Built for the 1992 Olympics, Marina Port Vell’s transformation aims to rejuvenate the city’s maritime economy.

Claire Young reports

Already a popular yachting destination, Marina Port Vell in Barcelona, is undergoing extensive cosmetic and structural re-development work to realise its potential as one of the leading superyacht marinas in the Mediterranean.

Established in 1991, it was the first marina in Catalonia to accommodate superyachts, and since its inauguration in July 1992 for the Olympic Games in Barcelona, it has attracted yachts up to 130m (427ft).

The marina’s location in the heart of Catalonia’s capital is a key attraction for those keen to explore the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, famous for its culture, architecture, beaches, nightlife and cuisine. The marina resides in an eclectic landscape, ranging from boutiques and market stalls on La Ramblas, and haute couture shopping on the Passeig de Gràcia, to the medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter, and the modernism of Gaudi’s architecture.

For those feeling more intrepid, Barcelona’s northern Mediterranean location is a sailor’s paradise where you can explore the secluded coves and hidden villages of the Costa Brava, and just a day’s cruise away are the Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera. As testament to the quality of its waters, for the tenth consecutive year, Marina Port Vell has been awarded the blue flag, which is granted to beaches and marinas for their high environmental standards. Of 363 Spanish ports, only 98 have received this recognition.


Stimulating the economy

The Salamanca Group acquired Marina Port Vell in 2010, realizing that the transformation of its existing facilities, combined with its unique location, could position it to target the exponential growth in superyacht numbers and sizes in the Mediterranean.

“We’re not building a new project, rather adapting and incorporating current marine needs to provide a better service to existing customers, and future ones,” explains Martin Bellamy, Salamanca Group’s chairman and chief executive officer.

When works are completed in the last quarter of 2012, the marina will be able to accommodate 150 yachts from 10m-180m (33ft-590ft), with the highest demand expected from 60m-90m (197ft-295ft).

The refurbishment represents a concrete step toward the development of a nautical cluster in the Port of Barcelona that will generate a significant economic impact, and will contribute to the reactivation of the city’s marine sector. The cluster, driven by the Barcelona Port Authority and City Council, will be composed of Marina Port Vell, Marina Barcelona 92, and the Fundació Oceànica, with a view to incorporating additional companies and local interests in the future.

Although Marina Port Vell will always be more of a home port, the cluster will provide both local mariners and elite superyacht owners with world class services, ranging from refit and repair, to crew training.

The marina envisions attracting more than 800 superyachts annually and, as most will have a minimum of six people aboard, it will host around 2,500 individuals with considerable purchasing power, as well as their crew.

The project is being completed via a series of carefully choreographed phases, by working closely with current occupiers to minimise service disruption during the construction process.


Improvings facilities

“The new marina is designed to complement the very nature of Catalonia and its traditions. It will maintain the city’s seaside heritage while engineering the complexities of modern technologies for superyacht owners, their guests, captains and crews,” explains Gabriel de Sandoval, Marina Port Vell’s general manager, vice president of the European Association of Marinas, and president of the Association of Marinas of Spain. “At the same time, we are also enhancing marina services for the large number of vessels already using the facilities.”

New and improved amenities will include on-site storage, car parking with vehicle access to all superyacht berths, and a crew area, with lounge, coffee shop and terrace.

A full range of five-star customer services will be available that will be designed and tailored to suit individual clients’ needs. Yacht captains, crew, owners and industry professionals have been consulted at every stage to ensure that Marina Port Vell will deliver the high standards deserved by its guests.

Services will include VIP travel, boat décor, routine and specialist provisioning, assistance with restaurant bookings and entertainment, crew training, personal care, and all other VIP, business and technical arrangements.

In addition, to safeguard each vessel, the redeveloped marina will incorporate security facilities and services assessed and audited by security professionals, with fully trained security staff on duty 24 hours per day. This will be backed up by CCTV monitoring, gated entrances to the pontoons and superyacht areas, restricted public access, and perimeter security fencing.

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    Infrastructure – Marina Port Vell, Barcelona – Superyacht Business