Phuket Options from Asia Marine, The Moorings & Yacht Sourcing: ‘Charter Issue’ 2020
Home to a big choice of charter companies offering a wide range of yachts, Phuket is the starting point for Andaman Sea destinations including Phang Nga, Phi Phi, Krabi, the Similans and the Surin Islands, while Myanmar to the north and Malaysia to the south offer cross-border journeys.
Having seen a lot in over three decades of operating in Phuket, Asia Marine is now preparing thoroughly for new-look charter operations post Covid-19, with pleasure boating opening up again in June after three months of on-water lockdown.
Today, Asia Marine has a 10-strong fleet of charter yachts, with recent additions including the Azimut 55 Pillars Spirit and the classic 104ft Camara C, a British-built motor yacht launched in 1961 that’s currently being prepared for its first charter season in Thailand.
Vincent Tabuteau, one of the pioneers of Thailand’s yachting industry, arrived in Phuket in 1983 as a sailing boat skipper and created Asia Marine in 1989, so the Frenchman has lived through a lot of ups and downs including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Headquartered in Yacht Haven in the north of the island, Asia Marine has been diligently organising for life in the Covid-19 era, with the company following the WHO (World Health Organisation)
recommendations for all employees and crew.
“Over our 30-plus years of operations, we’ve been through several tourism downturns, and we know how tough it can be for everyone, but we can get through this by staying safe and working together to build confidence in yachting again,” Tabuteau says.
To help protect staff and clients, the company’s new safety standards include deep cleaning each boat after a weekly charter, placing a 24-hour hold between bookings, disinfecting surfaces, utensils and cabins, and providing new amenities for each charter.Masks and safety equipment are provided for staff and prepared for guests. Its overall efforts resulted in an Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The six-cabin Camara C is Asia Marine’s most expensive crewed charter, with a weekly rate from about US$50,000 in the summer and US$55,000 in the winter, which runs from November through April.
The company’s crewed superyachts include three sailing yachts, comprising the three-cabin Swan 86 Aspiration – with weekly summer rates starting from US$20,000 – the 95ft, three-cabin ketch Aventure, a four-cabin Sparkman & Stephens 104 and the 131ft, five-cabin La Numero Uno, the first-ever Perini Navi.
Established itineraries for longer charters include from Phuket south to Langkawi, the Similan Islands northwest of Phuket and further north to Myanmar’s Mergui archipelago, while Indonesia’s Anambas Islands, northeast of Singapore, is an increasingly popular request.
“Yachting has developed a lot in Phuket over the last three decades. Our clients used to be primarily sailors and ‘yachties’, but now we see a wide breadth of different tastes, from smaller yachts to larger luxury yachts,” says Tabuteau, whose company also represents Fraser.
“The superyacht market has developed immensely in recent years, with high net worth individuals demanding the very best from their yachts. Our experience, value, service and reliability are so important and why our charter clients keep coming back.”
Asia Marine also offers weekly bareboat charters, on monohulls and catamarans ranging from 38-47ft, while day charter options range from about US$1,100-$5,500 including fuel (four hours), with models including Pillars Spirit and the popular Galeon 460 Mija.
Nearby Phang Nga Bay, Krabi and the Phi Phi islands are the most requested destinations while the Racha islands to the south are also popular with day trippers, whose requests often focus on toys and sound systems.
However, Tabuteau says crew are just as important as the yachts and the cruising grounds. “Some charterers get attached to our crew and often request the same Captain when they come back. A good crew providing professional service makes a huge difference for both day and overnight charters, so clients tend to get attached to a particular yacht,” says Tabuteau, who says some tourists rent the same yacht for a day charter every few days.
With its vastly experienced staff, Asia Marine also specialises in yacht management and is a dealer for Galeon, Bali catamarans and Wellcraft fishing boats in partnership with sister company Asiamarine (see PROFILE), headquartered in Hong Kong.
Tabuteau, though, has a soft spot for charter as it offers a wider range of people experience of one of Asia’s most iconic cruising areas.
“We specialise in private charters, so every client’s experience is tailored to their needs. We can decorate a boat for birthdays, find a quiet romantic nook for honeymoons or set out the perfect itinerary
for those that wish to explore. Once people try it, they come back for more,” he says.
“It’s so enjoyable to be away from it all at sea, with your loved ones and friends. The experience of sleeping on a yacht is so much more memorable than staying in a villa. Waking up to a sunrise at sea is really special.”
SAILING, POWER CATS FROM GLOBAL OPERATOR
The Moorings, one of the world’s biggest charter companies, has a base in Ao Po Grand Marina in northeast Phuket where it owns Moorings 4000 and 4800 sail catamarans and a 514PC, essentially four-cabin versions of Leopard’s 40, 48 and hugely successful 51PC powercat. Sister company Sunsail offers four Jeanneau sailing monohulls.
As well as Phuket, The Moorings has a fleet of catamarans and monohulls in more than 20 bases in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, the Americas, Tahiti and Tonga in the South Pacific, and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Ikraam Galant, Business Development Manager for Asia, says the company is confident of a strong recovery once international travel resumes.
“We are gearing up for an increase in business post Covid-19. We are seeing a big shift in the travel industry from mainstream tourism to more experiential travel. Instead of travellers visiting crowded cities in large groups, we are seeing people keener on travelling with close friends or loved ones to remote holiday destinations,” he says.
“We are already seeing an early increase in demand for 2021, whether it be for the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Indian Ocean or Asia-Pacific.”
Phuket, along with the Seychelles, traditionally has a higher percentage of day charters than the other cruising destinations, where a week is the standard charter duration.
Although itineraries are flexible, a sample crewed day charter itinerary includes the private island of Maiton off Phuket’s southwest tip, lunch on board, then Kai Nok further north for more snorkelling and beach activities before returning to Ao Po.
The Moorings also offers a crewed four-day, three-night itinerary that covers Phang Nga Bay, Krabi (Koh Hong, Railay Beach, Chicken Island) and the Phi Phi Islands before returning to Phuket.
“Onboard Wi-Fi, a barbecue and toys like kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and fishing gear are frequent requests of our charter guests,” says Galant, who believes charters are not as expensive as perceived when costs are shared.
“The perception is that a private yacht charter is expensive, but when you split the cost among a group of six to eight friends or family members, the price is equivalent to staying at a resort or on a cruise liner. However, a charter with The Moorings offers a much more.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Indonesia-founded Yacht Sourcing opened its Thailand operation last year and has an office in Royal Phuket Marina on the east coast where it operates charters under two brands – Explore for day trips and Voyage for overnight and longer charters, typically between four to six nights.
The young company is proud to do things differently and is the charter central agent for the 90ft wooden motor yacht Maha Bhetra, which charters for US$5,000/night and was designed by the late Ed Tuttle, best known for his groundbreaking designs for Aman resorts and villas. Other CAs include the Azimut 80 Mirage and the 95ft Lady Eileen II.
“Many of our repeat clients come back for Maha Bhetra, which is really different to anything else out there,” says Nicolas Monges, Managing Partner of Yacht Sourcing Thailand. “They appreciate the comfort, the service, the food, the cabins, the atmosphere … and the price, too!”
Another 16 listings include Fountaine Pajot sailing cats from US$2,500/night to Sunseeker, Azimut, Riva, Sanlorenzo, Princess and Heesen motor yachts, up to 40m and 50m-plus megayachts, with the Similan and Surin islands to the north and southerly islands like Rok, Muk and Lipe among client favourites.
The Explore day charter listing features over 20 options including small powerboats from US$800 as well as sailing and power catamarans, with Phang Nga Bay, Phi Phi, Krabi and Racha the most popular destinations.
However, Monges is trying to offer a range of new experiences and looking into potential tours along Phuket’s popular west coast for those who might want to mix a cruise with cocktails and cuisine on the island.
“We’re creating a lot of charter ideas like wildlife exploration and fishing, and even sunset cruises, bachelor parties and Phuket by night.
These ideas appeal to the younger crowd,” Monges says. “We have requests for weddings or photo shoots, culinary experiences, and tastings for wine, champagne and caviar. We even have Instagram stars who just want the best backgrounds for as many photos as possible! We’re also exploring doing pick-ups from westcoast resorts instead of clients always having to start and finish on the east coast.”
The original article first appeared in Yacht Style Issue 54 (Charter Issue 2020) – see below:
To subscribe to Magzter version, visit: magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/
For more information or print subscription enquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yacht Style has released Issue 54 (July-August), its Charter Issue for 2020. Flying Fox, the world's largest charter yacht, stars on the front cover of the 208-page magazine, as the 136m megayacht prepares to return to Asia later this year.