Sten Warborn: Why I charter out my luxury yacht Lady Britt
You work hard to own a superyacht, and you should have your superyacht work just as hard for you. So says Sten Warborn, the owner of 63 metre Feadship Lady Britt, a successful yacht for charter that was specifically designed for the task.
“A yacht is a very big capital outlay and I do work still, so it doesn’t make sense to have capital lying around not being used. You have to make capital work for you,” says Warborn. “We have covered all of our costs every year by chartering — more than our costs.”
The advantages of putting a yacht on the charter market goes beyond money. Keeping the yacht busy also keeps the crew fresh. “The crew need to work or else they get bored,” he says. “It’s not a good practice to own a yacht unless it’s used. If you don’t use it yourself, you have to charter it out.”
Launched in 2011, Lady Britt is Warborn’s first superyacht and he knew from the get-go that she’d be destined for the charter market. He’d recommend any owner who is considering chartering out their yacht to charter a yacht themselves first. He tried out three yachts to find out what worked and what didn’t, considering everything from layout and amenities to décor. “Some yachts didn’t feel relaxed, some had too strong colours. The interior on Lady Britt is homely, nothing too extreme, so people can feel relaxed on board,” he says of Redman Whiteley Dixon’s work. “And the more flexibility, the better.”
Lady Britt is nothing if not flexible. In addition to the main deck master, she has six large suites on the lower deck, two of which convert to full-width VIPs, ideal when there’s more than one principal charterer. Other attractive charter amenities include an outdoor cinema, huge beach club, DJ decks and gym on the top deck. On the lower deck, there is a sauna with a door opening out to the sea — Warborn is Swedish and his wife is Finnish, so it was a must.
To Lady Britt’s owner, however, nothing is as important as offering excellent service with the best crew. “You need to have very good service and very good crew, so you need to have great crew quarters,” he says. “Also to have a superb chef, you have to have a good kitchen!” As such, a priority was placed on designing Lady Britt with comfortable crew quarters and an excellent galley.
And it all comes together with a captain who can run the yacht like a well oiled, service-oriented machine. Warborn met Patrick Cowley during one of his test charters and he’s been on board since the build. “[He] sets a very high ambition level for the crew, and he understands that service is very important,” Warborn says. Cowley thinks a charter crew need to be even more responsive than that of a private yacht. “We have to adapt very quickly to our guests’ needs. We may only have a few days to show our guests what we can do for them, instead of a season or two.”
Each year Lady Britt goes in for upgrades and work — keeping the marble and paint in tip-top condition, but also making sure the toy box is stocked with the newest contraptions. This is not only for the guests’ benefit, but for when owner and family get the time to come on board. That’s anywhere from two weeks to a month each year, depending on work. The only negative of having his yacht in the charter market? Not being able to use it at peak times. “We haven’t been on at New Year’s Eve yet,” he says, “but the upsides far outweigh the downsides.”
For Captain Cowley, the biggest compliment Lady Britt can receive is not how many weeks she’s booked, but how many guests return. “We have an 82 per cent return rate with our valued guests, with many of them booking within hours of their departure for the following year.”
It might be a while yet before Lady Britt’s owner will get to ring in the New Year on board — another busy season is expected for 2016 with the yacht almost fully booked already for the summer. It’s another year of his superyacht working hard for him.