In today’s climate, for many owners charter is an absolutely crucial part of superyacht ownership. But the need to attract charter clients can often result in a lot of compromising. Choosing a homeport for example can be difficult as often the best homeports are not necessarily high on the list of charter hot spots. Traditionally many homeports have been a place for maintenance and repair and destination marinas have been a place to squeeze in, stern to, and be seen. But a new breed of marina is emerging; one that is almost a village in itself, promoting a sense of community, privacy and escape for both owner and charterer.

Built on a former naval base in the quiet coastal town of Tivat, Porto Montenegro is one such place, going one step further than offering just another transient marina in the Med. With luxury residences, shops, an International Knightsbridge School and soon a five star hotel along with many other developments, Porto Montenegro is a true homeport and community. Montenegro is also going to be the site of a new community and marina, Luštica Bay, a 17,000-hectares ‘town’ that will have into two marinas, over 1,500 residences, the country’s only golf course, five star hotels and retail spaces. Considering Montenegro’s proximity to charter favourites like Croatia and Greece, as well as Italy and Turkey, it is a convenient homeport and charter jump off point.

Porto Montenegro

One man who is in a unique position to understand the importance of a marina for both the owner and charterer is Charles ‘Buddy’ Darby. With over 25 years experience developing luxury properties and resorts and his own charter yacht, the 47m Perini Navi sailing yacht Andromeda la Dea, Darby set out to make his latest Caribbean development, Christophe Harbour on St Kitts, something different. “There are enough marinas out there that are just for provisioning and maintenance,” Darby told us when we caught up with him earlier this month. “I didn’t want to create just another marina. So we are creating more of a homeport and community. For owners, [Christophe Harbour is] a compound that will be home for them but also enhance the charter experience. The community is more of a draw for charter than a boat that is sitting on a dock with everyone else in Antigua.” Located in the Caribbean Leeward Islands, the project spans 2,500 acres, half the size of St Barths, and will feature a marina village, 300-acre superyacht marina and harbour for yachts up to 91m, an 18-hole golf course, hotels, restaurants, shopping and private membership clubs.

“I didn’t want to create just another marina.
So we are creating more of a homeport and community."
- Charles 'Buddy' Derby, owner of Andromeda la Dea

The creation of a ‘marina village’ puts spots like Porto Montenegro and Christophe Harbour in a different category to traditional superyacht ports. For newer superyacht destinations, competing like-for-like against Monte Carlo, Carpi or Porto Cervo would be futile; celebrities made them places to be seen decades ago. Their draw is in their heritage and DNA. But the traditional spots are also overpriced and overcrowded, leaving room for newcomers with something different to offer. "Our findings regarding the dramatic shortage of superyacht berthing in the Mediterranean and a deficit of quality services helped us form our vision for [Marina Port Vell's] renovation," Martin Bellamy, chairman and CEO of Salamanca Group said to us when we asked about the marina's developments earlier this year. While not a 'town' in the same way as Luštica Bay will be for example, Marina Port Vell has focused on transforming itself into more of a destination and hub in itself, rather than just a place to berth. It is about going the extra mile.

A render of Christophe Harbour

"Our observations have been that megayacht owners are preferring calmer, much more peaceful places," Levent Baktir, general manager for Palmarina Bodrum told The Superyacht Owner. "We have added value to the region in a different segment and created our own identity." With space for 69 superyachts of 40m+ to moor throughout the year, as well as technical services for 140 boats up to 45m, a hotel, restaurants and night clubs with luxury properties around, Palmarina is another marina community setting itself up in one of the up and coming superyacht cruising spots.

One of the inevitable consequences of demand outweighing supply in the traditional hubs is that less effort needs to be put into attracting clients. People will come anyway. As a result, there has never been a better time for new destinations to start luring superyacht owners to their shores with superior service, superior facilities and competitive pricing. It’s certainly time to look further afield.

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