With its vast stretch of waterfront land, offering views across the Great Sound to Dockyard on one side and Little Sound on the other, the Caroline Bay Marina at Morgan’s Point offers a spectacular location for enjoying the America’s Cup events and the marina facilities promise to compete with those found in some of the most popular and exclusive marinas in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
The development of this marina seems an obvious next step in Bermuda’s maritime history as for hundreds of years the island has provided a convenient and attractive stop for every kind of vessel travelling between Europe, North America and the Caribbean and, more recently, has played host to a number of prestigious yachting races.
While there are a few berths available around the island for superyachts, this is the first time a facility that exclusively caters for this type of clientele has been developed.
“Bermuda has a special appeal to sailors,” explains Ralph Richardson, CEO of Caroline Bay Marina. “It’s a beautiful place and something like they have never seen before. This is also new for Bermuda. We are now a North Atlantic post for superyachts and can carry 30 at any given time. Traditionally there is a migration from the Caribbean to the New England coast but they have typically missed Bermuda out because we haven’t had the facilities. Now we have the power for them and the space. We feel that for the first time, these vessels transiting the Atlantic can find a facility able to cater for them.”
Caroline Bay is not just aiming for superyachts; it is also targeting the fishing boats with their high tuna towers that come in each year for fishing tournaments. “July, for example, is an incredible month for marlin fishing,” he said. “The number of fishing boats that come to Bermuda is limited to the number of berths available. Currently around 30 come in for these tournaments, but with us, the fleet could double.”
Beyond the America’s Cup, Richardson said they have already been approached by an organisation that may need a marina for up to 20 vessels next year and members of the superyacht community have told him that there is pent-up demand because they view Bermuda as an upscale island without comparison. In order for Bermuda to take full advantage of this potential, however, there may need to be a change in the law or government policy.
“Typically, a yacht owner uses their boat for only a few weeks a year,” said Richardson. “Many are therefore chartered, and throughout the Caribbean and southern states the boats usually host chartered guests on board. Here in Bermuda, only locally owned vessels are allowed to rent out their boats for hire. The law has been relaxed for the America’s Cup, but unless the law is changed, superyachts with charters will not be allowed to operate in Bermuda.
“I’m hopeful that changes will be made to encourage more superyachts to visit the island. What we’ve been told is that islands such as the Bahamas that have made the change to their laws are now hosts to scores of superyachts annually.”
While only the marina will be ready in time for the America’s Cup, the development as a whole will also include 35 luxury residences called The Cove, which are priced from $2.5 million, going up to $3.9 million for the penthouses, and a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel and resort. Building for the residences has already begun and it is hoped that the first ones will be ready before the end of 2017, with the rest of the resort completed in 2018. Once complete, there will be a Caroline Bay Yacht Club, restaurants, shops, beaches, swimming pools, kids’ club and water sports activities.
At full capacity, the marina offers dock space for up to 30 superyachts, plus berths for up to 80 smaller vessels. A superyacht is a commercially operated luxury boat, which is professionally crewed and has a hull length of at least 24 metres.
There are two types of berth rental available—a daily rate and a long-term rental option. Berths are available for a long-term lease for those buying the residences and there will be spaces along one part of the dock for people passing through.
“We are building a large resort and hotel facility with the Ritz-Carlton, which is a very high-end, global brand,” continued Richardson. “The marina will then become a facility that augments the Ritz-Carlton and will suit the type of clientele that enjoy superyachts.”
In order to give their marina guests the best Bermuda experience they can during the America’s Cup, the Arabella, a 157-foot sailing yacht, has been chartered to take visitors out onto the America’s Cup racecourse and provide entertainment throughout the event.
“Because we do not have the hotel yet, we chartered the Arabella to be able to offer a superyacht VIP experience,” said Richardson. “The Arabella becomes a place we can have social events. It’s going to be more like a clubhouse for our guests.
“We’ve also put on some unique, Bermudian experiences—Bermudian cuisine and wine tasting and narrative on Bermuda’s heritage and culture. We will also take them to the J Class Regatta that will take place off St. George’s.”
Caroline Bay Marina will offer a concierge service and they have partnered with Port Royal Golf Course and a number of restaurants, as well as hosted events for the island’s taxi drivers so they can become familiar with the site.
“Because of its sheer size, this development will benefit the entire island,” said Richardson. “It will provide opportunities for our children and grandchildren and it will provide job opportunities for Bermudians from all walks of life.”