Marina di Loano, back with a bang

CEO Gianluca Mazza tells us how to face and overcome adversity and how to complete the project of a unique marina

by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Andrea Muscatello

Ready, go. As soon as the commission was signed, the world closed down due to Covid. “I joined the project in 2020 Gianluca Mazza, CEO of Marina di Loano, tells us – and just a few days later the lockdown began. The marina is a complex reality, not only because it has almost one thousand berths, but also because its facilities and services on land are rather remarkable. And a marina is responsible for the surveillance of all boats in it”. Among the tasks of the newly appointed CEO, therefore, were not just the management of an emergency, but also the need to relaunch the entire facility. Due to the high management costs and increase in state property fees, operations at Loano Marina were loss-making until 2020.

Gianluca Mazza

Gianluca Mazza has focused on making the marina more cost-efficient without sacrificing on service quality. The marina has forty employees, sixteen of which are mooring staff, plus a number of “specialist” in legal, technical and I.T. services from Unipol SAI. After all, shipowners in this harbour are not only many, but they are also quite diverse since boats range from seven metres to 77-metre mega yachts. The first goal – making the marina more attractive – has been achieved, in particular in the segment of mega yachts, and results show this clearly: only in the last year, the percentage of dock occupancy for this boat size went from 70 to 93% and in the summer from 33 to 60%.

THERE ARE 950 BERTHS FOR BOATS FROM 6 TO 77 METRES IN LENGTH AND AN OUTER DAM THAT IS 900 METRES LONG, 60 METRES WIDE AND 6 METRES HIGH. THE ENTIRE DAM IS ACCESSIBLE ON FOOT THANKS TO A WALKWAY BUILT ON TOP OF IT.

The Loano Marina is popular among mega yachts, their shipowners, captains, and crew. Services abound and continue to evolve. An example is the opening of a fitness gym, which is highly appreciated both by those who come to the harbour for a weekend and by those who spend the whole winter there. There is a yard for boat storage and refitting, and the commercial offer today counts as many as nine restaurants, the last one opened just recently, in addition to many stores. Marina di Loano is a harbour offering various activities: from charter to diving and yoga. And then there is a structural element which makes the marina particularly attractive:  the outer dam. It is six metres tall, and very long, with a sea promenade that is appreciated even by those who are not residents of the marina, and has an external breakwater barrier to dampen the strength of the waves. Over the past few years, Ligurian harbours have been put to the test by the power of the sea, which has often caused substantial damage, like in the case of Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure, but this has not been the case in Loano. The entrance to the harbour is wide and easy to cross, even when the sea rises due to the Scirocco. Accessing or exiting the port never involves any risks. Furthermore, there is no undertow near the quay, not even with large waves.

THE CALENDAR OF EVENTS IS FULL OF INTERESTING INITIATIVES, INCLUDING THE RE-ENACTMENT OF THE MILAN-SANREMO CUP WITH VINTAGE CARS AND SUMMER CONCERTS.

Marina di Loano is 100% controlled by Unipol SAI and in 2023 recorded a 24% increase in turnover compared to the previous year. In 2023, for the eleventh time, Loano was awarded the Blue Flag by the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education). In the field  of environmental sustainability, the marina has invested in a 1,500 square metre car park equipped with solar panels that produce 334,000 kW per year.

In short, Marina di Loano is safe and comfortable. And this is certainly appreciated by both the shipowners, captains, and crew of mega yachts. Lastly, another asset is no doubt its location. Loano is a good base for those who love to sail between the Ligurian and the North Tyrrhenian Sea during summer, it is in high demand among those who only have a weekend available too. It is right in the middle of the Cetacean Sanctuary, a few miles from the island of La Gallinara, and surrounded by the Western Riviera, which is rich in bays and beaches where you can drop anchor. The beach is another unique feature of Marina di Loano which no other tourist harbour can boast, of because the concession, in addition to the quays and buildings on the land, also includes the adjacent beach with a surface of 16 thousand square metres plus the largest dog beach in western Liguria. This, too, is about to be revitalised, as Gianluca Mazza’s project includes the development of various sports and outdoor activities available to everyone, not just the marina’s guest, thanks also to the Yacht Club’s guest facilities.

THE MARINA HAS 9 RESTAURANTS AND THE SAME NUMBER OF GUEST ROOMS. ACTIVITIES INCLUDE A DIVING CENTRE, A YACHT CLUB WITH A RESTAURANT AND A GYM. THERE ARE 900 PARKING SPACES AND 40 EMPLOYEES.

“The relationship with the territory is key because Marina di Loano is almost a city within the city given its size, but we have no intention of being perceived as a separate entity. Already today, many come to the marina to enjoy its commercial, recreational and food service offer, and in addition to this we also have a calendar packed with events stretching from March to November, which includes summer concerts to attract people who live in or come to Loano and its surroundings but are not yet users of the Marina”. Furthermore, one of the certainties that this port can offer is its ownership. Marina di Loano has one single shareholder: Unipol SAI, a listed company whose core business is insurance.

(Marina di Loano, back with a bang – Barchemagazine.com – June 2024)