A Tale of Two Marinas

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Neither Port Forum nor Marina International Tarragona is finished and it is the state of those unfinished areas that provides a clue to the different approaches being taken, to turn these projects into profitable business ventures.

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Port Forum (above left) looks what it is, a completed marina, with an unfinished development, that is clearly going to be very, very up market!. Newly planted large palm trees tell a tale of a marina being constructed, at vast cost, to create an atmosphere of luxury and modernity. Marina International Tarragona (above right) creates a first impression of finished berthing close to old, not yet renovated buildings. The basin is so vast that, at first, you don’t notice the construction works on the other side!

Both projects started off in other hands and with other aims. The original Port Forum was to be a 1000 berth marina for cruisers of all sizes, but without any real megayacht element, it is still a mixed use marina, but with berths for 33 yachts of 25 to 80 metres. The original Marina International Tarragona was never intended to be anything other than a marina solely for megayachts, but the scale of the project has changed. The original plan was for a super marina for super yachts, with literally hundred of stern to moorings all around the enormous ex-commercial basin. The new plan is for 115 alongside berths, around one mile of refurbished 200 year old quays, for yachts of up to 120 metres, plus three berths for yachts awaiting repair and refit work.

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Port Forum

The investors in Port Forum, who acquired that planned 1000 berth marina, were all owners of megayachts from 30 to 60 metres, so the original plans were quickly changed to accomodate the largest sized vessel that could enter the port; 80 metres.

The decision to buy and cater for a considerable number of

megayachts was based on a feeling of certainty that a largeyacht marina, located in Barcelona, had to succeed. The fact that the ring road has two direct exits to Port Forum was a bonus, for the city’s chaotic traffic circulation is not one of the many things that charm visitors to the Catalan capital!

According to Operations Manager, Santiago Twose, the marina would not be viable if its sole income was from boats, so an extensive development is taking shape, designed to attract visitors, including a 1000 place car park; hence the care taken to combine security and privacy for the yachts, with an opportunity for the public to see what the other half owns! As well as those soon to be paved areas, for sitting under the palm trees, there will be shops, cafés and restaurants; no less than fifteen of those, serving every imaginable sort of cuisine and including a fish restaurant on the top floor of the head office building. Nothing will be cheap, Twose was not prepared to name any of the firms that have committed to opening a boutique, when the commercial area opens in June 2006, but assured us that they would all be occupied by the very top, international names!

Other commercial areas include a large multistorey block for dry storage of smaller boats, an office block with 500 square metres of space and another office area will be constructed near the megayachts, where brokers and agents are expected to take space. Also near the large yacht berth is an almost completed building, which will have rooms of 6 to 30 sq mtrs, which can be rented for winter storing of a yacht’s equipment, in a climate controlled environment.

For repair and refit, there is a technical zone, served by a 150 ton travelift, which can lift yachts of up to about 38 metres Twelve well known companies are installed in leased premises in that zone, including electricians, mechanical engineers, painters, cabinet workers; all described by Twose as “selected as being the best in each field.” For repairs to the larger yachts, Port Forum has an arrangement with Marina 92, which can handle vessels of up to 2000 tons and is just one mile away.

Berths at Port Forum are being sold on a 25 year lease basis, with prices from €2205 per sq mtr for a 25 metre yacht, to €2415 per sq mtr for an 80 metre vessel.

Marina International Tarragona

Whereas Santiago Twose was reticent about the size of the investment in Port Forum, Inigo Prada Nicholson was proud of the fact that Marina International Tarragona would be costing just €50 million, which is €200 million less than the planned investment in the original version with stern to moorings.

There will be no restaurant on top of Marina Tarragona’s head office, which will be housed in a refurbished old commercial building, with a attractive brick facade and superb ironwork inside. Restaurants and shops are planned, but these will be affordable.

Unlike Sebastien Twose, Nicholson expects the marina to earn

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healthy profits from the yachts and associated activities alone and does not intend to try to compete with “the Barcelona factor”, acknowledging that “Tarragona is not glamorous”.

Inigo Prada Nicholson, who is the son of George - of Camper and Nicholson fame - has 25 years experience in the large yacht industry, on the Côte d’Azur, and points out that few yachts are used for more than 10 weeks, unless they go to the Caribbean. Most owners make two visits, for a total of 5 weeks and - with some notable exceptions - 5 weeks of charter booking are the norm, because everyone - owners and guests - wants July and August. That leaves the yacht idle for about 42 weeks every year and everything about Marina International Tarragona will be geared to providing what is needed in those weeks.

Repair and refit facilities for yachts of up to 150 metres, with a 500 tonne travel lift, will be operational when the facility is finished next year. Offices, chandleries, restaurants and even an English pub will set up in the attractive old port buildings, once these are refurbished. The restaurants wont be pricey upmarket affairs, but cheerful places serving grills, paellas and other dishes that yacht crew and the local Tarragona people can afford, when they come down to enjoy a stroll past the yachts.

Security at Tarragona is high, first there’s that attractive glass fence, then there is a manned swinging bridge at the entrance. Cleanliness is another priority, with the main sewers hook up, a floating debris barrier, with an opening section of 45 metres and a 24 hour garbage patrol.

New buildings are going up at Tarragona; an apartment block is being built to provide 48 one and two bedroom apartments, where crew can stay when the yacht is undergoing repair, for Twose and Nicholson, as well as ADIN’s Martorell, agree that appealing to the the captain and crew is a major key to attracting the yachts.

Will the captains want to come? What if they don’t, will the yachts come anyway? To be continued ................................