Ryanair used to be pretty famous for flying to ambiguous smaller airports outside of major cities and leaving you kilometres away from your intended destination. Frankfurt (actually Frankfurt-Hahn, 125km east of Frankfurt) and Stockholm (likely to be either Stockholm Skavsta some 110km south of Stockholm, or Stockholm Västerås 100km east) are a couple that spring to mind. Vilanova Grand Marina Barcelona is also arguably slightly deceptively named – but not by Ryanair’s standards. Not quite ‘Barcelona’, in reality the Marina lies a 50km jaunt down the coast, just past the laidback resort town of Sitges, but this does lend it great beauty and great convenience. Far from the madding crowd and breathing clean Catalonian air, Vilanova Grand Marina sits on the coastline of the attractive town of Vilanova i la Geltrú.
“Forty minutes south of Barcelona is Vilanova I la Geltrú, a busy seaside town that’s often overlooked by visitors but boasts good beaches, a pretty town centre and some of the best seafood around,” said EasyJet inflight magazine in 2004. “Sandwiched in between touristy Sitges and the resorts of the Costa Daurada, Vilanova is largely a working town that doesn’t get the streams of visitors who flock to neighbouring resorts. And that’s just why we like it. Browse the shops along the Rambla, eat a generous paella by the port or laze on the family beaches.”
Sounds idyllic, and it is. Capital of the Garraf region and with a population of 66,000, Vilanova i la Geltrú (let’s call it Vilanova for short) has a long history and bloomed in particular in the Romantic period in the early 1800s – as witnessed in the wealth of opulent 19th century buildings at the heart of town. Plaça de la Vila, the town’s main square, is the atmospheric hub and many of its iconic public buildings were financed by a textile magnate, Josep Ventosa, who made his fortune in Cuba. He has been immortalised in the shape of a bronze statue at the centre of the square and an identical one stands in Matanzas, Cuba, now a sister or ‘twin’ town.
If you’ve seen the 2017 Costa Cruises ad, the one where Shakira saunters through the streets stopping traffic in an impossibly-short skirt and sky-high heels, you’ll already be familiar with Plaça de la Vila as it was partly filmed there. Likewise, a popular Volkswagen advert in 2014 where Neymar (Brazil and FC Barcelona) and Thomas Müller (Germany and Bayern Munich) have a skills-off in that very same square. Neymar travelled to the set by helicopter landing at Vilanova Grand Marina. Which brings us nicely on to the subject in hand.
Located just metres from this peaceful charming townscape, Vilanova Grand Marina is able to access nightlife, shopping, sightseeing and wide beaches, while a half hour motorway drive will deliver you to the doorstep of Barcelona’s superbly connected international airport, El Prat, Spain’s second largest in terms of passengers (over 44 million in 2016). An airport that has “flights to everywhere everyday” in the words of Ignacio Erroz, General Manager of Vilanova Grand Marina.
A few minutes further and you’re in Barcelona itself, the City of La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Montjuïc, Park Güell and, well, Neymar and his famous Camp Nou teammates. Ignacio believes passionately that Barcelona is one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean. “It’s very modern, cosmopolitan, there is a lot of cultural offer and also our gastronomy is incredible so it’s a very attractive place.”
Vilanova Grand Marina was the first marina in the Mediterranean conceived for superyachts and superyachts alone. Privately owned by Copisa, one of Catalunya’s larger construction companies, it drew on great design and build resources and expertise to create an array of facilities and services specialised to suit the superyacht audience – reason enough to make Vilanova Grand Marina an ideal ‘home’ port – but there is more.
Founded in 2005 and, after four years of construction, starting to operate as a superyacht marina in 2009, Vilanova Grand Marina has a total of 49 berths: 26 in the 30 to 45 metre range and 23 for vessels over 45 metres, the maximum being 120 metres. This places it (according to Yachting Pages, 2016) at number four in its list of Top 10 Largest Superyacht Berths, just below Grand Harbour Marina in Malta which can host up to 135 metres. Porto Montenegro came out top thanks to its mighty 250 metre berth.
Various world-famous superyachts have graced Vilanova Grand Marina with her presence, including Andrey Melnichenko’s futuristic Starck-designed ‘A’ (119 metres in length, a convenient one metre under Vilanova’s 120 metre maximum) and fellow Russian Mikhail Prokhorov’s very curvy 95 metre ‘Palladium’.
In a privileged environment, a sheltered harbour that enjoys calm, clean waters and unpolluted air courtesy of surrounding natural protected park, Vilanova Grand Marina is very safe and very crew-friendly, not least when it comes to maintenance and repair. On site is a large technical area with a 30,000m² esplanade and workshop zone. A 200 tonne travel lift is in operation, with an 800 tonne in the offing, and vessels can be worked on both in water or on dry dock. Areas of specialism include mechanics, carpentry, electronics, electrical, painting, hydraulics, boiler works, upholstery and rigging. With both the Marina and the technical area under the same management, captains and crew have the convenience of just one point of contact for every conceivable need.
Also, if you happen to be a Ferretti owner, you’re in clover as Vilanova Grand Marina has its very own Ferretti Service Point in conjunction with Ventura Yachts. This all-encompassing aftersales, repair and maintenance facility is growing in importance not only nationally, but also on an international level.
Shipyard aside, Vilanova Grand Marina has all the services you would hope for, and rightly expect, from a superyacht marina – ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) Code compliance, 24 hour dockmaster service, 24 hour CCTV and access control, on-the-water manoeuvre assistance, a diver service, selective waste collection, 150 parking spaces, storerooms, changing rooms, shower rooms, laundry service, dry cleaning, floristry, a helipad, bar, restaurant and chandlery store alongside other nautical businesses. At the berth you can take advantage of shore power up to 1,000 amps, treated fresh water, satellite TV, telephone, wifi, bunkering, bilge and sewage collection and mail delivery.
Finally, this Marina really knows how to look after crew. The Hospitality Desk is always on hand for daily routine requirements but also hosts interesting and challenging activities to introduce crew members to the local area, its excellent cuisine and cultural traditions.
One of the most popular events is the Vilanova October Crew Party which has been celebrated for more than five years and is regularly attended by more than 300 people. Another is the Crew Ski Weekend which takes place in one of the best resorts in the Pyrenees, Baqueira Beret, and features a packed schedule of skiing, snowboarding, local gastronomy and loud live music.
Little wonder great reviews continue to flood in from captains and crew: “A safe, friendly home away from home,” said Captain Peter Oddie (M/Y Ilona). “Great town, fabulous location, close to BCN airport and all the staff were excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and will be back,” said Captain Brad Kitchen (M/Y Skat). “Excellent location, super helpful staff, great facilities and plenty of things to keep the crew active and happy – as a Captain it’s everything you need and more!” enthused Captain Mike Carr (M/Y Triple Seven). “Great location, safe, secure and friendly,” added Captain Egon Viljoen (M/Y Legend). “Excellent new marina, good facilities and a warm Spanish welcome,” finished Captain Ian Robertson (M/Y Jo).
When are you adding Vilanova Grand Marina to your itinerary?
Sarah Drane, firstname.lastname@example.org