Some great feedback!

October 27th, 2014 • By Renee

How lucky we are to get such positive feedback from our wedding event clients, and we strive to extend the same quality of service to your upcoming function!

Dear Bobby,
I just want to tell you how thrilled we were with the lovely brunch that you did on September 21st after the wedding. The setting is so unique and festive, but that is only the beginning of a wonderful event. The food and selections were well beyond our expectations. Congratulations to your chef and all of your staff. They were so attentive to our guests and it was most appreciated. The flowers were beautiful and I can not tell you how many folks that took home a centerpiece have contacted me and said that they lasted for over a week.

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you in planning the brunch. Everyone had a really nice time and commented on what a great setting, food, and service you provided. Thank you so much.

Best wishes to you and your family for a most pleasant fall.
Warm regards-
Chris Quencer

$37M Skyfall yacht drops anchor in city

July 10th, 2014 • By admin


Published 7/7/2014 9:05 PM
By Adam Benson
Publication: The Norwich Bulletin

By land or water, there are many ways to arrive in Norwich.

But in recent years, few Rose City entrances have been as grand as that made by John and Jeanette Staluppi, who docked their $37 million, 190-foot-long, multi-deck Skyfall yacht at the Marina at American Wharf on Sunday.

“I’m very happy we came here. I’m very impressed with the town. This is really a beautiful marina, and people seem very nice,” John Staluppi said.

Named after the 2012 James Bond film, Skyfall is the 19th vessel in Staluppi’s fleet — all of which take their monikers from movies starring 007.

The boat, formerly called Mi Sueno and purchased by Staluppi just a few weeks ago, will give its name over to a 223-foot-long yacht under construction in Turkey that is set to launch in 2017.

With its near-$37 million price tag, Skyfall represents 31.2 percent of Norwich’s 2014-15 budget and is worth six times the assessed value of City Hall.

“I’ve been trying to buy this boat as a temporary one, because it takes three years to build a new one,” Staluppi said. “I’m hoping in three years we’re going to have a new James Bond movie out” so Skyfall can keep its name.

Staluppi, who according to website has a net worth of $400 million, made his fortune in the automotive industry. His Atlantic Automotive Group in Atlantic City, N.J., is one of the top 15 dealerships in the nation, with revenue of more than $1 billion.

In addition to a spacious lounge that boasts a wet bar and 80-inch flat-screen television, Skyfall has a basketball hoop, jacuzzi and room for 12 passengers in upscale cabins.

The boat is self-sufficient, producing its own water and electricity using generators.

In the luxury yacht world, Staluppi is a household name. His World is Not Enough vessel, built in 1998, is the only yacht in the world to have reached 70 knots.

Skyfall has a maximum speed of 22 knots, and it’s 5,000-horsepower twin diesel engines are capable of transatlantic journeys, which take about two weeks.

Staluppi invited a Bulletin photographer and reporter to tour his yacht, which remains docked at the marina through Wednesday.

“We can see the sort of attention it’s getting,” said its captain, Ed Child, who oversees a crew of 13.

In the engine room that offered a panoramic view of the Thames  River, chief engineer Clint Walrath said Skyfall combines its cutting-edge technology with the classic nautical training of its crew when it hits open waters.

They rely on GPS and automated tracking systems to monitor other vessels and get up-to-date weather reports from radar and outside companies that specialize in passage planning.

On-board stabilizers also help minimize the motion of waves.

“Weather for us is a massive thing,” Child said. “The ocean is a very powerful thing, and it’s going to move you.”
Staluppi wasn’t the only one enjoying his surroundings. Across the water at Howard T. Brown Park, onlookers snapped pictures of his yacht.

“My buddy has a boat on the other side, but it’s little. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Norwich,” said Stephan Clarke, a city resident who brought his 11-year-old daughter Alexia downtown Monday.

Mary Robinson sat under a tree at the park, impressed by the yacht’s huge presence in the harbor.

“It’s nice to look at it and dream,” she said. “It’s just awesome to see something like this here.”

Spring Boating Tips

May 13th, 2013 • By admin

After a long, snowy winter, the ice has finally given way to warmer temperatures and beautiful sunshine. The thaw is here and it is beginning to finally feel like spring. As excitement grows for the upcoming season, don’t forget a few important things before bringing your boat down to the Marina:

  • Inspect your vessel and perform all required maintenance
  • Be sure documentation & registration information is current and correct
  • Check all safety equipment and expiration dates
  • Confirm that all marina paperwork is complete
  • Brush up on boating rules and regulations

“Launch, and enjoy!”

40 Under 40 Award

January 11th, 2013 • By admin

Congratulations to Mike Valentine, Marina Manager, one of the recipients of the 1st Annual Southeastern Connecticut 40 Under 40 Awards.

“We applaud The Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce for their recognition of Mike Valentine as one of the 40 best and brightest professionals under 40. Mike’s stewardship of the Marina at American Wharf ensures that iconic facility remains a vibrant destination for the citizens of Norwich and the greater boating community. We deeply value our relationship with the city of Norwich, as well as the surrounding area, and look forward to a future of growth and prosperity. Mike’s resourcefulness, professionalism and accountability is a credit to the Marina, as well as the broader Norwich community and we wish him continued success. We are proud to have Mike Valentine as a part of our organization.”

-Sean O’Brien

American Wharf Makes Debut at the Newport International Boat Show

October 5th, 2012 • By admin

The newly renovated Marina was featured at the Newport Boat show in Rhode Island this past September 13-16 getting the word out about one of the best kept secrets in Norwich, CT. American Wharf was one of the newest additions to the show with 750 exhibitors making it one of the larger shows in recent years. The weather was picture perfect, the boats were spectacular and the show was a huge success.

The Marina at American Wharf has partnered with Mohegan Sun, just minutes away, offering exclusive incentives for American Wharf customers making them a desirable destination for boating enthusiasts. Mohegan Sun, is a premier destination with 3 casinos, over 70 restaurants, stores and boutiques, a world-class spa and 10,000 seat arena for concerts and sporting events.

If you were not able to make the show and visit the Marina at American Wharf booth, please contact Marina Manager, Mike Valentine for more information at 855.90.WHARF or

For Newport Boat Show information and photos

For Mohegan Sun promotional offer reservations
Download Exclusive Mohegan Sun Offer

Grand prize awarded in contest to ‘Picture Yourself in Norwich’

August 5th, 2012 • By admin

Published 08/02/2012 12:00 AM
By Claire Bessette
Publication: The Day

Norwich - Amy Vallandingham grew up coming to Norwich from her home in Franklin and never thought much of it.

Until this summer, when the 31-year-old mother of two young children saw the Norwich Community Development Corp. photo contest called “Picture yourself in Norwich” on Facebook. The contest asked participants to post photos of themselves at Norwich events on their Facebook pages or other sites.

On Wednesday, NCDC awarded Vallandingham the grand prize, a gift basket worth more than $500 from local contest sponsors. She received dinner for two at a restaurant at Mohegan Sun casino along with two tickets to any show there, a one-night stay at the Courtyard Marriott in Norwich, $50 worth of housecleaning by Clean Like Mew, two passes to the Leffingwell House Museum and a gift pack from the Norwich Arts Center.

“The contest was really fun,” Vallandingham told the few hundred people in the audience at Wednesday’s Rock the Docks concert at Norwich Harbor. “I had no idea how many cool and fun things there are to do in Norwich.”

Vallandingham attended 19 Norwich events this summer and said the Rock the Docks concerts at the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park were the favorite for her and her two children, ages 2 and 4. They listened to the live bands, danced and bought ice cream at the new Erickson’s Ice Cream stand.

The contest was the brainchild of NCDC administrative assistant Miria Toth as an effort to get people to come to Norwich events and spread the word about activities in Norwich. The contest will be repeated in the fall.

For details, visit

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Families have fun awaiting Norwich fireworks

July 9th, 2012 • By admin

Published 06/30/2012
By Adam Benson
Publication: The Bulletin

Norwich, Conn. — For the dozens of people who turned out at Howard T. Brown Memorial Park in Norwich hours before Saturday night’s fireworks display, the challenge wasn’t finding a prime viewing spot — there were plenty of those — but staving off the afternoon’s idleness.

Thankfully, organizers of the city’s 24th annual Fireworks Extravaganza thought ahead, lining up a day’s worth of entertainment, bands, street vendors, magicians and other offerings to fill the time.

The two-day event, co-sponsored by Plymouth, Mass.-based Joyal Capital Management and Mohegan Sun, ended with what has become one of Norwich’s most popular summer traditions — fireworks over the harbor.

Many families made the trip from surrounding towns to take in the festivities.

Hope Reynolds, 9, of Sprague, came to the park with her friend and fellow Sayles School fourth-grader Amanda Hoelck.

They kept cool with slushies and games in the shade as they waited for Saturday night’s pyrotechnics.

“I like fireworks because they’re loud and bright,” Hope said.

Musicians, including Eight to the Bar and the Norwich Arts Center Band, played for the crowd.

The downtown festival also served as the grand opening of the newly refurbished Marina at American Wharf, purchased last year by developer Gary Joyal’s firm for $750,000.

Norwich resident Jackie Monahan, who has lived in the city for five years, said she was happy to see so much activity downtown.

“They’re trying to make an effort to bring the town back, and I think this is wonderful, because it brings people in from all over to enjoy something in Norwich,” she said. “It’s been a big difference in the five years I’ve been here.”

Amanda Hoelck ran back to her parents after watching a pair of swans swim with their young cygnets just off shore.
It was enough to occupy an hour of her time before the fireworks began.

“They like, brighten up the sky a little bit. And the noise doesn’t even bother me,” Amanda said.

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Dignitaries extol marina’s makover

July 5th, 2012 • By admin

Published 07/01/2012 12:00 AM
By Lee Howard
Publication: The Day

Norwich - A nearly $1 million makeover of the Marina at American Wharf led dignitaries at a grand opening celebration Saturday to extol the work of developers who brought the facility back to the luxurious condition it once enjoyed under the late businessman Ronald Aliano.

“It is a milestone for this place, but also for the state,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “This sends a message that Norwich is on the map.”

Deputy House Speaker Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, noted that the marina’s kickoff celebration coincided with the 24th annual city Fireworks Extravaganza Saturday night over Norwich Harbor, which developers Joyal Capital Management supported with a $25,000 donation.

“This marina has been brought back to the beautiful place it was – a center of the city,” Ryan said.
Gary F. Joyal, chief executive officer of Joyal Capital Management, said it took eight months to complete the marina renovation, and he praised the city for its help.

“You guys have been amazing to work with,” Joyal said. “When you work hand in hand, it makes the outcome easier.”
Mayor Peter Nystrom said the marina developers’ success is the city’s success.

“I’m looking forward to bigger and better things to come over the years,” he said. “This is really a partnership.”

Speeches were preceded by a blessing of the marina performed by Mohegan Tribal Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, who burned incense in a smudge pot and gave a traditional prayer.

Earlier in the day, live music could be heard wafting from Howard T. Brown Memorial Park during a daylong city festival that featured the first appearance in Norwich of the freedom schooner Amistad. Italian ice, kettle corn, barbecue and even fried Oreo cookies were enjoyed by about 200 people who milled about the park, listening to tunes from the Norwich Arts Council Band, Eight to the Bar and Changes in Latitudes.

Between the park and the marina sits a new building that houses Erickson’s Ice Cream, which is associated with the renovated Marina at American Wharf.

The marina features lovely resodded lawns and newly painted railings, as well as underground improvements such as modern fuel lines for the docks and cable TV hookups at the boat slips.

“We’re taking it back to the way Ron Aliano had it, which was pristine,” said Joyal, the development firm’s managing partner.

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Yacht broker, charter rental sails into Norwich marina

June 5th, 2012 • By admin

Published 06/01/2012 12:00 AM
By Claire Bessette

Norwich – Want to buy a yacht? Or maybe just see what it would be like to ride aboard one for a day on the Thames River or Long Island Sound?

A new yacht sales and charter rental office will be opening soon at the Marina at American Wharf to accommodate those interests.

Robert Christopher Marine Yacht Sales based in Stamford is putting the finishing touches on a new office at the marina that will offer yacht brokerage services and charter rental bookings, said John Hotte, vice president and charter manager for Robert Christopher.

Hotte said he has been working with Norwich marina manager Michael Valentine on plans to open the office, which will have three or four sales representatives offering for sale new and used boats from 150-foot Boston whalers to 200-foot yachts. Hotte said the staff would not be at the office at all times, but could arrange appointments and work remotely throughout the region.

The office also would be available to book charter cruises for corporate functions, weddings and other family events and special occasions – but no fishing – aboard Real Escape, a 56-foot commercial charter yacht docked in Old Saybrook. Hotte said Real Escape is “the only private motor yacht operating between Boston and New York that can accommodate 40 people.”

Hotte said the company was interested in having a presence at the Norwich marina because Real Escape has been serving some clients associated with both the Mohegan Sun Casino and the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

“We have about 500 listings on our database,” Hotte said. “That acts as a magnet. About 90 percent of the people do their research online.”

Hotte agreed with a recent report by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that said the recreational boating industry appears to be on the rebound. The association reported 2011 as the first year since 2006 that American retailers saw a rise in U.S. sales for recreational boats, accessories and services.

Retail sales for recreational boats rose 6 percent to $32.3 billion from the end of 2010 to last year. Boating participation rose 10 percent, while boat sales increased marginally, the association said.

Hotte said Robert Christopher Marine Yacht Sales can serve as either the seller’s or buyer’s broker.

“This is the best we’ve seen it in the past four years,” Hotte said. “Stuff between $25,000 and $100,000 is selling. The higher inventory is not selling that well, because many have mortgages and they face the same challenges as real estate.”

Marina in Norwich being returned to shipshape condition

May 30th, 2012 • By admin

Published 05/28/2012 12:00 AM
By Claire Bessette

Norwich – The white paint on all the fence posts and building trim glistens, and the railings are freshly sanded and stained. All grass areas have been resodded, and landscape islands at the Marina at American Wharf are getting a makeover.

“The place is getting turned back to what it once was, pristine,” said Gary F. Joyal, chief executive officer of Joyal Capital Management LLC, the firm that purchased the marina last fall for $750,000 from the estate of marina developer Ronald Aliano and pledged to spend at least that much on renovations.

While the new look should please boaters and visitors, the improvements underground will matter most to marina customers. The new owners spent the winter replacing defective fuel lines to the docks and installing cable TV lines to the boat slips.

Once the painting and landscape contractors are done, the main parking lot will be repaved in sections so as not to disturb business at the Surf and Turf Café on the marina grounds and boaters who are coming and going, marina manager Mike Valentine said.

More work crews are busy on the shore of Norwich Harbor, where a new building to house Erickson’s Ice Cream is nearly complete. Marina property manager Jason Steed said the ice cream shop should be open by June 11 – in time for the June 15-16 celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

That event includes the first visit to Norwich by the replica schooner Amistad and the casting of the city’s own “freedom bell” to commemorate President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation freeing slaves in Southern states.

Marina officials said the improvements are paying off. Valentine said the marina has seen a better than 50 percent increase in the number of seasonal boating customers, from 50 last summer just prior to the purchase to 80 signed up for this summer. The season runs from April 15 to Oct. 15.

Marina managers are hiring 15 workers needed for the summer. Erickson’s Ice Cream will need another 12 seasonal employees, a few full-time and the rest part-time, Steed said.

The sagging economy could be turning around for recreational boating as well. The National Marine Manufacturers Association last week reported a rise in sales for recreational boats, accessories and services in 2011 for the first time since 2006. Retail sales rose 6 percent to $32.3 billion nationwide from the end of 2010 to last year. Boating participation rose 10 percent, while boat sales increased marginally, the group reported.

The Norwich marina will not lease all 160 boat slips for the entire season, reserving some for transient boaters who could come up river for weekends, day trips or special events, Valentine said.

The biggest event this summer will be the July 4 fireworks festival on June 29-30. The new marina owners have embraced the annual festival with enthusiasm. Last year, a committee of business people and other volunteers raised money to resurrect the Norwich Harbor fireworks after a one-year hiatus.

When the Joyal group bought the marina, the new owners pledged $25,000 to the event, offered the firm’s marketing company of Peak Seven Advertising to help market the event and secured a $25,000 title sponsorship from Mohegan Sun casino a short distance down the Thames River.

Working together, the local committee and Peak Seven are seeking sponsorships and small donations totaling $100,000 to run a two-day festival at the marina and the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park, with some of the collected funds to be used as seed money for future fireworks festivals.

The festival this year will include the official grand opening for the refurbished marina, bands on Friday and Saturday, and a day-long festival at Brown Park Saturday followed by the fireworks that night.

Darren Seys of Peak Seven said the push for sponsorships and small individual donations is under way. Businesses will have postcard “bursts” for $1 and $5 for people to support the festival. It’s important, Seys said, that the event have community support and that people don’t just rely on the Mohegan Sun and the Joyal group to carry it.

The committee will hold a silent auction fundraiser for the fireworks at the marina at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with items being donated by businesses. The second Ron Aliano Service to Norwich Award will be presented to Bob Reed of Hall Communications during a silent auction to be held under the festival tent at the marina.

Use of the tent for the auction was donated by Harvey Balidemaj, owner of Surf and Turf. The restaurant leases the building and festival tent on the marina grounds. Banquet manager Coyrell Curtin said the restaurant hasn’t had much interaction with the new marina owners but hopes to have a good summer along with the marina.

Coyrell said 13 events have booked banquets in the festival tent, and he expects the season to “fill up” with weddings and other functions. The restaurant, which opened April 1, saw good early business with the unusually warm weather, but that later tailed off. With summer about to start, business is picking up.

“Saturday nights are starting to get really busy,” Coyrell said.