Travel & Tourism Awards 2021

Page 30 LUX 2021 Travel & Tourism Awards French barge operator, Waterways & Beyond, is the parent company of Grand Victoria Cruises, which operates a luxury river yacht in the country’s famed Burgundy region. Formerly a private yacht for the De Kuyper family, well known for their distilleries around the world, the vessel was converted into a luxury hotel barge catering to eight people originally. Following being purchased in 2015 by Waterways & Beyond, it has since been renovated from top to bottom, changing the cabin configuration into a six-passenger barge, which has created a larger, more luxurious space, including cabins, an interior salon and dining area. Waterways & Beyond offers customers seeking a getaway from the daily grind of life the chance to unwind in their own private living quarters, whilst spending quality time with their family or friends, in the intimate space of the Grand Victoria, alongside providing luxury private tours to wineries, chateaux, French Markets, and other cultural heritage sites. The firm’s focus is on its incredible attention to detail, the main unique selling points which differentiates Waterways & Beyond from its competitors. The fact that Edward and his team own and operate the barge themselves allows for a personal service, with a homogenized crew. Executive Director, Edward Anderson, tells us more about the company and its core values. “Our attentive service, featuring one crew member per guest, means that our guests are well looked after and taken care of every step of the way,” he explains. “We have the Whilst cruising down the river in the heart of France’s famous wine region, it’s fair to say that an air of tranquil calm descends, and life’s stresses and worries simply melt away. This is what can be experienced with a luxury cruise, courtesy of Waterways & Beyond. We speak to Edward Anderson about life on the water. Jan21126 Waterways & Beyond Best Luxury French Barge Cruise Operator – USA pleasure of being flexible, as owners and operators, we’re able to change itineraries, meals, excursions, at the whim of our customers. It allows us to really focus on the pursuit of excellence that we feel all of our guests deserve.” The majority of the company’s clients, which are typically retired people enjoying their annual vacation aboard, or professionals looking to unwind from the rigors of life, book directly with Waterways & Beyond after finding them on the internet. This, along with word-of-mouth referral from happy customers, is how the company secures its bookings, so it’s clear to see that Edward’s dedication to client satisfaction is what really works. Being a family-run firm, Edward serves as Captain and Tour Guide, whilst his wife, Cindy, is the Interior Manager, and son, Alexander, operates as deckhand. Then three further members of staff are hired to complete the crew – an executive chef, which is paramount as most meals are cooked on-board. There are two meals off board and included in the price, one of which is lunch at a Michelin star restaurant and one lunch at a local brasserie after a jaunt to the market. Then there are two hostesses who take exceptional care of guests throughout their time onboard. “When selecting crew, we’re very specific in what it is we’re after,” says Edward. “Our chef has to come well recommended, as well as have an impeccable menu with the finest of ingredients. Our hostesses need to excel at hospitality first and foremost and have a good understanding of meeting our client’s needs, prior to our clients thinking they need something. It is this attentive touch, that makes cruising onboard the Grand Victoria so much more than simply a canal cruise experience.” Obviously COVID-19 has had a huge impact on everyone globally. The travel industry has been heavily impacted, with travel restrictions, quarantine mandates and just general safety for one’s wellbeing coming into play. There has, however, been a positive impact on Waterways & Beyond in that it caters to only six guests who charter the vessel, which appeals to those who are now a little nervous about cruising on a large river yacht and mixing with strangers. The intimacy of having a six-passenger charter vessel means that everyone is either friends or family and they all know each other. All the tours and excursions are private so, once again, there are no large tour busses, or mass guided tours, where the risk of Covid infection is higher.” Regarding the future of the travel industry, Edward truly believes that once the world begins to recover from the pandemic, that small private companies will flourish. Right now, the family is focusing their attentions on researching new excursions and routes that might appeal to new and returning guests, including cruises down the Rhone river to Avignon and a visit to the famous Chateauneuf de Pape, Pont Saint- Bénézet, and other Rhone river sights, as well as possibly cruising through the Champagne region of France. “The tourist industry is an ever-changing landscape, and as small business owners and operators, we’re always striving to be one step ahead of the large hotel chains and trends.” Company: Waterways & Beyond Contact: Edward Anderson Website: Email: [email protected]