Who wouldn’t want to go holidaying abroad on a superyacht such as the stunning 72-metre Axioma? With her own first-class restaurant, spa, pool and cinema and almost every form of water sport on board, Axioma is like a private boutique hotel on the water. It’s the ultimate, exclusive holiday at sea, yet many first-timers ask "why is it so expensive?”
Axioma is one of the busiest charter yachts on the market with many loyal guests who book a trip on board year after year. To understand the many hidden costs involved we speak to Axioma’s captain, Charlie Rowlands, about the extensive work required to prepare for this season’s Caribbean charters.
What would you say is key to Axioma’s success?
A lot of hard work! Many people don’t realise the complexity of work required to get a large yacht ready for charter. There’s so much attention to detail needed to keep her constantly looking perfect, and this is essential to provide the ultra-high-end service our guests expect. Of course, most of this work is done behind the scenes so that it all seems as smooth and effortless as possible. Therefore it isn’t obvious how early we start getting ready for each charter and the numerous people involved. But that’s how it should be; our service during a charter should be like the very best hotel, uniquely tailored to guests’ preferences with every eventuality and need already thought of. It’s a bit like a solar system with us all revolving around Axioma; her crew, suppliers, contractors, designers, the management company, central agents, brokers and the shipyard.
Is any crew member particularly deserving of recognition?
Having an award-winning head chef, Sascha Lenz, on board has been so important. You may think the shipyard stay would be a quiet time for Sascha but, in fact, he’s just as busy as the rest of us. Sascha’s incredible creations are such a crucial part of the guest experience on Axioma we need to make sure we don’t have any technical issues in the galley, so all the galley equipment is checked over.
In addition, Sascha has been working on his new menus and theme nights and sourcing the many high-end provisions required. The Caribbean is very different to the Med, and although St Barth’s offers some amazing places to dine, many of the smaller islands lack specialist stores and some of the more exclusive wines and unusual ingredients are impossible to find there. For Sascha, only the best possible ingredients will suffice, and while fresh fish is always abundant, he must pre-plan his more exotic menus and sources many items from the same suppliers as the world’s top restaurants. At the same time, the Axioma bar is kept supplied with an impressive selection of drinks from around the world – costing thousands to restock.
Prior to ordering his provisions, Sascha spends time going through the guest preference information for upcoming charters so he’s fully prepared to provide exactly the type of cuisine they request. As our seasons are expanding due to high demand, it’s a lot of work for Sascha to think ahead for charters from Christmas time right through to March. Each day he has to produce two choices for each meal, as well as options for those with particular dietary requirements, and provide light meals and snacks at any time of the day or night.
Essentially, Sascha is competing with world-class restaurants to provide a 24-hour individually tailored service with only himself and sous chef Manuel. But he does have the support of our secret weapon, Heather, one of Axioma’s top assets. She’s in charge of overseeing the onboard restaurant, spa, entertainment, shore programmes and plays so many vital roles in keeping life aboard Axioma running smoothly, including being a top tour guide. Whether guests are looking for a great spot to party or somewhere for a scenic hike, she always knows the best place to suggest.
Shipyard visits are a vital part of Axioma’s preparation, can you explain why?
Axioma spends three to four months of each year at a Majorcan shipyard undergoing maintenance and refit work. Her owners invested approximately €1,000,000 on the last visit alone to make sure everything is absolutely as it should be. Our time in the yard is vital to ensure Axioma always stays in pristine condition and that all working parts are thoroughly checked and maintained. So, for instance, on this visit, the shipyard painted her superstructure; a job more like painting a luxury car than a commercial vessel.
Just as we make sure her exterior is maintained to the highest of standards, we also have an expert artisan who goes through her entire interior examining all the custom-made furnishings and parquet flooring to repair any knicks or scratches incurred over the summer. He’s an absolute master of his craft and erases any damage so everything looks new.
Other trades that come in include specialists to work on the engines and generators. While our own team of onboard marine engineers constantly carry out maintenance and checks, all working parts need a more thorough examination at the end of each season and further maintenance is carried out where needed. For example, yachts have a constant battle with corrosion due to the saltwater, so we’ve just had to replace some pipework. We really strive for perfection in all areas, and our excellent reputation is founded on this.
Do the permanent crew get a break while you’re at the shipyard?
There’s still lots of work for them during our shipyard stays. For more senior crew members, much of this work is planning and strategic preparation for the coming months. Heather, our chief stewardess, gets her team to check every single piece of linen, towels, crockery, glasses and cutlery and order replacements where needed. We regularly replace many of these items with new designer sets, so our repeat guests see something a little different each time, and we’ve had some great new additions from designers such as Versace. Heather also needs to source a huge range of supplies for both the guests and crew. Guest products are always of the highest quality and usually from well-known brands, for example, Hermès toiletries for the bathrooms and Sothys spa products – so as you can see, no expense is spared.
Have you seen any change in what charter guests are requesting?
Having the best possible watersports provision has become more important than ever since the pandemic as people have spent more time on board than in the past. While in the shipyard, Anton, our chief officer, was busy going through our extremely packed garage to check each toy is still in top condition, carrying out repairs and ordering any new parts needed. We’ve found sourcing far more challenging than usual this year, due to global supply issues, so we’ve been having to seek out alternative suppliers and really think ahead.
We’ve recently invested a lot in our toy store and now have one of the best collections of watersports equipment around that ranges from simple kayaks and sailing dinghies to innovative new eFoils and powered boards. As managing this equipment requires new skills, we’ve hired additional deckhands with water sports expertise who can provide tuition and certification when needed.
What additional training has the crew received recently?
We’ve always liked to invest in training. No matter how lovely the yacht, if the crew aren’t happy and well trained the guest experience will suffer. Investing in people is so important, along with making them feel valued and understood. We’re lucky that the majority of our long-term staff are multi-skilled which brings added value for our guests. For example, our lead stewardess Irina is also a trained croupier – which is great for when we put on casino nights. Other staff are qualified fitness and water sports instructors, including a dive master, and we have several crew members with extensive childcare experience.
We’ve worked with specialist superyacht training provider The Crew Academy since 2017 and their excellent training has helped our stewardesses win service prizes in the past. This month, our senior team members received leadership and management training and all staff were given assistance in developing their future careers. In addition, our deck and interior crew members have benefitted from guidance on personal presentation, including make-up and hair advice, and extra training to polish their event skills. For the stewardesses, this has included synchronised wine training, which creates a bit of theatre for guests but also helps service flow as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. Communication is another element we’ve been working on with all our crew, as it’s no good having the best water toys, for example, if no one explains all the options to our guests. Each crew member needs to be extremely professional and have the highest level of communication skills.
How much will it cost for a week in the Caribbean aboard Axioma?
Typically, she will charter between €450,000 - €595,000 per week* for up to 12 guests, however we are currently running a special offer of €299,000 for selected weeks this winter. But as I’ve explained, I think that’s excellent value when you consider just how bespoke a holiday this is, tailored to guests’ every wish and the number of unforgettable moments and out-of-the-ordinary experiences involved. And who can put a price on Christmas and New Year in St Barth’s!
To find out more about chartering Axioma, contact Yachting Partners International (YPI) directly or visit my-axioma.com. You can also find out more about the AXIOMA lifestyle on the AXIOMA yacht Instagram and Facebook page.
*Rates are subject to change
Sponsored content created for Yachting Partners International (YPI).