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2016 November December Marina World

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TALKING SHOP The site offers different types of residential options, including the chance to live close to maxiyacht moorings. MM: We are not used to large yachts. We are mainly a marina for medium sized boats owned primarily by Europeans and some Russians. We have only recently had large boats in our berths and in this sense we find we are the complementary port of St Tropez, which as you know has limited space and is in great demand. I must say, however, that the crews of big boats are happy to stay here as the atmosphere and all the amenities are good. The customers are demanding but this is to be expected; they spend a lot even if not as much as they would spend in St Tropez. Claude Robert (CR): I can add more. The crews prefer to stay here. Life is quiet. They do not have to pay for parking and get stuck in traffic like in St Tropez. Here, they can reach St Tropez in a few minutes by motorboat or if they prefer by bike along the bike path. All services, restaurants, clubs etc., are to hand and if the owners want to stay for a few nights in St Tropez in order to be seen in front of Sénéquier, it is easy to satisfy them. Around 40% of the boats at Les Marines de Cogolin spend the winter here. We have an on-site swimming pool, three tennis courts and a boat shuttle service to St Tropez. DZ: But every year you have to invest in order to keep pace with the times? MM: Yes. We upgrade infrastructure and maintain the marina and the berths. Given that in the future we will have to respond to more demand from maxiyachts we have to create appropriate space. This year, for example, we have added two 50m (164ft) berths when our average vessel is 12 to 15m (39 to 49ft). This means extra work on electricity supplies, fuel stations and environmental infrastructure. DZ (to CR): You have been a director of the marina since 2004. How has the clientele changed over the years? CR: The yachts are small ships with increasingly demanding customers, particularly when it comes to hospitality. Our success is closely tied to maintaining good standards. Directing a port is a little like running a hotel – there’s the management and the 24 hour reception. You’re on call even in the middle of the night just like in a starred hotel. With regard to the customers, I have to admit that small boat owners are suffering and often prefer to rent rather than buy. This is often done by internet – like Uber for taxis and private house rentals for homes – rather than via traditional brokers or agencies. DZ: What are the customers that use these new rental systems like? CR: More demanding. They expect top service, tend to make comparisons and generally are less in tune with the environment than boat owners. DZ: The internet has advantages for you, however? In terms of marketing and communication do you also use new technologies and social networking? CR: In 2008 we started to very gradually introduce Wi-Fi installations in response to demand. Requests have increased year on year, even for small boats, and this has forced us to change the system and switch to fibre optic. In terms of social networking, we know that sites like Facebook represent an important communication channel but we still don’t know to what extent this is positive. Gangway with a sea view. - November/December 2016 55

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