local veterinarian in a far-flung locale.
The services of a concierge company can be retainer-based or à la carte as a need arises. “When I was a captain, I objected to being tied into an agreement,” says Nick Line, whose Anchor Concierge & Super Yacht Services is based on Antigua. “I would expect to be free to use whoever gave me the best service,” he adds, noting that his company now follows that standard. “I looked for agencies that provided a full range of services at reasonable rates, and particularly liked to work with ones with a yachting background, rather than ships’ agents.”
Yacht concierge services are a natural spin-off for Harless & Associates, an accounting and financial planning company with offices in West Palm Beach, Florida, that counts many yacht owners as clients. For concierge services director Steve Wagmeister, whose black book was built from decades in the hospitality trade, requests can range from transporting polo ponies to providing security services for visiting yachts.
Another approach is taken by the Azimut-Benetti Group, which launched the Yachtique Concierge Club for its owners, offering 24/7 services through a network of contacts worldwide.
Tamsin Seabright, founder of Yacht Gopher, provides a concierge service for the owners of racing yachts. From a base in England, she travels to major events worldwide such as the St. Barths Bucket, Cowes Week and the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in the British Virgin Islands. She sets up villas for owners and crew, provides chefs, transportation and crew uniforms, and gets instant repairs for damaged sails. A recent challenge: Find dockage for Comanche, a 100-foot record-setter finishing the Transatlantic Race. With the yacht’s 22-foot draft, not one marina in the Solent could take her, so Seabright worked with a commercial dock and chartered a barge to keep the racing yacht in deep water.
While day-to-day spare parts normally are handled by the logistics team for a yacht management company, more urgent requests fall to a concierge. Whether you need caged tigers for a child’s birthday party, a sculpture of your wife’s face in chocolate or an invitation to stroll the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, a yacht concierge is just a phone call away to make it so.
One owner wanted to surprise his wife, who loves roses and elephants, on her birthday. A concierge company based in Venice, Italy, found a florist who, with his helpers, boarded the yacht at 2 a.m. while the wife slept. When she awoke, the yacht was covered with 30,000 red roses and a pathway led to a breakfast table where the florist had created an elephant out of red roses.
An owner was aboard his yacht in the Seychelles when he decided he wanted the comforting flavor of the fruit and veggies from his favorite English green grocer. This wasn’t even a particularly big challenge for one concierge company. It had a contact in London buy crates of the specified foods, chartered a private jet to ferry said crates 5,000 miles to the Seychelles and then hired a helicopter to transfer the still-fresh foods to the yacht.
Nectar of the Gods
A yacht owner fell in love with a rare Montrachet wine in a Moscow restaurant, and wanted more of it. From its black book, a concierge company turned to Rod Smith from VSF (Vins Sans Frontièrs), with offices in the Caribbean and Med. Smith couldn’t find the wine on the open market and contacted the winery, only to find the restaurant had the sole supply. So the wine was purchased at restaurant prices and delivered by private jet. The owner sipped happily.
With three days’ notice, a concierge service was asked to supply an arriving Miami superyacht owner with security personnel, a rental Maserati Ghibli and a Rolls-Royce Phantom, reservations at three exclusive restaurants, private shopping at Bal Harbour with a translator, a side trip to the Bahamas for high-stakes baccarat and Audemars Piguet watches for his entire family.
Blessing of the Fleet
For one concierge, the request was to find an English-speaking priest for a yacht somewhere in the Med. The yacht, newly purchased, was having problems, and the owner thought blessing the yacht might help.
Palms on Hand
When a concierge team was asked to put 20 palm trees on a yacht and supply Arabic costumes for a theme party, their first question was, “And how much sand will you need with that?”
Cat? Can Do
A yacht owner wanted a birthday party for his young son and friends. He wanted two Bengal tigers so the kids could pose with them for selfies. This took the challenge to a whole new level, involving finding the tigers, getting insurance, arranging the paperwork for them to be loaned, getting glass cages to contain them and then lifting them aboard the yacht. As the anonymous concierge said, “This was not our usual premium.”
Taste of Home
One yacht owner missed the flavor of the smoked meats from back home. So the concierge arranged for a bale of hay from the owner’s farm to be shipped to his yacht some 9,000 nautical miles away so the chef could season the smoker with familiar flavors.
Bombs Bursting in Air
An American yacht owner was in the Caribbean and wanted to celebrate Fourth of July with his guests. That meant a huge fireworks spectacular. The concierge hired some of the fireworks specialists from Walt Disney World, who arranged for the owner’s choice of fireworks to be bought. The project involved major paperwork to bring explosives to a foreign country, additional insurance, renting a barge and finding lodging for the fireworks crew.
Choosing a Concierge Service
The best starting point is the Association of Yacht Support Services (ayss.org), an international group of experienced and screened providers in several fields including concierge services. You can search the directory by area and specialties.
Word of mouth is a good source as well, since captains and other owners often have concierges to recommend. Check also with specialty suppliers, such as marine hardware stores dealing with large yachts or even providers such as florists to get the names of reputable concierge services.
So what does a good concierge service cost? Some services charge retainers that can be as high as $45,000 a year (quintessentially.com), while many (like Anchor Concierge in Antigua) work on an a la carte basis, charging for each project. Tom Muecke, whose YachtConcierge.com is on the Spanish island of Mallorca, has no membership or retainer, saying, “We bring yacht owners and the best available services together. You pay only for what you need.”