Beyond the Côte d’Azur: The Marinas Attracting a New Generation of Superyacht Owners
Opulent, extravagant and endlessly alluring, the superyachting industry is one which thrives on the most ambitious of aspirations. However, it’s a realm which matches those aspirations with an often overlooked and misunderstood market dynamism; the UHNW individuals of the world represent a sector of society which changes with every generation, resulting in the industries associated with superyachting adapting to meet ever-evolving needs and desires.
The simplest way to understand this is to look at generational differences among the extremely wealthy, and that which sets apart a new generation of superyacht owners from the previous one.
A Sea Change in Superyachting for UHNW Millennials and Gen Z
Around ten years ago, there were concerns within the superyacht and shipbuilding industries that certain factors – an ageing customer base, recession, changing tastes – were set to cause a downturn in enthusiasm for yachting. It came to be that the opposite was true: a younger generation of yacht owners arose with the new millennium, dynamising the industry to new heights that have future-proofed commissions and building projects for the years to come.
Indeed, younger UHNW individuals have embraced yachting and the more ostentatious aspects of their wealthy lifestyles… albeit in ways that are distinct from the generation that made superyachts such an iconic market force through the 80s, 90s and 2000s.
One of the key differences has been the ways in which these vessels are used. Previous generations of superyacht owners tended to view their yachts as second or third homes, mooring them in the archetypical luxury marinas of the world: St. Tropez, Key West, Monte Carlo and in famous and popular locations across the Mediterranean. They rarely set sail on the open ocean – except perhaps to be showcased in regattas or certain high-calibre races – and there was a greater emphasis on interiors and privacy than there was on performance.
Intrepid Aspirations and Expanding New Horizons
Without delving into too much detail, millennial and gen-Z yacht owners have taken a radically different approach. The yachts being bought and commissioned today are – as perhaps they always should have been – vessels to sail, to voyage, to explore the world. With younger UHNW individuals increasingly valuing experiences over possessions, the superyacht is an opportunity to open the world to their imagination. It’s a vehicle by which to explore hidden corners of the globe, seek out the all-important essence of ‘authenticity’ so valued by the younger generation, and make the industry their own.
Contemporary superyachts reflect these more youthful values in other ways too; they’re faster, more efficient, and are built according to greener credentials. There’s less emphasis on interiors dripping with gold and Italian marble (although interior design is hitting new heights in a number of other, equally exciting and luxurious ways) and more emphasis placed on performance.
It’s a truly fascinating time for the superyacht industry. With this renaissance of enthusiasm for luxury ocean-going vessels, various countries and coastal locations across the globe have responded with innovation, allure and some seriously impressive building projects. While the French Riviera will forever have its appeal, it’s time to take a closer look at the superyacht marinas attracting a new generation of superyacht owners, and uncovering the hottest places to sail to in 2023 and beyond.
Miraggio Spa Resort, Halkidiki, Greece
The Greek islands are, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the ‘old school’ destinations for superyacht owners and those chartering vessels, and it’s not hard to understand why. However, the marina at Miraggio Spa Resort on the island of Halkidiki has made this list for one significant reason: it was built with a younger generation of yachter in mind, and has made significant waves as a result of its committed ecological promise and approach.
Able to accommodate superyachts of up to 40 metres – the Greeks don’t do things by halves – Miraggio marina was designed and constructed to reduce its environmental impact, integrating the marina into its beautiful surroundings and using sustainable materials. Water circulation was boosted to minimise bacteria building up and harming the hulls of the yachts (something that will surely become commonplace in years to come), and to ensure the sustainable self-cleaning of the marina as a whole.
With incredible azure seas, beautiful mountain and forest views and a world-leading spa on-site, it’s no wonder this incredible marina is already making the bucket lists of yachters of all ages.
Port Takola, Thailand
Thailand’s prime minister stated in 2021 that he wanted the country to become a hub for superyachting, keen to attract the UHNW tourists to a country previously associated with gap year students and backpackers. The glittering jewel in this (so far successful) plan has been the creation of Port Takola marina in Krabi, which transformed a 110-acre site into an incredibly beautiful marina with 48 berths.
Naturally sheltered from the tropical elements and with a location perfect for exploring the amazing biodiversity of Thailand, it’s pitch-perfect for younger yachters seeking adventure. Turquoise waters lap at various fascinating islands and rock formations, and you’re never far from a jungle, remote village or vibrant city in this archipelago. Coupled with the world-famous culinary scene and opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the island’s amazing wildlife, it truly ticks all the right boxes for a new generation of superyachting explorers.
Ayia Napa Marina, Cyprus
Known for its thumping EDM party scene and iconic nightclubs, Ayia Napa on the beautiful island of Cyprus has long been an attractive destination for travellers of all stripes. The recently-opened Ayia Napa Marina is positioning the port town as the place to be for superyacht owners exploring the eastern Mediterranean, and the developers have gone all-in to make it as alluring as possible.
The results are impressive, and sure to maintain the town’s credentials among the younger elite. With a pair of 100-metre towers offering luxury accommodation and panoramic views, a high-end shopping quarter and an array of restaurants providing luxurious Levantine cuisine, there’s plenty of reasons to moor a yacht in this stylish and modern marina. It’s a stone’s throw from some of Cyprus’ most famous beaches, and a key stopping point on some of the most sought-after Mediterranean cruise routes, too. What’s not to love?
It’s somewhat surprising that Dubai – surely the number one luxury destination in the Middle East, if not the world – hasn’t until now had a dedicated superyacht marina capable of meeting the UAE’s astonishing demand for yachting facilities.
Dubai Harbour is, in true Emirati style, an astonishing development located alongside the world-famous Palm Island. It boasts almost 2 million square metres of prime coastal developments. There’s a cruise ship terminal, seemingly endless luxury retail space, an arena for world-class events, a mall, a beautiful yacht club and plenty of opulent residences on site. A spectacular 135-metre lighthouse looms over the ocean gateway of Dubai Harbour, beckoning in the crowds of rich and beautiful yachters keen to get a slice of what this incredible city has to offer.
Perhaps most impressively, Dubai Harbour is showcasing a range of eco-conscious and sustainable initiatives, aiming itself squarely at a younger generation of yachters. We’ve no doubt it’s sure to become a phenomenal must-visit location – its first couple of seasons have more than established the marina as a roaring success.
Marina d’Arechi, Italy
Italy’s sumptuous Amalfi Coast is, like the aforementioned Greek Islands, no stranger to the world of superyachting. Indeed, it’s the quintessential superyacht stopping point, allowing vessel owners a chance to unwind in true dolce vita style.
However, a relative newcomer to the Italian marina scene – the breathtaking Marina d’Arechi in Salerno – is remarkable for being aimed squarely at a younger yachting set, keen to make this part of the Italian coastline their own.
They’ve achieved this by levelling up what younger UHNW individuals crave most from their travels: authenticity. Marina d’Arechi is located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and boasts 340,000 square metres dedicated to 1,000 berths (80 of which are for yachts up to 100 metres in length) which give prime access to the historic streets of Salerno. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, and its eco-conscious design allows for immersive travel, truly letting visitors – even those pulling in on 100 metre yachts – feel like they are tapping into the authentic spirit of this corner of Italy.
Ibiza Old Town Marina, Spain
Ibiza may still be synonymous with the rave and trance scene it established back in the 90s, but the Old Town of the Balearic island has always been a best-kept secret for those in search of life’s finer things. The development of the Old Town Marina was a hugely welcome addition, drawing in superyacht owners from across the Mediterranean and further afield, and promising high-end amenities alongside a relaxed pace of life and year-round sunshine.
The port of Ibiza previously provided booths for yachts measuring up to 40 metres. The Old Town Marina clearly set out to attract some of the most awe-inspiring private vessels on the sea, as it established ample capacity for yachts of up to 185 metres, making it an attractive destination for some UHNW individuals to rub shoulders with their peers – it’s a popular spot for Hollywood A-listers and business moguls alike. This comes with a host of beautiful restaurants, bars and accommodation options, perfect for spending the season in this enviable location.
Cala del Forte, Italy
The spectacular new marina in Ventimiglia, Italy is only 10 miles by boat from the Principality of Monaco – probably the quintessential old school superyacht destination – and yet provides a stunning alternative for those seeking a more tranquil and ‘authentic’ place to moor their vessel.
With 171 berths and room for yachts up to 60 metres in length, it has quickly become a popular spot for a younger and more dynamic yachting audience who perhaps lack the connections or the interest in mooring in Monaco.
With shops, cafes, ornamental gardens and jaw-dropping Mediterranean views, it isn’t hard to see why it’s such a sought-after destination. It’s especially attractive to yacht owners with gastronomic leanings – Ventimiglia is home to some of Italy’s most Insta-worthy food markets and restaurants, which once again lack the pretensions or old-fashioned formalities associated with Monaco across the water. Eco-conscious and ethical marina management initiatives further cement its millennial credentials, and it’s an ideal stopping point for Med cruises during the high season.
Golfito, Costa Rica
With its incredible wildlife, dense rainforest and tropical climes, it’s no surprise Costa Rica tops the lists of destinations for HNW individuals worldwide. The Golfito Marina Village and Resort opened back in 2017 to significant fanfare, offering berths for superyachts of up to 121 metres and a host of incredible amenities aimed squarely at a younger, eco-conscious audience of visitors.
Located in the Golfo Duce, the marina offers a tranquil environment guarded from the swells and unpredictability of the Pacific coast. A members-only luxury yacht club including a world-class restaurant, cigar lounge and panoramic patio is perfect for relaxation, and the resort is also renowned for its yoga classes and guided hikes through the jungle. Perfectly balancing the opulent with wellness and adventure, Golfito has quickly established itself as a modern and youthful superyacht marina par excellence.
Caroline Bay, Bermuda
As mentioned, the new generation of yachters is keen to test the capabilities of their luxury vessels, and head out with an invigorated spirit of adventure that previous generations have seemingly lost sight of. As such, races and regattas are close to the hearts of many younger superyacht owners, and few events compare to the prestigious America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta.
Caroline Bay in the ever-spectacular setting of Bermuda is the place to stay during this event (among others), and offers 80 prime berths for smaller vessels as well a further 30 berths for their much larger counterparts. Since 2018, the marina has featured the Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel, offering spa treatments, award-winning restaurants and luxury residences, and the complex offers an incredible array of watersports opportunities and the chance to explore the reefs and their marine life.
Possibly the most fascinating addition to this list (and to the world of contemporary superyachting as a whole) is this $750 million luxury development, nestled in the stunning Boka Bay of Montenegro. The former Yugoslavian nation is a thrilling newcomer to the yachting world – its beautiful bays and beaches were previously well-kept secrets, beloved by southern Europeans but almost completely unknown in the wider world.
Entering the superyacht scene with youthful energy and an unmistakable swagger, Portonovi represents the new generation’s attitude to yachting locations; a keen willingness to establish new hubs, make new destinations their own, and champion little-known marinas offering authenticity, beauty and tranquillity in spades.
It’s a destination that’s clearly signposting a shift in the luxury industries as a whole. Alongside the meteoric rise of Croatia as a luxury yachting location, Portonovi has seen the development of Europe’s first One&Only hotel and wellness spa, further cementing its reputation as a must-visit marina for yachting enthusiasts with their finger on the pulse.