Standing at the airport in Amsterdam on a cold and snowy December afternoon, I overheard a fellow passenger say “Travel is the only thing that costs money, yet makes you richer.” As I was about to head off on an extravagantly luxurious holiday, I couldn’t agree with her more. My home for the next five days was going to be 72.5-metre superyacht Axioma, cruising around one of the most popular yachting destinations in the world: St Barths.Photo: Quin Bisset
When first introduced at the Monaco Yacht Show five years ago by ambitious new Dunya Yachts, the 72.5-metre yacht Axioma was the talk of the event. In fact, the yacht sold right then and there, only to become one of the best-selling charter yachts in her category, and went on to win the Judges’ Commendation at the World Superyacht Awards in Amsterdam in 2014. I was about to find out why.
With daily flights from the US as well as several daily direct flights from Europe, Sint Maarten is often the starting point for Caribbean charters. Although the airport is relatively small, it is conveniently located on the Dutch side of the island and only minutes away from the island’s biggest marinas. After arriving, Captain Tom, together with the small army of luggage handlers who swiftly took care of our suitcases, welcomed our 10 guests at the airport, and we were soon on our way to Axioma’s chase boat. Moments later, champagne in hand, we were whisked away to our home for the week, anchored in Simpson Bay.Photo: Quin Bisset
Whilst getting ourselves acquainted with the yacht together with Chief Stewardess Heather, we quickly learn what makes Axioma so in demand. She features a number of revolutionary shifts for the general layout of a vessel of this size. One of the most striking of these features is the beautiful double-deck main salon, providing the sense of vast space and light which is usually reserved for large, land-based residences. All guest cabins apart from the master stateroom are located on the main deck, each featuring large windows, walk-in wardrobes, and large en suite bathrooms. The master sits one deck higher and includes an office, a fantastic bathroom finished in blue marble, and direct access to a private terrace.Photo: Quin Bisset
A sizeable and well-equipped gym, spa and steam room are located two decks above, flooded with light and spectacular views, whilst the lower deck features a movie theatre.Photo: Quin Bisset
Axioma’s style can best be described as that of a luxury beach house. Her renowned designer, the late Albert Pinto, made use of soft neutrals throughout her interiors, accentuated with pops of vibrant colour. A beautiful complement to a range of natural wood tones and textures to add to the gorgeous sophistication of the yacht.
During our days on Axioma, we take full advantage of the yacht’s exterior areas, which provide a wide choice of both private and convivial spaces across four decks. Two generous pools, expansive lounging space, and dining areas aft are complemented by a secluded lounging and dining area on the bridge deck.Photo: Quin Bisset
Following a short safety presentation, Captain Tom talks us through our trip’s itinerary, which is centred around St Barth, considered to be the safest island in the Caribbean, and without a doubt also the chicest. As we set a south-eastern course, a light lunch is served on the owner’s deck aft, the first of many memorable meals on board. We spend our first afternoon on board Axioma at anchor off Shell Beach, a well-protected anchorage close to Gustavia. Shell Beach is home to Shellona, a hip restaurant with a sister in Saint Tropez, serving a mix of local seafood dishes and classic Greek cuisine, such as feta cheese wrapped in filo pastry & honey. Our evening, however, is spent on board, where we enjoy an inspiring Middle Eastern themed dinner.
The next day, after an early and jetlag-fuelled breakfast, we spend the morning exploring the yacht’s vast array of water toys, soaking up some sun, and enjoying the magnificent views. Mass tourism hasn't reached St Barths in the same way as it did Sint Maarten, and the island’s intriguing, rocky coastline looks unspoilt and mountainous, traced by many small bays and coves. As it is the first time on the island for the majority of our 10 guests, we spend the afternoon in town, taking in the pleasant and cosy atmosphere, as well as exploring some of the island’s high-end resorts, such as LVMH’s Cheval Blanc. We enjoy cocktails at Bonito’s large yet intimate lounge bar overlooking the bay of Gustavia. Bonito is a casually chic family restaurant with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, located in a beautiful, traditional wood dwelling laid on the hillside. The cuisine is French, with spiced flavours directly influenced by South America.Photo: Quin Bisset
The following day at the crack of dawn, we set course towards Anse de Colombier, where we anchor amongst small sailing boats. Once more, we put Axioma’s deck crew to the test and take full advantage of the yacht's amenities. As this is a Marine Reserve with a particularly rich and colourful marine life, jet skis are not allowed. We opt to soak up some peace and quiet instead. Meanwhile, our crew has already prepared an incredible beach set-up, complete with 10 sun loungers, an al-fresco dining area, bar, and an outdoor kitchen.Photo: Quin Bisset
Special permission was granted by the island’s governor to be able to set up on the beach, just one of many perks of chartering a high profile yacht such as Axioma. As some of our guests soak up the sun on the beach following a Cuban themed BBQ feast, others explore St Barths’ underwater scenery. One of the most majestic creatures inhabiting these crystal clear waters is the sea turtle, and swimming with them is a highlight of our trip. Later that afternoon, the crew once more have a surprise in store for us. As we anchor back off Shell Beach for the evening, we are met by a team from Luxury Water Toys Monaco, who have brought with them the latest in gadgets. We try out their Jetsurfs, a Kymera Body Board, and a Lift E-Foil, which provides a unique feeling that combines the sensations of surfing and flying all in one.Photo: Quin BissetPhoto: Quin Bisset
That evening our crew once more set up an incredible dinner on the upper aft deck, this time with an elaborate Harry Potter theme. Even though our youngest guest is 27 years old, we all feel like 12-year-olds again. Later that night, Axioma’s set of underwater lights attract a steady stream of large tarpon fish. With two crewmembers on watch on the swimming platform at any given time, we feel confident to swim amongst the schools of fish attracted by the lights.Photo: Quin Bisset
The following morning, we wake up well underway to the neighbouring island of Anguilla, known for its warm and hospitable people, crystal clear turquoise waters, and relaxed vibe. After another elaborate breakfast on the upper deck, we decide to take one of Axioma’s smaller tenders to explore Sandy Island. A mere speck in the turquoise water, Sandy Island lives up to its name. The island is uninhabited, shy of just one small bar: Crueso’s. We spend the morning snorkelling and searching for seashells in the shallow waters around Sandy Island.Photo: Quin Bisset
Back on Axioma, the crew has set up a waterslide from the owner's deck, providing hours of entertainment for young and old. Whilst some guests prefer to try their luck wakeboarding, others choose to spend the rest of the day trying out Axioma’s onboard Tiwal sailing boats.
On any night of the week, it’s possible to hear live music in Anguilla. The island is brimming with talent, and tonight is no exception. Anguilla has produced a number of world famous reggae musicians, including Bankie Banx, whose beach bar, constructed entirely of driftwood, is legendary. It is our last night in the Caribbean, and we danced at this laid back bar till the early hours before Axioma’s dedicated crew whisks us back to our yacht.Photo: Quin Bisset
The next morning we wake up at anchor in the Bay of Marigot in Sint Maarten, as we slowly start preparing for our trip home. If our trip on Axioma taught us anything, it is that she is amongst the very best charter yachts in her category. Her crew of 20 is outstanding and made us feel right at home. Their incredible level of fine-tuned preparations and service meant our trip was nothing short of exceptional.