Let’s be clear, Marina Port Vell is not just a marina: this is a place that redefines the meaning of marina. Here, right in the very heart of Barcelona, amid the renovation of Barceloneta and Las Ramblas, is perhaps the most visible statement anywhere in the world of one city’s commitment to its yachting future. New pilings are being topped, foundations laid – the rebirth of the city’s ancient waterfront into a glimmering hub of yachting life is very nearly complete. And what a transformation that will be.

With phased marina completions well under way, Marina Port Vell will boast 162 fully serviced berths for power and sail yachts and superyachts of up to 180 metres. During the transformation, the marina continues to operate at capacity, a testament to its prime location in the heart of the Med. A limited number of long-term superyacht berth leases have been released for sale and reservations are being taken for 2014.

Forward thinking

The average size of a superyacht has grown remarkably in recent years: according to Superyacht Intelligence, yachts in the 40m to 50m bracket have increased in number by 10 per cent in the past eight years and now make up 31 per cent of all new orders. Yachts over 70m set a record year for deliveries in 2013; 15 yachts over 100m have been delivered. It’s this dramatic size-shift in the fleet that puts some pressure on captains and owners to seek out the new berths in the traditionally saturated French and Italian rivieras.

“Our findings regarding the dramatic shortage of superyacht berthing in the Mediterranean and a deficit of quality services helped us form our vision for the marina’s renovation,” comments Martin Bellamy, chairman and CEO of Salamanca Group and president of Marina Port Vell. “Of particular importance is our ability to harness the capabilities of Salamanca Group’s core strengths and divisions to provide exceptional client resources, luxurious accommodations and unsurpassed security for yachtsmen and their guests.”

In Barcelona, the combined efforts of Salamanca Group, Gabriel de Sandoval, managing director of Marina Port Vell, Adolf Romagosa, of Port 2000, the Barcelona Nautical Cluster, and others, have enabled the navigation of the byzantine and politically rigorous processes of city, state and national politics to keep the rebirth of Marina Port Vell in a constant state of development.

Spain remains in the throes of what Romagosa calls a “marvellous crisis”: the city and other levels of the Spanish state have not invested financially in the marina although they have publicly committed to bureaucratic and administrative support for the whole of the Nautical Cluster. Salamanca Group has funded the development independently, while the port authority is working on upgrading the public areas that surround the marina developments. During a recent visit, major works were under way along the Passeig Joan de Borbó, which runs immediately alongside the marina, with landscaping, lighting and traffic routing all being upgraded.

Ideal location

Marina Port Vell’s new looks and berth allocations reflect its commitment to provide a ‘world-class superyacht marina in a world-class city’. It has 162 berths in total, 40 berths of which are for yachts between 40m and 140m. The Romans, always thinking ahead, had scouted out Barcelona’s natural deep-water capability more than 1,500 years ago and today the city still offers 15m to 18m drafts right in its heart. A 180m yacht can even come alongside the Maremagnum shopping centre in the middle of the port. The majority of Marina Port Vell berths are for sale with leases valid until 2036.

The marina is designed to provide ‘five-star’ service. Each berth easily delivers fresh water, electricity (230/400 volts to each berth – single and three-phase – with multiple socket outlets) and high-speed internet. Crew and owners are catered to in a new-concept facility that contains a business centre, gym, spa treatment room, restaurant and concierge. Further facilities include a sundeck and VIP clubhouse and controlled vehicle access, comprehensive services that are rarely found in city-based marinas. While it’s right on the interface of the city and the sea, Marina Port Vell has an oasis feel, with a discrete barrier separating marina facilities from the exterior world for privacy and superyacht-standard round-the-clock security with restricted, gated access to the marina and pontoons. The attractions of Barcelona’s waterfront, including shopping, cinemas and the city beach are a walk away from the marina down the Las Ramblas with the gothic cathedral beyond.

More good news

Spanish yachting legislation is expected to make things easier for owners wanting to berth. In July, Spain’s Ministry of Development announced that the country’s Council of Ministers approved an amendment to the Matriculation Tax that will see commercial vessels over 15m qualify for exemption from the 12 per cent levy that had strangled Spain’s ability to attract charter yachts. The bill must still be agreed by parliament, but its announcement was met with a rousing cheer by the superyacht industry. “This is excellent news for the entire Spanish marine industry and will certainly help Marina Port Vell to become one of the top superyacht destinations in the world,” De Sandoval said upon the announcement.

Our Comment: Don Hoyt Gorman

Marina Port Vell, when the phased marina transformation is complete, will change how the world sees superyachts. No other place has the same concentration of workmanship and passion for yachting combined with cultural and geographic integration as Barcelona. With MB’92, the Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing and Marina Port Vell nestled between Las Ramblas and the beach, the port cable car above and the wide sunny promenades alongside, the vibrancy of the city, the seaside and the people of this region, Marina Port Vell is a destination in bloom, and will surely rank as one of the finest anywhere in the world.

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