Startling statistics come to light that the average time a Hong Kong-moored luxury yacht spends at sea is just 32 hours a year. The rest of the time, they sit ignored by their wealthy owners.
Until recently, there have been a very limited number of charter yachts available in Hong Kong, with many sitting idle in the harbour when lots of people would love to be out and about on them.
French entrepreneur Eric Noyel spotted a gap in the Hong Kong market for luxury yacht charters when he struggled to find one for a South American president. “OK, junks are nice, but not what you want for a president,” he says. So, after selling his Asian-based household plastics business, he turned his attention to luxury yachts and founded Riviera Orientale Yachting Society. “I thought it’s time to start doing something I really like.”
Noyel set about building a yacht charter fleet with the goal of offering a choice of yacht sizes with crew and full onboard services, just like those available in the Mediterranean. This would not only fill a gap in the market for clients of top hotels, but also for corporate and private clients.
He currently has 11 yachts available for charter between 45 and 80 foot, with one over 80 feet. “I’ll grow as fast as the market,” he commented, but people do want bigger yachts over 70 feet.
Yacht charters are currently extremely popular with bankers, keen to relax, chat and smoke cigars, and executives, who love to hop aboard and leave their cares behind. The HNWI's are willing to pay anything from HK$60,000 to HK$110,000 per day, for corporate yacht charters, private yacht charters or event yacht charters and weddings. “Below HK$25,000 a day is junk business, that’s a different market,” Eric explains.
The top-selling brands in Hong Kong are Sunseeker, Princess and Azimut/Benetti. These are mostly "good value" yachts but not quite up to the extremely high standards of custom-built superyachts from Heesen and Feadship, owned by the superrich and famous. In the production yacht category, it’s very similar to cars: the Italians have it all. To have serious floating cache in Europe you need a Ferretti, a Riva or a Pershing
Noyel describes charter yachts as ranging from suitable for “heads of state and VVIPs” with high security and “white glove food and beverage solutions” to 40-70 footers, suitable for “island hopping and intimate parties".
Boat enjoyment hasn’t really caught on in China yet, it’s all about owning more than enjoying - Noyel