Those who own yachts in Southwest Florida understand expenses don’t end with the upfront price tag. There are operational, docking, crew and maintenance expenses that continue throughout the ownership of the yacht.
Naples-based Exclusive Yachts membership club seeks to take away the challenges of owning and operating a luxury watercraft while allowing members to enjoy their own personalized yachting experiences.
“[Yachting is] an absolutely fantastic experience, but all too often that experience comes with these incumbrances and hassles,” Exclusive Yachts CEO Scott Stuckmann said. “[It could be] logistical challenges because you have to organize everything, put everything together, or … the emotional challenges of will there be an engine problem? All these people are flying in [for] this very special day. Is there something that could go wrong?”
With a focus on geographic flexibility, Exclusive Yachts can take passengers on a long weekend in the Florida Keys or a two-week voyage to the Mediterranean. The company launched at the end of April, and agreements already are in place with yacht owners on the west and east coasts of Florida, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and the Bahamas, with plans to expand to other locations.
“The boats rotate due to hurricane season, so, right now, many of our boats are leaving the Bahamas and moving up to the Nantucket area or Newport, Rhode Island,” Stuckmann said. “Like birds migrate, boats migrate, yachts migrate.”
Through its subscription-based membership model, Exclusive Yachts offers five-tiered levels members can choose from to purchase annual YachtPoints. These points are then spent depending on where subscribers plan their yacht excursion, for how long and on which size of yacht, ranging from 35 to 115 feet.
The lowest price membership, called the Robusto, includes a one-time $40,000 fee in addition to a $70,000 annual fee, which amounts to 625 YachtPoints. The most expensive membership is the Churchill, which has a $120,000 one-time fee and a $250,000 annual fee equaling 2,500 YachtPoints. Members use the points to pay for their trips.
“[Yachting is] an incredibly expensive undertaking,” Stuckmann said. “Four million dollars for a yacht isn’t unheard of, and it can certainly go much, much higher very quickly. And just to keep that yacht in the water is usually 10% of the purchase cost per year.”
Aboard one of the Exclusive Yachts’ vessels, passengers can expect the luxury of a crew tending to their personalized needs, learning more than just passengers’ favorite wines and meals.
“We know their favorite playlists, their anniversary, birthdays, and we can put digital picture frames on our larger yachts, so it will welcome them with pictures of their family or colleagues if it’s a corporate event,” Stuckmann said.
Although Exclusive Yachts is brand new, elements of its business model have been used in Naples for more than 15 years. Naples Nantucket Yacht Charters, which was founded by Bill Charbonneau, who is now a co-founder of Exclusive Yachts, is known for its luxury trips up the East Coast.
“We found that some of the customers were so passionate about the idea, they liked an idea of a subscription model, and we did some work against that to actually create this really innovative new concept, which has resonated,” Stuckmann said. “Therefore, we were kind of born in Naples. It’s not only our home port, it’s where we started.”
Exclusive Yachts already has secured nine memberships with plans to cap its membership at 50 annually, with plans to increase memberships as the business grows.
“While our membership model is new and unique to yachting, the real draw is consistent luxury,” Charbonneau said. “Unlike chartering or owning, the ability to enjoy time on the water with friends and family without surprises is invariably priceless. Our team is passionate about sharing a seamless, memorable experience that is perfect for those who are yachting more than once or twice a year.”