Expansion plans in a buoyant market
A highlight of any ICOMIA World Marinas Conference is the field trip opportunity to explore marinas in the host country, and IWMC 2023 delivered three of the Algarve’s finest facilities on a day blessed with blue sky, warm sunshine and the gentlest of breezes.Isolete Correia, president of APPR, the Portuguese Association of Ports and Marinas, and CEO of Vilamoura Marina, set the scene on Day 1 of the conference by presenting the conclusions of a survey on the revenues, strengths and challenges of Portuguese marinas.
Portugal has around 12,000 berths, a third of which are in the Algarve, and occupancy rates are around 90%. The value of revenues for marinas and recreational ports was an estimated €60 million for 2022, a growth of 19% compared with 2021. From the beginning of this year until 31st July, the total revenue continued to grow above 10% leading to expectations that revenue will exceed €70 million at the end of 2023. Visitors are primarily from Portugal, France, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Spain.
Between 2019 and 2022, the annual average turnover of recreational and sports boat builders in Portugal was around €137 million, a 47% increase on 2018. This data shows there is a clear sign of growth for the recreational marine industry in the country.
There are plenty of signs of this prosperity at Vilamoura Marina, the host venue for IWMC and the flagship marina for Portugal. A pioneering, multi-award winning facility, Vilamoura Marina remains the largest in the country with 825 berths and ability to accommodate vessels up to 60m (197ft) in length.
Surrounded by bustling shops, restaurants, bars, cafés and hotels that give it high destination appeal, it’s a prestigious port of call with comprehensive but unobtrusive security and full concierge services. An on-site boatyard boasts a 60 ton travel hoist, slipway and crane, additional lifts, and hardstand for 200 boats.
Expansion plans are also underway adjacent to the main basin where a new 50-year marina concession has been secured for a 68-berth facility for vessels of 20-40m (66-131ft) in length. The project will involve extending two existing piers, dredging the entire area to 4.5m (15ft) depth and installing three pontoons.
There is a long waiting list for berths at Vilamoura and the new offerings are top-level, with pump-out points on the pontoons and an electric charge point at each berth. “The new marina will have all the amenities of a smart marina,” Isolete Correia says. “The focus will be on security, sustainability and customer service, making sure that the expectations of guests are met.”
A retail area adjacent to the marina will also be totally refurbished to meet guest expectations.
Marina de Lagos
Located in the Bay of Lagos, Marina de Lagos is a family-owned marina that opened in 1994. Martinho Fortunato CMM, CEO of Marlagos (owner of the marina) and Ingrid Fortunato CMM, marina manager, enjoy a close relationship with the town. The marina benefits from a year-round season and a strategic position as a crossroads to the sailing routes between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, to the Azores and Madeira, and north to the northern European harbours. It also sits on the Golden Coast, named for the striking yellow colouration of the rocky cliffs.
Welcoming around 2,000 visitors per annum, Marina de Lagos has 464 full-service berths for boats up to 30m (98ft), shops, restaurants and bars.
The Fortunatos like to be in the forefront of new thinking and new concepts and have installed a biohut artificial nursery habitat for small fish, and an events pontoon, built by Lindley Marinas, that has all-new eco-friendly composite decking and an electric boat charge point. The latter has, to date, only been used for an electric boat event. The marina is also one of a growing number of facilities to adopt the new on-screen advertising concept developed by Marketing Marina (see inset story).
Marina de Lagos also has an expansion programme in hand to create a south basin. Located within an established fishing port, whose berths will not be disrupted, the planned Lagos Yacht Club & Marina will have 100 berths for boats to 30m (98ft) and a 100-boat drystack for vessels up to 10m (33ft) in length. It has been a 15-year journey to obtain planning and concession rights from the relevant authorities but contracts are expected to be signed very soon.
Marina de Albufeira
Marina de Albufeira, with its strikingly unforgettable highly coloured buildings, opened in 2003 primarily as a tourist port. A huge phase of nautical development is now due to start so as to fully cement the marina’s position in the tourism sector.
The marina currently has 475 boat berths and 35 berths for jet skis. Permission has been secured for a potential 70 to 80 additional moorings. There is an impressive underground car park for 1,100 cars and an extensive boatyard with 70 ton travel hoist, 6.3 ton crane and 3.5 ton forklift. Four large and six smaller workshops offer a range of services including a sailmaker and a ship’s chandler.
Marina director, José Massapina CMM, hopes that work on the new nautical reception – just part of the ambitious expansion plan – will start in January next year. The building will house all essential office and administration space, areas for maritime tourism companies and the new nautical club, and a new electrical power station. It will have a rooftop bar and restaurant.
The far-reaching plans also include two hotels; a shopping mall; three tourist apartment blocks; a fuel station for cars; a hypermarket; sports training centre; and around 40 villas.
Massapina is also excited to discuss the inauguration of a special project to attract recreational divers that opened in September this year. “It’s a permanent underwater exhibition just about a mile in front of the marina at about 12m [39ft] in depth,” he clarifies. The initiative was developed by a partnership between EDP (the national electricity company), the University of Algarve, the Municipality of Albufeira, the artist sculptor VHILS and Marina de Albufeira.
Called ‘Art Reef by VHILS’, it has been created using redundant parts and machinery from an old coal plant/power station that have been cleaned, sand blasted and repurposed to create fascinating underwater artwork. Some of the components were prepared in the marina boatyard and, due to their weight and size, were transferred to the water using the travel hoist, and towed to the site with the help of large floatation balloons.
A team from the University of Algarve has planted corals and other plants typical to the area around the structure and these have taken well and are spreading rapidly. “It is already a great attraction for divers who visit our marina,” Massapina says.
The IWMC 2023 field trip was generously sponsored by Lindley.