Our Wild Chicago Weather

Getting tired of all the talk about Chicago’s crazy weather? Us too! And this summer has been especially wild. From a string of warm sunny days to unusually high rainfalls and flooding streets (and basements), 2014 will go down as one of the wettest years in Chicago history.

What about people who’ve booked private yacht charters?

When the skies are dark and cloudy and the weather anchors are saying run for cover, what happens to people who are looking forward to entertaining clients or guests on Lake Michigan?

Well, in the case of recent charters….including groups from Google and Capgemini….they go out and have a really great time! Cause the weather anchors aren’t always right. And they certainly can’t predict exactly where a storm will hit. Case in point. Take a look at these photos and you’ll see what we mean.

Chicago Weather
These were taken on Friday, September 5th. As you can see, the vantage point was out on Lake Michigan. Pretty dramatic shots, right? Even better viewed from the deck of the Free Spirit or the Gypsy Spirit. While we all prefer the glorious sunset shot, being able to see the bright horizon under those dark skies was pretty amazing. Obviously, guests on board were not in a downpour when these pictures were taken. But they sure got to see some!

Weather in Chicago

That’s why we got feedback like this from our charter clients, all of whom cruised in less than ideal weather conditions:

“We had a great time; the staff was great and the cruise was really fun. We’ll definitely be doing it again!”

Michelle Rotter
Google

“Our group had a wonderful time to say the least, and I would guarantee that we will be back again in the future. Your hospitality and service was outstanding.”

Steve Schultz
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Chicago Cruise

And one of our favorites cause their cruise went on even though the Air & Water Show was cancelled…..

“We are interested in chartering again next year on the Sunday of the air and water show (August 16, 2015.)  It couldn’t possibly be cancelled two years in a row, right?”

Bonnie Bienert
Judson University

We spent a lot of time this season sending out pre-charter emails to reassure clients who were concerned about the weather. Fortunately, they all know that we are committed to providing safe and fun events.

We monitor weather radar conditions very carefully. And our captains and crews are highly experienced. They’ve all been out on Lake Michigan when the weather suddenly turned from sunny and beautiful to black and stormy or heavy with fog.

It happens (in Chicago!) and we’re always prepared. But we never cancel charters. You’ve already invited guests. The food’s been ordered. Our yachts are large enough to have your group inside (where it’s cozy and heated). If the weather is very threatening, we will stay in the harbor. Otherwise, we cruise!

Chicago – Home to World-Class Architecture

Ask someone who’s never been to Chicago what they’d expect to see on a visit here. You’ll find that expectations may be far different than reality. Tourists, especially from abroad, seem to know Chicago as the place where Al Capone ruled in the ‘30s or where Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to stardom (the latter is far preferable to the former!).

But ask someone who’s visited here what most impressed them and you’ll generally hear “Chicago’s beautiful architecture”. Especially the world-famous Chicago skyline.

Chicago Skyline

We can’t help but agree. And we consider ourselves blessed because from April through October each year, we pretty much live at Burnham Harbor. We get to view the Chicago skyline on a daily basis. In the morning, when the rising sun bathes Lake Michigan with sparkly, glittery beauty. In the afternoon, as the skyline becomes a regal backdrop against the sandy beaches lining Lake Shore Drive. And our favorite — in the evening, when sunset settles over the shoreline and skyscrapers are aglow with twinkling lights as a wash of gold and pink fades behind. Our city is truly spectacular!

When first-time visitors are out on one of our private yacht cruises, they often ask us about our favorite buildings in Chicago. Not an easy question!

We’ve asked some of our friends to share their favorites. Here’s what we heard….and why:

  • the John Hancock Center (lovingly called “Big John” by Chicagoans), our X-braced black steel giant, now home to TILT, which does just that from the 94th floor
  • the Prudential Building, sleek, solid and linear with its limestone facade
  • the Wrigley Building, the grande dame of the Mag Mile, clad in glistening terra cotta tiles
  • 333 West Wacker, the green-glass beauty that curves around a bend in the Chicago River, a favorite with Free Spirit Charter guests who take our Gypsy Spirit river cruise
  • Aqua, Jeanne Gang’s futuristic Lakeshore East beauty with balconies of rippling layers
  • Marina City with its bizarre corncob twin towers
  • Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s architectural gem and the tallest building in Chicago
  • the trifecta, the 57-acre Museum Campus, home to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium
  • Trump Tower, the glittering silver-glass skyscraper on the Chicago River and another Skidmore, Owings & Merrill design (preferably minus “the Donald’s sign)

So what would you say? If you had to name your favorite Chicago building, what would it be? We’d love to know.

We’re always looking for local feedback — from the people who know and love our city — to share with first-time visitors to Chicago who cruise with us. Include your name and why you chose the building you did, and we’ll use it on a list we’re compiling to share with our guests.

Can you say Chicago Pride?

Our summers are focused around Burnham Harbor and being out on Lake Michigan. It’s the price we have to pay for owning a private yacht charter company ;)

We’re crazy busy during season, but every once in a while, something happens to make us look up from what we’re doing.  Yesterday’s celebration of Jackie Robinson West 2014 U.S. Little League Championship was one of those every-once-in-a-while moments. Seeing hundreds of cheering Chicagoans lining the parade route and thousands more gathered in Millennium Park made us wish we had a day off. We had to settle for live feeds and watching the reruns on television.

Jackie Robinson West Players

Photo from Chicago Mayor’s Office

As lifelong Chicagoans, we love this town. But it makes us sad to see the negative press Chicago has been getting for the gun violence, particularly on the South Side. We all agree it needs to be stopped. This is not the Chicago we want to show the world….and not just because our business is heavily dependent on tourists visiting Chicago.

But seeing the proud, happy faces of these thirteen youngsters and their families and coaches gives us hope that things can be different…..and better. If these young ballplayers can do what they did — working so hard to win not just a championship, but the love and admiration of an entire city — then the future is wide open for more reasons to celebrate Chicago.

Our town loves its sports teams, good or bad (the Cubs, for instance). We rally behind the winners and the losers. But rarely have we seen a losing team handle themselves with more grace and humility than the Jackie Robinson West players exhibited. It makes us proud to say we live in Chicago.

Thank you, Jackie Robinson West players. You’re an inspiration to us all and you’ve helped make this a wonderful Chicago summer.

Happy Labor Day, Everyone.  Celebrate with Chicago pride.

Entertaining Clients in Chicago.

There’s a reason why tourists love visiting Chicago in the summer. Actually, there are many reasons. A wealth of museums, world class architecture, outstanding restaurants, great theater, Chicago blues and jazz clubs, interesting and diverse neighborhoods, glorious parks and bike paths, Millennium Park with its free concerts, the Bean, Divvy rental bikes and Lake Michigan, to name a few (if we missed anything you love, feel free to let us know).

Since Chicago is such a mecca for entertainment and things to do, it stands to reason that it’s also a wonderful town for business entertaining. Everything from sophisticated nightlife to picnicking in one of the city’s beautiful parks. With so much to choose from, it can be challenging to decide what to select when you have clients you want to entertain.

Entertaining Clients

Choose Chicago is one of our favorite resources for business entertaining in Chicago. The site offers every possible option for pulling together a successful business meeting or event – from venues to hotels, transportation around town as well as to and from the airports, caterers, entertainers and more. We recommend their handy and helpful Chicago Planning Guides to visitors new to Chicago. Our meeting industry colleagues often tout the Official Meeting Professionals Guide as a great tool for planning an outstanding event.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention OUR favorite venues for entertaining clients in Chicago – our Gypsy Spirit and Free Spirit luxury yachts. There’s something very special about a private yacht charter. If you want to truly impress your clients or have a very important business meeting to conduct, hosting it on a luxury yacht might be the difference between landing that big new contract or missing the boat (sorry, couldn’t pass that one up).

Whatever you decide…..whether you take your clients to an upscale 5-star restaurant off the Mag Mile, an authentic Italian Trattoria on Taylor Street or a picnic in Lincoln Park, you’re bound to enjoy entertaining in Chicago.

It’s almost time! The 2014 Chicago Air & Water Show.

The 2014 Chicago Air & Water Show is this weekend, Saturday, August 16th and Sunday, August 17th from 10am – 3pm. Chicagoans start flocking to the lakefront early in the morning to get a great spot to watch one of the most exciting events of the summer.

Love aerial acrobatics, daredevil performances and parachute jumpers? Then you know where we’re going. And where you should be going if you’re looking for family fun in Chicago!

With headliners like the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, the Firebirds and more, it’s the show our city looks forward to all year and one of the highlights of summer in Chicago.

Our favorite viewing spot is on the decks of the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit (you knew we’d say that)! Captain Joe has figured out exactly where to position the boats for optimum aerial show watching. But if you’re not on a yacht (we’re all booked this year), the next best spot is at North Avenue Beach or anywhere between Oak and Fullerton along Lake Michigan.

Want a little pre-show highlight? Here’s a peek at the Air & Water Show from previous years.

Wherever you choose to watch, we hope you have a wonderful time!

Thank you for a great cruise!

This is our goal with every charter cruise we run! Our business is helping you host memorable events and we’re happy to be receiving feedback like this:

“We had another fantastic time, will be back, and will continue to spread the word!”

“Everyone had a great time. You will be our “go to” charter service going forward and I will recommend to others as well.”

“We had a fabulous time! Thank you!”

There’s still lots more summer to celebrate in this town!

Yes, we’ve heard people complain that it’s not hot enough. But we think this has been a spectacular Chicago summer so far. Blue skies, sunshine, strings of perfect 70-something temperatures. We’ll take it. We’ll take it!

Best of all is that there’s still another 7-1/2 weeks of boating season on Lake Michigan. We put the Gypsy Spirit in dry dock at the end of September, but the Free Spirit will be cruising till October 29th this year.

So If one of those “meant to do’s” that you never got around to was to book a private yacht cruise, you’ll be happy to know there’s still a little time before season officially ends. You just might be able to squeeze in a fun family gathering, a get together with friends, or host a company party before the boats go to bed for the winter.

To book a charter or check dates, give us a call at 708.361.2220 or request a quote.

Top ten reasons to book a private yacht cruise

 

How to Host a Best Ever Company Party

Coming up with clever new ideas for your company party can be challenging. You want something memorable. Not the same old summer picnic (not that we don’t LOVE picnics!), but something your staff will talk about for years to come.

We have clients that book their company party with us year-after-year. Could be because summer seems so fleeting in Chicago, and we all want to spend as much time as possible doing things we can’t do year round. Like cruising on Lake Michigan. Or maybe because there’s something very special about getting your group together on a private yacht for a lazy summer afternoon.

Company PartyWhatever type of party you choose, here are some tips on how to host a great company outing:

• Pick a venue that’s special. Could be the newest hotspot that everyone’s dying to see (being first is always fun!). Or you might rent out a spa for a day and treat everyone to massages and mani/peds. Or course, we’re partial to a party on a private yacht on a gorgeous summer day.

• It’s not a party without food. Chicago is a food town with one of the top steak houses in the U.S. and a vast variety of ethnic fare.  On the Free Spirit yachts we offer outstanding menu options from some of the best catering companies in Chicago. Choose from an array of mouthwatering menus, all designed to delight your company party guests. And of course we offer beverage service — from soda/juice to premium open bar.

• Don’t forget the music. Chicago is known for its blues roots. No Chicago-themed party is complete without some Chicago Blues in the playlist. Or if your budget allows, book a live band or DJ.  For an evening cocktail party, book a sexy trio or make a playlist that includes your favorite music.

A great company party will have your staff talking about it long after the event is over. Hopefully you’ll get comments like this:

Hi Joe and Angela,

I wanted to send you a note to tell you what an absolutely AMAZING time we all had on Thursday!!!  Everything was perfect!  The food was great, the staff was awesome and the boat was beautiful!!!  Thanks for everything you did to make this a fantastic day!

Shannan (Tarshis)
Senior Operations Manager
The Futures Company

 

What a week for cruises in Chicago

Cruising on Lake Michigan is a fantastically fun experience and one of the best ways to enjoy our city.

The spectacular Chicago skyline, the tranquility of cruising on our beautiful lake and connecting with friends, family or colleagues – all make for a great time.

Then there’s our weather.

Let’s just say, we don’t live in Chicago for the climate! Over the past week, we’ve “enjoyed” what seemed to be a variety of seasons…..with the weather changing hourly. Starting out with beautiful blue skies and glistening blue waters; then ending with foggy scenes out of an Alfred Hitchcock film.

Lake Michigan Cruises in ChicagoNot that this is unusual for our fair city. Here’s a letter from a client written in August, 2009:

Hi Angela,

“Please thank all your staff for their help with our cruise yesterday. Our group had a wonderful time despite the unseasonably cool weather.  We look forward to hosting again with you next summer.”

“Thanks Again!”

Blair A. Bedalow
Member Events & Catering Coordinator
The Buckingham Athletic Club

Despite the “what season will we have today” weather, like Blair’s group, we had a wonderful week of cruises. While Chicago weather is a huge variable that we can’t control, all of our groups were able to get out and enjoy their events. And that’s something we CAN count on!

Have your next employee meeting on a luxury yacht cruise!

Want to pump up staff morale? Imagine if you had your next employee meeting on a luxury yacht cruise.

Summer is the perfect time to do all the outdoor things you’ve been longing for all winter. And that’s not limited to personal playtime (although we’re huge fans of playing)!

For example, imagine how productive a staff meeting or sales meeting could be if you moved it out of the office….especially if you moved it outside. Fresh air, tempting food and a change of scenery can do wonders for creative brainstorming or problem solving.

Let’s take it a step further and add some more enticements. Move your meeting onto a luxury yacht. Now you’ve got the cool blue waters of Lake Michigan, the spectacular Chicago skyline as a backdrop, and sea gulls sailing by as you and your team relax, recharge and do some problem solving in an easy, laid back setting.

After being cooped up all winter, hosting a company meeting on a luxury yacht is probably the nicest thing you can do for your staff. And from what we hear from corporate clients who book with us year after year, the payback in employee engagement is huge.

If you’d like to find out more about bringing your staff on a Free Spirit Luxury Yacht cruise, we’d love to talk to you, 708-361-2220.

Company Yacht Cruise

Boating season in Chicago has started!

Can you say YACHT SEASON?!

Finally! Chicago harbors are officially open. After the longest, coldest winter we can remember in years, this town is ready to rock some sunshine!

Boating Season in Chicago

We’re so excited to be back on the water. Our yachts are already busy with spring charters, and we’re booking parties and events for the rest of the summer.

This year, we’ve added some new catering options, which we think you and your guests, will absolutely love. More variety. New menus. All scrumptiously fresh, beautifully presented and yummy! So you’ll have lots of delectable options for your next party (or meeting) on Lake Michigan.

If you’ve got any dates in mind where you’d like to charter the Gypsy Spirit or the Free Spirit, don’t wait too long. Both boats are already booked for the 4th of July fireworks show and the Air & Water Show.

Speaking of booked up, we’re only doing one Merlot & Massage Cruise this year. Tuesday, June 17th. So if you’ve been kicking yourself for missing last year’s, go sign up while there’s still room. It’s one of our most fun cruises of the summer! SO much fun that a number of clients now host private M & M cruises for their friends.

Enjoy the weekend!