The Key To Feeling Bougie



One-of-a-kind Escalante helps to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience in the Florida Keys.


Big Lake, Minn. February 9, 2023 – When Paul Watler first saw a photo of the Premier Escalante on the internet, he was blown away by its over-the-top design. With a fully furnished upper deck lounge, expansive 10-foot-wide design, and luxurious finishes, it was unlike any pontoon he had seen before. The Escalante was the inspiration for Paul to start Big Pine Beach Bum Charters, a luxury island eco-tour of the Florida Keys.

As a fifth-generation conch, a term locals use to describe lifelong residents of the Keys, and a former commercial fisherman, Paul was intimately familiar with the multitude of islands, inlets, reefs, and the amazing blue water that collectively makes up the Keys. With a growing family, he was looking for a new business that would keep him close to home and involve his wife Thuy (pronounced “twee”).


“When I saw the Escalante, I was like holy cow, look at that,” Paul said as he was thinking back on the moment that spawned his burgeoning tour business. “I turned to my wife and said that’s my business.”

While charters in the Florida Keys are not uncommon, Paul knew he wanted to elevate the experience, and the Escalante was the perfect boat to make it happen.

“A lot of the sandbar charters down here are kind of rinky-dink,” said Paul. “I wanted to create a high-end experience. The Escalante really checked all the boxes…the way it looks, the furniture, the changing room, the full galley — it’s just an amazing pontoon.”

Paul’s tours offer a variety of private charter options ranging from a sunset cruise to an eight-hour excursion. He tells us the term eco-tour comes from the incredible ecosystem found in the Florida Keys. On any one of Paul’s tours, guests can see dolphins, sharks, stingrays, manatees, turtles, and countless species of fish.

“We’ll visit several uninhabited islands and some amazing coral reefs,” said Paul, describing what guests will experience. “In addition to snorkeling, we also have kayaks and paddle boards that are transparent; it’s like floating on a giant picture window.”

For those guests who want to stay dry but still take it all in, the upper deck of the Escalante provides an amazing observation platform. Paul said it’s the first place many guests go, and the view is incredible.

With a total of 580 square feet of deck space, Paul can accommodate larger groups and ensure everyone is comfortable. While the Escalante touts some of the most luxurious features found on any pontoon, it also delivers a level of stability and control thanks to its exclusive PTX hull and associated technology that Paul said is a true game changer.

“We have to navigate some pretty big water,” said Paul. “The Main Ship Channel on the west side of the Keys has a lot of crosscurrent and you can get some really big, unpredictable swells. With the PTX, the pontoon is way more stable, and you have far greater control. It gives me more confidence and our guests feel safer and more secure.”

It’s been less than a year since Big Pine Beach Bum Charters was launched, but already Paul and his wife have been doing upwards of 10 charters a month, and the phone keeps ringing.


“We’re truly living the dream,” said Paul. “I just got done giving a charter tour on a picture-perfect day in one of the most amazing places on earth. I couldn’t do this business with a kayak. The Premier Escalante has changed our lives, and every time we take people out, I feel like we’re changing their life too.”


There’s always something happening at Premier.