Serenity Marina – Sanya
The new Serenity Marina of Sanya is quite possibly the best of the best for marinas in China – the marina successfully hosted the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race Sanya stopover, showing just how much this new marina offers yacht owners and captains in the South China Sea
It is a scene that you see often when visiting newly completed luxury projects in China these days. In the hotel pool, children of the first guests are already frolicking in the water; nearby, workers continue to put the finishing touches on the landscaping and the construction of new retail space of what is now the newly opened Serenity Coast Marina, part of the Serenity Bay Resort project. Surrounding the marina complex, there are sets of luxury apartment blocks springing up. Even now, when seen from the sea, Serenity Marina seems crowned with construction cranes.
When I first visited the site, I was given a tour by the gregarious marina manager Godfrey Zwygart, a former French navy captain and a veteran of the yachting business in Asia. I could scarcely believe what he was telling me. In April of 2011, as we stood looking over what would be the marina basin, he spoke of how the Volvo Ocean Race would be coming to the marina in February – less than 10 months from the day. All I could see was a mud pit. A proper sea-wall had yet to be built. And though the outlines of the basin had already been filled in, there was clearly a lot to do.
Flash forward to the day when I returned to the marina, which had successfully welcomed the Volvo fleet on its arrival to Sanya in early February, and the change was breathtaking. The breakwaters, pontoons, pilings, sea walls, promenades and storefronts were all ready. The marina had been officially opened in late December, though open doesn’t seem to mean ready in Chinese. Nonetheless, the full spectacle of the Volvo Ocean Race, with its bustling race village and numerous attractions, had found a perfect home on the wide park area that was conveniently located right next to the show dock, where the finely tuned Volvo Open 70s – premier offshore racing yachts – were berthed.
Already, the organizers of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s bi-ennial Hong Kong to Hainan Race were looking carefully at Serenity being the new destination for the fleet when it arrives in October. As if to underscore this point, Sam Chan, owner of Ffreefire and a frequent competitor in Asian regattas, is the owner of the on-site hotel, where crews can be housed right next to their boats if need be.
There’s good reason to think that Sanya, rather than Qingdao, could become China’s sailing capital. Aside from the presence of a good-quality, deep-draught marina with excellent sea-wall protection for yachts, the marina opens up directly onto Sanya Bay, which lies to the south of Sanya City. Once out of the breakwater, you are in fantastic sailing conditions, as winds normally blow in from the east, giving plenty of breeze and flat waters to sail in. The weekend of the Volvo In-Port race, winds were averaging about 20 knots, with little waves to speak of – perfect for racing. And Sanya Bay is also perfect for cruising sailors who want a gentle afternoon on their yacht.
Two nearby islands just to the south of Sanya offer easy, line-of-sight day cruise options. Both islands have fine beaches and places for yachts to tie up or drop anchor. A rarity in China, the Serenity Marina gives prospective buyers a visible, tangible reason why they might consider buying a yacht.
It’s therefore no surprise that several of South China’s more prominent yacht dealers have decided to open their offices at Serenity. Simpson Marine, Sunseeker Asia and Speedo Marine have all opened dealerships, or have signaled their intention to do do. The new Joint Venture between the Poly Group and Marquis Yachts (seen elsewhere in this issue) will be based out of Serenity Marina. For the first time in China, buyers will be able to get a first-hand look at the entire Marquis Range – this is something that buyers in Fort Lauderdale might enjoy.
Morever, this is a serious, working marina. There mere fact that the marina was able to host the Volvo Ocean Race in Sanya and provide services that included taking down and re-stepping the masts shows just how serious this marina is. Indeed, there aren’t many marinas in Asia that could handle that work and certainly, none in China. A travelift is onhand that can handle up to 100 tonnes. By the summer of this year, the marina will be able to do such work as hull cleaning and anti-fouling, engine service and repair, maintenance on hydraulic and electrical systems, and paint jobs. What’s more, despite a few glitches, the marina was able to cope with the stresses of hosting one of the world’s biggest yachting events, despite the fact that it had only just opened. There is also fueling, water supply, sewage pump out, electrical hook ups, plus a deli for provisioning and a full-service harbor master’s office.
This is encouraging news for other would-be yacht event holders looking for the right spot in China. In addition to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and its racing fleet arriving in October, there are other possibilities. America’s Cup China Team CEO Thierry Barot plans to stage trial races in training catamarans during the upcoming Hainan Rendez-Vous in early April that will be based in Serenity. The marina was also the site of a smallish yacht show in December that will likely serve as a basis for future shows.
The marina basin features the design work of Camper and Nicholsons Marinas, which has since gone on to form a joint venture with Hong Kong developer First Eastern to work on other marina projects in China and the Far East. The 300-berth marina has most of its berthing spaces set aside for yachts in the ten to 25-metre range, with two berths for 40-metre yachts, three for yachts up to 35 metres and seven berths for yachts up to 30 metres. There is one superyacht berth that can handle visiting yachts up to 70 metres, with no draught restrictions. The superyacht visitor’s berth has already handled the 60-metre sailing superyacht Vertigo on her swing through Southeast Asia.
Security has also been well provisioned for. At each pontoon entrance point stands card-activated electronic gates. There are also CCTV systems in place at each entrance point. Members of the Serenity Marina Yacht Club automatically get the right to berth a yacht on a permanent basis, with prices calculated according to the size of the yacht.
There is space for large visiting yachts to sit on swing moorings near the marina in relatively protected waters nearby. The predominant winds from the east and the north mean that the marina is protected (it faces south and west), while the breakwaters have the effect of creating a protected anchorage near the entrance.
The Serenity Marina of course will have plenty of amenities to appeal to yacht owners of all stripes. The marina is part of a huge development (Serenity Coast Resort) that consists of luxury flats and housing, new shopping centres and of course the Intercontinental Hotel Resort. The whole resort/residential complex is nearly self-sustaining – one needn’t bother with the rest of Sanya City.
To some extent, the builders of the marina are also clearly hoping to attract the luxury flat buyers of mainland China to the complex and ultimately, to buy a yacht. There’s good reason to be hopeful. Sanya is growing rapidly as a vacation centre for wealthy mainland Chinese, and the number of luxury flats that are springing up is breathtaking.
At the marina itself, there is a range of things to keep the yacht owner (or simply the person who fancies being around yachts) in their cups. Cigar lounges, private bars, terraces for enjoying F&B, a café and a fine restaurant round out the options that sit just at the sea wall overlooking the basin. For a better view, there’s the second floor terraces overlooking the marina – these can also be rented out for private events.
There’s also plenty of space set aside for shopping – whether for a luxury watch or a new yacht. The new Serenity Shopping Avenue bisects the marina’s onshore element, ending at the marina sea promenade. The fountains and some of the landscaping are still going in, but already one can get a sense of the possibilities. Luxury retailers, restaurants, bars, fine foods and even art galleries and fashion boutiques will certainly find room here.
The Serenity Marina waterfront development features the design of Chapman Taylor Architects, who seem to have combined the look of colonial haciendas of Latin American shorelines with the straight-line severity found in modern resorts.
Serenity Marina also offers an excellent yacht charter service, and now has three yachts in their small but likely to grow fleet. There are two Azimuts – a 100 and a 40 – and a new Galathea 65 sailing catamaran by Fontaine Pajot. This gives sailing enthusiasts and motoryacht aficionados plenty to play with. The two islands in Sanya Bay offer fantastic day trip destinations, and give prospective buyers a chance to see what Serenity Marina now opens up in terms of luxury and lifestyle in Sanya.
Even in the middle of winter, Sanya is a pleasant place to wander about comfortably in t-shorts and shorts, and swimming in the (still) clear waters of Sanya Bay. The Serenity Marina is a 70,000-square metre complex that provides a complete set of facilities for yachts that is unlike most other marinas outside either Hong Kong or Singapore. The interest that the marina has already generated among Hong Kong-based yacht brokers and yacht management is a testament to how sorely such a facility is needed, and to how popular this marina is sure to become.