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Phuket Boating: Ao Po Grand Marina goes large



PHUKET’S Ao Po Grand Marina, which opened as the island’s latest high-end addition to the marina scene in 2008, has undergone a major upgrade to allow a growing fleet of luxury yachts to take advantage of the east coast haven.

The expansion of the marina now allows 220 boats in the water, explained Marina Manager Derrick van Deventer

“We can now accommodate 12 yachts of up to 60m berthed stern to, and three superyachts of up to 80m length moored alongside – all at the same time,” said Derrick, who has been involved in Phuket’s marina scene for more than 10 years.

The expansion includes boat services on land, with room for 60 boats on the hardstand, where owners can make use of the full services available, from hull repairs to deck rebuilds to chandlery and electrical services.

“We can currently haul out boats weighing up to 47 tonnes with a draft of 2.1m,” said Derrick, “But we will soon have a new trailer that can lift yachts of up to 90 tonnes with a 3.5m draft. By the end of October, we will have an extra 5,000sqm for the hardstand.”

But key to the expansion is the sea wall, which should be finished this week, explained Derrick.

“The sea wall provides 24/7 protection for the marina. No matter how strong the wind or the waves are, you can now come and go as you please – 24 hours a day, all year round,” he noted.

Inside the barrier, the marina offers a seven-meter draft at low tide and maintains a three-meter draft all the way into the smaller berths closer to shore.

The 65m ‘Lady D’, usually berthed at Raffles Marina in Singapore, has made her way up to Ao Po in Phuket. Photo: Chris Husted

Tied up proudly at the end of the new pier as testament to the marina’s attraction for superyachts is the Lady D, measuring over 65m in length. The Lady D is usually based at Raffles Marina in Singapore, but is known to regularly take advantage of Phuket’s spectacular cruising grounds.

Also among the mixed berths in the marina are stunning Penisi wooden craft and even a Pershing 92, the envy of every luxury speed freak on water (see the Gazette’s most recent Boating column, click here).

And with the boats comes the lifestyle.

“Many of the boat owners fly down to enjoy the cruising ground and then head off,” explained Derrick, noting that the marina is only about a 20-minute easy drive from the airport.

“We even have a Custom 60m superyacht on its way, scheduled to arrive by December, that will berth with us on a full-time basis,” he added.

Looking to make the most of his time while enjoying his yacht, the owner of the Pershing 92 has already bought one of the luxury residence units under construction at the site at the Marina Living complex.

The units, being built by Thailand’s largest construction company, Italian-Thai Co Ltd, are scheduled for completion by April 2015.

“It has always been the [marina] owner’s vision to provide a complete nautical experience, from the water to the land,” he said.

Central to this vision is the concept of “Aseanarean” – a term coined over a decade ago to describe a network of high-end marinas throughout Southeast Asia, and of course their inhabitants and the luxurious lifestyle they live.

To this, the 33 units comprise 1-3 bedroom configurations, with only four units on each floor of the building. Spacious? Each of the bedrooms covers more than 70sqm. The three-bedroom units cover 273sqm. Exclusive? Each unit owner has access to a private elevator that opens only to his or her unit – the elevator doors open and its like they have just opened the front door to their home.

All of the 2-3 bedroom units span the entire width of the building, giving the master bedroom a view of the sunrise over the marina and views of Koh Yao Yai and Noi, and Naka Island, idling lazily offshore. The guest bedroom has a view of the sunset over the hills behind.

With windows and balcony doors at each end, the design allows for cool breezes to enter each unit from either side, and thus uses the “local knowledge” of Aseanareans in enjoying nature, explained Managing Director Kasem Chiarasomboon

It has always been the owner’s vision to provide a complete nautical experience, from the water to the land, said Marina Manager Derrick van Deventer.

Mr Kasem also pointed out the use of natural wood throughout and how design motifs bring a flair that ensures guests know they are in Southeast Asia. There is takien thong “Thai teak” ceiling on the deck, over the sun lounge and jacuzzi, and real wood throughout the units.

The bespoke design furniture, in its sublimely simple, sturdy style, was created by a Thai who was based and worked in Paris, Mr Kasem noted, then pointed out the quality wood used for the “propellers” that are the blades on the fans.

For a taste of what the completed units will look like, either inspect the viewing unit at the main marina building or venture into the recently revamped Port of Call clubhouse, which continues the design theme outside the units – as if guests never left home.

Other simple lifestyle additions available at the marina include the 18m infinity-edge pool in front of the clubhouse, use of the gym and its two resident trainers, a sauna, steam rooms, private massage facilities and a 25m infinity-edge pool for the exclusive use of the unit owners – the list goes on.

If Ao Po Grand Marina is making one bold statement in its philosophy, it must be that if you love life on the water, you might as well push the boat out a little further and enjoy the same luxury on land.

— Chris Husted


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