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Yachts in Asia Get Million-Dollar Makeovers

by Ansuya Harjani, CNBC Asia on 9 Nov 2011
Macau Yacht Show 2011 - 28 October 2011 - along the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf. Everything eminently customisable. Guy Nowell © http://www.guynowell.com
A 45-year-old owner of an investment firm in Hong Kong recently bought a $4 million-plus super yacht from Spanish yacht builder Astondoa, and then spent nearly 15 percent of the cost on jazzing it up. The owner outfitted his new 76-feet four-cabin boat with a jacuzzi, a Ferrari driving seat and interiors designed by celebrity Italian architect Cristanto Gatto, according to brokerage Asia Boating, which conducted the deal.

'Asian clients are moving towards custom designing their boats, rather than buying designs from factories that make huge quantities of yachts every year,' says Baggy Sartape, general manager of the Hong Kong-based Asia Boating. 'And they don’t like to hold back on spending.'

Asia’s yacht market, dominated by Chinese buyers, has been growing at a double-digit pace over the past few years; in 2010, sales of super yachts — boats 70 feet or longer — totaled more than $100 million, according to Hong Kong-based yacht dealer Simpson Marine.

Asia Boating, which has already sold 9 boats this year, says owners now can spend up to 40 percent of the purchase price on additional features.

Some of the common requests from his customers, who are largely from mainland China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, are for jacuzzis, karaoke machines, Bose sound systems and sun-protected decks, says Sartape.

Unlike in the West, where many yacht owners love sailing, in Asia the boats are often used for corporate entertainment, say industry watchers.

Mike Simpson, managing director of Simpson Marine, says luxury boats in Asia are often designed to accommodate large saloons to host a large number of guests and while most yachts have cabins (bedrooms), they are seldom used.
Several local Chinese manufacturers are also in the market, but Sartape doesn’t think they will gain much traction in the region.

Full story: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45160198
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