|Broker Interview: Jennifer Saia at B&B Yacht Charters|
B&B Yacht Charters in Newport, Rhode Island, is a year-old company run by longtime charter industry veteran Jennifer Saia. I recently caught up with her to find out more about some yachts she’s offering for charter in Panama, the current state of the market overall and what’s going to be new for charter this winter.
I understand B&B is offering boutique-style yacht charter service. What do you mean by that?
While many firms are getting larger in size, my focus with Bartram & Brakenhoff Yacht Charters is to continue to work with my existing client base that I built up over the 20-plus years at The Sacks Group Yachting Professionals and three years with International Yacht Collection. Without a “team” of staff to manage, I simply have the time to devote to my clients on a one-on-one basis, taking advantage of meeting with them up and down the East Coast or wherever I may be traveling to offer a more personalized level of service, like I used to in the early days at Sacks.
Two of the interesting boats in your fleet are the 98-foot Knight and Carver motoryacht MS B Haven and the 66-foot B&D sportfishing yacht Cherin III, which offer charters in Panama. What are some examples of things charter clients can expect in that destination?
Panama is the hub of the Americas, with Panama City being a modern and vibrant city within easy reach of the United States and direct flights from Europe. Panama has four distinctly different archipelagoes: Bocas Del Torros, with its laid-back, Caribbean-style islands and amazing natural surroundings; the San Blas Islands, which are untouched and undeveloped with their colorful and cultural San Blas Indians; the Las Perlas Islands, which are closest to Panama with rainforest-covered lands plus new, high-end marina developments, world-class sportfishing and incredible whale watching; and the Coiba Islands, which are a World Heritage site untouched by man.
How do you see the charter market overall right now for clients?
I’ve seen an uptick in the charter market this year, having done a lot more charters than I expected by opening B&BYC one year ago this month in Newport. I was very busy with charters for my clients in the Caribbean, Bahamas, New England and the Mediterranean, especially Croatia, plus Greece. While at the Monaco Yacht Show last month, I asked my colleagues how their summer season was and the overall answer was, “busy, last-minute and positive.” That’s a good sign for the upcoming winter season.
Right now the last-minute deals are the shoulder-season locations. They are having an Indian summer in Italy and France, so by all means, if someone wants to get a decent deal, we can find one! New England has already cooled off, so maybe a transit charter south will be a nice chance for a great rate, or the Bahamas, if there are no hurricanes, could be a good opportunity.
I always encourage clients to book in advance. If they have not booked Christmas and/or New Year’s, the availability is slim in the Caribbean, though there are still some good yachts available for the Bahamas – and Panama! I’m seeing inquiries through to next spring and summer, so clients should look at their schedules and book their preferred yacht now. Don’t wait for what is available later in the year.
Do you see any exciting new yachts or trends that are worth noting?
There seem to be people willing to spend money and a good run at brokerage sales, so there could be some new product on the charter market soon too.
B&BYC will be bringing another “new” yacht to the charter market, Plan A, a 130-foot Westport with a very popular, charter-savvy captain and crew for Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean this winter, then New England for summer 2015. The owner and his guests used her heavily this summer throughout the Mediterranean, and is now bringing her back to the States and wants to really maximize her charter calendar with a U.S. flag. Look for many promotions for Plan A starting in late November.
To contact Jennifer Saia directly, visit the B&B Yacht Charters website.