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Can’t afford a yacht? You can still get a taste of living on one in a picturesque location

Danielle Taylor, hospitality manager for Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard, shows “Suite Dreams,” a boat that can be used at dock as a vacation rental, part of the marina’s new Fleet Suites program.
Danielle Taylor, hospitality manager for Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard, shows “Suite Dreams,” a boat that can be used at dock as a vacation rental, part of the marina’s new Fleet Suites program. phaley@thenewstribune.com

For most people, owning a yacht is a luxury that exists beyond the realm of their budget.

A new program at Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard is bridging this gap and offering a luxury yacht experience to their customers.

“The model has been here (in Gig Harbor) for a long time,” said Ron Roark, owner and operator. “We’ve got all these people with their boats and they never use them.”

Called Fleet Suites (the trademark is pending), this new program offers guests a luxury yacht experience in Gig Harbor right in the heart of the downtown area. Rentals are handled through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner), Air B&B or directly through the Marina itself.

The program currently has one boat, “Suite Dreams,” which began operating last December, just before the Lighted Boat Parade, and is currently booked through the end of September, said hospitality manager Danielle Taylor.

The model has been here (in Gig Harbor) for a long time. We’ve got all these people with their boats and they never use them.

Ron Roark, owner and operator of Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard

“We’re a high-end alternative lodging,” she said. “There’s been so much growth in Gig Harbor and I think there’s so much focus on that. We want to bring (the focus) back to downtown and the water.”

Roark noted that Pleasure Craft Houseboat Rentals has been operating a similar business in Gig Harbor for years, renting houseboats to vacationers looking to stay in Gig Harbor.

There is room for ten boats total in the Fleet Suites program and yacht owners who use their vessels infrequently are invited to participate in a dual interview process to establish that their boat meets the criteria.

To participate, yachts must be 40 feet or longer, have two staterooms and two heads or bathrooms and a lounge area. During the rental, the yachts remain stationary at the Marina.

“They also have to be at our marina,” Taylor added. “We’re basically are property managers, renting (the yachts) out when (owners) aren’t using them. It’s a way not only to recoup some of their expenses, but also to make a little money.”

We’re a high-end alternative lodging. There’s been so much growth in Gig Harbor and I think there’s so much focus on that and we want to bring (the focus) back to downtown and the water.

Danielle Taylor, hospitality manager for Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard

Interest has been continually growing for the program with both locals looking for a nearby staycation and out-of-town guests seeking a new experience.

“We’re getting a lot of word of mouth. It’s a new idea and new venue,” Roark said. “Millenials are really driving it because they’re looking for alternative experiences. These are very expensive yachts, most people don’t own yachts like these — or won’t — and want to experience one.”

Along with Fleet Suites, the Marina also has a 1,700-square-foot guest house, with 1,000 feet of terrace with views of Gig Harbor and Skansie Brothers Park.

With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the guest house can comfortably sleep up to six people, Taylor said.

The guest house is included in the wedding package offered by the Marina, which includes two nights in the guest house (typically for the bridal party), a reception downstairs at The Club @ the Boatyard, and two nights on the “Suite of Dreams.”

“We’re the only venue on the waterfront,” Taylor said.

The Club has 22 weddings on the books this year between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Taylor added, with weddings already booked for next summer on every Saturday in June and half of July and even one scheduled for 2019.

“It shows there’s a lot of need for meeting and event space in Gig Harbor,” Roark said.

Whether staying on a yacht, in the guest house or visiting the club, the waterfront views and central location are unbeatable attractions to their guests, Taylor said.

“You’re on the water, downtown, Mount Rainier is right there. It just doesn’t get more Gig Harbor than that,” she said.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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