In 2010, the Salamanca Group, a merchant bank and an operational risk-management firm, acquired Marina Port Vell, with the long term plan of transforming the asset into a marina with seven star facilities and concierge services for owners, captains and crew of the world’s finest yachts. The Barcelona marina had been originally inaugurated in 1992 for the Olympic Games. Now with phased marina completions its new owners intend to provide berths from 32’8” to 590’6” (10 to 180 meters). The Group expects the marina to become one of the Mediterranean’s leading mega yacht havens providing direct and significant economic and aesthetic value to Barcelona and to meet the Group’s vision of providing highly incentivized value for clients.
Martin Bellamy, the chairman of the Salamanca Group, spoke frankly to Megayacht News as part of our newly revised Leadership Series. Here is what he had to say:
MYN: What is it that you saw in Barcelona that convinced you it was worth investing in the redevelopment of a marina and turning it into a megayacht haven?
MB: The unique appeal of Marina Port Vell is its location: the marina is in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities, Barcelona. National Geographic recently named Barcelona the Best Beach City in the World. The city and its surroundings cater to all guests: culture, architecture, history, golf, and skiing. The benefits of the city allow for yachts of all sizes to use the port as a home or wintering destination and easily access the neighboring shipyards for work of any spectrum. Within one day’s sail, from here you can reach any of the Balearic Islands or Monaco.
MYN: How did the Barcelona Nautical Cluster concept come about?
MB: We formally introduced the Barcelona Nautical Cluster concept during the Monaco Yacht Show together with Marina Barcelona 92 and Barcelona City Council, the Port of the Catalan Capital and Fundación para la Navegación Oceanica de Barcelona (FNOB). It is being launched with the aim of integrating companies, institutions or research centres whose common focus is the sea in order to fully exploit their socioeconomic potential. Also expected to take part are the Nautical Faculty of the Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona, the future marina of the Bocana Nord which is currently under tender, the Consorci El Far offering professional training in the nautical sector and the Cofradía de Pescadores along with strong city backing and the support of other cultural bodies.
MYN: How is the nautical cluster going to help the marina prosper?
MB: By its very nature it ensures prosperity for both the organizations involved and certainly the community. Our view is that the cluster will generate a significant economic impact and will contribute to re-activate the city’s marine sector.
MYN: Can the marina succeed if the cluster fails to develop?
MB: Frankly, Marina Port Vell and, indeed, all participating partners have succeeded prior to the formation of the cluster. More succinctly, all economies, private and public, are weighing the benefits of collaboration. We think the Barcelona Nautical Cluster is ahead of the curve; we have the united goals of promoting innovation and excellence.
MYN: Has the Mediterranean got room for yet more megayacht docks?
MB: Where there are docks, there are yachts. While the availability of berths is better than a few years ago, there is no question that transforming a marina to handle the needs of the world’s largest yachts and the local community’s smallest boats has momentum. I think the question is more whether the marina has the necessary technologies and concierge services to meet the needs of the yacht, her owner, guests, captain and crew no matter what the size of the vessel.
MYN: Where is the area of next big expansion in megayachting?
MB: I think we’ll see more refurbishment of existing facilities as we witness the increasing complexity of the yachts being built and the services, which sustain them. Geographically, there is considerable talk about China however until the culture welcomes relaxing on sun pads while destination cruising, the market is not likely to show rapid expansion. I would look more to Central and South America.
MYN: Is the megayacht industry in danger of over-regulation?
MB: I think all industries are in danger of over-regulation. In our commercial sectors, we not only look at regulatory trends, we act on them. I perceive the megayacht industry as being deeply involved in its future by active involvement with regulatory bodies. I expect this is a relatively new phenomenon; however new or old, the commitment to state its position through the diplomatic efforts of its leadership to organizations like MCA, ICOMIA, ILO, the better chance the industry has in crafting how it will be regulated.
MYN: Do you think Client Confidentiality Agreements are a help or a hindrance?
MB: As a matter of best practices, I am fully in favor of the Client Confidentiality Agreement. I would like to think that our sense of personal and professional ethics and operational fortitude are such that these kinds of anonymity agreements are not necessary. For consistency’s sake throughout our industry, I see no harm in such contracts.