A new Marina for large boats comes to life in Ventimiglia in the sign of top-level hospitality and professionalism. It has been created against the backdrop of the experience from the nearby Port Hercules and Fontvieille in the Principality of Monaco
by Luca Sordelli
If you see it from above, it looks like the shell of a sea snail, with the circular plan curling up into itself. Seen from the sea, as you sail in on your boat, it is almost hard to spot. Cala del Forte, in Ventimiglia, is one of those Marinas set within the environment that surrounds it. A winning example of a perfect symbiosis between man and nature. Its shape is in fact the result of an accurate study performed in collaboration with the University of Florence to represent the power of the frontal impact of the waves coming in from the open sea which, as recent history has sadly taught us, can be particularly devastating. Even the entrance is facing West instead of East, as in all other ports of the area, and has been specifically studied to avoid that the nearby mouth of the Roja, the biggest river flowing through Liguria, should cause any alterations in the seabed. A port built according to the highest quality standards to cater to the needs of those who wish to berth and tend to their yacht in ideal conditions. It was built by Société Monégasque International Portuaire, an expert company in the construction of marinas since they had already been responsible for the projects of Port Hercules and Fontvieille in Monaco.
SMIP is headed by Aleco Keusseoglou, a citizen of Monaco since 2008, after his arrival from Greece in 1972. Keusseoglou grew up in the Principality and then continued his studies in Switzerland and the United States. He has travelled all over the world, took over the family-run luxury cruise company, Sun Line Cruises, and made it grow and prosper before selling it in 2000. When he came back to Monaco in 2003, H.S.H. Prince Rainier asked him to lead Société d’Exploitation des Ports de Monaco (SEPM). Highly enthusiastic of the task, Aleco Keusseoglou could also count on his strong skills both in the maritime sector and in business management.
The construction of this marina was based on the idea of satisfying the growing demand for quality mooring for superyachts, but also on the opportunity of best enhancing the value of a particularly fortunate piece of the Mediterranean coast: “We are all extremely proud of this great achievement. It was a long and difficult journey, both from the juridical point of view and for the construction point of view. Since we had to modify the original plans of the marina to accommodate more berths for bigger size yachts, we had to go through and finish a long bureaucratic process in front of the Italian authorities but the end result was definitely worth it!”, as Aleco Keusseoglou declared.
The first boats are already arriving at Cala del Forte, even if the official opening will be in 2021. “The Covid-19 pandemic obviously heavily impacted our schedule, we were supposed to have the inauguration on July 7th, instead we will finish the maritime works at the end of this summer. We will be able to accept yachts for the winter period and we expect all the rest of the works to be completed by 2nd quarter of 2021. It is the first time that the Principality of Monaco makes an investment of this kind in a foreign territory and we are very happy that we could do it in our domain”.
Cala del Forte is only 7.9 miles from Monaco and embedded in the historical and natural allure of the Riviera dei Fiori on the Liguria’s west coast.
It is not too large – it can berth 178 boats – but the goal is to replicate the model of comfort and hospitality that reigns in all SMIP’s facilities in the Principality. A shelter for large yachts, first of all (the depth at the entrance is 7 metres), with the necessary amenities to best meet the needs of owners and their guests, as well as those of the crews that need to sail these ships in all safety. “The main advantage of this marina is its circular shape and the strength of its exterior wall which make the port extremely safe and protected from any sort of bad weather. It was already proven during the construction because we had two major storms that created a lot of damage in Italian and French ports but not to us. Another advantage is that it is a small, human size marina but with all the amenities that superyachts need today”.
The port offers only the best from the point of view of engineering. Even on land, everything has been studied for first-class hospitality. Starting from the 15,000 m² of promenades and gardens, the marina is an extremely natural environment in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape. At the same time, however, it also hosts 35 shops, as well as restaurants, cafés and other amenities. The underground parking lot has 577 spaces and offers a fast charging station for electrical vehicles. The parking lot, as well as every access point to the Marina has 24h surveillance ensured by specialised personnel and a network of 70 closed-circuit video cameras. Even the boats are spoiled at Cala del Forte thanks to a 2,700 m² shipyard that can haul and launch vessels of up to 30 metres in length.
As Keusseoglou explains: “The added value that Monaco Ports can bring is first of all the integration of all the operational procedures that we have been developing for 18 years and that will be applied to Cala del Forte. This marina will be fully integrated with Port Hercules and Fontvieille and will benefit from all the knowledge and economies of scale of our current operations. It will also be an important reservoir for us which will enable our management to offer the many yachts on our waiting list an alternative berth close to Monaco. We have invested €1.2M in a revolutionary 12 pax vessel which will link Monaco with Cala del Forte in only 8 minutes even under rough sea conditions”.
Keusseoglou is confident about the international nautical market which has been hit hard by the crisis: “The nautical market […] has become a very dynamic and responsive industry and I am confident that there will be a rebound already in 2021”.
Another important milestone was reached last, 24th August, as four new members joined the Cala del Forte team to support management and play their part to ensure everything will be ready for the new marina to open in mid-October. The city’s Mayor Gaetano Scullino and his Council joined harbourmaster Marco Cornacchia in welcoming Erica Celli (front office operator), Ugo Lo Bello, Riccardo Ferraro and Marco Matarese (mooring operators) to their first day working at Cala del Forte. By late September, Cala del Forte will have added nine more staff members to its ranks, thus completing the workforce that will be eager to welcome the first guests and yachts in October.
Cala del Forte – in figures
178 berths from 6.5 to 70+ metres
Surveillance guaranteed by a system of 70 CCTV video cameras
All access points to the marina must be surveyed 24h a day.
Underground parking with 577 spaces
Depth at entrance 7 metres
15,000 m² of promenades and gardens
35 shops, restaurants, cafés, offices and services
Dedicated storage spaces, next to the berths
Transport and delivery services with electrical ‘golf cars’
Nautical shipyard of 2.700 m² hauling and launching yachts of up to 30 metres in length
The longest concession of the entire Mediterranean area, until 2094
Direct connection to the historic town centre of Ventimiglia Alta
Cala del Forte – A strategic position
8 miles from Monaco
9 miles from Sanremo
25 miles from Antibes
35 miles from Cannes
55 miles from Saint Tropez
77 miles from Portofino
86 miles from Corsica
207 miles from Costa Smeralda
24 km by highway from the Monaco Heliport
45 km by highway from the airport of Nice
78 km by highway from the airport of Cannes-Mandelieu
84 km by highway from the airport of Albenga
155 km by highway from the airport of Genoa
327 km by highway from the airport of Milan Malpensa
By air (helicopter)
8 minutes from Monaco
16 minutes from Nice
40 minutes from Genoa
75 minutes from Milan
(Cala del Forte Marinas, the beauty of hospitality – Barchemagazine.com – September 2020)