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Sailing In Style: Horizon Yacht Charters

Type “best sailing destinations in the Caribbean” in your internet search engine and the British Virgin Islands is the very first option. And when many think of BVI sailing, you may think of bareboat charters and beaches, but what about luxury yachts?

A recent BBC article on luxury describes it as “Luxury has evolved beyond people, places and things in ways that fill our lives with fascination, pleasure and meaning.”

This updated definition of luxury, moving away from what we understand as glitz and glamour, offers a new focus on how good that luxurious thing or experience makes us feel. This feeling is exactly what makes guests choose luxury yachts, according to Kayleigh Starkey of Horizon Yacht Charters.

 

“Start at Amazing” is the Horizon slogan.

Kayleigh Starkey, Horizon’s Luxury All-inclusive Charter Broker, says the British Virgin Islands is ideal for luxury charters. 

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“The BVI has everything you could possibly want out of a luxury vacation. The beaches are stunning, sailing is magnificent, and we have a very high standard of provisioning services on offer,” says Starkey. “It’s also the people and the service that guests come back for, year after year … guests especially love the beach bars – popular ones like the floating bar/restaurant, The Willy-T and the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, along with the low-key ones in Anegada.” 

Horizon is a family business that began with only a few yachts in 1998 at Nanny Cay on Tortola. Starkey’s mother, Sylvia Driver and business partner, Andrew Thompson are the company’s directors who both have many years in the industry and Starkey’s husband is the Yacht Sales Director. The company’s home base is in BVI, with other bases in St. Vincent and Grenada. Horizon offers luxury yacht charters throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas too. 

Why choose Horizon Yacht Charters?

The personalized service and seamless flow, in addition to having a team in the BVI who can relate to what’s happening on the ground, compared to others whose customer service representatives are based elsewhere. Many of the employees have been with the company for 10 to 15 years and love sailing and the beautiful islands with a passion. 

“We are a family business, which means that repeat guests see the same faces every year.  People connect with that,” Starkey said.

Kayleigh says that the luxury division has been around for 10 years The division evolved as a response to guests requesting an all-inclusive service, not only with a captain and a chef but with high-quality vessels and professional crew.

The broker explains that more often than not, the crew aboard luxury yachts have worked their way from smaller bareboats, up to high-end yachts. The chefs are trained to five-star gourmet level, and the captains are always professional and highly certified. All crew are friendly and efficient and will go the extra mile to provide the best vacation experience to their guests that they can.

“This is the way people want to charter nowadays. If you afford this high-end luxury, you get amazing quality,” Starkey said.

The Horizon fleet now comprises 50 yachts, with several luxury yachts recently added. One such luxury yacht, ‘Angel Eyes’, popular for not only the elegant decor and attentive crew, but also the angel wings which guests wear to take pictures “for the gram”!

As a broker, Strakey advises potential guests on every aspect of their vacation. Born in BVI, she’s very knowledgeable about sailing and on-island activities. When guests make an inquiry, Starkey sends them an online brochure which includes testimonials, crew bios, yacht specifications, photographs and sample menus.  To ensure the right fit, she curates charters while considering guests’ needs along with the personalities and profile of the crew. She can also arrange for a ‘blended meal option’ for guests who wish to have both the on-board chef’s meals, with some online dining, along with villa rentals if guests wish to explore either before or after the charter.  All menus are tailored to the guests’ dietary requirements, so this type of vacation is perfect for someone with special food needs.

Guests tend to fly into the nearby USVI and charter over to the BVI. Horizon has partnered with a private jet company for persons who wish to have a direct flight to BVI via San Juan to “travel in the same bubble”. 

“You wake up, coffee’s brewing; the crew has continental breakfast there for you, with an option for a nice hot breakfast once everyone is up and ready. Then you move on to your first stop for the day – maybe some snorkelling, then pull into the next anchorage in time for lunch. After lunch, you may go to another anchorage and play with the water sports toys available on the yacht, and then have some sundowner cocktails. Dinner is always a three-course gourmet meal with dessert and after-dinner drinks. It’s your charter, you get exactly what you require,” explains Starkey, describing what a typical day on the ocean with an all-inclusive luxury yacht looks like.

While COVID-19 has impacted charters, Horizon has inquiries are steadily coming in for late 2021 and bookings in 2022. They are seeing a similar response for pent up demand as the BVI has a loyal following of repeat guests. Starkey has also seen new people coming in every year, which makes her proud as a BVIslander.

Horizon has been offering special “bareboat” packages and discounts to further encourage bookings. One such package allows for persons to work remotely from your yacht for a month, while the kids can do their online learning.  Another package is the Learn To Sail where you can gain your ASA certification with an instructor on one of their bareboat yachts, while cruising around the islands, where clients gain knowledge and experience while enjoying the awesome sailing offered in BVI. 

Horizon also believes now is the perfect time to book a luxury charter in the BVI.

 

“You have everything you can possibly need on the boat. All crewed yachts have fantastic watersports on board, some with snorkelling and diving equipment, others with Hobie cats and kiteboarding,” Starkey Said. “People who are travelling to the BVI are having the time of their lives and are booking for next year too!”

April Glasgow

April Glasgow

April Glasgow is a writer and mother of two. While she spends time working with organisations to tell their brand story, she prioritises family time and writing poetry.
April Glasgow

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