Thursday, October 22, 2020

Exceptional SeaFair From Stem to Stern


Seductively sleek and stylish from stem to stern, the SeaFair is remarkable in all ways sumptuous, and richly deserving of being described in the most laudatory of terms. It’s also eye-catching, as is the case with any 228-foot long, 50-foot high, 2,800 ton, 22,000 square-foot vessel found in the waters of Marco. 

The imposing, $40 million, “mega-yacht” captured a lot of attention during its recent five-day stay on the island. While here, it provided a glimpse into the services that will be available in Collier County when the vision of its owners becomes a reality in just a few years. 

Based in downtown Miami, SeaFair is unique in the rarified world of “mega-yachts;” loosely defined as privately owned, luxurious vessels at least 200 feet in length. No mere pleasure craft for the ultra-well-to-do, SeaFair instead serves as a venue for corporate events, weddings, holiday parties and other posh gatherings of up to 600 people. 

The owners, David and Lee Ann Lester of Naples, intend to bring that same ultra-upscale, mega-yacht experience to this area. The setting will be a similarly sized, glass vessel they’re having built that’s projected to begin serving the high-end hotels of Naples and Marco in July of 2022. A home berth in Collier County has not been decided.

“I think this will be an asset for the community because the hotels here have to bid against the Miami hotels for groups (group business), and other cities,” he explained. “In Miami, if they want to have an opportunity for an off-property night, they have a lot of choices. Here and in Naples, if you have a group of 400-to-600, where can you go? That’s a problem. So, the ability to give them a spectacular night on the water helps attract groups to a hotel and bring more business to the city.”

He offered those comments at an evening cocktail party he and his wife held on SeaFair, during its recent stay at Rose Marina, where it naturally dwarfed all nearby vessels. The guest list of 89 included wedding-event planners and hospitality industry leaders from throughout Southwest Florida. Aside from hors d’oeuvres, there was a buffet, a short cruise on local waterways and the opportunity to tour the opulent craft. 

“We’re here for a site visit with the Marriott and some of the local hotels,” said David Lester. “We also did a site visit for a client who’ll be coming to the Marriott in 2023 that will need both ships.”

The yacht’s three decks are served by multiple elevators providing access to two ballrooms, a glass-walled dining room among the multiple dining settings, an indoor Zen-inspired garden and multiple lounges, all crowned by an expansive open-air sky deck. 

Customers can avail themselves of SeaFair’s one-stop-shop to event services which include gourmet catering, staffing, entertainment, top-notch sound and lighting, and even event planning. 

This was SeaFair’s second visit to Marco, the first was a two-night stay in 2018 to thrill members of the Verizon Corporation’s President’s Club, as part of the company’s conference at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. 

Springing from the imagination of internationally acclaimed yacht designer Luiz De Basto, the craft was built 12 years ago as a venue for art fairs. The Lesters are the founders of International Fine Art Expositions and such events as Art Miami, the American International Fine Art Fair, Art Palm Beach, and the Naples International Art and Antique Fair and Art Naples. 

Unforeseen events forced the couple to alter their plans for the vessel. 

“The yard that was building it went bankrupt, so it came out 2 years late,” said David Lester. “We started business as an art fair the day Lehman Brothers—the investment bank—went down. So, our timing was not the best for selling multi-million-dollar paintings. So, we reconfigured it for corporate use and it’s been a home run. It’s been absolutely terrific.” 

Pamela Player, the owner of Honey I Doula of Tampa, was joined by her life partner and coworker James Hogan, in enjoying the cocktail party. Her company provides wedding, pregnancy and end-of-life doula—a professional provider of support and assistance to individuals or families—planning services. 

She was thoroughly impressed by SeaFair and its offerings.

“I only refer companies that I consider to be exceptional,” remarked Player. “We came down this afternoon and toured the ship. We’re here for the cocktail hour to see what the food and service are like so that when couples and families have large events, I can refer them to this ship. It’s really beautiful, and the service is impeccable. I’m impressed.”

For more information about SeaFair, visit www.SeaFairmiami.com.

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