Once almost exclusively a cruise ship destination, Croatia has increasingly become a major player in superyachting, with more and more owners and charter yachts visiting this picturesque, island-strewn destination.
MYS Yachting, a boutique yacht agency based in Split, has experienced similar growth and is now rated one of the Adriatic’s most sought after support specialists with a network of local partners throughout Croatia and Montenegro.
The brainchild of Maja Ban, who runs the company with her sister Natasa, she describes MYS Yachting as a one-stop shop providing agency services for visiting yachts, including charter setup (charter licenses and e-Crew), VAT services and concierge.
Learning the ropes
Maja’s career started in her family business before she took the plunge and established MYS Yachting in 2008 after a colourful introduction to the world of yachting piqued her interest.
“I always wanted to run my own business and a captain friend had told me that Croatia really needed yacht agencies based in the region. He suggested the best way to learn the ropes was to get some experience on board, and when the opportunity arose he offered me the role of stewardess on a 28m Ferretti.
She later joined a busy 55m charter yacht as chief stew, travelling the world and visiting shipyards across Europe and America. “It was a huge learning curve. I did a Transatlantic crossing as well as the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal and then in 2008 I returned to Croatia and opened the agency.
“Our first yacht was recommended by an agency I’d got to know in Monaco who had a client visiting Croatia that summer - and we didn’t look back!”
Growing the business organically
Starting a boutique agency just as Croatia’s reputation as a yachting destination began to gather pace was a canny move.
“This part of the world wasn’t known then, but I was paying attention to what was happening in the local market, so as not to miss my niche,” says Maja. “With services like ours developing, people suddenly had more confidence about coming here. We had a handful of clients the first year but the second season was much better, mostly through word of mouth recommendations.
“There were not many companies doing what we did then and there’s only a handful of us now who have been in business for over 10 years. Croatia was originally known as a cruise ship destination so the companies providing services for cruise ships also started providing services for yachts. Some of those companies remain but there’s only a few of us who are purely yacht service agencies.”
Local knowledge rules
MYS Yachting prides itself on providing a seamless service for yachts visiting Croatia and Montenegro, and with a truly diverse clientele, Maja’s mantra is simply: “No yacht is too small or too big for us.”
“Local knowledge and connections are what our clients need,” she adds. “Yachts are floating seven star hotels which have to function perfectly without owners or guests being aware of what is going on behind the scenes. Our job is problem-solving, fulfilling all requests whether this concerns the boat, the guests or the crew. We call ourselves their on-land crew, their ears and eyes.
“Knowing our clients and them knowing us is important. They keep coming back because they know they will be well taken care of, so we must be doing something right!”
With Natasa handling operations, suppliers and contracts, Maja concentrates on business development and is the first point of contact for new clients. “As a family business, you never really stop working,” says Maja with a laugh. “It can be challenging but Natasa and I are a good match and we enjoy working together. We always resolve things with humour and professionalism. It’s great when you can trust the person beside you 100%.”
Croatia: The allure of nature
Despite its growing popularity, Maja is hopeful that Croatia will strive to remain sustainable and authentic.
“Croatia is still not over-developed and the natural lay of our coastline means that it is very much about nature, peace and quiet. If guests want to see and be seen, with access to lots of designer shopping, this may not be the right destination for them, whereas if they’d like to escape the hustle and bustle by spending every day in a different bay, hiking, cycling and trying out local cuisine, it’s perfect.
“There is an increase in the number of yachts coming here. Sometimes they skip a year but they are always drawn back. It’s not yet a year-round hub, like Palma, Antibes or Barcelona, but marinas here are busy in the winter and we have a few quality refit centres which are busy all year. The region is also attracting significant investment which signals further potential here.”
With gastronomy also developing, new authentic fine dining venues are opening all the time as the rest of the world discovers the stellar quality of local Croatian wine, olive oil and cheese, all of which are winning international awards on the global stage.
“Fortunately, we have never had to worry about whether we will survive. It’s been a smooth sail over the years,” says Maja. “We’ve been around for 15 years now and that gives me hope that we’re on a good track.”
For further information about formalities, provisioning, itinerary planning and concierge, contact the experts at MYS Yachting:
Tel: +385 99 502 3127