Palm Beach International Boat Show

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Credit: Yasmina Green

Insider's insight: How to do the Palm Beach International Boat Show like a pro

19 February 2024 • Written by Katia Damborsky

With the Palm Beach International Boat Show on the horizon, BOAT asks long-time attendees for the best tips, advice and recommendations for getting the most from the show... 

What are you most looking forward to at the show this year?

"Two things - anything new to market shown for the first time. Secondly, its a show full of surprises from SUPS you can camp on, to some of the world's largest superyachts, there is always something there you will have never seen before" - Richard Shead, partner, sales and marketing manager, Burgess

I particularly like that the weather in Palm Beach is typically extraordinary at Palm Beach Boat Show time.  This show seems to always have a more relaxed feeling, it is less crowded, and there is a high level of serious clients who attend" - Thom Conboy, director of sales, Heesen

I always love to see what new boats come onto the market at this show – it’s such a great venue that’s small enough so you can see and do a lot, but big enough for some of the larger boats to participate" - Katie Macpherson, sales and charter consultant, IYC

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone doing the show for the first time?

"Don’t measure your expectations on the size of the show. It’s so much smaller than what we are used to nowadays. But this is a show where the 'less is more' rule certainly applies. I met more (potential) owners on the stand in the four days of the show than I have in some of the larger shows combined. Watch out though – clients don’t come with a planned visit and schedule – they come alone, with a friend or their family, so be prepared" – Sarah Flavell, marketing manager, Damen Yachting

Plan on a full day. Arrive early to park in one of the convenient and close public garages, or plan to park at the nearby convention centre and take a quick trolley shuttle over" - Danett Utecht, US events and  closings coordinator, Horizon

Take your time, there is a lot to see. Identify what you want to see first, ideally in the morning, then indulge yourself with some of the more weird and wacky exhibits" – Richard Shead

"The best advice I could offer any new boat show attendee is to wear very comfortable shoes, because you will be doing a lot of walking!" Jon Burkard, president, Allied Marine

No flowy dresses – it gets real breezy on the water" - Shannon Steudlein, charter assistant, Worth Avenue Yachts

"For first-timers, please don’t forget a sunhat and sunscreen!  The weather is usually perfect spring weather, but you don’t always realise how strong that sun really is, and we all seem to be a little sunkissed during the Palm Beach Boat Show" - Katie Macpherson

Embracing any new experience requires an open mind and curiosity, free from preconceived notions. But as a professional, I feel it's crucial to use these initial observations as a learning opportunity to constantly improve and elevate the brand experience going forward" – Pascal Savoy, managing director, Camper & Nicholsons USA

"Because the show is smaller, and the atmosphere is relaxed, I encourage people to take their time and enjoy walking the entire show.  Take it all in" - Thom Conboy

What’s your favourite thing about the Palm Beach International Boat Show?

"That it is easy to navigate. Parking is also much easier compared to other shows. It is like a boutique show without missing a thing! Upscale with a relaxed vibe. Brings the best of the best… Great area with great restaurants all within walking distance. Ambience that blends a beautiful coastal downtown and a yachting culture" - Danett Utecht

The fact that it is no-nonsense. This is a boat show that is aimed at people who love boats. It’s focused, fun and friendly and brings back all the great characteristics that most of the bigger boat shows have lost over time. It attracts people who have a genuine interest in wanting to get out on the water whilst still offering enough focus on the superyacht sector "– Sarah Flavell

Everything is extremely well organised and the show is all in one location" – Alex G Clarke, Denison

Where’s your favourite place to eat around the show?

"The best place to grab a quick bite to eat just steps away from the show buzz is anywhere at the bottom of Clematis Street. There are many good bistros and bars just moments away" – Sacha Williams, global charter marketing director, Northrop & Johnson

"For a quick bite during the show, I love Avocado Grill, the food is nice and fresh and serves the purpose of a quick lunch. At night, I’m a big fan of the restaurant at RH as a nice, more formal sit-down dinner with great food" - Sipke Halbertsma, commercial director, Feadship

NOT Bradleys or the Breakers. I prefer to step a few blocks back. My favourite is The Blind Monk, small, great wines and amazing small tapas dishes, although it's temporarily closed as it's looking for a new place!" – Richard Shead

ER Bradley's, Elizabetta's and Avocado Grill!" - Shannon Steudlein

The Pink Steak recently opened up and I’m getting reports that it is amazing" – Jon Burkard

Avocado Grill, which is steps from the main entrance. Cool mellow vibe with good music, great drinks and food" – Alex G Clarke,

What would you do around Palm Beach if you had a free day to spare?

"I am a bad golfer, but there are some amazing courses locally" - Andrew Bond, Edmiston

"This sounds like an absolute dream that probably will never come true. However, I do like the pool on the rooftop at The Ben. And if you have never been (especially if you came all the way from Europe), I would definitely recommend having a look at the Pillars hotel, the definition of Floridian chic" - Sipke Halbertsma

"I do love the pink paradise that is The Colony Hotel; It’s fun, fanciful and so refined, the perfect place to enjoy lunch poolside and then check out the galleries and boutiques on nearby Worth Avenue" – Sacha Williams

"Hit up The Breakers for Sunday brunch if available, which is an epic experience, or enjoy a day at their spa which is one of the best I’ve ever been to. Sailfish Marina also has a fantastic fleet of sportfishing boats available for charter, so if you fancy a day on the water with a real chance of landing an epic sailfish, it’s worth a shot" - Alex G Clarke

"I am particularly fond of the horse shows out in Wellington, so I highly recommend visiting Wellington International if you are interested in show jumping!" - Katie Macpherson

"Rent bikes in the morning and bike the Lake Trail, breakfast at Field of Greens and walk around Four Arts Society.  Get a massage at The Breakers. Happy Hour at Echo, dinner at Buccan and late night dancing at Cucina!" - Shannon Steudlein 

Where do you go when you want to escape the boat show?

"I go to The Ben hotel. It’s in the perfect location and has great atmosphere and food"- Thom Conboy

"Live the Floridian dream, rent a pontoon boat to enjoy the water, swim, fire up that grill and start floating!" - Sipke Halbertsma

"I always start a yacht show day with a run to clear the head" - Andrew Bond

"Take a quick ride over the bridge to Palm Beach Island, which is always a great escape" – Danett Utecht

"The beach of course – and I would also take my tired feet to the Eau Spa in nearby Manalapan" – Sacha Williams

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