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April 7, 2017updated Aug 23, 2017

Interview: Holly Bottau of Y.CO Yacht Company

By Lauren Jade Hill

By Lauren Jade Hill

Founded by Gary Wright and Charlie Birkett in 2004, Y.CO yacht management company was set up to fulfill the needs of yacht owners while making a positive difference to yacht ownership. The yacht company has since grown from being a small start-up to an industry-leading company with a team of over 100, and gone on to offer assistance with purchase, sales, charter and new-build project coordination, in addition to its yacht management service, through the innovation of its digital platform. We speak to the Monaco-based Managing Director Holly Bottau.

What is the philosophy behind Y.CO?

Firstly, Y.CO is about passion. We’re passionate about yachting and delivering a great service to our clients, and we’re passionate about being a fun and rewarding company. We have really strong core values at the heart of everything we do, which also characterizes our team. We’re a service provider and a service is only as good as its people. It’s about accountability, creativity and energy.

How does Y.CO stand out from other yacht management companies?

Fundamentally, we like to challenge the status quo and do everything differently and better than everyone else. We have the strongest branded company culture in the yachting industry, and in terms of innovation, we’ve pioneered the world’s first yacht management digital platform, which is still the industry’s leading platform of its kind. We’ve also created personalized platforms that enable clients to access dynamic itineraries, choose where they want to go, and customize yacht selections for charter and purchase.

Y.CO is very digitally focused because people want to be able to do more and more remotely, digitally and quickly. We recently located from our old headquarters in Monaco, too, converting over 1,000 square meters of industrial space into a really fantastic loft-style space. It’s got collaborative breakaway areas, video walls and a gym; it’s completely different to what everyone else is doing in the yachting industry, and it’s a real reflection of who we are.

How did you get into yacht industry?

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I’ve always been in yachting. My first job was for Sunseeker, a British shipyard, working for one of their dealerships in the South of France. Then after a couple of great years, I was keen to get involved with the larger yachts in the sector and I just happened to come across a position with a small start-up, which was Y.CO. I’ve been here ever since.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

People often refer to the fact yachting is male dominated, and it is, but it’s not been an obstacle for me because I work for such a forward thinking company; Y.CO really champions equality. Secondly, my job as Managing Director of Y.CO is all about making Y.CO center-stage not making myself center stage, so I haven’t had to battle with egos. I have two children, so often it feels like I have two full-time jobs, but the reality is that I’m very lucky and I’ve never viewed motherhood as an obstacle to my career. My family support and ground me when I come home from the crazy world of the yachting industry.

Who have you been inspired by on this journey?

When I think of who inspires me, I don’t think of industry leading or political figures; I feel inspired when I meet entrepreneurs. I admire the courage, determination and hard work it takes for an entrepreneur to succeed, and it’s such an exciting thing to do. This is the greatest inspiration to me.

What do you like most about the yachting industry?

The thing I like most is definitely the new-build side to what we do. It’s such an exciting time for new builds. Shipyards are pushing boundaries and yachts are not only getting larger, they’re also getting greener. There are no limits in yachting, so we see increasingly impressive design features and some really quite spectacular yachts on the water.

What plans does Y.CO have for the coming months?

We are revamping our company structure to increase the output of our services. We’ll also continue to make the yachting experience much more gratifying and take the stress out of it, to make it a richer, fuller experience while following emerging trends and playing an active role in being environmentally responsible.

As you’re based in Monaco, are there any eating and drinking spots that you’d recommend to people who are passing through?

In terms of bars, the American Bar at the Hotel de Paris is an all-time favorite. It’s fantastic, with old school glamour and expertly mixed cocktails. It’s definitely emblematic of Monaco in its golden era and a great place for atmosphere and people watching. I also highly recommend Yoshi, a restaurant at the Hotel Metropole. It specializes in gastronomic Japanese cuisine, which is delicate, beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. The service is excellent, and the restaurant is really intimate and beautifully decorated.

The last one is completely different and very refreshing to find in Monaco. It’s called Les Perles de Monte-Carlo and it’s in Fontvieille Port. Basically, a man who came from Brittany received permission from Prince Albert to farm oysters here, so this gentleman who comes from a long heritage of farming oysters in Brittany serves seafood to customers on the quayside. It’s a really authentic experience to have in glamorous Monaco.


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