Yachts International - - Contents - Photo by Jim Ray­croft

On char­ter aboard the 208-foot (63.4-me­ter) Hal­ter Marine ad­ven­ture yacht SuRi, we launched the Zo­diac with ex­pe­di­tion ice pi­lot Capt. Roger Wal­lis, whose ex­per­tise proved in­valu­able to the safe oper­a­tion of the ves­sel in an area de­void of any mark­ers or nav­i­ga­tion aids. With clear sunny skies, flat-calm seas and tem­per­a­tures well above freez­ing, Wal­lis ran the Zo­diac around En­ter­prise Is­land to give us an up close and per­sonal view of the breath­tak­ing ice­bergs. The shapes and col­ors were star­tling. The nat­u­ral vi­brance of the blue ice must be seen to be be­lieved. —Jim Ray­croft

Posi­tano, Italy, is not for those who fear heights. The white, yel­low and peach­col­ored houses and store­fronts go up, up and up some more again, lin­ing the streets and stair­ways that climb from the wa­ter’s edge to some­where in the mid­dle of the bright blue sky. Stand­ing on a char­ter yacht’s bow and look­ing up from the har­bor feels like be­ing inside of a post­card. That an artist painted while full of love in his heart. And maybe af­ter drink­ing some re­ally great wine.

The pic­turesque har­bor is one of many that lure char­ter clients to Italy’s Amalfi Coast—which, ac­cord­ing to early in­di­ca­tors, seems poised to be the Mediter­ranean’s must-visit des­ti­na­tion for the up­com­ing sum­mer months.

While Spain’s Balearic Isles have been a mag­net for char­ter in­quiries in re­cent years, af­ter reg­u­la­tory changes cre­ated a rush of ex­cite­ment about that re­gion, the Amalfi Coast seems poised to dom­i­nate now as more and more clients look far­ther to the eastern edge of the West Mediter­ranean.

“It seems to be the hot spot for the sea­son,” says Lara-Jo Hought­ing, char­ter man­ager at Churchill Yacht Part­ners. “Most of our in­quiries have been from Amalfi to Si­cily, and also the re­verse. Si­cily also seems to be more pop­u­lar than in the past, too.”

One of the yachts in her char­ter fleet, the 157foot (47.8-me­ter) Chris­tensen Lady Joy, is mov­ing to Amalfi from May through Au­gust, specif­i­cally to meet early de­mand for bookings.

“We orig­i­nally were go­ing to base out of the South of France, but the char­ters have taken us to Amalfi, Sor­rento, Capri,” Hought­ing says. “That’s where peo­ple want to be.”

Be­yond the Amalfi Coast’s beauty, char­ter bro­kers

say, clients are look­ing to the re­gion for tax sav­ings. Char­ters that stay within Italy’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters face a VAT of 22 per­cent, while those that in­clude Italy, but also a jaunt into in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, are sub­ject only to 6.6 per­cent VAT. That makes the lat­ter itin­er­ar­ies some of the most tax-ef­fec­tive for char­ter clients across the whole of the Mediter­ranean, whose other na­tions can charge VAT of 10 per­cent, 20 per­cent, or more.

Alev Karag­ulle, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Burgess, says Italy’s VAT re­duc­tion has been in force since 2012. It’s pos­si­ble that, with re­cent buzz about Spain dy­ing down and clients look­ing to try other des­ti­na­tions, more peo­ple are sim­ply look­ing to the Amalfi Coast for the first time in a half-dozen years. They see the 6.6 VAT op­tion, and a deal is made.

And the re­gion is an easy sell, Karag­ulle says, be­cause of its beauty and all the things char­ter clients can do there.

“The big draw of the Amalfi Coast is that the cruis­ing dis­tances are short be­tween the main­land hot spots and the off-ly­ing is­lands—Capri, Ischia and the Pon­tine Is­lands to the north­west of Ischia—and the land­scapes are dra­matic and very pic­turesque,” she says. “The din­ing ashore and the shop­ping is fabulous, and in be­tween there are plenty of beau­ti­ful an­chor­ages for en­joy­ing your yacht and all her fa­cil­i­ties.”

The place along the Amalfi Coast that most char­ter clients have heard of is Posi­tano, which be­came well known in Amer­ica thanks to the 2003 film “Un­der the Tus­can Sun,” star­ring Diane Lane.

“Posi­tano is a par­tic­u­lar draw,” Karag­ulle says. “Built ver­ti­cally into the cliff face, the pas­tel-col­ored houses tum­ble down to the sea, and the steep, nar­row streets are full of bou­tiques, cafés and restau­rants. There are amaz­ing views from the ter­race of Le Sirenuse or Il San Pi­etro, where you can lunch look­ing down to your yacht at an­chor be­low.”

Far­ther along the coast is Ravallo, known for its gar­dens and clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs all sum­mer long. And there’s also Capri, which Karag­ulle calls “the full sum­mer scene with a real buzz, beach clubs, gourmet din­ing, de­signer shops and lux­ury spas.”

Hought­ing says that in­ter­na­tional ac­ces­si­bil­ity to all of that and more is key for many clients. Amer­i­cans can now get a di­rect flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy In­ter­na­tional Air­port into Naples, Italy, and then take an hour-long car ride from there to Sor­rento, where the char­ter yacht can be wait­ing.

“A lot of Amer­i­cans will stay in a ho­tel in Sor­rento to ac­cli­mate to the time zone be­fore board­ing the yacht,” Hought­ing says, adding that there’s so much to do and see ashore, a few days can be spent tour­ing the coast­line be­fore or af­ter any char­ter itin­er­ary.

Karag­ulle says peo­ple-watch­ing is also a reg­u­lar pas­time on the Amalfi Coast, where stars from Greta Garbo and Grace Kelly to Jackie Kennedy Onas­sis and, more re­cently, Ri­hanna have been spot­ted.

“This part of Italy has been at­tract­ing the beau monde for decades,” she says. “It’s glam­orous, fun, beau­ti­ful and per­fect for yachting.”

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