Bermuda is in the midst of a re-imagining as a megayacht destination rather than a stopover for refueling. It’s thanks to a partnership between Bermuda Yacht Services and a government department.
According to a story in the Bermudian newspaper Royal Gazette, four years ago Bermuda Yacht Services was granted managerial control over the Ordnance Island marina in downtown St. George, Bermuda’s oldest city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bermuda Yacht Services received control following the scrapping of plans for a cruise-ship port. Mark Soares, head of Bermuda Yacht Services, proposed that facilities be created for megayachts making their way from the United States, Caribbean, and the Med so that they’d do more than simply refuel and leave. “We thought that this was a great way to make lemonade out of lemons,” the paper quotes him as saying. “The town was in such a decline because of a lack of cruise ships, and yet we knew we had an existing facility in the town that could generate some revenue for the town but also generate some buzz and interest overseas.”
The Royal Gazette states that docking revenue has increased 1,000 percent since Bermuda Yacht Services took over. Thanks to its involvement, megayachts to about 300 feet can be accommodated either stern-to or side-to, plus (a big plus) receive duty-free fueling at the marina. A dock master and line handlers are available around the clock. A concierge is also available to arrange tours and make recommendations on what to do in the historic town, and crew have a private recreation area. Free WiFi is further offered, as are repair and maintenance services. Soares tells the paper that five megayachts measuring more than 150 feet were at the St. George dock in late April.
Helping matters are also revisions of Bermuda law that allow private yacht crews to stay in the country for three months, up from a few weeks. “What we needed to do was roll out the red carpet, not the red tape,” Soares says.
“We now have four years of experience and four years of data, and what we’ve found is that things are really starting to happen,” he adds. “If we’re not encouraging new yachts visiting Bermuda, we’re definitely finding that they are using the facilities more and staying longer.”