The Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous is one of Phuket’s largest events of the year. Shipyards, designers and elite personalities from the world over, come together for four days of yachting and exceptional business and social programme.
Richard Pope is the man behind Infinite Luxury and Kata Rocks, the organizers of this grand event. We sat down with him to learn of the idea behind the KRSR, this year’s additions and his vision of the event in years to come.
What is the idea behind the KRSR?
We wanted to align our brand with the superyacht world, and as a small resort, we want to punch above our weight. By bringing the superyachts in, it positions us well within the industry. We’re right by the sea, our resort looks like a superyacht; with the modern lines and the wraparound windows, so it’s an event that very much matches who we are. It also elevates Phuket as a destination.
What brought about the desire to organise an event at this scale?
It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of preparation; getting people involved, the sponsors in, getting the boats in and inviting the guests. But in the end we generate well over a million dollars a year in marketing, so that’s the incentive. This is not a profit-oriented event, but for us, it’s worth it.
Have there been any critical experiences over the last few years of organising the event that have stuck with you?
There are a lot. There have been some great boats that have been here. I think Lady Christine was the 73 metre – that was a great boat. We’ve had some fantastic parties here, some of the best on the island have been a part of the Superyacht Rendezvous. The number of people that come has been growing each year. It’s always been a memorable event, and it’s improved each year.
An event of this calibre must draw individuals of the same or higher. Could you tell us who has been the most exciting encounter for you?
We tend to be quite discreet about who we invite, but we’ve had quite a few billionaires and wealthy individuals. Some well known on the island, some from elsewhere. The idea of this event is to be a discreet way that those people can come to a place like this, invitation-only, mix with each other and see the boats in a relaxed, social environment.
I guess it’s good for them to experience what’s available on the island as well?
Yes, it shows the lifestyle that you can have in Phuket, and what it can be. Especially if you end up buying a boat. Living in Phuket is excellent, but actually getting out on the water around Phuket is even better, because there’s so many little islands and places to visit. It means your experience here is much better because it’s on the water and on the land.
The KRSR gets bigger every year. How do you plan on scaling up the event without sacrificing comfort, considering the limited space available at Kata Rocks?
Basically, we’re growing in terms of quality – the number and size of the boats. Because it’s invitation-only, it’s getting stricter every year for the people that come. We really are bringing in the crème de la crème. The idea is not to have thousands of people; we can’t have that here anyway. And there aren’t enough of those really wealthy people here. More and more people are asking each year if they can come, and we’re being very selective about that.
Luxury standards are continually rising. How do you keep up with the curve, so to speak?
Luxury standards in resorts and properties are rising, but it’s always about experiences. We try to move with those trends. People who bought apartments and villas at Kata Rocks did not expect to be able to go on superyachts as part of what they purchased. And that’s kind of an ultimate experience, to go on a superyacht and to go out and see all of them anchored out here as part of a resort hotel.
From the impressive range of yachts that have visited throughout the last few KRSRs, which was your favourite?
The two most prominent were Lauren L and Lady Christine. Lauren L was a 94 metre converted superyacht, and Lady Christine was 73 metres – a Feadship. That was probably the most impressive; there was no expense spared on the interior work. It was a lot of money and very impressive. But there have been many smaller boats that were equally impressive in their design and layout, like Sunseekers and other sponsors boats. They’re all individually good.
The Charity Gala is a massive show of the resort and the event’s support for marine conservation. What brought about the idea to organise this event in addition to the mammoth task of arranging the KRSR?
There’s an awareness now about plastic and the environment – the ocean in particular. More and more resorts, including ourselves, are not using plastics any more. We’re trying to raise awareness and be a bit’ greener’. Obviously, with superyachts, people will think they burn a lot of fuel, and that’s not particularly green. But these superyacht owners do want to give back. So having a gala dinner to raise money and awareness for charities like SeaKeepers and Oceans For All, who work with the yacht industry to monitor the sea’s plastic content and gather data across the planet, is entirely appropriate.
How will the event and the resort continue to support marine conservation efforts in the future?
As part of the rendezvous this year, we’re going to do a beach cleanup. It’s something in Asia that often gets neglected – the beaches usually have a lot of rubbish, especially in low season. Still, I think people are getting more aware of it. We want to be a part of the awareness and are trying to be greener.
You have to deliver the product you provide, but we’re trying to do it more greenly. We have retention tanks, for instance, which catch the rainwater that’s then used for irrigation. More and more, things like LED lighting are integrated into the designs of the buildings.
What are your future plans for the KRSR in the years to come; where do you see it going?
When we started this, we set a clear 5-year plan. We set 4 goals and measure our progress against those goals. It was number of boats here, the media return, number of high-net-worths etc. In year 2 and 3, we had already achieved a couple of them, and we’re building towards more of them now. We’re in year 4 now, and the event has been very well received. More people are putting it in their diary now – we want that to increase so that it will become the event you go to in the middle of December, and get the right kind of people into Phuket. In the next 5 years, we’ll do another 5-year plan to build the event up in alignment with what we do, because it supports us as a resort. And it helps Phuket – having events like this increases the island’s profile and brings people with boats into the region, which is what everyone wants.