Managing a marina has certainly become more interesting in recent years. Boats are getting bigger, expectations are getting higher and competition is steep, nowhere more so than along the French Riviera.
It’s no longer enough to have state of the art facilities and great Wifi, the world wants more and marinas must become ‘destinations in their own right’ just as charter brokers have shifted the focus to ‘selling the experience’.
And none of this has gone unheeded at Port la Napoule on the doorstep of Cannes. Until now it’s been something of a well kept secret but with the longest lease term along the coast, the only dedicated catamaran quay for miles and a prime location, there’s plenty to shout about. We met with the Director of Port la Napoule, Hélène Kotchounian, and Managing Director of HomePort, Bart van den Heuvel, to talk about recent developments and the wider trends impacting marina management.
OnboardOnline: How many berths are available in Port la Napoule and what’s the size range?
Hélène Kotchounian: Currently we have 695 leasehold berths available for boats and superyachts between 6–52m. We also have 385 berths available for rent year round for vessels between 6-35m.
The new Catamaran Quay in Port la Napoule
OO: A unique offering along this stretch of coast is your new Catamaran Quay –why was this important for Port la Napoule and is building work now completed?
HK: Catamarans are becoming more popular and until now there was literally no dedicated quay for this type of vessel between Toulon and Menton. The new dock involved the modification of a quay to the north of the entrance to create five moorings for catamarans (20m by 10m) available solely for rent. Building works finished in June and we’re already seeing high demand!
Bart van den Heuvel: The development of the Catamaran Quay was also part of a commitment from The Yacht Club International de Mandelieu La Napoule (YCIMN), which owns the concession, in securing an extension from the Mayor, the marina’s owner.
A five year extension to 31 December 2029 was granted in return for investment of 2.9 million Euros from YCIMN, its shareholders and berth lease-holders, whose annual service charges will increase by a mere 10%. Mandelieu la Napoule has not had to contribute financially to the enhancement of the marina which will eventually revert to its full control at the end of the concession, so all stakeholders benefit, including the town itself.
From the point of view of buying a berth in Port La Napoule, as well as offering certainty and peace of mind, obviously the extended lease increases the value, so right now it’s a very attractive option for owners.
OO: How easy is it to secure a berth rental at Port la Napoule in high season and what’s the procedure?
HK: Of course availability varies in high season depending on the size of the vessel but our leasehold and rental clients come and go which frees up places for transient yachts so it’s always worth contacting us to check the options. Owners and captains can contact the capitainerie directly by email or phone, or via Navily.
OO: Do owners receive a portion of the income from sub-letting their berth?
BVDH: Yes, when the owner of a berth is away they effectively authorize the capitainerie to rent it out in their absence, and they receive the rental income minus a commission due to the marina which is typically 15% with an annual contract and 20% for leaseholders (+ VAT).
With regard to rentals, Port la Napoule is comparable to other marinas in terms of logistics and size, but we have a number of big advantages due to our location.
For example, Port la Napoule is easily accessible from the A8 motorway, the private airport at Mandelieu and the commercial airport in Nice. The marina is also very sheltered and we’re right in the middle of some great cruising grounds so it’s a perfect base to explore east and west. The town is also alive year round and it’s just 10 minutes up the road from Cannes.
View over Port la Napoule
HK: The marina itself is also very well maintained with state of the art facilities and free Wifi – you simply collect a code from the capitainerie which is valid for 24 hours.
Security is also a priority for yacht owners and we have controlled access, 27 security cameras and night time surveillance around the docks.
OO: How do you handle waste and what is Port de la Napoule’s position on protecting the marine environment?
HK: For sewage a number of clean points are distributed around the marina with daily collection. As for black water and bilge water, a pumping station near the capitainerie is available to boaters free of charge.
Ecotank is also available in our marina and will dispatch a barge to your yacht, whether in port or at anchor. This is a great solution when guests are onboard as the barge comes quietly alongside to pump your tanks without intruding on guest privacy.
We also encourage recycling and the marina offers selective sorting points for glass, paper, plastic, batteries and used oils. We’re proud to say that Port la Napoule has held the Blue Flag of Europe for 20 years and soon it will also be certified as a Clean Port.
Plage de la Rague to the east of Mandelieu la Napoule
OO: What is the procedure for bunkering/fuel?
HK: Port la Napoule has a fuel dock located next to the capitainerie which is operated by Société SOBAD and open all year round. For yachts above 20m and moored at Quai R for three nights or longer there is the option of delivery by truck. Fuel delivery companies must notify the Harbour Master's Office at least one day in advance by email or fax, indicating the name of the vessel, date and time of delivery, and the volume to be delivered.
OO: What are the most common nationalities visiting or resident in Port la Napoule?
BVDH: It’s very international. Apart from French there are a lot of British, Belgian, Dutch, German, Swiss and Italian, and some Northern Europeans, particularly Norwegians and Danes. Compared to other marinas along the coast, Port la Napoule also attracts the broadest range of boats – we have over 33 different brands in the marina so it’s very diverse.
Up in the Esterel mountains
OO: Beyond the marina, what are some of the highlights in and around Mandelieu la Napoule?
HK: Firstly it’s a beautiful stretch of coast with the red rocks of the Esterel mountains and the historic islands just off Cannes. The Bay of La Napoule is also an excellent place to drop anchor for water sports and snorkeling or you can join dolphin and whale watching excursions with local guides.
Mandelieu La Napoule also has some lovely sandy beaches and great coastal walks, or you can go hiking, mountain biking, horse riding or play a round of golf – we have several excellent courses nearby.
In the town itself you can visit the impressive medieval Château de la Napoule which also hosts art exhibitions and summer music concerts. For dining we have a number of good restaurants but for something special there is L’Oasis, an elegant 2 Michelin star restaurant run by the Raimbault brothers.
Chateau de la Napoule
Just up the road Cannes has the best boutique shopping but Mandelieu has a wonderful local market and during the summer months there’s an evening craft market near the marina.
OO: Further along the coast, what are your thoughts about the planned development of Port Vauban in Antibes and Port Gallice in Juan Les Pins?
HK: The projects are very ambitious for these two marinas. The financial contributions announced in the press, in particular the annual royalties to be paid to the City of Antibes, seem to us to be extremely high and may have an impact on user fees and charges.
OO: More generally, what are the trends or changes you foresee in the future of marina management?
HK: Marinas must constantly adapt to the evolution of sailors and yachts which includes being able to accommodate larger and wider vessels. We’re fortunate at Port la Napoule to have such a diversity of boat brands so we are aware of new models and trends. We also try to adapt our lease options accordingly and this will continue.
Our new Catamaran Quay is a good example and creating a dock entirely dedicated to catamarans allows Port la Napoule to welcome a new type of clientele.
The level of services must also be up to the expectations of our customers, whether recreational boaters or superyacht owners. We need to be able to respond to any demand and this requires continual investment in new equipment and training for our teams.
More generally, the world is also evolving very quickly in terms of communications. Marinas are not immune to these developments and must embrace the use of digital and social media; we need to make ourselves known far beyond our local environment.
Environmental issues are also top of the agenda. Increasingly marinas must adopt an eco-responsible approach and promote this philosophy by encouraging boaters to use the facilities provided. Port la Napoule is committed to this approach which is why we hope to achieve Clean Port certification later this year.
The management and operations team at Port la Napoule
Returning to what sets Port la Napoule apart, marinas are an integral part of the towns and cities in which they are located and they are often an attraction for tourists. The interface between the town and the marina is therefore very important and at Port la Napoule this is fundamental to the development of our infrastructure, layouts, local events and also our communications strategy.
With this in mind we recently built the Esplanades du Port, an attractive area housing restaurants with waterfront terraces, as well as a garden-promenade. Such developments are highly appreciated by tourists and local residents alike and our efforts will continue in this direction.
To reserve a berth in Port la Napoule please email the capitainerie or call +33 (0)4 92 97 77 77.
To purchase a berth in Port la Napoule please email Bart van den Heuvel or call + 33 (0)6 14 34 81 25.
*Image credits: Port la Napoule; Office de Tourisme et des Congres de Mandelieu la Napoule