x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Yas Marina caters to the aprés yacht life

The managers of Yas Marina explain how they are making it into a family destination. 

Cedric Le Rest, the general manager of Yas Marina. Pawan Singh / The National
Cedric Le Rest, the general manager of Yas Marina. Pawan Singh / The National


Yas Marina is being given a makeover. Cedric Le Rest, the marina's general manager, and James Beaver, the chief operating officer of Camper & Nicholsons, which manages the marina, talk about how they are making the area into an attractive destination for families as well as yacht enthusiasts.


q So Yas Marina is getting a makeover?


a CLR: Yas Marina opened in 2009 - on October 1 - just a month before the F1. At that time the marina was owned and operated by Aldar. Then in June 2011, the operation of the marina was handed to Camper & Nicholsons.

JB: Yas Marina was deemed a very highly upmarket, highly private location and we've changed that. The business model has changed. We want to make it more accessible for families. We want to change the feeling not only on the water but on the land.

So what's new?

JB: What we've had in the past two years is two restaurants. At the high end Cipriani and a family place called Stars and Bars. There was very little in between. We will have eight food and beverage places still with Cipriani up here and Stars and Bars down here but infiltrated with lots of other stuff in the middle.

We will have a water sports centre, a kids' play area, a marvellous dancing, musical fountain. We already have good hotels - [including] the Yas Viceroy - Ferarri World, a great golf club, a shopping mall that's under construction, Ikea is already there and the waterpark [Yas Waterworld] opened in January. So the place is becoming a destination in its own right.

Do you think the yachters will be down with that?

JB: The typical yachtsman … gone are the days where they just wanted a place to park the boat. They want to have service, to know it's safe, that there are knowledgeable staff to help, that if there is a problem the staff will help out.

OK so that's on land. What about in the water?

CLR: We have 175 births from 6 to 150 meters. The range is big we cater to every size. [Initially] the priority was to get more boats in the marina, to get the activity going, the life going and then after that change the look and the feel of the property to make it a more destination place. So the first phase, the occupancy, has been done successfully. And the second phase which is the redevelopment is going on now.

So you have boats in berths?

CLR: In 2012 we started the year with low occupancy [of] about 20 berths. We finished the year with 100 berths. That shows the trend: occupancy is going up, we are signing tenants. Our target is 175 [full] berths at the end of next year. For this year, if we can get close to that berths we will be very pleased.