Welcoming megayachts to Istanbul
Atakoy Marina and Atakoy Mega Yacht Marina are core elements in the Istanbul Tourism Centre (ITC) mega project to make the Istanbul seafront a new destination for the city. Newly appointed general manager, Artun Ertem, brings extensive industry experience to a role that is focused on putting Atakoy Mega Yacht Marina firmly on the superyacht circuit.Atakoy Marina, built over 30 years ago with over 850 berths, remains at the forefront of the Turkish marina sector. It was the first marina in Turkey to earn 5 Gold Anchors from The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) and has retained the anchors since 1989, along with Blue Flag accreditation. “Our marina is a kind of flagship for the Turkish marina industry,” Artun Ertem says. “And out main goal is to keep the service level as high as possible.”
The adjacent Mega Yacht Marina is a much newer facility, built with 232 berths for vessels of 25-100m (82-330ft). It is the only marina in Turkey to be designed and built specifically for superyachts but for various reasons has attracted few boats.
“Atakoy Marina is currently at over 110% capacity and all new enquiries are forwarded to the new basin,” Ertem explains. “Atakoy Mega Yacht Marina started accepting yachts for the first time in 2016 but, unfortunately, geopolitical situations and the pandemic have negatively affected operations of the new facility.”
Owners, Dati Holding – a development, investment and management company founded by experienced nautical industry professionals in 2004 – stepped in. “Dati Holding focused its concentration on securing an extension of the concession lease period until 2070 and this goal has been successfully achieved. As of the beginning of the spring season, we have monitored increased traffic of megayachts in the marina compared to previous years. We see this as a positive indicator for future occupancy projections for the facility.”
The concrete floating pontoon system in Atakoy Marina was built and supplied by SF Marina and the floating concrete pontoons for the Mega Yacht Marina were custom-built by a Turkish concrete pontoon manufacturer. There are also quay walls in the Mega Yacht Marina, which are ideal for hosting some of the larger vessels. Services are provided via Plus dockside pedestals, and on-site facilities are plentiful, including restaurants, cafés, supermarket, health and sports centre, swimming pools, tennis courts, a children’s playground and 5 star hotel.
Both marinas also have boatyards: “One is operated by the marina and the other is expected to become operational as of 2025. At the moment, the lifting and launching operations are undertaken with a 75 ton Marine Travelift. The Mega Yacht Marina is expected to have a 300 ton travel hoist and a boat mover. There is a possibility that we may franchise our boatyard so we would be open to proposals by interested parties,” Ertem says.
Atakoy also benefits from being a core element of the ITC project. The Port Galleria plan, which surrounds the landside of the marina, offers a shopping mall, leisure and activities facilities and a conference centre. There are also four major hotels and Marina Park private residences.
Safety, security and environmental management are a big focus. “Environmental sensitivity is a top priority for the marina management and all team members. We have a tenant operating the fuel station facility and the marina has a full capacity pump-out service established in line with the legal obligations.”
“The marina management team has prepared an extensive risk analysis and action plan as part of its environmental management approach. An Emergency Response Plan is also a significant part of this task. All works have been undertaken in line with existing legislations and codes of practice. On the job training and exercises are constantly being implemented for all staff, and these processes are regularly documented.”
Atakoy has manned security as well as CCTV systems monitored on a 24/7 basis. “Our security management plan has yielded very good results over the past years. Additionally, the availability of the Coast Guard and Sea Police departments within the marina itself provides additional security for our premises.”
As well as being rich in terms of facilities, Ertem believes Atakoy’s location gives it an important edge. Not only is it at the heart of Istanbul, one of the great architectural and cultural cities in the world, but it’s close to a perfect airport.
“The biggest advantage of Atakoy Marina is its vicinity to Ataturk Airport, which used to serve as the main international airport of Istanbul until the opening of New Istanbul Airport,” he says. “At the moment, Ataturk Airport has been redesigned to serve as a VIP terminal, mostly for business jets. This creates a great strength for the future development of our premises in terms of providing a luxury service especially for superyachts.”
He also thinks positively about the local competition. “We have competition nearby but all establishments have satisfactory occupancy as well as their own paths of business. I see it as a potential for synergy rather than competition. Each marina has its own strengths and weaknesses. Our major strength is that we have the biggest megayacht berthing options in the region.”
Ertem has spent over 20 years working in the marina industry and spent 13 of these years in Croatia where he had extensive opportunities for networking with the superyacht industry’s key European and global players. He worked as the regional director and general manager for Marina Mandalina in Sibenik for six and a half years and is bringing all of this experience to his new role. “By using this huge network, I am trying to contribute to the growth of our business and I can confidently say that our business with increasing megayacht traffic in the last ten months seems promising and sustainable.”
Marina Mandalina is, of course, an award-winning superyacht facility. How do Mandalina and Atakoy compare? “Client expectations, service standards and sufficiency of facilities stand out as similarities,” Ertem notes. “The main difference I feel between the two is that Atakoy Mega Yacht Marina is located in the heart of one of the biggest and most well known metropolises in the world. Istanbul has a huge marketing effect and is a well deserved brand by itself. Sibenik is a relatively small city with great nature, great people and archipelago. Atakoy Mega Yacht Marina is much bigger than Marina Mandalina in size and capacity. However, both marinas represent a great asset value as being amongst the limited amount of such well organised facilities.”
“The biggest weakness I see for Atakoy is its distance from the major cruising destinations. However, this turns out to be a strength as we have a huge hinterland of shipyards around Istanbul with impeccable know-how, technical utilities, service quality and cost efficiency. Istanbul is considered a preferred destination among superyachts en route to the Black Sea. I am confident that our yacht traffic will increase more as soon as the war between Ukraine and Russia ends.”
Artun Ertem believes the challenges for Atakoy and for the industry in general relate to a very big picture. “Global instability is the biggest challenge, not only for Atakoy but for the entire global business cycle. It may become more devastating than the pandemic unless preliminary precautions are taken by the UN immediately. The war between Russia and Ukraine must come to an end as well as the war in the Middle East. We can only be happy and enjoy running our businesses under peaceful conditions. Wars only pump out hatred and animosity, and we don’t want people to die.”
“Our industry has been hit strongly by these developments. The superyacht industry and yachting market in general have never experienced such turbulence before. Our situation reflects hope in despair, but we tend to stay on the hopeful side.”