In October 2018, British superyacht builder Pendennis secured a majority share hold in Vilanova Grand Marina, Barcelona, a 48-berth facility with adjacent land available for further development. With the aim of enhancing its offering to the superyacht fleet in the Mediterranean, Pendennis’ first phase of investment has been to establish a supporting superyacht technical service centre that will trade as Pendennis Vilanova.
With initial works completed in autumn 2019, including the addition of 12,000sqm of hard standing and a 620-tonne travel hoist, Pendennis Vilanova has just finished its first fully-operational winter season. SuperyachtNews speaks to Tyrone Harvey, manager of Pendennis Vilanova, and Rubén Hernández, general manager of Vilanova Grand Marina, to find out about the inaugural season at the facility.
Q: How has the first season at Pendennis Vilanova gone and has the new facility impacted numbers of visiting superyachts?
TH: From September 2019 we started to build up our technical team by bringing some Pendennis personnel from Falmouth. The first booking we had for the hard standing was for late September, for which we had the travel hoist up and running. Since then, our expectations for the first season have been surpassed. We have now lifted 25 yachts with the new travel hoist and, out of those, there are about 22 yachts that would not have come here if not for the new infrastructure.
RH: Vilanova Grand Marina was always popular but only within a short timeframe before and after the summer season because we didn’t have the service offering. Now that we have created a technical destination, we have contractors choosing us as a facility to do works on boats and yachts staying longer than three weeks because they have the technical environment that they need.
Q: Have there been any challenges?
TH: One of the challenges for us all was merging an established business with established personnel into another established business. The human side of it – with people who are used to working in different ways, with different languages and cultures – can be difficult. But we have come a long way.
Q: Why do you think such a platform will appeal in today’s market?
TH: Over 30 years of business the Pendennis fleet has continued to grow and, having had a presence in Palma for the last eight years, we felt that we were outgrowing what we could offer there. It was clear that many of our clients wanted more done in shorter time scales and, while we are still very active in Palma, we wanted to have somewhere in the Med where we could be more in control of the logistics. Pendennis Vilanova has given us the flexibility to do this.
In Spain in particular there are a lot of restrictions about what you can do in marinas in terms of repair and maintenance. With the Pendennis Vilanova facility, you can be here for berthing but also easily undertake maintenance within the vicinity. Also, we are an open yard where yachts can bring in their own pre-approved contractors or engage the Pendennis team, so that flexibility is very appealing to yachts.
RH: For clients it is also a good guarantee that Pendennis is going to be involved, as it shows that the facilities and service will be of a high standard. As an open facility, we can also create synergies with other contractors and companies.
Q: How do you see Pendennis Vilanova’s market position evolving in the future?
TH: At the moment we can berth yachts up to 130m and haul out yachts up to around 60m, so going forward I think we are well positioned to really focus on the 40-60m size segment. In this size range, the market is getting saturated and there are so many yachts that have been built over the last five to 10 years that it is getting harder and harder for them to find nice places to go. The new-build market continues to grow and needs people like us to provide places for the yachts to spend their time.
RH: Vilanova has never had a problem attracting 90m-plus yachts for berthing because there is a shortage of berths of this size in and around Barcelona. But now the marina has the additional service proposition, I am very optimistic that it will be full of all size segments.
Photography: Sergi Gomez
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