Marina Spotlight – OneOcean Port Vell


screenshot-2016-11-09-14-27-03One of the Mediterranean’s newest marinas has been built for superyachts that don’t yet exist. Barcelona’s OneOcean Port Vell can take a 190 metre megayacht with ease, but even the world’s largest – 180 metre Lürssen Azzam – falls 10 metres short. That’s forward planning for you. But this is OneOcean Port Vell all over – a marina that sees no point in doing anything unless it’s done properly.


The story goes back to 1992 when the Spanish Government unleashed a torrent of money (around 10 billion euros) to prepare for the Olympics. Alongside new roads, sewage systems, green areas and purpose-built venues, such as Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona’s gritty industrial waterfront was also given new life with a sandy beachfront and shiny new marina replacing a rundown eyesore of disused factories and warehouses. This revitalised Barcelona instantly became a tourism powerhouse.

screenshot-2016-11-09-14-27-21Fast forward to 2011 and British merchant banking business Salamanca Group was able to buy the concession on the Port Vell section of the Olympic marina project. In their pitch they said they would create berthing and maintenance facilities catering specifically to the superyacht market. There followed an 85-million-euro transformation which saw the marina downsize in terms of berths (from 450 to a flexible 160-ish) but upgrade massively in terms of facilities and aspirations.


In 2015 Salamanca Group changed the name from Marina Port Vell to OneOcean Port Vell, making it the flagship superyacht marina in their OneOcean brand. Having redeveloped the Moll Pescadores section of the marina, adding eight additional 30-to-80-metre superyacht berths, the five-year makeover was officially declared finished in September 2016.


In a recent Monaco Yacht Show interview, when asked what facilities they have at OneOcean Port Vell, General Manager Paul Cook said, “Well first and foremost we have Barcelona, because without the right location, then you’ll never attract the yachts there.”

And what a location former Royal Naval and superyacht Captain Paul has. OneOcean Port Vell is literally, no estate-agent-style exaggeration, within walking distance of the beating heart of Barcelona – its beaches, boutiques and infamous Basilica.


In the fashionable Barceloneta district, World Trade Center and Maremagnum to the west, Hotel W and Hotel Arts to the east, such a city centre location is rare for a superyacht marina making it extraordinarily convenient and popular for owners and crew alike. The international airport (40 million passengers per year) is a 25 minute taxi ride, the nearest Metro station a few minutes’ walk, and no less than 23 Michelin-starred restaurants (four with two stars, 19 with one star) and hundreds of cheap-and-cheerful tapas bars can be found within the catchment area of this Catalonian capital. Meanwhile the paradisiacal Balearics and chichi South of France are within just a couple of hours’ sail time.


But never mind what’s on the doorstep, the facilities inside OneOcean Port Vell are equally impressive – none less than the spectacular reception ‘The Gallery’. Crafted to emulate a superyacht, reaching over the water, the two-storey glass-clad building is wrapped in eco-friendly hole-punched concrete ‘skin’ that adapts to the changing seasons – providing shade in summer and allowing light to flood through in winter. Spanning 2,750m², it hosts the expected check-in desk (although staff are also happy to spare captains a visit by checking them in onboard) alongside an unexpected state-of-the-art gym, OneOcean Wellness centre, a Crew Lounge and office space for marine-related businesses.


The gym is equipped with Technogym cardio machines and weights and stays open 24 hours a day to fit in with demanding crew schedules. A personal trainer is on hand to whip the extra keen into shape, or take groups outside the marina’s confines for a running or CrossFit session on the beach. A Pilates studio hosts private lessons and it’s even possible to invite the gym instructor to the boat to get the blood pumping and set crew up for the day.


OneOcean Wellness takes it down a notch to quiet ‘me time’ with two treatment rooms and a hair and beauty salon. Physiotherapy, osteopathy and nutrition are available on demand while, in a similar vein to the physical training, beauticians can turn mobile and bring the tools of their trade onboard.


The funkily-decorated ground-floor Crew Lounge is a dedicated space to relax, unwind and meet friends away from work. Chill on a sunlounger, watch a film, host a BBQ on the terrace, order a takeaway from the nearby OneOcean Club, or just ask guest relations for tips on how to best enjoy the city. Finally, The Gallery’s top floor is strictly business with 17 offices, two meeting rooms, a bar area, and on-site professionals from legal services to insurance, crew agents to AV experts.


screenshot-2016-11-09-14-29-13The adjacent OneOcean Club is a member-only affair with 5,000 signed-up names. Serving Catalan cuisine in its 150-cover restaurant and delicious drinks in its Gaudi-inspired blue-tiled bar complete with summer sundeck, it’s already received the likes of FC Barcelona players, eldest Obama daughter Malia, F1 star Felipe Massa, Israeli model Bar Refaeli, and Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro, as well as events for Amex, Jaguar and Mercedes. It’s even managed to bag itself a brace of design awards: ‘Best Bar in Europe’ and ‘Best Overall Bar’ in the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards 2016 thanks to the flair of Barcelona-based El Equipo Creativo.


screenshot-2016-11-09-14-29-22Leisure and pleasure aside, OneOcean Port Vell also has the nuts and bolts drilled down to perfection. Here’s just some of what keeps owners, captains and crew happy:


  • All berths include a stable clean electricity supply, drinking water, complimentary grey and black water discharge, high-speed fibre-optic internet connection and fuel bunker service.


  • Car parking and storage adjacent to berths.


  • Specialist superyacht refit, repair and maintenance shipyard, MB92, is within 500 metres of the marina.


  • Full International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code compliance (a rarity in the world of superyacht marinas) with all aspects of OneOcean Port Vell’s 24 hour security operated by professionals including on-site guards, an operations room, perimeter fence with intruder detection system and actively-monitored CCTV.


  • A permit to extend the TPA (temporary importation) tax-free benefit scheme to yachts while berthed in OneOcean Port Vell, making it one of the only marinas in Europe where VAT exemption can be granted during maintenance periods.


And happy indeed they are.


Guy Hayward, Captain of 48 metre Royal Huisman sailing yacht Wisp, was berthed in OneOcean Port Vell for two weeks but said, “If circumstances allowed it would have been longer.” Price was a big consideration for Guy, with the Barcelona marina comparing favourably against the French and Italian Rivieras and the Balearic island of Mallorca. “The facilities are excellent and the marina staff very helpful,” said Guy. “The crew love it here. There has been an effort to provide crew facilities and the central location in the heart of the city is fantastic. Barcelona has good nightlife and restaurants, lots of attractions in and around the city, and the airport is close enough to make it easily accessible to fly in or out when required.”


John Penman, Captain of 49 metre Amels motoryacht Volpini, has formed an even tighter relationship with the marina having spent the last two winters there, about seven months per year. “We have a competitive berth rate for our long-term visits and the security is one of the best I have experienced in the Mediterranean,” said John. “The facilities are superb and the gym is popular with the crew. The OneOcean Restaurant is beautifully situated and every other weekend they seem to be hosting a different function, from boat shows to classic car rendezvous.”


“Meanwhile Barcelona, as a city, is hard to beat. There is something for everyone from the owners and their guests, to the crew. The close proximity of the international airport makes it easy for receiving guests, and the crew can take extended leave, or go skiing for the weekend. The entire staff at OneOcean Port Vell from management to dockhands go out of their way to accommodate our every request. One can’t help feel appreciated – we love it here.”


Little wonder OneOcean Port Vell has already cemented its reputation as a winter base and summer charter destination in record time. During the first six months of 2016 the marina welcomed 1,725 yachts – 610 more than the previous year. 163 metre Blohm + Voss Eclipse, 107 metre Kleven explorer Ulysses, 74 metre Amels Ilona, 78 metre Feadship Tango and 156 metre Lürssen Dilbar are just a handful of special superyachts that have been spotted on site.


In fact so rapid has been OneOcean Port Vell’s rise to stardom that it’s already managed to oust competitor destinations Nice and Genoa to host the MYBA Charter Show for at least the next three years, starting 24 – 26 April 2017.


MYBA President, Fiona Maureso, commented, “We are excited to have this opportunity to discover Barcelona and are confident that OneOcean Port Vell will deliver an internationally-recognised show of the highest calibre”.


While General Manager Paul Cook enthused, “It is a great honour for OneOcean Port Vell to be appointed as host of the prestigious MYBA Charter Show from 2017 and we would like to thank MYBA for their confidence in us. Barcelona is one of the world’s leading cities and with OneOcean Port Vell, it is now a prominent superyacht destination with unrivalled marina facilities and infrastructure. This, combined with the easing of legislation on Spanish charters, which has had a positive impact on the demand for chartering and cruising in the region, ensures that OneOcean Port Vell and MYBA are optimally positioned to deliver the next evolution of this event in 2017 and beyond.”


This previously untapped superyacht destination now shines like a jewel in a culturally-rich and delightfully-cosmopolitan Spanish city. And, with almost 4,500 superyachts currently cruising the world’s waters, plus another 473 on order above 30 metres in length, OneOcean Port Vell is certain to get busier and better.

Sarah Drane,

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