Meet The Man Behind Asia's Biggest Superyacht Gathering
Annually, luxury pleasure boats gather at the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous (KRSR) in Phuket, hosted by award-winning property investment firm Infinite Luxury. Designed to bring together the most extraordinary superyachts from all over the world for one exciting showcase and to raise awareness and funds for important issues such as ocean conservation, KRSR draws the attention of the world's wealthiest and most influential.
We speak with the man behind KRSR, Michael Nurbatlian, marketing director of Infinite Luxury, to discuss the underlying aspirations in creating such an impressive gathering.
What is your history with yachts?
My father was an ambassador, and I had the privilege to travel to many exotic destinations, including Thailand. During that time, I had the experience of staying in wonderful hotels and experiencing yachting and luxury hospitality from a young age. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve experienced many aspects of the luxury sector, and it’s been a wonderful journey thus far. In addition to helping launch and organise the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous, along with Richard Pope, our visionary CEO and owner of Kata Rocks, I have also attended the Monaco Yacht Show for the past five years, which has given me the chance to experience some of the larger superyachts of 200 feet or more. Some of the details of craftsmanship and design I have witnessed there, from the technology used to power the boats to the interior furnishing, have been mind-blowing. Then, there’s the attention to detail paid by the crew to the guests—it’s beyond the usual five-star hotel treatment, and that's what I find so inspiring.
So tell us about the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous. Why is it so important?
KRSR has helped put Phuket on the global superyacht map as the must-attend event in the region. It offers an opportunity to see some of the most iconic superyachts here in Phuket. Statistically, only 10 per cent of superyacht owners come to this part of the world. As many know, it is easier to visit more recognised destinations in the Caribbean or Mediterranean, but why not discover somewhere new? Thailand is an incredible sailing destination, not just because of the scenery but also because of the amazing Thai people, hospitality and, of course, Thai food! Many people don’t know that we have developed the infrastructure and world-class marinas to handle both the biggest yachts in the world and the smaller ones for that matter, and there's so much to do here.
What was extra special about the recently held KRSR?
The KRSR 2019 in December was considered by many in attendance as the best Rendezvous to date. It was organised with a strong focus on marine conservation and concluded with the ultra-exclusive 'Soiree by The Sea Charity Gala Dinner' hosted at Kata Rocks on behalf of The International SeaKeepers Society and Phuket-based Oceans For All Foundation, and sponsored by the Leading Yachts of the World. The Charity Gala aimed to raise awareness and contribute to marine conservation and oceanographic research, which together help protect and restore our oceans for future generations to enjoy. KRSR also extended its charitable philanthropy with a silent auction that included a stunning Tanzanite ring with 18k white gold and diamonds, valued over two million baht that was generously donated by Fred Mouawad. Mouawad is renowned in the world of jewellery and timepieces, and the stunning Haute Joaillerie attracted multiple bids that further extended the charitable reach of the KRSR.
How big is yachting in Thailand and why Phuket?
Thailand’s nascent yachting sector is just starting to spread its wings, with Phuket as the most established hub of the industry. Phuket has a number of world-class marinas such as the Phuket Boat Lagoon and Royal Phuket Marina. As I touched upon earlier, the infrastructure for services and maintenance here are unmatched in Southeast Asia. You have not done Thailand and the waters around Phuket until you have done it on a superyacht. The outer islands around the Phuket archipelago offer a bounty of remote destinations to explore. I was lucky enough to be invited on a fantastic yacht that sailed to Phang Nga Bay, made globally famous by the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. It’s full of hundreds of the most stunning islands, many of which commercial boats don’t visit because they have no tourist infrastructure or restaurants. Finding an almost virgin island on a yacht, swimming to the beach and enjoying a meal with a view are all things that few get the privilege of experiencing, and it’s truly out of this world. It was a humbling experience that took my breath away. I never felt more connected to mother nature and the sea.
Why is environment such an important issue to you personally?
The environment has been a focus of mine for many, many years. I always aim to find ways to reduce single-use plastic usage, reduce greenhouse gas emission and my carbon footprint. I believe that every little step counts and that as a combined community, we can have a positive effect on a global scale. I also gave up meat over 10 years ago, due to its impact on the environment and animal welfare. It has led me to a better place where I now follow a predominately plant-based lifestyle and enjoy many personal health benefits in addition to helping with environmental conservation.
How can luxury help with global issues?
The rise of responsible luxury is an ongoing trend that I think is going to make a big impact in the coming years. Luxury is becoming increasingly conscious of its role on the global stage, especially as stakeholders and consumers are driven truly by purpose. In the past, many considered luxury as being detached from sustainability and agents of savage capitalism. However, there is clearly a significant shift within the sector from being in your own luxury world to luxury focusing on being positive agent of change in the world by embracing ethical business values. For brands like Infinite Luxury and Kata Rocks, it is now a priority to address critical global issues ranging from pollution to the sourcing of our products and renewable energies.