What makes a great yacht marina?
Written by Luke Wheeler
Last updated: 23/03/2017
Superyachts — unsurprisingly — are the crème de la crème of clients for many marinas; they bring in the most guests who will use the marina’s facilities, the most crew ready to spend their latest charter tip at the bar, and the sheer size, presence and visual of these yachts make for the biggest, most impressive spectacle a boat could provide. No marina comes across as more desirable than the one that billionaires choose to berth at.
When it comes to attracting superyachts, you might assume that location is 99% of the decision, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Port Hercule in Monaco is constantly stacked to the brim with superyachts, and no doubt the Monaco location is a huge factor.
Location, however, isn’t all that’s considered — and as time moves forward and the numbers of superyachts in our oceans continues to grow, the few original de-facto superyacht marinas are becoming less and less special as owners and decision-makers look towards fresh, unique alternatives that have more to offer in this day and age.
Yachting Pages takes a look at the key areas a good, modern superyacht marina focuses on, and why these things are so important to owners, captains and crew.
Setting, vibe, and location
I know, I know; I just said location isn’t as important anymore. That still stands, and a marina needn’t plonk itself in the heart of Monaco to be noticed by yachts these days; but a lot can still be said for the general area a marina finds itself in.
A superyacht may be looking to berth somewhere for a variety of reasons, and typically marinas offering berths large enough for these yachts don’t let their visual standards slip. No matter the reason for a superyacht needing a berth, that yacht has an image to uphold and many large yachts are brands in and of themselves; brands care about their public perception.
Superyachts get snapped by cameras in every corner of the planet they go, and dark, dingy marinas don’t quite fit the picture many of us have in mind when we imagine a luxury yacht in our heads.
Yachts won’t visit marinas on the single fact they look pretty—but it is a subconscious factor that must be considered.
Modern and plentiful facilities for guests and crew
A berth is one thing, but superyachts are rarely berthing for time off; the crew are more than likely using the port time to fully prep for the next group of guests, perform maintenance work, or to get everything together for the owner’s arrival.
The most expensive, prestigious marinas for superyachts often fall inferior to more modern developments when it comes to services and facilities; newer marinas that can’t buy the prestige of Cannes and Monaco will often instead invest in ensuring every need of owners and crew is met.
In-house agents, fuel bunkering of any type, any and all types of power, refit yards, crew accommodation, Michelin-starred restaurants, nightclubs, even on-site luxury apartment complexes and shopping malls; these are some of the facilities modern high-end marinas have. They are almost holiday villages in their own right, and the growing, fast-paced superyacht industry today loves them.
Being serious about security
Many superyacht owners shunned Antigua for years after the captain of a 50m yacht was shot dead when walking through English Harbour in 2009.
Security is of paramount importance for superyacht owners and crew. Being in charge of a multi-million pound vessel at sea is pressure enough without the added worry that the yacht, owner or crew may be put at danger during a marina stay.
24-hour manned ground security and CCTV covering every inch of the marina’s grounds is a bare minimum for most superyachts to even go near the place. Some superyachts will have or will arrange their own private security—armed guards are not unusual where permitted—but this is merely in addition to expected standards of security from the marina itself.
Shockingly good staff
If a yacht needn’t hire an agent for services whilst in a marina because the marina’s own staff are just as willing and capable – bonus! In fact, some of the best new superyacht-oriented marinas around the world pride themselves on the abilities of their staff in assisting visiting yachts and crew.
As the industry has evolved, superyacht marinas have recognised the benefit—not only to them, but to the crew of the yachts themselves—of going above and beyond what one would usually expect from a marina.
If marina staff can manage a large provisioning order at short notice for a yacht whilst the crew work on other things, it leaves an incredibly positive impression. Everyone loves efficiency.
Space and privacy
Catering for superyachts means catering to the requirements of the boat, owner, and crew. Superyachts often carry with them an extreme desire—or even, requirement—for a certain level of space and, to a point, seclusion. It’s an area where the well-known glitz-and-glam ports struggle to compete.
Whilst these giant yachts are effectively built to attract as much attention as possible, there are times when excessive attention isn’t quite as desirable; Roman Abramovich is reported to use a rather unimposing stretch of commercial docks in Barcelona to have his yachts serviced in privacy.