A new marina, the Port Takola Marina, has begun construction on the side of Phang Nga Bay opposite to the currently existing one, with plans of completion for the first phase set for mid-2012. The marina, set to accommodate yachts between 10 meters and 35 meters, or 33 feet and 115 feet, is planned to have 250 berths upon completion and will lie on the site of a former shrimp farm next to Krabi River’s mouth, about 50 kilometres, or 30 miles, across the sea from Phuket Boat Lagoon and 3 kilometres from Krabi town on the mainland. It aims to accommodate the excess of yacht owners currently invading Phuket, especially during the November-January high season, with overcrowding being common in all of the four present-day marinas.
Suriya Na Nagara, retired Royal Thai Navy surgeon admiral, is developing the project and has hired Simon Arrol, former managing director of Camper & Nicholsons Marinas marina investment specialists for 16 years before 2008, and owner and founder of Arrol Ltd. since, as designer. The marina consultant stated that Port Takola Marina will be able to store yachts up to and during the monsoon, a service quite uncommon among Phuket marinas, which do not typically have the necessary size.
With current development phase costs rising to about 680 million baht, or US$22.1 million, Dr. Na Nagara is considering the construction of larger berths in the river area, outside the marina’s entrance channel, in a second development phase. According to Mr. Arrol, “Berths for yachts larger than 35 metres are increasing in demand and we are considering the option for the future, but we are presently focused on building the marina according to current plans.”
As excavation on the site is almost halfway through, Robert Reynolds, managing director of Krabi Consultants, the property consultant involved in the project, considers Krabi is rising as a more secluded and naturally diverse competitor to Phuket, and homes will be built near the marina, some of which will have private berths, to accommodate the demand. Mr. Arrol added: “The villas will have no more than two stories and we might also build a hotel and a hospital between the marina and the beach, although we intend to maintain a low building density to conserve the island’s more peaceful environment.”
Phuket has become a popular destination for super yachts, of lengths exceeding 45 metres, in recent years, providing year-round cruising grounds and refit and shore-side facilities. It has three large marinas on the east coast, the 180-berth Boat Lagoon Marina, the 81-berth Royal Phuket Marina and the recent 200-berth Ao Po Grand Marina, as well as one in the northeast, the 200-berth Yacht Haven Marina, and plans exist for extending Ao Chalong’s cluster of berths into a full-size marina in the future.
According to Gareth Twist, managing director of Phuket’s Yacht Solutions’ super yacht construction division Ruea Yachts, the Port Takola Marina will be a good option for yachts and cruisers going on day-long outings, offering facilities, fuel, power and water. According to him, “The new Krabi marina demonstrates that Thailand’s marine business is flourishing and will represent a perfect stopover for Phuket-based yachts.” However, as demand for larger-sized yachts increases, with Ruea Yacht having themselves unveiled a novel 60-metre yacht design for the Asian market last year in Monaco, Mr. Twist believes the new Krabi marina will still not suffice for high season demands already filling to capacity existing marinas for up to two months every year. He stated that negotiations are currently being carried out for building two more super yacht marinas, one on the east coast and one on the mainland, north of the city.
On the other hand, Superyacht Singapore Association executive director Jean-Jacques Lavigne believes poor availability of maintenance and refit facilities all around Southeast Asia is the actual issue for owners of yachts above 50 metres. “With only short stays possible in the region because of the few maintenance facilities, many yachts need to sail all the way to Australia for service, which incurs significantly more costs given the Australian dollar’s value”, he added.
Mr. Lavigne also noted that “Singapore should develop a super yacht refit centre in addition to Phuket’s existing one to accommodate ever-increasing demands, as the country is an important physical and logistical gateway in the area.” His association is currently supporting the construction of such a centre.
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