Asia Yachting expands with new brands, markets and offices
Having opened a Thailand office to widen its regional reach, Asia Yachting is preparing to showcase Prestige models and the MCY 70 Skylounge’s Asia premiere in Hong Kong.
Asia Yachting started this year with a splash, launching its new representation of Monte Carlo Yachts, Prestige and Beneteau Grand Trawler in five key Southeast Asian markets with a big display at the Thailand Yacht Show.
The highlight was the regional debut of the Prestige 420 just four months after the world premiere at the Cannes Yachting Festival of what has become the brand’s fastest-selling model. Over the summer, the hull shown in Phuket was transferred to Hong Kong, Asia Yachting’s home city and setting of the dealership’s next Asia debut: the MCY 70 Skylounge.
Eight months after the global debut of Monte Carlo Yachts’ first-ever Skylounge model in Miami in February, Asia Yachting will stage the model’s regional premiere in October, ahead of the Hong Kong Yacht Show in November.
Olivier Besson, CEO and founder of Asia Yachting, says: “I believe the Skylounge model is very, very appealing in the Asia market, where people are usually keen to have protection from the sun so will appreciate a temperature-controlled, indoor environment on the flybridge to offset the humidity.
“The foredeck on MCY models is such a fantastic space to enjoy the outdoors, so Monte Carlo Yachts has taken advantage of the flybridge to create this extra indoor living space, where you can still enjoy a 360-degree view, and if the weather’s nice, you can open the roof or windows. The other major advantage is that there’s also only one helm station, which creates more space on the main deck.”
Now 13 years old, Asia Yachting has recently been enjoying a significant growth spurt typical of a young teen. Even last summer, the Hong Kong-founded company headed by Besson and Chairman Franklin Heng already had to expand its head office in Aberdeen to accommodate its increasing head count.
At the start of this year, its representation of Monte Carlo Yachts and Prestige was expanded from Hong Kong and Macau to also include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
The company also acquired a new line, Beneteau’s Grand Trawler, for the same seven markets to expand a portfolio that also includes Nautique in Hong Kong and the Philippines, and Fountaine Pajot in the Philippines.
Asia Yachting is now serving its Southeast Asian territories from its stylishly outfitted Thailand office in Phuket Boat Lagoon, which complements its Hong Kong headquarters and Philippine hub in Manila, and increases the company’s total staff to just under 50. The company also works with local partners in selected markets such as in Malaysia with Pen Marine, headed by industry veteran Oh Kean Shen.
TAILORED DESIGNS, BOUTIQUE SERVICE
For over a decade, Asia Yachting has built its reputation as one of Monte Carlo Yachts’ leading global dealers, representing the Groupe Beneteau brand since 2013. Sales highlights include the first hulls of the MCY 65, 70, 80, 86 and 105 models, helping make Asia a key market for the Italian luxury yacht builder, whose flybridge motor yachts are exclusively designed by Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard of Venice-based Nuvolari Lenard.
“The positioning of Monte Carlo yachts is very high-end and boutique. It’s probably the most customer-oriented brand and the one that offers the highest level of customisation,” Besson says of the yard whose yachts range from the new MCY 66 (successor of the 65) to the flagship 105.
“This customer-oriented, service-focused approach matches Asia Yachting’s philosophy, spirit and DNA, as we’re also very close to our clients. We don’t consider the client as just a buyer but someone that deserves a full, tailored service.”
Besson says most Asia-based owners of MCY yachts have taken the opportunity of visiting the builder’s shipyard in Monfalcone and the Nuvolari Lenard design studio in Venice, about a 1½-hour drive away, where they can choose from the range of luxury materials and furnishings the design studio offers to buyers of their custom-built superyachts and megayachts.
Many owners from Asia also attend the yard’s summer ‘Reveal’ events in Italy, in which a new yacht is typically unveiled at a lavish private event ahead of the model’s public premiere.
“We have many recurring MCY owners. Monte Carlo Yachts really creates a family feel among owners, one reason they’re so keen to upgrade within the brand. It’s worth noting that most first-time MCY owners are not first-time yacht owners, because it takes the experience of having had other boats before to really appreciate what is so special and different about this brand.”
Asia Yachting’s recent achievements also include being named Prestige’s Dealer of the Year for 2020. One of Groupe Beneteau’s France-based builders, Prestige offers motor yachts from the popular 420 to the new X70 and Besson believes they’re the ideal introduction to the world of luxury yachts.
“Prestige builds fantastic boats,” says Besson, who says multiple models including the 420, 460, 520, 590 and 630 will be on display at November’s Hong Kong Yacht Show. “I think Prestige builds the best entry-level luxury yachts. The models are very reasonably priced and offer huge volume and all the features of the leading yachts.”
If MCY yachts are fitting for the top echelon of Asia Yachting’s pyramid of clients, Prestige is on the next rung, more affordable but often still requiring crew or at least full-time management. As such, Asia Yachting offers an all-in package to ease the burdens and complications for owners.
“We’re trying to make Prestige yachts as accessible as possible to our clients by offering a full-package service where we cover all maintenance and management for the year, including providing the berth and mooring. We have our own people look after the boat year-round, while clients can drive the boat by themselves or hire a captain when they take the boat out,” Besson says.
“We don’t aim to generate profit from yacht management. It’s purely to support clients and bring them the best experience of owning a yacht. We’re basically trying to make the experience of owning a boat enjoyable, affordable and hassle-free.”
In addition to full service, Asia Yachting now offers a range of brands that cover various sizes and styles of motor yachts up to superyachts, from Monte Carlo Yachts (66-105) and Prestige (420-X70) to Beneteau Grand Trawler (62ft) and Nautique (20-25ft).
The Grand Trawler dealership is a rare partnership as it’s one of Beneteau’s six motorboat ranges. Besson believes the line is complementary to Asia Yachting’s other brands, not just because of its size but the fact it offers an economical introduction to long-range cruising.
“Beneteau is expanding the size of its motorboats with the new Grand Trawler range, which we believe is a very complementary and very appealing range for the clients we are targeting. The focus is on volume and range, so I think this will also be a very interesting product for the Asian market.”
At the same time, American builder Nautique offers high-speed fun on its top-of-the-line tow boats designed for waterskiing, wakeboarding and wakesurfing, the latter a favourite of Besson’s as the boarder surfs on the wake of the boat, only using a tow rope to get up.
Last year, Asia Yachting sponsored Super Air Nautique G23 and G25 models for its fifth annual Nautique Wakefest in Hong Kong, which featured a record 170 athletes at Tai Po Waterfront Park including riders from China, Japan, Singapore and Taipei.
“Nautique is a very important product for us. We have many owners who also own a Nautique as a ski boat or for towing other water toys,” Besson says. “Nautique is so appealing because it builds the best boats for wakesurfing, which is a great sport because you’re literally just surfing on the boat’s wake, so when you fall, you can’t hurt yourself. It’s safe and fun.”
HEALTHY HK, BROKERAGE MARKETS
New sales dominate Asia Yachting’s business, but brokerage also plays both an important business and strategic role, with the company offering trade-in solutions.
“Brokerage is a very strategic business for us because a lot of owners are keen to upgrade if we can help them to sell their existing boat. Brokerage is also a regional business and increasingly global, as sometimes a boat that has been in Hong Kong for many years may not be so exciting for that market but is for somewhere else in Asia or the world,” Besson says.
“Earlier this year, a lot of people initially listed their yacht [for sale] and then withdrew it because they realised they’d actually use it more in the current Covid-19 situation.”
For Besson, the coronavirus has reinforced the value of boating in Hong Kong, where restrictions have never extended to the great outdoors, leading to a huge uptake in boating activity and owners using their yachts not only more often but more frequently for overnight stays.
“People realise they will travel less and that being in Hong Kong and that boating is the best way to escape the city and have some fun,” says Besson, who admits boating activity in Thailand has suffered as the industry is more dependent on tourists and yacht owners based elsewhere.
“Overall, during Covid-19, the effect has actually been positive on the Hong Kong market and not as bad as we imagined it could be elsewhere.”
Hong Kong will remain the heart of Asia Yachting’s business, but the company is working hard to live up to its new responsibility as a regional dealership. Although the coronavirus may have scuppered the initial momentum in Southeast Asia at the start of the year, there’s more to come.
“We have an office open in Thailand now, a partner in Malaysia and we’re looking at whether to establish our own office in Indonesia or team up with potential partners,” he says. “We’re also looking at other places like Singapore, although we’ll look more closely at this when the situation stabilises.”