First time houseboat owners, Paul and Denise Lunsford, are residents of Carmel, Indiana. Previously cruiser owners, they started looking for something to suit them better, something larger and something that they could entertain on without distraction.
Paul first became interested in houseboats in 1990 when he had a company sales meeting on a rented houseboat on Lake Moroe, Indiana. But it would be September 2003 before the Lunsford's purchased their first houseboat. "The houseboat is absolutely fabulous because it allows you to move around the lake calmly." Paul says. "When you're in a cruiser you feel like you need to go fast. It is noisy and it inhibits conversation."
Now the Lunsfords use their houseboat as a family get-away when their two oldest boys come home from college, as a place to play with Denise's parents, who live nearby, and as a place to entertain business clients. The transition from cruiser to houseboat was as easy as their decision to purchase their houseboat from Destination Yachts. "Some friends of ours have a Destination Yacht houseboat and we really liked the way it was set up," Denise says. "If we wanted a basketball court inside, Destination Yachts would have done it," Paul says. "That's the kind of company it is."
Their 75 by 16 foot houseboat, located on Lake Monroe, Indiana, has a master stateroom and a bath plus two bunk cuddies that share a full bath. "The Lunsford's own a higher end houseboat," Sheldon Graber, owner of Destination Yachts says. "It is a Q6816 model, but every boat we build is custom." Destination Yachts is a custom houseboat company, building roughly 30 houseboats a year. Everything in a Destination Yachts houseboat is manufactured in-house, utilizing the local Amish workforce, located in southern Indiana.
When choosing Destination Yachts, a customer can expect royal treatment. The first thing is an invitation to the factory. "We educate our customer on how our boats are built," Graber says. Customers are then taken into the design room where they create a wish list, and Destination Yachts puts together a floor plan based on that list. Then the customers choose the designs and colors. "The customers are encouraged to come into the factory and check on the progress of their boat at any time," he adds. "They are also welcome to make minor changes." Lastly, the customer is invited to view their houseboat after everything is finished. Destination Yachts delivers the houseboat to the lake and they stay and show the customers how everything works.
Before leaving the new owner with their new houseboat, Destination Yachts leaves personal cell phone numbers so the customer can call about any concerns or questions. "Our goal is not to be the largest houseboat manufacturer, it is to be the best in customer satisfaction, quality and reputation in our segment of the market, which is the twin-hull houseboat," Graber says.
Some of the Lunsford's favorite features are the flat screen TV, the sound system, the entire up-stairs which is used for entertaining and the security of the twin-hull design. "The only way Destination Yachts builds is with the double pontoons," Paul says. "Sheldon is very passionate about it. The pontoons keep the houseboat stable, and we love that we don't need large engines on our boat. We put two little 115 horsepower Honda's on it, and we spend $50 a weekend of fuel instead of the $400 we used to spend with our cruiser."
"These are U-shaped, twin hull boats," Graber says. "Twin hulls are first and foremost about safety because they have better floatation, they are efficient and they have tracking stability." The twin hull houseboat is the only way Sheldon will build. The Lunsfords also enjoy their Amish cabinets. "One of the first things that people say (when they come on our boat) is Where did you get those cabinets? I just tell them they came with the boat," Paul says.
The Lunsfords will enjoy their houseboat for years to come, and they are very pleased with their decision to go with Destination Yachts. "Sheldon runs a very fine company and is extraordinarily sensitive to the customer's needs," Paul says. "They are just great to work with," Denise says. Customers should choose Destination Yachts because of "what sells our houseboats most: our customers," Graber says. "Our customers sell more boats for us than any of our advertising does. To other potential customers, they speak volumes."
By Cassandra Sykes