BOAT SHOW CLOSES ON A HIGH
The 2023 Palma International Boat Show (PIBS) and Palma Superyacht Village closed its latest edition on a high. Not only did attendance figures equal last year – some
32,000 visitors – but 96% of exhibitors interviewed also said they'd come back for more in 2024. Although the weather certainly played its role, with temperatures peaking at a tropical 31°C, organisers can rightly be proud of a job incredibly well done.
This year 271 companies participated in the four-day event, occupying a total exhibition space of 81,000m². 600 boats were on display - 250 of them in the water ranging from modest RIBs right up to 50metre-plus megayachts in Palma Superyacht Village. Shipbuilders from across the world seized the chance to unveil brand new models, while matters of innovation, conservation and the environment were always front and centre.
Mallorca Bulletin was in attendance to capture the mood amongst exhibitors.
Sunseeker Mallorca's Andrew Thomas has notched up 19 years' worth of Palma Boat Shows and therefore has plenty of yardsticks to draw upon: “It does seem to be a little quieter than last year but, with unseasonably warm weather and flat-calm seas, a chunk of people may have been out enjoying their existing boats rather than pounding the docks looking for new ones. Nonetheless, there is much positivity. People still want to buy boats and the prospects we had lined up to attend, all did just that. Global unrest is not helping when it comes to signing on the dotted line - after all a yacht is a substantial financial commitment – but there was good interest in all four of the yachts we had on display, not least the new Superhawk 55 which enjoyed her Mediterranean debut at the Show.”
Teddy Torkington was clocking up his seventh consecutive Palma International Boat Show with Multimar Alcudia. Representing three brands - Axopar, Karnic Powerboats and Grand Inflatable Boats - Teddy also sensed reduced footfall, but of a superior quality. “Thanks to a hot early start to the season and a resultant saturation of tourists, our charter and brokerage divisions are absolutely booming. The new boat market is going well – Axopars continue to sell like hot cakes - and availability is improving as production adjusts to the post-pandemic era. Even though they're based in a warzone, Grand Inflatable Boats are constantly delivering new boats and on day one we sold a Grand 650 to a family from Madrid - the Ukrainian toughness of spirit is quite remarkable.”
Another Boat Show veteran, Guy Norrish from Marina Estrella, was promoting Azimut Yachts at a pivotal point in its history. In March of this year, Azimut Yachts' 75year-old founder Paolo Vitelli finally handed over the reins of his beloved Azimut Benetti Group to daughter, Giovanna. Backed by new minority investment from PIF, the Italian shipbuilder is now set for its next phase of growth.
“Azimut Benetti remains the only majority-family-owned superyacht business of its size and Giovanna is determined to carry on the ‘Made in Italy' ethos - albeit with huge emphasis on innovation,” said Guy. “Azimut Yachts' Seadeck is her latest major project, a series of low-emission hybrid yachts with interior design centred around natural or recycled materials. What the company refers to as ‘Hotel Mode' is also getting plenty of attention, a system that allows noisy generators to be turned off at night without power interruptions. We can thank COVID-19 for some of these advances, as it afforded the space to make cohesive plans in an unrushed environment.”
Guy was enjoying good success among the Marina Estrella portfolio, selling several RYCK motorboats, at least one Hanse sailing yacht, and noting serious interest across the Nautor's Swan range. He argued that this season was comparable to 2018/19, a step down from the artificiallyinflated pandemic years, but nonetheless very strong. Higher interest rates, difficulties obtaining moorings, and a few lingering supply issues, were the only things holding the market back.
Across in Palma Superyacht Village, Sicily-born Sales Broker Giulio Riggio was there to represent various yachts on behalf of Fraser Yachts. Alongside Burgess Yachts, Camper & Nicholsons, Dahm International, Northrop & Johnson and Ocean Independence, Fraser Yachts was one of the ‘founding fathers' of the inaugural Palma Superyacht Brokerage & Charter Show back in 2013. Giulio has attended each one since.
“Palma is not like Monaco,” said Giulio, “it's small, friendly, easy-going, but with high-quality exhibitors and attendees. For example, 43-metre Flying Manta has come all the way from Australia to present to the European market and it's been worth the trip. We've hosted a number of serious viewings, including customers who came specially by private jet from England this morning.”
Built in 2004 by Australia's NQEA
Yachts, Flying Manta has undergone several major refits, including the addition of a Lloyds-certified helideck with refuelling station. She is priced at 18 million euros.
Moonraker was also in Palma Superyacht Village promoting her charter itineraries and hosting evening soirées on behalf of Treviso-based Follador – producers of award-winning Prosecco for the last 250 years.
Built at Norship to a Frank Mulder design, the 36-metre was once ranked the fastest superyacht in the world. During
sea trials in 1992, Moonraker nudged the speedo to 66.7 knots – truly absurd for a yacht of her size/weight. She held the record until 2004 when World Is Not Enough (in the same series of James Bond-inspired yachts) squeezed out 0.3 knots more.
Captain Toni has been at the helm since last July: “Moonraker is a true classic – more than 30 years old – and, although her engine configuration has changed since the record-breaking days, she's still quite heavy on fuel consumption. For this reason, we've got a permanent berth in Alcudia so we can offer daytrips around Mallorca's knockout north and northwest coastlines and take advantage of proximity to Menorca for longer three-day charters. Our summer schedule is already quite full, but it's opportune to be at the Show to fill those last few slots.”
Sales Broker for Superyacht Partners, David Lunn, was onboard 2009-built Nadejda. He passionately extolled the Shipman 72's virtues, not least the fact that she had been comprehensively upgraded - galley, deck, engine, generator, rig, sails, winches - effectively zero-ing her to new boat status, but without the typical teething problems. David said: “Nadejda is a clean boat, with VAT paid, and the price point is good considering the substantial cost of building an equivalent carbon-fibre boat today. We've had a lot of interest, including one chap who's returned six or seven times throughout the Show - I'm confident we'll see some offers.”
It transpired that David's intimate knowledge of Nadejda came from the fact he used to captain her. His yachting career spanned more than two decades, culminating in the captaincy of 40-metre J Class Rainbow. It's a similar story for several of his Superyacht Partners colleagues, also ex-captains, who bring far more to the table than just ‘sales'. They genuinely grasp the ownership experience and advise on refit, crew and charter, from a well-informed insider position – highly refreshing.
Finally, Scanner Spain celebrated a formidable 25 years in business at this year's Show. Husband and wife duo John and Sabine opened their first shop in Santa Catalina in 1998 and attended their maiden Palma Boat Show in 1999 – they've been there ever since. This year the RIB specialists commanded an 80m² stand flanked by four moorings, one of them home to the Scanner ENVY which made its Show debut.
“The most commonly asked questions this year were: Do you have stock? Can you get a mooring? What's the price? – in that order,” said Sabine. “The market is still recovering from a pandemic hangover, where supply chains were disrupted on a global level, and Mallorca continues to fall victim to its own popularity with a scarcity of berths. At least the former is well on its way to being resolved. As for whether we're having a good Show, a small business like ours only needs to sell one boat and you can declare it to be a success.”
MARGARET Whittaker is a brave sassy entrepreneur. Armed with a great idea and limited funds, in 1969 she opened the doors to what was to become the world's most successful and life-changing slimming organisation - Slimming World. Working tirelessly through good times and bad, a health scare in the 90´s made her address her work/life balance and, together with her late husband Tony, they were taking a long overdue break, sailing down to the Mediterranean aboard their yacht. The skilful and experienced Tony was always the skipper, although Margaret navigated and helmed the entire journey.
Weather-wise, the voyage had not been easy. In the Finisterre sea region of northern Spain, a force 7 brought them unwelcome rough seas almost the entire journey along the Portuguese Atlantic coast. Even in the Mediterranean, seas remained choppy, but as they set sail from Moraira, north of Alicante, towards the Balearic Islands, the wind had finally dropped, the sea was calm and the suns sparkled on the rippled surface like a million diamonds. They were accompanied by dolphins and even a whale joined in the fun. “This is what it has all been for!” Margaret exclaimed. A good omen for sure.
At precisely that moment, a trim tab broke and the boat lurched violently on its side. They managed to straighten her up and limped past Formentera, Ibiza, and finally into a small port on Mallorca's SW coast in need of some assistance. Whilst initially not very impressed with Mallorca, a chance meeting with another English couple led to a glorious sunset trip on their boat, to the beautiful port of Puerto Portals.
It was late October and yet lights twinkled from the many shops and restaurants, the evening was balmy, the locals were friendly and Margaret knew instantly that she had come home.
In a very short time, Margaret began to discover the real Mallorca and her emotional attachment to the island grew deeper. The beautiful coastline with the dramatic mountains appealed to this water baby, as did the cosmopolitan capital city of Palma with its amazing restaurants and shops. Mallorca has it all. The local fiestas with their charming, quirky customs enchanted her and she wasted no time immersing herself in the culture and the language.
Over the next few years Margaret became a huge fan and regular visitor to the island night spot, Son Amar. When an opportunity presented itself to become involved, Margaret seized
Margaret with Martyn outside Son Amar's secret party garden Eden. the chance, thrilled to expand her business portfolio with such a fun project.
A successful business woman, but lacking a show-business background, Margaret joined the venture as a fan but immersed herself in the project and learned fast. Within a few years the consortium disbanded and in 2012, Margaret found herself at the helm once again, but at this time, as the sole owner of what today, has become the hottest ticket on the island. Under her careful tenure, Son Amar has gone from strength to strength, opening new and exciting worldclass shows each year.
Life changed dramatically in 2020 when the pandemic hit and, along with other theatres and restaurants around the world, overnight everything ground to a halt. Difficult as it was, Margaret focussed on the positive and made the best of a bad situation and the year in which they were closed to the public gave the company an opportunity and indeed the freedom to restructure the business and create even greater possibilities.
Martyn Smith, joint owner of Palma's highly successful Social club with Margaret's eldest son Dominic Miles, Martyn joined the group as General Manager and Creative Director. A World Champion acrobat himself, Martyn brought with him a wealth of experience and his connection to artists and trainers around the
When first arrived in Mallorca in the mid 1990s, she could not have foreseen what lay ahead …. A twist of fate that blew her off course, she had no idea that this jewel of an island was about to steal her heart and change her life forever…
“In a very short time, Margaret began to discover the real Mallorca and her emotional attachment to the island grew deeper...”
world. This has proved invaluable to Son Amar who have always looked to recruit the very best artists.
Since reopening in 2021, Son Amar has become, more strongly than ever, the entertainment capital of Mallorca. With more investment, Son Amar, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, has developed new luxurious areas and given visitors more options and more reasons to return to this magical place. You can now party in their secret garden Eden until midnight, feast at the Disney-style Kingdom of Alcazár while the children play on the beautifully crafted wooden galleon, be fascinated by the spectacular fountain shows, spend your cocktail hour in the original courtyard of the finca, and enjoy two entirely different worldclass productions in the theatre. And this time, Margaret isn't at the helm, it's Martyn.
Another post pandemic positive is Son Amar's increased popularity with the locals. Whilst it may once have been considered something a little too touristy, locals now come along in droves to see what all the fuss is about. Those 5* TripAdvisor reviews really do work!
The shows at Son Amar are individual and exciting and Margaret passionately supports each and every one.
It took 18 months to develop the first Ohalá family show and much has been done around the auditorium to make it a complete experience from start to finish. The show starts early at
1800 and the dining facilities have been reconsidered so that it is now possible to eat before, during or after the show.
In the plaza and there are play areas to keep the children safely entertained whilst their parents relax and everyone enjoys the surprise characters from the show who are on hand as a prelude to each family show.
Margaret loves the personal relationship with her staff and their team of amazing performers. She understands the value of people and whenever possible makes a point of getting to know them individually and helping them to fulfil their career ambitions. Margaret together with Martyn securely at the helm will, if possible, make it happen. The artists know they are appreciated and when she is in the audience, they say that they draw energy from her.
All of these things demand investment, not just financial, but also time, and commitment. Margaret counts her blessings every day, never having imagined in her
wildest dreams that one day she would be living by the Mediterranean Sea and being the owner of the theatre that she fell in love with all those years ago. Along with award-winning companies including Pearl Yachts, Slimming World and the House of Son Amar, I wondered how on earth she managed to cope with three such different businesses. In her words, “I never try to micromanage competent people. I prefer to allow them to develop and use their own incredible talents. When it comes to Son Amar, we could not have anyone better to lead the team than the incomparable Martyn Smith. And to simply describe Martyn as competent is the understatement of the year! In my (not so humble) opinion, he is a genius. The postpandemic and hugely successful Son Amar is testament to that.”
“Margaret loves the personal relationship with her staff and their team of amazing performers...”
However, not one to sit on her laurels, Margaret, along with her CEOs of each business, is always looking ahead to new and exciting ideas. One thing you can be sure of … there are big plans for the future of Son Amar – just watch this space! Margaret is an author and her autobiography, “WILD WOMEN DO (and they don’t regret it!)” is available from Amazon and Amazon Audible, narrated by the author herself.