When you're cruising the Med on board a gulet, you're in for an unforgettable experience
As the market for chartering private yachts heats up, the team at World Travel Guide sat down with Alenka and Mitja Mirtič from Guletexpert.com to talk about the extraordinary glamour of sailing on board a gulet.
First things first, what is a gulet?
“A gulet is a wooden sailing boat, traditionally made in the southwestern part of Turkey but is now also made in Croatia. Usually two or three-masted, gulets can range from 17m to over 40m with modern cabins for a dozen guests plus crew. Some gulets are also equipped with a jacuzzi, a swimming platform and have an assortment of water-sport equipment.” Mitja pulled his chair forward and gave us a quick intro to the world of gulets.
Your website guletexpert.com is now one of the leading brokers in the high-end world of gulets and private yachts in the Med, what inspired you to launch this company?
“It was 2005 when Mitja and I were invited to a gulet holiday in Croatia,” Alenka recalled with a warm smile.
“Sailing with a professional crew who, as a team, took great care of us and showed us the most amazing places had such a positive impact that we decided to launch goolets.net ourselves.”
So it started with helping people to find the perfect gulet?
“Yes, goolets.net started with just a few gulets which we then matched to suitable holidaymakers. Gradually, we expanded into the luxury yacht charter business and later, we decided to help returning customers build their own gulet or yacht.”
“When the gulets aren’t in use by the owners, we manage the leasing part and find people who want to rent them for a week or longer.”
Success usually doesn’t happen overnight, what are the principles that drive your company forward?
“The extent to which we put customers at the heart of the business is what makes us unique, I believe,” Alenka explained.
“We personalise the trip for every customer, starting with brainstorming ideas for the perfect holiday to providing support during and after the cruise.”
It sounds like you’ve taken the leap at the right time, so what are the main challenges facing a fast-growth company?
“We like to do things in an unconventional way. For example, we don’t have standard tour itineraries dictating that you cruise from A to B. Instead, we take our time to tailor the itinerary for each customer. This process takes time and effort, and our personal-touch approach definitely has made an impact on the bottom line, but we strongly believe that it shouldn’t be replaced by algorithms or sales scripts,” Mitja said genuinely.
Pointing to a large world map pinned on the wall, Alenka added, “At present, we have over 200 gulets and yachts in our database and the quiet corners of the Mediterranean Sea are still our prime destinations.”
“Increasingly though, our customers will look beyond the Med. So we must be ready to find luxury charters for them in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and beyond.”
We’ve spoken to a few of your customers and realised that many are returning customers. Is this common?
“The majority of our customers enjoy the tailor-made holidays so much that they come back year after year. Sometimes they bring new people with them and those friends become new customers as well.”
There is a hint of pride and joy in Mitja’s voice because achieving such high customer retention really is the ultimate indication of quality service.
If I’m a gulet novice, what advice can you give me?
“Start by talking to us and sharing what’s your dream gulet or yacht charter holiday. Our site guletexpert.com features gulets and yachts in Croatia, Greece, Italy and Turkey. We can find you a small gulet or a luxury that can comfortably accommodate you, your family and friends.”
“Every gulet and yacht comes with crew members – usually a captain, deckhand, chef, waiter, hostess and maybe a nanny or an engineer, depending on your needs and the type of vessel you charter. The crew works very hard to ensure that you get the best out of your holiday.”
With a twinkle in her eyes, Alenka asked, “Have you cruised the Dalmatian coast before?” We haven’t.
She showed us some pictures, blissful shots of rugged islands set against a wide expanse of turquoise water. “Chartering a gulet is key to exploring the very calm Adriatic Sea and seeking out the many uninhabited islands along the Dalmatian. One of my favourites routes is to sail from Split to Kornati and back.”
How much will a gulet charter cost?
The cost depends on the size of your group and prices can range from €5,000 to over €150,000 a week. A good rule of thumb is to budget between €1,500 to €2,000 per person per week, including half-board accommodation, crew, fuel, and gulet charter. VAT is often included in this price, but extras like port taxes, shore-based excursions, drinks and tips aren’t.
If you’re interested to book the trip of a lifetime, check out www.guletexpert.com.