Florida dockmaster first on deck for boaters
Richard Breem has the unusual job of making hotel guests who are not staying in the hotel feel comfortable.
Breem, dockmaster at the Hyatt Sarasota (Fla.), makes sure that boaters spending the night on their boats docked at the hotel’s pier are as comfortable as those staying in the upper-upscale hotel on Sarasota Bay.
His duties, however, go beyond extending creature comforts, such as electrical and water connections, to boats staying overnight.
“I take their calls by phone or radio, help them enter the slip without damaging the boat or dock, tie up the boat properly, register them and just get to know them,” Breem said. “I am very comfortable in the presence of boaters and I know how to delight them.”
That’s because Breem has owned a boat most of his adult life, and even lived on one that was docked in the Long Island Sound for two years. He passed a U.S. Coast Guard exam that licensed him as a captain, which allows him to operate commercial boats up to 50 tons.
That’s much bigger than anything that pulls into the 31 boat slips at the Hyatt, which can accommodate a boat up to 95-feet long. In fact, the 92-foot Lady Sarasota, a luxury yacht that’s managed by Hyatt and available to hotel guests and the general public, is one of the largest boats that ever docks there. It can seat 149 people for a reception or 120 for a banquet. The typical boat that visits the marina is 20- to 40-feet long.
“We can accommodate the Lady Sarasota with a shoehorn,” Breem said. “Our catering and banquets department caters the boat for weddings or meetings that take place on board. We can’t keep the boat at our dock long term because it prevents certain boats from getting out of their slips.”
So part of his job is to make sure there are no surprises to boaters who are in port with the Lady Sarasota.
“We always forewarn them and we’ve never had any problems,” Breem said.
Another of his job duties is to be a harborside concierge and roomservice attendant.
“I make it a point to bring out a newspaper to boaters who stay at our docks overnight,” he said. “I also offer them local information, such as the walking distance to town and where to find a good restaurant.”
About 25 percent of the boaters who keep their boats at the Hyatt docks overnight stay on their boats and the others stay at the hotel, Breem said. Some boaters just visit for the day to have lunch and use the pool.
“This is a neighborhood type of arrangement, but it’s a unique facility that requires management,” he said. “Transients that want overnight slips have to be able to get in.”
Breem also hosts sponsored programs, such as boat shows, and caters to charity events, such as offshore powerboat races.
“Those are a treat for me, because they are very knowledgeable about boating and value our services,” he said.
Breem, 63, is retired after 35 years at AT&T Bell laboratories. He was hired soon after the marina was renovated and expanded. He used his computer background to eliminate paperwork. He works two or three days a week and another dockmaster works full time.
“I can’t tell you how many people have said they want my job,” he said. “So many boaters say that after they pull up and you meet and greet them at the dock.”
Name: Richard Breem
Property: Hyatt Sarasota (Fla.)
Years in lodging: One and a half
The most important thing learned while working at a hotel: “Try to delight every guest.”
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