As one year comes to a close and a new year begins, we are often asked “what is your outlook for the coming year for the marina industry” or “what are some of the trends you’re seeing and what can we expect to see more of.”
Although much of our comments are logged by editors and shared in their publications, I thought it worthwhile to share some of our comments directly with our readers…
Worldwide, from our perspective, things are starting to turn. Marinas are beginning to see the increase in boat sales trickle down into their occupancy rates, money is loosening up and governments in emerging markets seem to be taking a more active interest in their boating and marina industries. We remain optimistic that in 2014 and coming years the industry as a whole will continue to grow and prosper.
For the marina industry, 2012 continued a steady march forward toward greater innovation, higher customization and a stronger push for value.
The passing of time is inevitable; another year has come and gone and we are now well into 2013. Part fueled by tighter budgets and part by improvements in materials and technologies, the marina industry is becoming leaner and more advanced.
A look back at the many discussions with owners and developers over the year reveals an ever increasing importance being placed by owners on aesthetics, functionality and last but not least value.
Many of the trends in aesthetics center on customization and personalization. Each year, the number of clients requesting colored and /or stamped concrete docks increases. Rounded finger ends are becoming a standard feature in Australia and are continuing to increase in popularity in the U.S., use of LED lighting is becoming more widespread, and requests for hardwood and composite trim packages are starting to show up in large public projects.
Looking at Bellingham Marine’s many different projects across the globe, gives unique insight into the worldwide trends in marina design. The company’s clients are diverse and offer a great cross section of the industry – from commercial fishing facilities in Alaska’s remote reaches to the sophisticated super yacht facilities that dot the Caribbean.
A trend that continues to grow in direct correlation with increasing boat size is the general design and layout of the marina. Bigger boats require longer and wider berths, larger fairways and deeper basins. Many also want higher freeboard and wider walkways. Larger boats require more power and often more services. This trend is nothing new for the marina industry and continues to be the driving force behind many marina renovations.
In addition to the increase in average boat size, is the increase in mix of boats. More and more marinas are being asked to cater to a broader range of boaters, which encompasses everyone from kayakers to mega yacht owners. With growth in vessel diversity comes the need to offer a greater variety of moorage and water access options. Where once standard 16” to 20” freeboard was appropriate for all boats in the marina, marinas are now looking to incorporate into their facility low freeboard areas for kayakers, rowing clubs and junior sailing programs, “standard” freeboard for mid-sized boats, and extra high freeboard docks for larger vessels.
Another trend that’s on the rise is customization. Many marinas are looking to set themselves apart and create a unique experience for their tenants. Modern marina designs reflect playful use of architectural design and color that lead to a sophisticated and polished look.