International marina operator and developer, IGY Marinas, has announced that it will be expanding its operations into Europe through the development of a superyacht marina in Sète, which is conveniently located near Montpellier, France, with construction set to start at the end of the year.

P&O Marinas, a subsidiary of DP World and already running the commercial port of Sète, has been actively pursuing an interest in the leisure space and will be IGY Marinas’ joint partner on the project.

Upon completion, the facility will offer 12 dedicated superyacht berths from 50m up to and beyond 100m, with the marina offering a maximum draft of 7m (23 feet). The marina will provide electrical facilities, fuel service arrangements, in-slip grey and black water pump-out systems, high level security and Wi-Fi.

Marina guests will also have access to the IGY Anchor Club Strategic Partners, which offers a range of services, from provisioning, crew training, insurance, emergency health services, maritime travel and satellite communications.

“In 2015, going into 2016, we felt we were in a strong enough position to start buying assets in the Mediterranean,” explains Tom Mukamal, CEO of IGY Marinas, in an exclusive conversation with SuperyachtNews. “But, it’s not so easy to do – you have some big assets that trade from time to time, but they’re usually overvalued because of the way the market views value.

“Most people in the Mediterranean view marinas based on what they can sell a slip for to a retail customer, and we’ve resisted this to our core because it simply isn’t our business model. Our business model is to offer flexibility, reliability and consistency; to allow owners to go where they want to go, without having to commit €15 million to a single regulatory jurisdiction.”

"Our business model is to offer flexibility, reliability and consistency; to allow owners to go where they want to go, without having to commit €15 million to a single regulatory jurisdiction.”

Mukamal says that the firm intends to run the project similarly to its other marina projects, Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas, Isle de Sol in St. Maarten and Rodney Bay in St. Lucia – as a purely transient marina. It will provide clients “who might not want to commit €20 million to a 25-year slip, to commit €5 million, and have access to Miami, New York, the Caribbean and now France”.

Mukamal is realistic in saying that Sète, the so-called ‘Little Venice’ of France, is no Monaco, Nice, Ibiza or Los Palmas, but it’s situated close to these key locations and will provide a useful point for embarkation and disembarkation for charters, and a long-stay option for crew.

The existing marina infrastructure in Sète was influential in confirming the veracity of the project: “The infrastructure is about 80 per cent there,” continues Mukamal. “It was formally a cruise-ship terminal, so it’s got heavy power infrastructure, which just needs to be re-outfitted. It’s also an official port of entry, fully ISPS compliant, and has great access to restaurants, shops and watersports.”

Thus, the timeline for the project is expected to be a mere six to 12 months, from the date IGY Marinas signs the agreement with the port, which was in an advanced stage of negotiations at the time of writing. Completion of the project is therefore likely to be towards the end of 2018, and going into 2019.

Due to its management of big commercial operations, P&O has deep maritime experience in logistics and shore-side support, which will complement well the global network and services IGY Marinas has created to-date.

Mukamal says IGY Marinas is “actively pursuing” numerous marina opportunities in the Mediterranean and that “the idea is to roll out this partnership in other European locations”, so it’s likely that news of a further expansion is imminent.

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