Just two more days until the start of the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS and we are doing our best to share as much as we can on what is in store and the partners who will be in town. Today, we bring you an interview with Vrit Yongsakul, Group Managing Director of Princess Yachts who talks to us about the yachting industry in Asia and what is in store for the brand.
What attracted you to Princess Yachts in particular and, in general, to the world of yachting?
Probably a mix of uncompromising quality of the yacht, its timeless design, the integrity and professionalism of the people with whom we have worked with over the past 22 years. Yachting can both be a great family hobby as much as for entertaining and enjoying the level of privacy or excitement it may bring.
How is the yachting market currently different in Asia than say Europe or the US?
Unlike in Europe or the US, where the market is more developed, yachting is a new market and a new lifestyle concept here in Asia. It is a great market with a large pool of wealthy people that can afford yachts, but we need to educate buyers on yachting/boating so that they can understand the lifestyle. There is a learning curve here but Asia is really growing. When I speak to the guys at the Princess factory in the UK, they tell me that Southeast Asia (including Greater China) is getting closer and closer in terms of annual sales.
From a customer perspective, I am seeing a lot more interest in boating within Southeast Asian waters, and the popularity of cruising in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand is really confidence-inspiring. As a destination, we now need to start working even more effectively to establish strong relationships between countries within Asia to open up cruising grounds and further establish the right infrastructure here.
As we have learned from experience, just because people have money it doesn’t mean they want to spend it on your particular product, because they are not interested in yachts. How do you build the interest in the boating lifestyle in regions where there isn’t a culture of leisure boating in place?
We take them out on sunset cruises or a full-day charter where they can experience and enjoy the beautiful scenery in Phuket. Our clients are mostly busy people, it gives them the opportunity to switch off, enjoy some family and ‘me’ time and soon, they will be addicted to short cruises and see boating as a form of escapism.
Princess Yachts has a large range of boats. What’s the particular strength or definitive characteristic of Princess Yachts, if you had to pick just one?
The strength of the Princess brand rests on pillars such as quality, strength and integrity of design and build which results in timeless elegance, impeccable and luxurious interiors and immaculate finish. Princess Yachts have been building some of the world’s finest luxury motor yachts for more than 40 years. Our yachts keep their allure and value for many years and therefore are very strong contenders at the used yacht market and hold a reputation of unsurpassed sea-keeping.
We are told that there are amazing customization options at Princess Yachts, from the LVMH stable of brands and beyond. How important is customisation to your business and what are some of the most interesting or unique customisations that you’ve seen so far?
We have had some really amazing requests, some of which we have managed to achieve and some that were better left to one side… for now! With Princess being owned by L-Catterton, we are indeed able to work very closely with brands such as Fendi and LV, however, we have also worked with wonderful brands outside of the group, such as Hermes, as a specific request from a customer. Each and every Princess is different… beautiful and unique and that is increasingly becoming a main factor in our sales dialogue with clients.
Who is a Princess Yacht owner?
It can be just about anyone, but what we have noticed is that a typical Princess customer is truly trans-global; they know what they want, and really understand that the real beauty is in the details. They have high expectations of quality and a strong appreciation of incredible design language.
Where would you say is the best location for yachting in Thailand?
100% Phuket. Phuket is a Mecca for boating for Asia, like the Mediterranean is for Europe.
Which recent innovations in yachting strike you? How do you bridge between heritage & modernity? Project 31 etc.
There is a real movement back to grass roots boating with open boats, such as our V58-Open, and it seems that fun on the sea is the priority. Everybody is into toys currently, such as Seabobs, and the modern creature comforts are all required, but now, with ease and at the touch of one button. Our heritage is very important, and what better way to celebrate the fact that Princess has made over 17,000 yachts over the past 50 years than bringing back to life the original boat, but re-designing the interior to be in line with a modern day Princess!
Can you tell me more about your latest model?
We have launched six new models in the past six months. We have a new 35M and 30M in our M class range, a new V58, a new S65 – which now defines a totally new segment in yachting where performance meets style, and we have also added two all-new flybridge products with a 75 Motor Yacht and a Princess 49.
What services do you offer clients in the region?
Our services include new yacht sales, pre-loved yachts, yacht charter, yacht management and the best after sales service you will find in Southeast Asia since 1995. Princess Yachts has one of the longest established and most extensive after sales and service support organizations in the region that ensures all Princess owners unparalleled enjoyment of their yachts. Our sole mission is to provide the best possible maritime turnkey experience, from the moment one starts thinking about purchasing or hiring a Princess Yacht and every day after that.
Princess Yachts will be one of the exhibitors at the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS, which is right around the corner. What part of the concept did you find attractive that made you want to take part in it?
It seems the event has a focus on lifestyle which is one of the key aspects of our boat ownership experience which we offer, where we have also held regular Princess Yachts Rendezvous in the various locations that we operate out of within Southeast Asia. It seems our values are also shared by that of the show, in that we specialise in quality new and pre-owned yachts, and are always keen to explore new ground and opportunities!
What do you hope to achieve there as an exhibitor?
As one of the largest yacht companies in Asia, we are thrilled to be a part of the Singapore Rendezvous as it will allow us to introduce the lifestyle of yachting/boating to a diverse type of crowd, at the same time, allow guests at the event to enjoy the viewings of the exclusive range of Princess Yachts.
Which yachts will be on display at THE SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS?
The yachts that will displayed are the Princess 56, Princess 52, Princess 72 MY, Jeanneau’s Velasco 43F and Marquis 600.
For more information, visit SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS.