Sunday, 20 August 2017

Boatyard offers holiday hire for first time in decades

HOBBS of Henley is offering holiday boat hire for the first time in decades.

HOBBS of Henley is offering holiday boat hire for the first time in decades.

The company, which built its name by renting holiday boats in the Sixties and Seventies, has been appointed the first UK partner of Linssen Yachts.

Now it is offering holidays on the Thames aboard the £300,000 34.9 Grand Sturdy as well as continuing to offer day boat rental and passengers cruises.

Jonathan Hobbs, managing director, said: “We are returning to what built the business up and gave us our background.

“Hopefully this will be a success and maybe even an opportunity to create a new fleet.”

Hobbs originally offered holiday boats and self-drive day boats before developing a fleet of passenger boats following a fall in the popularity of UK holidays.

Mr Hobbs said: “We built our own holiday boats in Station Road, launched them here and operated them. There was a fleet of about 10 at its height, half of which were made here.

“In the Sixties and Seventies the hire cruisers, as they were called then, were quite like floating caravans. They had all the facilities on board but didn’t have the luxury. I think with the boom in cheap holidays abroad in the late Seventies there was a dramatic drop in interest and demand for holiday boats on the Thames.”

Around 1,500 holiday boats were available for hire on the Thames during the peak in popularity but Mr Hobbs estimates this number dropped to around 150 over the next 20 years. He said: “That’s when we decided to take Hobbs in a different direction and invested in the passenger boats.

“However, to have the opportunity to hire out this new Dutch motor yacht was something that really interested me because it is unique. You can’t hire a boat of this quality anywhere else along the Thames.”

The boat, which sleeps up to six, has a wood interior and features indoor and outdoor showers.

Mr Hobbs says he expects interest from visitors from America, Australia and Europe who are keen to explore landmarks in Windsor and London.

He said: “A Linssen holiday really leaves you feeling like you own a piece of luxury for a week or more.

“The Linssen is a stylish boat, a real head-turner. For years, this has been the kind of luxury yacht regarded as a ‘money-can’t-buy experience’ but now it can. We will be offering suggested itineraries such as a day one stay in Marlow, then on to Windsor and Runnymede before returning to Henley.”

The new boat will be launched at the Henley and Wargrave Boat Show on March 23 and 24. It will be available for weekend or weekly hire and does not require any formal training or a day licence to hire. For more information, visit www.hobbs-of-henley.com

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