Any diver or sea lover, including several of us at Poralu Marine, would tell you that the Asia-Pacific region – and in particular Southeast Asia – offers some of the world’s best diving and sailing destinations. Unlike the Mediterranean or Caribbean seas, many extraordinary cruising spots remain untouched, with an abundance of exceptional natural beauty.
Despite these attractions, the Asia-Pacific remains a largely unexplored region for superyachts. Why? Mainly because of the lack of infrastructure to welcome such giants of the seas. Only a few facilities offer superyacht moorings and in most cases, these marinas are already full.
New, high-end marine infrastructure is desperately needed in the region. However, it is no secret that constructing a marina for superyachts is an ambitious project. Things have to be done properly, with a meticulous approach to planning, engineering, construction and administration.
From the design of infrastructure to management, Poralu Marine’s dedicated team of professionals trained in the specific needs of superyacht facilities can provide bespoke expertise.
COMPREHENSIVE BUSINESS PLAN
Let’s be straight: constructing a superyacht infrastructure is a big investment. Critical design and management elements need to be considered in the preparation of a thorough business plan. Cutting corners would only lead to unattractive, unsuitable facilities and a financial disaster.
Unlike regular harbours, superyacht marinas need to address two types of customers: the usual crowd of recreational boaters, visitors and the general public; and secondly, large numbers of crew members arriving with megayachts.
To enhance the appeal of the marina, it is crucial to develop ancillary activities to make the owner’s and the crew’s stay as enjoyable as possible. High-end F&B, retail space (supermarkets, laundromats), fitness facilities, crew lounges and shuttle services to the main point of interests are examples. Essentially, the marina needs to be an entire ecosystem designed to create and foster visitation, and retain demanding customers.
A well-considered superyacht marina project business plan – meaning that which goes beyond a traditional marina development – will consider these special revenue lines and, subsequently, an unusual ROI structure.
In addition to the facilities described above, the investment plan needs to include high-end, integrated on-water infrastructure for ‘non-standard’ boats.
We believe vessels are considered superyachts upwards of 40m (130ft) or 50m (165ft), but more important than accommodating the yacht is understanding just how demanding they can be. For example, a 50m superyacht requires, on average, a crew of 10 and can easily weigh 320 tonnes, 12 times that of a 15m (50ft) boat.
Before building a superyacht marina, comprehensive technical feasibility and engineering assessments are required. This evaluation of the suitability of the site is an essential step of the global project masterplan, to fully evaluate how the construction would serve the targets of the development.
Dredging needs, anchoring systems, marina protection, power supply and custom-engineered mooring systems are examples of criteria that could positively or negatively impact the masterplan, so they require early scrutiny.
Superyachts have enormous demands for resources such as fuel, water, power and internet access, so studies dedicated to the provision of adequate services are vital. Access to the boats should be facilitated by the marina design and construction.
Security is also a crucial issue. Real-time connected CCTV, 24/7 security and remote-control gated accesses to comply with ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) are some of the examples a proper business plan should incorporate.
Covered and/or secure parking close to the mooring zone can also be a valuable asset for projects catering for superyachts, as these are high-value assets and their owners often seek privacy.
It is commonly agreed that the items mentioned above are industry standards. However, they are often neglected during the planning stage, resulting in misevaluation of the initial capital expenditures.
Even the best-equipped marina in the most attractive location would never thrive without the right people managing it. The Marina Manager and his team should have a strong understanding of hospitality, explains Cedric Le Rest, Director of Marina Operations at Poralu Marine. Attention to detail is a must because megayacht owners are generally ‘cash-rich but time-poor’.
Facilities should aim to be spotless and in perfect working order. Teams should be trained to answer positively to any request. The public-facing, front-of-house staff, at any level, from a member of the technical team to a restaurant waitress, are often the first contact that superyacht crew would have at the marina, so often create an important first impression.
In contrast to working with smaller boats, it’s very rare to have a direct discussion with the owner of a superyacht. The Marina Manager is likely to be in contact with the Captain or the owner’s representative. Making their life, and all the crew’s, easy with smooth procedures and service will have a positive impact, resulting in positive word of mouth, which can only add to a marina’s desirability as a destination.
One of the important aspects of service improvement comes through the digitalisation of the marina. Big data and algorithms are quickly making their way into berthing facilities. Marina management can now rely on more user-friendly software to collect data, rationalise the use of resources, book berths, monitor facilities and even extend to property maintenance while pushing notifications to crew members (geofencing).
Eventually, new technologies will allow marinas to offer port of entry facilities to carry out the clearance of a boat and its crew, a substantial benefit for those visitors pressed for time.
Last but not least, the sustainability of a marina is not to be neglected. Marinas can showcase their commitment to environmental protection by earning eco-friendly construction and management policy labels. They are a powerful calling card in a context of fierce competition between destinations.
Numerous countries have implemented strict regulations to protect their maritime ecosystems. Embracing them in a superyacht marina project is more than clever; it’s forward-thinking. And mitigating the impact of boating activities is one of the best guarantees of attractiveness and prestige.
Christophe Saune [[email protected]] is Director Asia Pacific for Poralu Marine, a global leader in marina design, construction and management.
The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 50. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/