Sleek New Breed of Boat Takes to Lake Powell

 

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- Lake Powell has long been known as a destination for houseboating.

Since at least the late 1960s, the slow moving boats have been lumbering around the canyon-lined reservoir that straddles Utah and Arizona.

This month, however, a new breed of boat was introduced to Lake Powell that may lead to a substantial change in the type of boating that takes place there.

Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas added a first-of-its-kind, lavish, 65-foot lake yacht to its rental fleet. The yacht includes such luxurious amenities as a 55-inch flatscreen television, satellite TV, four private staterooms with queen beds, a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and an eight-person Jacuzzi.

The yacht rents for about $13,000 a week and is the first of seven such vehicles Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas plans to add to its fleet between now and Memorial Day, says Eric Johnson, vice-president of operations for Aramark Parks & Destinations, which manages Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.

"We really believe that the future of houseboating in America is this next-generation lake yacht," Johnson says. "It's truly all of the luxuries you would have in a hotel, with the ability to venture out onto magnificent Lake Powell."

The rental company is testing the market for luxury lake yacht rentals. If successful, the opulent vehicles will likely become the new focus for Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas, which has about 168 houseboats in its fleet, Johnson says.

Houseboats have been available for rent at the lake for decades. A spokeswoman for the National Park Service, who asked not to be named, says the government agency issued contracts to three boat rental companies around 1969. The contracts regulate such things as how many boats each company may have in its fleet.

Every few years, the companies refresh or update the fleet of boats available for rent, the spokeswoman says.

The addition of the luxury lake yacht however, is a substantial change from the old-fashioned houseboats that have long dominated at Lake Powell, says Johnson.

"It's incredibly different," says Johnson of the two styles of boats. "The yacht looks like a floating, modern home. It's like the difference between an RV-type of vacation on the lake versus a hotel vacation on the lake."

Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas is the first of the rental agencies at the lake to introduce the yacht, Johnson says.

In addition to all the amenities onboard the sleek lake yacht, the $13,000 rental includes piloting services for the week and the guest's choice of a powerboat or two personal watercrafts such as jet skis.

If that's not elaborate enough, the rental company is willing to be creative to come up with an even more over-the-top package.

"We can bundle anything and be as extravagant as they want, " Johnson says. "We run a hotel right there and have access to executive chefs."

Despite how lavish the yacht is and how steep its price tag, Johnson says the rental is not necessarily aimed at the affluent. With four staterooms, he says the rental cost can be divided between a group or families sharing the boat. "It's not too dissimilar to a ski vacation, when you get multiple families sharing a rental," Johnson says.

And with three more beds on the yacht's upper deck, where there's yet another flatscreen television, there's even more possibilities for increasing the party and cost sharing.

Summertime is high season at Lake Powell, which is 186 miles long and home to 96 major canyons, Rainbow Bridge National Monument and countless beaches. Spring break also typically attracts large numbers of student vacationers, according the National Park Service spokeswoman.

Johnson meanwhile, says the hope is that the luxury lake yachts will attract even more visitors, and different types.

"Our goal is to meet a new demographic -- someone who has never heard of this. It's a magnificent vacation," he says.

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