What brought you into the world of yachting?
I was born in Malaysia and grew up between Rome and a small fishing village in Portugal, so from an early age I was surrounded by the sea. My passion for the ocean led me to join a cruise ship at the age of 24, which led to joining a 47ft sailing yacht in the Caribbean. After living in Antigua for five years, I moved to St Maarten for three years, and throughout that time was surrounded by yachties so I was very familiar with the industry and lifestyle! That led to meeting my husband who was a yacht Captain, and when our son was 2 ½ years old we crossed the Atlantic for the first time on the motor yacht MARGAUX ROSE, which was quite an adventure!
As a Captain’s wife, I had many experiences on yachts and often helped as a stewardess. I then joined the Benetti Shipyard in charge of PR, marketing and communications. After which, Nick Edminston asked me to join his company as a founding member to launch the Monaco office. I was with Edminston for ten years, and then took a sabbatical in 2008 for several years.
Yachting is like a family, and after realising how much I missed it, I gradually came back into the yachting world joining a few smaller companies. When I was recently offered this role as Head of Retail Charter, I jumped at the opportunity to join YPI.
What does your role entail at YPI, and what attracted you to the company?
I am responsible for building the Retail Charter division at YPI. I’m well acquainted with YPI, having known the original founders, and I’ve always admired the brand and its ethos. The new ownership has created a renewed energy, with a young, dynamic and savvy team. There is a strong focus on our clients, with the leadership always encouraging us to see everything from our client’s point of view. We are committed to finding ways to make a difference for our clients and will always go above and beyond to ensure their needs are fulfilled. That is an incredibly important part of my role and I’m relishing the challenge of building the new charter team and exploring new ways for us to truly deliver exceptional experiences. It was clear that my personal values, particularly around sustainability, aligns with YPI’s ethics and it’s very motivating to see these values steering the new vision and direction for the company.
2020 has been a difficult time for international travel. What was the impact on the charter season, and what are your expectations for 2021 travel?
The pandemic has been devastating for the whole of the travel industry. The international lockdowns and closed borders meant travel became impossible for many clients, particularly for those based in the USA and Russia. On the positive side it meant we saw more interest in Europe for smaller, localised charters where clients were able to travel privately and join a charter in the Mediterranean. A further impact has been the postponement of bigger charters to 2021, however, we are seeing renewed interest in summer bookings for next year as yachts continue to provide a safe, spotless and hygienic environment.
One of the positive impacts has been how we’ve radically improved our communication through the digital tools we’ve adapted. At YPI we introduced new practises during lockdown that has improved efficiency throughout the business, and we plan to maintain these even when the restrictions lift.
What are the secrets or top tips behind organising a successful charter trip?
Any successful charter trip involves intricately understanding your client’s needs. From the style of yacht they will enjoy and that’s suitable to their trip, to ensuring the right crew is on board; all of those are essential elements you have to get right. That’s why the yacht shows are so important so we can spend time getting to know the Captain, chef, crew and yacht in order to ensure that no matter what, they will make sure our clients have an amazing time.
You’ve spent over 30 years in the industry. What would you be your top advice to the next generation looking to start their career?
My advice would be that you have to have a passion for the oceans and yachts, and as yachting is a very sociable industry it helps to be people orientated! For those seeking a career within charter retail, you must have a positive, dynamic, hands on, ‘anything is possible’ attitude. Our clients have achieved great success and therefore we must ensure the charter is a great success too. When challenges arise, as they will undoubtedly do, you need to embrace a problem-solving, creative mindset so you can quickly turn it around. My mantra from the beginning has always been that nothing is impossible; if you can dream it, you can do it.
What would be your No.1 dream destination?
Raja Ampat located in Indonesia’s remote West Papua province is my dream destination. I was lucky to visit the Komodo Islands on a yachting familiarisation trip onboard a beautiful 50m Indonesian Phinisi called DUNIA BARU. This was an amazing trip, with a chance to spend some time observing the Komodo Dragons. However, I would still love to visit Raja Ampat. Apparently the ecosystem is incredible, totally untouched, and completely undiscovered. I have been told that it is truly like paradise. Clients are going further in their destinations, although any destination on a yacht is amazing. Living on the water is without doubt an unforgettable way to spend a holiday, and there is research into the benefits of the ‘blue zone’ on the mind. Whether it’s the sea, a river, or even a bath - when your mind sees and feels the water, it goes into a different mode of relaxation! Once you have chartered a yacht once, be careful - you will certainly be hooked!