By Doreen Hemlock Sun Sentinel
Charter a yacht with a vegan chef? Rent a Maserati and Rolls Royce? Hire private security guards? Arrange a private shopping tour at Bal Harbour shops? Land a private helicopter on a yacht?
It’s all in a day’s work for yacht concierge Lisa Crawford, who caters to the megayacht set at her Fort Lauderdale-based SitInMySeats VIP Tickets, Travel and Concierge Services.
Long active in helping clients with high-end requests like courtside seats for sports games or dinner reservations at top restaurants, Crawford entered the yacht concierge niche two years ago on the advice of a friend who supplies food, flowers and other goods for yachts. The provisioner said he was swamped with requests from captains for services for yacht owners and guests.
Unfamiliar with the niche, Crawford met a yacht concierge visiting Fort Lauderdale from Monaco to learn more. Soon, she expanded her company to juggle requests both on land and sea — often in extravagant packages.
In one case, a megayacht owner from overseas flew to Fort Lauderdale on his private jet with his wife and daughters. He wanted security guards for the family during their visit and rentals of a Maserati Ghilbli and Phantom Rolls Royce as soon as he arrived.
During the visit, the client also wanted reservations at three top Miami Beach restaurants: Cavalli, Villa Azur and Casa Tua; private shopping at Bal Harbour Shops, including a translator for his wife and daughters; an island excursion to Atlantis resort in the Bahamas for high-roller Baccarat; personal spa treatements on his megayacht and as a special gift, Audemars Piguet watches for his wife and children.
Crawford said she was notified three days before the client’s arrival and pulled it all off. Video
“It can be very stressful,” Crawford conceded during an interview Tuesday. Her team often works into the night and remains on call always. “In this business, you get one time to do it right. You can’t make a mistake.”
Crawford never set out to be a concierge. She had a clothing shop in New Jersey before moving to South Florida about 25 years ago. While raising her family, she did some marketing work for Florida sports teams and got paid partly in tickets. In the late 1990s, her husband suggested she try selling those tickets on a new online auction site called e-Bay.
When a woman in Jacksonville bought $30,000 worth of tickets, Crawford contacted the buyer. The woman had won the lottery and wanted advice on a trip, so Crawford’s company was born — right from the living room of her own home.
“The business evolves,” said Crawford, who even has hired private helicopters to land on a megayacht and whisk a guest away for a business meeting on land. “One thing leads to another.”
That includes pirate adventures, too, it turns out.
Crawford arranged for one adventure-loving client to charter a megayacht from the Atlantis resort and travel 85 miles to Musha Cay, where “pirates” led his group through caves, hidden beaches, cliffs and a petrified lake — all in search of hidden treasures.At night, a chef trained at a Michelin-star restaurant prepared freshly caught seafood for the group served at a candle-lit table on the beach, she said.
Mary Dutoit, who co-owns Fort Lauderdale’s National Marine Suppliers, said she uses Crawford’s services for yacht customers “when we need someone to pull off a miracle and get court-side tickets in Miami and New York.” She said Crawford “has her hand on the pulse of events around the world.”
To meet those needs, Crawford now employs six. Her team has doubled “multimillion-dollar” revenues in the past few years, growing largely through referrals from both overseas and local clients, she said.
Yacht services are picking up now, because megayachts frequent Fort Lauderdale in the winter season from October through April. One recent referral: A charter for a corporate group from Greece.
“I never say never,” Crawford said dockside. “I always say: “We’ll figure it out.’ “