Published: Friday, 03 May 2013
Mike Fulton

A “Millionaire’s Row” for superyachts has helped turn around the fortunes of a marina in St George’s, Bermuda. After cruise ships abandoned it as a destination four years ago, town officials focused on making it a yachting destination.

“We thought that this was a great way to make lemonade from lemons,” said Mark Soares of Bermuda Yacht Services (BYS) in a recent interview. “We were in such a decline because of a lack of cruise ships, but we knew we had an existing facility that could generate some revenue for the town but would also generate buzz and interest overseas.”

Bermuda Marina Targets Superyachts

St George's put BYS in charge of the marina docks in 2009. Since then revenues have risen by 1,000 percent. BYS has since introduced secure docking and an on-duty concierge to the marina.

Med-mooring, where yachts dock stern-first, has also increased the 200-foot facility’s capacity for larger yachts. “We can now accommodate as many as five superyachts, all in excess of 150 foot,” Soares said. “We’re finding that they are using the facilities more and staying longer.”

Recent changes in Bermuda law allows private yacht crews to stay on the island for up to 90 days, rather than just a few weeks. “What we needed to do was roll out the red carpet, not the red tape,” Soares commented.

Soares said that the marina is also targeting smaller vessels. “For hundreds of years Bermuda has been a refuelling stop for yachts heading to the east coast of the US or the Mediterranean. We’re beginning to see bigger motor yachts coming in and hanging around a little longer. They’re also talking about bringing their guests or owners to Bermuda, and they’re also talking to each other. So the word is spreading.”

Bermuda Marina Targets Superyachts 2

This last spring brought the largest number of yachts ever docked at the Ordnance Island facility, including Mirabella V and Athena. Soares and two other businesses, have recently submitted plans to build a new marina in the town.

St George’s Mayor Garth Rothwell said he wanted to get the marina approved, built and operating by next March. “This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. The four years of real data that has been collected shows that this project is working and can grow. It’s being funded locally but the revenue that it will bring in is foreign, which is the perfect combination.” The proposals have been received, a group has been selected and it is now up to the government to approve it before work can commence.

“We’re not going to be the next Monaco and we don’t necessarily want to be,” said Soares. “But there are 15,000 superyachts out there and if we can attract just some of those it will increase our revenue and bring in ancillary business for Bermuda.”