By Dorie Cox
Captains, crew and yachting businesses made final preparations for opening day on Thursday at the yacht and brokerage show in Miami Beach. New this year’s Yachts Miami Beach (YMB) is a layout that navigates visitors from the sidewalk to the Indian Creek Waterway.
“The focus is on the water, to get people off Collins Avenue and out on the docks,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, which co-owns and produces the show. “The show will be more engaging and enjoyable.”
The 29th annual show includes more than a mile of in-water displays as well as larger yachts on show at Island Gardens Deep Harbour marina on Watson Island in Miami.
Previously open to the public, attendees to this year’s YMB will enter at monitored entrances for a $20 daily fee.
A few entrance changes were made just before opening day, according to Brett Keating, vice president of marketing for Show Management. Originally the show was set to have five entrances on Collins Avenue but increased the number to seven.
“We had to add entrances at the south end of the show because of the way the land and displays are situated,” Keating said. “Visitors can still walk through the entire show on the docks on the water. We wanted a few other ways for people to get in, especially for our prominent vendors.”
There are two ticketed areas accessible from the Water Taxi.
“People can take the Water Taxi in for free and then buy a ticket to get into the show,” Keating said. Tickets can be purchased at the north and south Water Taxi entrances, and there are four other stops in between for ticketed guests to arrive and depart.
“So you can see the yachts from the water,” she said. “It’s quite nice.”
“Now, there’s no mistaking, it’s a different show,” Zimbalist said.
Show co-owners Show Management and the International Yacht Brokers Association (formerly the Florida Yacht Brokers Association) hired Ft. Lauderdale-based EDSA to redesign the show. EDSA has created inspiring environments for distinctive destinations ranging from Atlantis in the Bahamas to the John F. Kennedy Center and Disney’s signature resorts. The layout for about 500 boats is split in half, with brokerage yachts to the north and new yachts to the south.
New this year is the VIP ticket for $125 a day, per person, which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and open bar. The ticket includes a concierge for yacht appointments and spa services.
“We’ve enhanced the food and entertainment,” Keating said. “All the food is down on the docks with fresh seafood, American, Latin and a variety of choices. We’ll have Latin salsa, flamenco and entertainment traveling through the show to make it more fun.”
Customer parking and valet parking are expanded, and there will be a dedicated ride share/taxi area as well as a shuttle from South Beach to the water taxi.
Show Management and IYBA have increased media coverage to clarify the changes and encourage attendees to pre-buy tickets online at www.showmanagement.com. This year’s new admission fee is virtually all going into the increased media plan, Zimbalist said.
Last year, Island Gardens Deep Harbour marina opened for business just weeks before the inaugural Superyacht Miami section of the show. About 30 large crewed yachts are expected there this year, complete with an opening party and yacht hop Thursday night.
Visits to Deep Harbor are by invitation only and must be arranged through exhibitors. The Deck at Island Gardens restaurant is now open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, and crew get a 20 percent discount.
“The public can view, but not access the show, and people can see the sunset over Miami,” Marina Manager Marieke van Peer said. “But brokers can meet for lunch. There isn’t a better place than this place as a canvas backdrop for the show.”
Even before it opened on Wednesday, the show felt different.
“The major difference is the orientation,” Zimbalist said. “We were Med-style with sterns to Collins and now most yachts will be turned around. We had to add a lot of new dockage to do this.
“So far so good,” he said Wednesday night. “The exhibitor response has been fantastic, we have more boats in the water than planned, and the exhibit at Watson Island is looking good. I’m happy with it.”