Katrin Schifferegger, Environmental Engineer at Vilamoura Marina, explaining the project
Katrin Schifferegger, Environmental Engineer at Vilamoura Marina, explaining the project

New Vilamoura Marina will compete with Monaco and Dubai

‘It is prestigious for Portugal to have a marina like this’ – Secretary of State for Fisheries, Teresa Coelho

Construction of a new marina with 68 mooring berths for larger luxury boats has begun in Vilamoura as part of a €23 million project.

“We want this to be a top-of-the-range marina, capable of competing with other marinas worldwide, from Monaco to Dubai. We want to compete in the top league, not only in terms of the quality of the services provided but also in terms of sustainability,” said environmental engineer Katrin Schifferegger at the presentation of the project on Tuesday (January 23).

The new marina will feature three new pontoons with 68 mooring berths, all equipped with the “latest technology”.

How the new marina will look – Photo: Vilamoura World

All 68 mooring berths will be intended for large vessels, ranging between 20 and 40 metres, in order to “respond to the rapidly growing trend in this segment and to strengthen the destination’s capacity to attract increasingly high-value customers,” says Vilamoura World, the entity that manages the marina, in its official statement.

“Each mooring berth will have multiple solutions to promote comfort and sustainability. This includes individual pump-out systems for all vessels, allowing the collection of wastewater, charging points for electric boats, and systems for monitoring and remote management of water and electricity consumption,” it adds.

Studies are also underway for the implementation of desalination systems and photovoltaic energy generation for efficient water and electricity supply, the developer explains.

Secretary of State for Fisheries, Teresa Coelho (left), and Isolete Correia, Board Member of Vilamoura World – Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media Group

Isolete Correia, Board Member of Vilamoura World, has highlighted the importance that the new marina will have in attracting larger vessels to the Algarve.

“The new marina also arises from the constant desire to improve the service we provide to our customers, as they are the true focus of this project and whom we work for daily, aiming to offer them an increasingly better and even more extraordinary experience in Vilamoura,” Isolete Correia said.

The construction of the new marina, which will be carried out by specialised marine engineering company Etermar – Engenharia SA, is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

One “major advantage” of the project, according to Katrin Schifferegger, is that the new marina will not be built from scratch. Instead, the works will mostly involve carrying out improvements to an old docking area previously used for fishing vessels before the construction of the Quarteira fishing port.

From left: Pedro Reimão, CEO Vilamoura World, John Calvão, Managing Principal and co-Head Arrow Global (asset manager which owns Vilamoura World), Isolete Correia, Board Member of Vilamoura World, João Bugalho, CEO Arrow Global Portugal, and Francisco Sottomayor, CEO Norfin – Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media Group

The new marina for larger boats will be located at the entrance of the navigation channel, closer to the sea, while the existing marina, boasting over 800 berths for smaller-sized vessels, will remain at its current location.

For now, dredging work is starting to remove between 150,000 and 195,000 cubic metres of sediment.

Deciding where to place the sediment was one of the biggest challenges posed during the project’s creation, as it has an “odour” and a “black colour” which makes it “unsuitable for beach nourishment” or to be released offshore.

“Therefore, we will have to immerse the dredged material at four locations, six miles from Vilamoura,” Schifferegger said, adding that doing so requires a special authorisation (Título de Utilização Privativa do Espaço Marítimo) which was granted by the DGRM (national board of natural resources, safety and maritime services).

Following the dredging work, the existing western breakwater will be extended by 84 metres – one of the most “scrutinised” parts of the new marina project.

As the engineer admitted, some experts in the field defend that the Vilamoura Marina breakwaters “interrupt or condition the transport of sediments along the Algarve coast, from the west to the east.

“Thus the extension of the breakwater had to be rigorously studied to ensure this is not worsened,” she said, revealing that the studies were conducted in collaboration with the University of Algarve and the University of Aveiro.

Unveiling of the plaque depicting the new Vilamoura Marina project – Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media Group

The project also foresees the extension of the Ribeira de Quarteira dike by 86 metres and the construction of a new breakwater to delimit the new marina’s mooring area.

Said the engineer, this venture was also the subject of “rigorous studies” to make sure that the extension of the dike does not affect the outflow of the stream nor increase the risk of floods in the area.

“These were the most critical issues of the project and were rigorously studied so that we all felt comfortable with the solutions that will now be implemented,” she added.

Only after all this work is completed will the three new floating pontoons and all the support equipment be installed.

Sustainable luxury

One clear goal of the new marina will be to combine luxury with sustainability.

As Katrin Schifferegger explained, the new pontoons will be equipped with a special system to supply water and electricity to the vessels and monitor their levels in real-time, which can be controlled both by the reception team and customers.

Environmental engineer Katrin Schifferegger – Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media Group

“We want to create something that is top-level, especially in terms of sustainability. We are currently experiencing a drought that has not happened for 15 years, and thus our solutions have to evolve,” the engineer said.

With the planned desalination system to produce water for cleaning and a solar park to achieve energy self-sufficiency, the new marina aims to cater to these larger vessels which “consume a lot of energy”.

She also revealed that the berths will boast an individual “pump-out” system to pump sewage produced on board into the wastewater treatment network.

Given the “complexity of the project”, an environmental impact study was carried out, as well as all the “necessary complementary studies on longshore drift, fauna, ecosystems and archaeology” which resulted in the issuing of a favourable environmental impact statement (DIA) on September 28, 2023.

Praise from local and central government

Teresa Coelho, Secretary of State for Fisheries, attended the presentation of the project which she said will help attract “another type of tourism that the country needs.

It is prestigious for Portugal to have a marina like this,” the secretary of state said.

Loulé Mayor Vítor Aleixo said that “today will stand out in the history of the extraordinary tourist development that is Vilamoura”.

Loulé Mayor Vítor Aleixo – Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media Group

Quoting tourism entrepreneur André Jordan, he said that “tourism in Portugal has to have a brand of great quality and excellence associated to it or it will have no future.

“I believe the project is being faithful to the words of one of the greatest minds in Portuguese tourism,” the local mayor said.

Aleixo also highlighted the project’s sustainability-minded aspects, stressing that “no one makes these kinds of investments these days without having some component of sustainability”.

Last October, asset manager Arrow Global, which owns Vilamoura World, announced plans to invest €500 million in a “historic relaunch” of the Algarve’s famous resort town Vilamoura.

By BRUNO FILIPE PIRES