MarEx Exclusive: Virtual Tours of the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendevous 2018

Kata Rocks

Published Feb 2, 2019 6:00 PM by Sean M. Holt

Southeast Asia’s most exclusive superyacht gathering, proves itself as the bespoke lifestyle and relaxed business affair not to miss.

The Maritime Executive was invited to Asia’s hottest yachting event; we brought our hi-def virtual reality equipment. So, grab your morning coffee and prepare for the immersive experience of the iconic resort and onboard a few of the participating Rendevous vessels.

Virtual Tour: Schooner Dallinghoo

As seasoned mariners, we have all undoubtedly attended our fair share of soirees. However, there is one occurrence that should be added to your bucket list of ‘must attend events’. The third annual Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendevous (KSRS 2018) was held 6-9 December 2018 and has successfully demonstrated continual improvement with increased participation and notice from the yachting industry. Hosted at Infinite Luxury’s Kata Rocks Resort and Residence (7.8131°N, 98.2972°E) on the sun-kissed west coast of Phuket, Thailand, the invitation-only multi-day affair is raising the bar as the definitive superyacht event in Asia.

KSRS was designed three years ago, as part of Infinite Luxury’s development strategy, to hoist the colors of international superyachting above Phuket as the desired destination in Asia. With over 350 invited, the A-list gathering included VIPs, superyachts, managers, brokers, builders, luxury brands, and media partners. KSRS 2018 was laden with lavish events, exquisite dinner gathers, awe-inspiring luxury experiences, and its own smartphone app to boot.

Having attended countless international summits, shows, and conferences, it wasn’t clear what to expect going into this event. Yet, upon arrival at the concealed Kata Rocks threshold, it quickly became clear that this was to be quite unique. Being a long-time traveler to Thailand, one always appreciates the warm and genuine demeanor of the local hosts. But this place was different. Under the guidance of CEO, Richard Pope and Director of Marketing, Michael Nurbatlian, the attentive and gracious staff executed this highly complex four-day event with military precision. No expenses were spared to ensure that the guests could immerse in the true depths of the luxury lifestyle in which superyachting lore is made of.

Upon arrival, guests had been gifted a beautiful anchor-latched bracelet, custom fitted KSRS polos, and access to the KSRS 2018 smartphone app, which was tailored to each attendee and the appropriate programme events they were individually invited to. Then it was off to their iconic pool deck for one of the world’s best sundowner locations and a cocktail party hosted by Campers & Nicholsons and Royal Huisman.

Virtual Tour: Kata Rocks (Pool Deck)

Camper & Nicholsons Asia Chairman, Mr. Lester Lam said, “The KRSR is a unique opportunity where owners and enthusiasts interact at well-organized events and casual gatherings. Southeast Asia is truly uncharted grounds, and KRSR has shown everyone the region’s potential.”

Following the cocktail party was a private superyacht captains’ dinner hosted by Benetti and Hemisphere Monaco.

‘Day 2’ began with the King’s Cup Superyacht Experience which invited yacht owners, media and guests aboard to experience the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta from the unique vantage point. Aboard the MY Xanadu, a brunch was hosted by Northrop and Johnson.

For ye land lovers, Kata Rocks showcased their beautiful resort with complimentary activities to experience spa treatments, yoga sessions, Thai cooking classes with their executive chef, and oyster tasting in the wine cellar. The evening kicked off with the KRSR Opening Reception, inspired by the local Peranakan culture and Sino-Portuguese heritage of old Phuket Town.

‘Day 3’, or ‘Cruise Day’, kicked off with an unforgettable flotilla of all the participating yachts that departed early from Kata Rocks as we set sail up the enchanting coastline to a private champagne beach BBQ. Hosted ashore at the famous The Surin Phuket at Pansea Beach (7.9810°N, 98.2777°E), the afternoon was filled with flowing champagne, exquisite oysters, amazing food, unrivaled scenery, and incredibly fascinating people.

The cruise and beach BBQ provided the opportunity to mingle with the hand-selected group of attendees from around the world. Beyond the glitz and glamour of the entire event, the true value of the Rendevous proved to be the networking in a relaxed, no-pressure environment. Young & old, self-made or through prestigious lineage, there was a well-balanced representation of superyacht lifestyle seekers. All were approachable and happy to share their story or showcase their yacht and/or Kata Rocks villa.

As the BBQ concluded, difficult decisions had to made as to which yacht offer to graciously accept for a ride back on, as well as whether to take the floating pier to the tenders or choosing the adventurous amphibious boarding of the RHIB (we, of course, took the later). As part of a Torqeedo's green ethos for sustainability, they provided the RHIBs and tenders with their water-based electromobility and clean energy from all-electric and solar-powered propulsion units.

For our trip back, the RHIB dropped us off, along with our new friends, aboard the MY Grace (Sunseeker Manhattan 66). As we waited for the remaining embarkees, the team at Seajet stealthily cruised over with their personal underwater jets and let MarEx demo. You can watch a video presentation of the Seajet Stingray here. Definitely, a thrilling ride as we reenacted scenes from The Hunt for Red October.

Soon, the flotilla of nearly twenty vessels was assembled and redeployed back to Kata Rocks. Whilst sailing off the pristine beaches of Surin, Kamala, Millionaire’s Miles, and a few secret places that shall remain unnamed, MarEx was fortunate to get some one-on-one time with the CEO, Richard Pope.

Here, Mr. Pope was able to, in the most appropriate setting possible, articulate his vision for luxury and superyacht lifestyle in Thailand. They had built Kata Rocks four years ago with the intent of combining the two verticles into a hemogenous playground for the high & ultra-high net worth. At first glance of the resort, the nautical inspiration is evident with their Sky Villas appearing as the bows of yachts breaching the rock shores out towards the sea. The elegant and well appointed architectural designs feel as if the villas are part of the Rendevous armada themselves.

Mr. Pope, a proud perfectionist, detailed how the first attempt of the resort was demolished and had to be started again because it did not meet the intended vision. Even the rock faces had to be sheared down and reshaped in order to properly accommodate not only the proper angles for the villas but also the maximum safe inclination for the buggies that transport the guests.

Mr. Pope stated, “The KRSR promotes Phuket and all the essential advantages it has as a world-class cruising destination: beauty, luxury, diversity, Thai culture, and charm, plus the infrastructure to support superyachts.”

On a personal note, as a digital nomad who has spent the past year creating virtual tours for over 400 luxury villas, resorts, chalets, and superyachts, Kata Rocks is a ‘tier-one’ destination. Everything from the location, the carefully planned outfittings, flowing lines, materials, layouts, construction, and even the community, was impressive, to say the least. It is no wonder that Kata Rocks was voted ‘Best Apartment in the World’ at the London International Property Awards, and named one of the 25 best hotels in Southeast Asia by the Conde Nast Travelers 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards, along with over 50 international awards.

Upon returning the shores of Kata Rocks, we disembarked in time for Hemisphere Monaco’s Sunset Gin Party at the clubhouse. This was followed by the private Superyacht Owner’s Dinner hosted by Oceanco, along with nightcaps in the private penthouse.

The final ‘Day 4’ kicked off with a Champagne Media Breakfast, graciously hosted and presented by Benetti, with fellow members of the international media scene. Benetti articulated their assiduity for, and the importance of, the emerging Asian markets. We encourage our readers to review their website for the impressive heritage of motor yachts that they have been artfully constructing since 1873.

As well, MarEx was able to meet up with representatives from the International SeaKeepers Society. Fascinatingly, SeaKeepers’ mission is to support marine sciences and conservation efforts through the utilization of yachts as platforms for marine research, educational outreach, and deployment of oceanographic instruments. We salute their efforts and encourage others in the yachting community to explore potential collaborations which may benefit our shared oceanic playground.

The remainder of the day was filled with activities such as the ‘Big Boys Toys’ with demonstrations and trials of various marine toys presented by the likes of Seajet. Concurrently, the ‘Yacht Hop’ allowed guests to visit the various yachts lined up in the harbor.

Here is a list of the 2018 participating yachts & superyachts (defined as >24 M LOA):

The following were official KSRS 2018 superyacht partners:

The extravagant event was made complete by the grand finale party with a theme of ‘Journey to the Med’. Inclusive of live fire dances, a band, a DJ with instruments, incredible food (perhaps some of the world’s best oysters), free-flow, and a few other surprises that shall be saved for those fortunate to attend next year. Overall it was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that few are fortunate to experience.

The yachting scene in Asia, despite many years of effort, is still in the very early stages of adoption. Cultural and regulatory impedances have prevented a similar espousal as compared to the West. However, swelling infrastructure and supply are fostering ideal and untapped conditions for those adventurous enough to explore these enchanted waters surrounding James Bond Island. Besides, if it was a good enough escape for Scaramanga, perhaps it may be for you too.

MarEx would like to extend a very special thank you to the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendevous 2018 team, as well as SY Schooner Dalinghoo, MY Chowa, and MY Grace for affording our readers an inside glace to the prestigious event and your beautiful vessels.

For those planning out this year’s activities, particularly owners of yachts over 24 meters in length, save the date for December 12-15, 2019. You may request an invitation by emailing [email protected] or visit www.katarockssuperyachtrendezvous.com. You may also reach out to MarEx contributor Sean M. Holt via LinkedIn.

Feel free to follow the event on social media with #KSRS2018 or view the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous Annual Report 2017 here.

Sean M. Holt, MBA is a regular contributor to MarEx, a Marine Operations & Technology graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and Director, Co-founder of Infinity XVR.


The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.