I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE (This complete editorial can be found at: www.yachtingmatters.com Edition 31)
Nine Remarkable Experiences
By Anne Spyropoulos
Long gone are the days of a random wander around town, a quick flip through Fodor’s, or a surf through Trip Advisor to put together ideas for a day of activities. Connecting to the local people, experiencing the natural beauty, understanding the heritage and participating in local traditions are paramount today for yacht owners and guests coming into port. Experiential tourism doesn’t begin to describe the creative, tailor made experiences that the superyacht industry is dreaming up these days for their clients. From boutique marinas, concierge staff, yacht agents and charter brokers, guests today want foremost professional experts, with deep insider access, to create that one of a kind experience they can brag about for years to come. Regardless of their passion, from history buffs to sporting enthusiasts, from wine aficionados to food lovers, the industry is upping their game and providing those remarkable experiences in every corner of the world.
There’s very little that hasn’t been discovered in the Caribbean, but one of the best-kept secrets is known as the sparkling jewel of the British West Indies. Anguilla, a low key, yet luxurious destination, is considered by those “in the know” as the best place to relax and rejuvenate. Along with its 33 pristine and secluded private sandy beaches, Anguilla also boasts exceptional culinary fare. Explore one of the three exquisite, uninhabited cays in the area, Prickly Pear, Sandy Island and Scilly Cay and spend a day on your own “private island”. Beautiful Sandy Island, located in one of Anguilla’s marine parks, is a tiny bar of palm treetops surrounded by crystal waters and teeming reefs. Sandy Island can be ‘yours’ for a day of private massages and fruity cocktails at the water’s edge, or for an afternoon barbeque, featuring freshly caught local lobster accompanied by a soothing steel pan artist or one of the island’s renowned DJ’s.
It’s a good idea when stopping in at this food lover’s paradise to start off the day with a good workout. At the OneOcean Port Vell marina, trained personal trainers are just a call away for a private onboard Pilates, fitness or yoga session. A light breakfast is in order before the temptations start at the world-renowned La Boqueria food market. Here an expert chef will guide guests through its rich 500-year history as some of the best local produce, fresh cheeses and meats are sampled with a local Cava. Sweet tooths will go straight for the Barcelona Chocolate Museum for a private chocolate making workshop. The richly sweet and spicy chocolate morsels can also be paired with brandy and spirits for a unique aperitif. Hands on cooking workshops with a Michelin starred chef, either onboard, or in a professional kitchen, will provide cooking enthusiasts with the secret techniques and local know how for a family fun experience, where getting your hands dirty is encouraged.
Many experienced yachties have been fortunate to see majestic dolphins playing alongside the coastlines, but what about racing SeaBobs through the waves with 3,000 of them? Some of the few known super pods of spinner dolphins (stenella longirostris) live offshore the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. This area, with its deep oceanic currents, creates a constant upwelling of nutrients and the ideal environment for large populations of dolphins and other cetaceans to congregate. Cruising around hoping to pop upon a super pod is tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack, but with a carefully coordinated team involving spotter planes, dolphin experts and marine biologists, the experience is a guaranteed success. Guests will be briefed on dolphin behavior onboard, while the specialized team of experts will localise the super pod and coordinate movements of speedboats and the yacht to the identified area. Spinner dolphins congregate by the thousands along the littoral waters in the southern coast from December to April and in the north from May to August.
Sporting enthusiasts can fulfill their need for speed in London on the Top Gear UK racetrack, especially reserved for the guests. Fully staffed with mechanics, technicians and professional racing teams, dare your guests to compete against some of the fastest racing professionals on earth with their own personalised support team. Return onboard for cocktails at sunset at St. George’s Pier, about 150m from the iconic Tower Bridge, where most recently, guests declared it as the best spot in London to berth. For those who want a quieter experience, spend the morning at a private behind the scenes tour, beneath the streets of Westminster, to the Cabinet War Rooms and explore the underground bunker that protected Churchill and his staff during the Second World War. A world-renowned historian will bring to life the history of the Imperial War Museum and the Map Room, which has remained perfectly in tact since the day the lights were switched off in 1945.
Above ground Naples is a bustling colorful metropolis; underground the atmosphere is reverent and mysterious. Guests of all ages will delight in a glimpse of days gone by through the ancient structures hidden behind a labyrinth of tunnels and cavities underneath downtown Naples. Myths and legends, very much still alive today in Neapolitan folklore, traditions and superstitions will be brought to life by expert historians. Hollowed out by 4th Century Greeks to build the city walls and temples above ground, work up an appetite underground walking by the enormous cisterns, ancient Roman Aqueducts and WWII air raid shelters which provided safety during bombardments. Learn the secrets of making the perfect Neapolitan pizza for lunch, guided by a professional pizzaiolo, and then enjoy a private visit to the Royal Palace of Naples, or a tour to the island of Gaiola which during the 19th century was inhabited by a hermit known as the “wizard”, which locals still today believe to be cursed.
Šibenik and its archipelago is the perfect place for exploring the natural beauty of the central Dalmatian coast during the fall and spring and is a utopia for nature lovers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of day-to-day metropolitan life. In the area there is not one, but two of the most famous national parks in the Adriatic. The Kornati National Park, also known, as the Stomorski Islands, is the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea known for its turquoise clear seawaters and comprised of 140 islands to explore. Here sailing mastery will be tested as they refer to cruising through this area as “slalom” sailing. At the Krka National Park noted for its famous waterfalls, where the first electricity flowed through wires 120 years ago, a guided tour via buggy will take guests around to the majestic waterfalls. Pick up private kayaks and paddle to Visovac Island for lunch where a local chef will delight guests with gourmet picnic lunch accompanied by local wines from the Bibic winery.
Make the last day of the year the best one by waking up on the sparkling Sydney harbour. From a secluded anchorage enjoy a morning paddle along the coast passing cliffs and untouched bush land, or have a refreshing swim under the spring water waterfalls at Spring Cove. Afterwards, a helicopter will whisk guests away for a picturesque view of the Hunter Valley wine region as the landscape below transforms from the iconic Sydney beaches to rolling hills and farmlands dotted with vineyards. The oldest and smallest wine region in Australia, settle down at one of the Hunter Valley’s Two Chef Hat premier restaurants, and dine among the grapes at the Hungerford Hill Winery. Meanwhile back in Sydney, the yacht has moved to prime position in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the greatest New Year’s fireworks celebration in the world. Framed by the glittering cityscape and perfectly reflected by the harbour below, there is no New Year’s Eve celebration quite like Sydney.
The unique geography of the city nestled between the hills of the Carso district and the vineyards of Slovenia provide breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea and a dramatic backdrop for a local “Triestin” version of the iconic Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck tour through the city on a Vespa. Zipping through the vineyards, wine experts will lead guests to the best spot for a gourmet picnic lunch followed by wine tasting at the local vineyards. Thrill seekers in the evening will delight in an exclusive bubbles and oyster aperitif on the terrace of the Victory Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in the world. From 70 m up into the sky, with sweeping views of the entire Bay of Trieste, to 70m underground for a romantic candlelit dinner for two in the caves of Slivia catered by a gourmet chef.
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