We had the good fortune of connecting with Brad Hunter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brad, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Persistence and confidence. In launching AQUAlounge I had zero experience in any aspect of the industry; boats, bars, restaurants, tours…none of it. I’ve started multiple businesses in other industries, which I also had no prior experience in, and thankfully they’ve work out so the lack of experience didn’t bother me in the least bit. It took 6 years to get city approval for AQUAlounge and there were countless times I thought it would never happen. There was always that feeling that I just had to take one more step, try one more angle before throwing in the towel. Then I’d make it a few more months before another seemingly insurmountable road block would come up. A big part of what kept me motivated was the confidence I’d get when discussing the concept in detail with others. Whenever I wound explain how it would be different, what the experience would be like then show someone readings of the what the finished product would look like, everyone’s eyes would light up. There was no hiding they fact everyone loved the idea, not just me.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My hope is what sets us apart from others is…well everything. Although we technically fall in the “dinner / bay cruise” category we don’t use any of those terms in our marketing as we are wanting to change everything about the experience. Starting with the vessel design, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. Modern design, all indoor / outdoor space, high-end finishes and furniture…more of a Mediterranean Day Club feel than a dinner cruise feel. Craft cocktails, organic food, excellent service, combined with unique experiences and themes. It was not an easy path but a fun one. Designing the vessel and creating the experiences have become a great passion of mine. It’s all I think about at times, day and night. When you hear people say, “doing something you’re passionate about” I couldn’t agree more. Enjoying the process draws you in, gets you investing all of your time and energy, but when you have a passion for it, all the work energizes you as well. In regards to our brand, we’ve been fortune to travel and enjoy some really amazing experiences around the world. We are trying to take the best from all these bring them to AQUAlounge. Places like Tulum, Mykonos, Palawan, and others have given us memories that will last a lifetime. We hope to do the same.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego has so many great spots I couldn’t even begin to pick. I always recommend roaming difference neighborhoods and see what grabs your eye. Biking the boardwalk in Mission Beach, walking along the ocean in La Jolla, the waterfront downtown are all fun ways to spend a day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I was fortunate to come across the right mix of support early on, without them there is no way I would have continued pursuing the concept. Zack Kardon, the manger at Mission Bay Sports Center loved the idea from day one has been a die hard supporter over the years helping navigate the city approval process. He taught me City Politics 101, told me who to look out for and who to reach out to. My graphic designer, Flip Spasev, made the entire process so much fun. I’d come up with an idea in my head of what the vessel might look like and he’d aways make things look even better than I had imagined. Over the years the vessel went through quite a few iterations so having someone there to turn an idea in your head to reality was amazing. And last but certainly not least is my Naval Architect, Michael Dockter. This project was anything but normal, I didn’t know anything about ship building and didn’t want the vessel to look like anything you’d ever seen. The dinner cruise industry as a whole is very old school and Michael was great at thinking outside of the box. Finding ways to work around traditional ship design rules and making my ideas work.