Crisis or not, we are in the middle of the summer. And summer means vacation and sea, even in limited quantities. Greece is famous for its azure Aegean Sea and the thousands of isles, cherishing beautiful places.
Do you remember the musical "Mamma Mia" that arose world furor several years ago? And how would you like the idea to find yourselves in some of the places Meryl Streep and the rest of the cast created in one of the most summery movies in the history of cinema?
How? The answer is - by yacht. GRReporter reached instructor and owner of a yachting school, Georgios Giakoulakis, from Thessalonica, who told our readers how they can reach marvellous and secluded beaches for a quite a reasonable price.
Mr. Giakoulakis, tell us more about what you do.
We rent yachts and we have a yachting school. The school is visited by people of all ages, men and women. After completing the course, alone or with friends, they rent a yacht and spend the whole vacation on it, visiting the Greek seaside's wonderful spots.
Others just rent a yacht with a captain, who steers them while they relax and enjoy the ride.
When and how is the course done? Are there courses in winter?
There are courses all year round. During the three summer months we have intensive weekly courses. During the rest of the year, there is a choice of four alternatives: we have a group on Saturday, a group on Sunday as well as two on weekdays. The Sunday and the Saturday group have 8-hour lessons. Practical training lasts 6 hours, and the other two hours are theory lessons. Week lessons last 3 hours for two days plus theory. At the end, all groups have a two-day trip, during which they steer a yacht during the day and during the night. This refers to the two-month course.
During the intensive courses, we get on the yacht for a week and we begin a one-week trip. We stop once at the Halkidiki peninsula, at the small Island of Kyra Panagya, after which we go to Alonissos Island, from there to Skopelos Island, then we tour round Skiathos Island and then back to Thessalonica up by the side of Pelion Mountain, where we stop twice at very picturesque places.
From my experience I can say that the skills, acquired during this one week trip are a lot more, just because the training never stops. The students are constantly on the boat and thus cannot forget the things they learn, as happens in the intervals between lessons in the two-month course.
How much does a course cost?
The two-month courses cost 495 euro, as one can make three equal payments. The weekly course is an intensive summer course and costs 590 euro, and the price includes all expenses, except for food.
What is the profile of the majority of clients?
I would say that most of the clients are between 35 – 45 years old. These are people, who have a job and can afford the lessons and to rent a yacht. Of course, there are a lot of older and younger people too. It's easier for the young, because their parents pay the bill.
Are there foreigners among them?
In the last few years we have had a lot of foreigners, as I cannot say whether they have found us on the internet, or other clients have told them about us. Lately, there have been a lot of Bulgarian clients. Last year we had six students from Bulgaria. One of them took the two-months course. He came here every Saturday, had the lesson and went back home the very same day or on Sunday. The rest attended the weekly intensive course.
How is your business affected by the crisis?
It isn't affected at all. Both this year and last year were good for us. In 2011 we had an increase of 20 per cent, and this year – 7 per cent.
What do you think is the reason for this?
The fact, that the holiday on a yacht is cheap and people seek money-saving solutions. Its rent, together with the captain, is 300 euro per day. From there on, it depends how many people will share this price. If there are 10 people, each will have to pay 30 euro a day. If they are trained and have diplomas, they can steer the yacht themselves. In this case, the expenses for a captain are omitted and the daily expense becomes 100 euro less and vacationers pay 20 euro each. Where could you go for 20 euro a day, including means of transport and night's lodgings?
Do you think your business has a future in the current economic conditions?
I think it has. The crisis will probably affect us, but not much. At least up to now it seems that it will be one of the few, which will not be seriously affected. Unless people become totally poor.
However, I think that we have clients, who will have the little resources to fulfill the dream of their lives. Not to mention, that a lot of them dream about buying a yacht. Most of the boats at the port belong to students of mine. Some buy smaller ones, others bigger ones, new or used.
Tags: Sports vacation trips islands yacht training school
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