Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!
When I was 11, my parents took me to Detroit to see the Tigers, my favorite baseball team. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Dearborn, a bronze glass monolith rising from seemingly nothing. I thought it was the fanciest place in the world. The all-you-could-gobble-up spread in the executive lounge only added to my youthful sense of luxury. This was at a time when Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was must-watch TV, but neither that program’s host, Robin Leach, nor my dad could have imagined the level of luxury that would be on offer off the coast of Croatia in the Adriatic Sea some 35 years later.
That Hyatt was probably $150 a night, not an insignificant sum in the late ’80s. It costs roughly $120,000 to charter the Super Yacht Freedom from Goolets for a week of sailing to and around the Dalmatian Islands in the peak summer season, and it’s worth every single penny. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and what you get on this yacht is unlike anything mere mortals could ever before have hoped to experience. The finger food at that Hyatt’s lounge was probably fine but the haute cuisine featuring fresh local seafood served on Freedom is nothing short of sublime. And the service, well, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before or since.
Let’s say you’re on the Freedom yacht, anchored somewhere in the Adriatic. It’s idyllic, picturesque, and you can’t actually believe you’re there. The salty breeze is mussing your hair as you photograph the love of your life swimming or jet skiing, striking yoga poses on a paddleboard, or zipping through the water on a SEABOB (a fantastical device akin to being attached to an actual rocket, and having done laps around the yacht at the helm of this aqua missile myself, I can say it’s far more fun than going into outer space for a hot minute).
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Suddenly you think to yourself (as you sip Champagne), “I’d sure love to have a lobster dinner tonight.” It’s a passing thought but you let Ivan or Ivan or Ivan (it’s a bit of a Croatian gag that everyone is named Ivan) know what your tummy is telling you. A quick phone call is made and in no time at all, a speedboat from the mainland is delivering freshly caught crustaceans to the Freedom’s executive chef. At dinner that night, you dine on scrumptious Dalmatian coast lobsters. This isn’t a dream or a 1980s television show. It’s real and it’s waiting for you and 20 of your closest friends or business partners.
The Super Yacht Freedom has other perks too, benefits not available on even the swankiest of small-scale luxury ships like Seabourn or Windstar cruises. Let’s say you fancy another day on Hvar or Brač because the quaint local shops are darling and the cafe culture intoxicating. Like a genie granting unlimited wishes, the team onboard Freedom can and will accommodate your desires to extend your time at any Croatian port, from Split to Dubrovnik, Vis to Korčula, even Moro Beach Stupe, a miniature rocky island with nothing on it save for a restaurant and a bar serving the freshest oysters and wine aged underwater. Your bespoke itinerary is as fluid as the emerald sea itself and is always in harmony with your wishes and whims. This reality, this kind of power on a private yacht, is enthralling. As is the design of and amenities offered on it.
Each of the yacht’s 11 cabins is spacious and low-key glam with marbled walls and exquisite bedding. The sun decks are splattered with warm sunlight, and the cinema, spa, gym, sauna, and massage room are the epitome of luxury. This isn’t just some cruise, it is YOUR cruise in every sense of the word. You design it and you live it.
In early October, my wife and I had the good fortune of experiencing what life would be like if we were Beyoncé and Jay-Z — pure, unadulterated luxury with a crack team catering to our every travel and culinary fantasy with aplomb. Upon being offered a glass of bubbly while boarding, Tash Newby, the yacht’s stellar head server, learned that I don’t drink alcohol. She made sure I never saw a wine glass in front of me during any meal and that I wasn’t offered an adult beverage for the duration of our sailing. It was a small gesture, for sure, but that’s what makes this yacht and its team so special. No detail is too minuscule for Ivan, Ivan, Ivan, Dominic, Tash, or the other members of staff to concern themselves with if it makes their guests happy, comfortable, and more likely to leave every single one of their cares far, far behind.
As I floated around the Adriatic sea’s chilly 68-degree, almost off-season waters in a round tube designed to look like a chocolate chip cookie with a bite out of it, I looked up at that multi-million dollar vessel and couldn’t help but think how much my dad would’ve felt at home on board. He liked nice things but wasn’t flashy, had enough money for himself and his family to be comfortable (and take random long weekend trips because his youngest son decided to love a team 600 miles away from home) but you would never have singled him out as a rich person. In a way, he was a lot like this resplendent yacht, unquestionably first-class from top to bottom but while completely at ease in their company.
On Freedom, you’ll sink into the plush white pillows framing the outdoor Jacuzzi, unwind at the end of each day while eating refined yet accessible cuisine, and be treated with genuine kindness by your entire onboard team.
That bronzed hotel is gone, as is my dad sadly, and chances are I’ll never again live life on a $100,000 per week private yacht, but I know what it means to have a great dad, to quietly live a comfortable lifestyle, and thanks to Goolet’s Super Yacht Freedom, I also know what rich and famous luxury feels like.