Life on the ocean wave

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2011, 12:00am


China's coastal areas are moving swiftly to take advantage of a growing class of wealthy elite whose taste for the high life is driving the development of new industries.

One major growth industry revolves around the yacht and marina lifestyle, which includes the buying and selling of luxury yachts, docking and servicing, races, and international networking exhibitions.

'We have seen yachting in China moving rather fast. Six years ago there were barely two marinas in operation,' says Olivier Burlot of Simpson Marine, one of Asia's leading yacht brokers. 'Today there are over 20 marinas in China that offer proper services to yachts and enable yacht owners to enjoy their yachts and the related lifestyle.

'There are still issues that need to be addressed. But these are being progressively addressed by the authorities, who view marinas and yachting as activities generating substantial revenues for the neighbouring coastal communities.'

Xiamen and Sanya are two hubs of that may eventually become Asia's largest riviera, stretching from the far north of the country down to the glamorous Serenity Coast at the southern tip of Hainan.

Situated on an island just a few kilometres from Taiwan, Xiamen is one of China's cleanest and most beautiful cities. It already sponsors a race from Xiamen to Taiwan, the China Cup, China's only domestic regatta.

Inaugurated in 2007, the regatta attracts 60 boats a year and is a major selling point for major Asian players in the yacht and marina industry to come and set up operations in Xiamen.

'Xiamen has the maximum potential of any marina in China,' says Gulu Lalvani, owner of Asia's most prestigious marina, the Royal Phuket in Thailand.

'It is the only marina in China nearest to another area, Taiwan, and provides a lot of opportunities for cross-strait races and leisure boating.'

The Royal Phuket is one of the most successful marinas in the world and incorporates much more than just boat docking and servicing.

The complex also offers luxury five-star hotel rooms, several high-end restaurant options as well as tours for inbound tourists.

'Everything we have done at Royal Phuket is exportable to places like Xiamen or Sanya,' says Lalvani. 'Our tour groups are especially successful and easily complement the pleasure yacht business.'