Jonathan Sit’s management career began on the two-year Management Associate programme at Singapore’s ONE°15 Marina. Training in roles the marina’s sales, finance, HR and F&B departments helped improve his business acumen specific to operations across the prestigious Sentosa Cove oceanfront development.
Previously, Sit had worked in hospitality in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the USA at hotels such as Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and The Statler Hotel in New York and restaurant groups, including upscale craft brewery Brewerkz in Singapore.
Asia-Pacific Boating: How do you describe your job in your own words?
Jonathan Sit: As general manager, I have to be at the top and on the ground at the same time. Besides providing directions to all department heads, I sometimes roll up my sleeves to be involved in the operations.
The club setting is such that, on the outside, it looks small. But within it, there are 17 departments ranging from marina and membership to security and housekeeping. [Overall,] I ensure that the organisation meets its targets in three main areas – service, offerings, and revenue.
I also help our business development team to screen target marinas and present feasibility studies for greenfield and existing marina sites across Southeast Asia while ensuring maximum operational efficiency through analysis and strategic planning.
APB: Just in time for your 15th anniversary, you completed a US$4.97 million upgrade – what are the highlights?
JS: With yachts increasing in size, one of the marina’s key purposes of the reconfiguration was to make space for bigger yachts. We increased overall capacity by 18 per cent and now have a wider channel of 40m with a minimum depth of 4.5m. It can accommodate yachts of up to 220ft (67.1m), which was previously limited to 160ft (47.8m) and can also accommodate 32 superyachts, up from 15 previously.
New amenities include pedestals made of marine-grade anodised aluminium by Rolec Services in the United Kingdom, a fuel management mobile application, remote meter reading, automated billing services and expanded berth sizes.
Superyacht berths are additionally now located at the front of the clubhouse giving superyacht captains and crew convenient access to the club.
APB: What were the most challenging parts of the upgrade to oversee personally?
JS: During the construction phase, the toughest parts of the reconfiguration were managing the project timeline and costs and coordinating boat movements in the marina. Covid-19 also struck during the construction and set us back by more than a year. In addition, due to the pandemic, the shipping of construction materials was severely delayed, costs increased steadily, and the workforce available for the project became scarce due to border closures.
Post-construction, delivering the committed return on investment was the most challenging. We had initially calculated the renovation payback based on projected increased occupancy and larger vessels. However, the pandemic significantly impacted the industry, and historical data was mainly rendered irrelevant.
Internationally, Covid-19 changed the movement patterns of yachts and superyachts around the region. In normal times, we would welcome superyachts to the marina as they travel around the region. However, with unprecedented border restrictions, we could no longer accurately predict where berthing demands would come from. Consequently, we had to significantly increase our communication with yacht captains, agents, and government agencies to understand and keep abreast of the various shifting requirements and provide viable solutions to attract international vessels to berth with us.
Domestically, Covid-19 initially dampened interest in boating, but as border restrictions continued, local residents started to explore yacht chartering and boat ownership as alternatives to overseas travel. As a result, we had to adjust our offerings to serve this new demographic. We also embarked on a journey to educate new boaters on safety issues and how to conduct boating sustainably and protect the ocean while enjoying their trips.
APB: How does the marina mitigate its environmental impact?
JS: It is only right for us to take responsibility in adopting eco-conscious efforts, whether it is to help ensure the cleanliness of our coastlines and water or to ensure our operations are as green as possible.
As a Clean Water and Fish-Friendly certified marina, we meet international standards in water cleanliness and have a stringent system to keep it clean. We encourage boaters to use pump-out systems instead of disposing of waste into the water. We recycle waste oil from our operations; paper, electricity and water usage are also minimised throughout our operations where possible.
“It is only right for us to take responsibility in adopting eco-conscious efforts, whether it is to help ensure the cleanliness of our coastlines and water or to ensure our operations are as green as possible.” – Jonathan Sit
Ongoing efforts include stamping out single-use plastics such as straws, takeaway containers, cutlery, hotel room toiletries, and bin liners and replacing plastic bottles for hotel guests with metal jugs. We also have a ‘seabin’ installed in our waters to keep plastics and litter out.
We recently installed an indoor vertical vegetable farm within Latitude Bistro. It is a small step, but we believe that growing our own ingredients helps set an example for diners while educating them on the importance of sustainable food sources.
As part of our eco-centric efforts, we partnered with the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) at the National University of Singapore to establish the city’s first man-made coral garden. This was done with the long-term goal of providing a safe and controlled environment for people to dive and learn about the marine world and to be used as a coral research site. This protected habitat for coral to grow in, advances reef restoration research and enhances marine biodiversity in Singapore waters. We work with researchers and volunteers and have successfully grown and transplanted more than 200 coral fragments since the project’s inception.
During our 15th anniversary, we have a month-long campaign in September dedicated to building awareness of ocean conservation through activities to engage the community. We are launching the Coral Garden volunteer programme to make the project more sustainable and allow more members to enjoy it.
APB: Plus, there is your involvement in the Blue Water EduFest – what is the marina’s participation in this event?
JS: ONE°15 Marina is the organiser of the inaugural Blue Water EduFest 2022, held from November 3 to 6 this year. Through this event, we seek to promote and raise awareness about marine and coastal conservation while championing eco-heroes around the region.
As a yachting hub that brings together all elements of yachting, from suppliers to consumers and everything in between, our marina hopes to spread the message about ocean conservation through our connections and activate a change of mindset, lifestyle, the way we do business, and bring about a change to the ocean and climate crisis. The marina’s involvement with the event brings awareness to a higher level by involving the community in our eco-conscious endeavours.
The four-day event comprises a two-day educational conference featuring a panel of speakers in collaboration with The Ocean Collective Summit, nightly fund-raising events, a Mini Sustainable Luxury Showcase, and a marina clean-up.
APB: How has the marina improved in terms of berths and offering yacht maintenance in the past 15 years, and what is planned for its future development?
A major milestone for the marina was the reconfiguration which commenced in October 2019 and was completed in March 2021. One of the main objectives of the reconfiguration was to cater for the projected trend of increasing yacht sizes by significantly extending the marina’s berthing flexibility within the region. Whilst keeping the number of berths the same, we have managed to increase the number of superyacht berths (80ft and above) from 15 to 32 by eliminating smaller berths.
This reconfiguration project had been challenging but no less necessary to keep up with the market demands. Moving forward, we hope to cater to those looking for alternative lifestyle options and capitalise on the growing trend of yacht charter.
APB: How will the 15th anniversary be celebrated?
To commemorate it, ONE°15 Marina has dedicated the month of September to spreading awareness on ocean conservation with a focus on sharks, stingrays and coral. Activities planned included conducting a Coral Garden tour for participants to learn about our coral restoration efforts and to take a close-up look at a Seabin in operation, sharings from our ‘eco-advisor’ through a lecture and a month-long exhibition featuring facts on sharks, stingrays, and coral with quizzes held on our social media platforms to encourage participation. The Coral Garden volunteer programme is also an anniversary event.