Interview with Nikolaos Kotoulas, CEO of Vision Yachting Corfu

Days spent on the water couldn't be easier when staying at Ultima Corfu, and Vision Yachting offers the comfort and pleasure of luxury personalised cruises around the beautiful island of Corfu. An exceptional and unforgettable experience. Below we hear from Nikolaos Kotoulas, CEO of Vision Yachting Corfu.

What makes the Ionian Sea so seductive?

I’ve sailed around the Balearics, the Caribbean, Porto Rico, Cuba, St Barts and other parts of the world, there are some incredible places but here around Corfu, you have so many beautiful private beaches, and so many wonderful places in close proximity. There is a lot of variety. But also, unlike the Aegean, the Ionian Sea has so little wind, it’s incredibly calm. In four or five months of sailing, you only lose a day or two to high winds. And wind kills pleasure! Nobody wants to take a boat for the day and have a bumpy ride.

What drew you to a life on the sea and how did Vision Yachting come to be?

I’m from Thessaloniki, and in fact, I was a chef for over twenty years. I worked on yachts and in some of the world’s most famous restaurants, including Nammos Mykonos. My life as a chef also took me to Miami but coming back via Athens and then to Corfu I started to see the potential for embarking on a new quest, which was the beginning of Vision Yachting/ Corfu Yachts. Corfu has always been a favourite, but it has new energy and is adapting to what the market wants now.

In terms of activities on the water, how do you bring the magic of the sea to life for different guests with their diverse interests?

It starts with loving what you do. Then it’s about delivering world-leading service. That means giving clients exactly what they want; listening to what they say. Clients come from all over the world and our philosophy is to treat every client with the same positive regard you would expect to find if you were chartering a superyacht.

A day on the water can be as relaxed or energised as you wish. These days the water toys are very exciting and we make sure we’ve got the latest models, like SeaDarts and E-foils charged and ready to go. Some people love the stand-up paddle and others love the inflatables. In my experience though, everyone appreciates getting the basics just right. Top service, good food, cold drinks, and great music. Clear water in which to swim.

Do you have a favourite, secret spot in Corfu?

One of my first choices is Erimitis, a nice, sheltered spot with very clear water just nine miles from the marina. The thing is, our clients are the sort of people who want privacy. They want to enjoy their time, the food, their families, the aquatoys away from the crowds. So we make sure to take them to places others can’t get to.

What kind of moments and experiences during your trips have left a lasting impression on you and your guests?

Dining outside – a charcoal barbeque on the beach for example is a really special moment for a group of friends or family. Just like the Durrells on the famous TV series, showing again the simple pleasure of the original family almost a century ago. Being in nature, with good food and company is perfect.

Have you found any treasures, either real or metaphorical on your journey so far?

Some of our guests have. Recently, somewhere between Mouse Island and the old monastery a man proposed to his girlfriend on one of our yachts at sunset. Our captain turned the boat slowly to face the sunset for the down-on-one-knee part and the crew were ready to capture the moment on film for the happy couple. Many people choose to mark special events on the sea in this way.

Why is the sea such an essential part of the Corfiot experience?

Because the water is so clear and the weather is so good. Even in October, it can be in the high 20s day after day and with all the toys in the water, there is nothing like it. And of course, there are so many other activities in Corfu to combine with an experience on the boat. Aqualand, mountains, you can go and see the olive oil being produced or have a wine tasting, you can explore the monastery or the forts. The more experiences the better.

What has the sea taught you?

That it’s so important to respect time. To enjoy the present moment, not speculate about the future and lose the moment because you are thinking about ten years from now. We all have busy lives these days; we all have mobiles and are surrounded by technology, but we don’t need to invest so much energy in this. To go to new places and make new memories with the people you care about, to choose experience over material things. This is a luxury.