Marina, boats

Grand Caribbean Marinas has consolidated itself as the largest marina company in Puerto Rico with the acquisition of Villa Marina in Fajardo for an estimated cost of $25 million, which includes renovations.

With this purchase, Grand Caribbean Marinas, part of the Bacalia Group, will control more than 2,200 slips and will complete an investment of $50 million to $100 million in the next five years, the company said. The company now owns four marinas on the island: Puerto Chico, The Reserve, Sardineras and Renaissance Villa Marina.

Rebranded as Renaissance Villa Marina, it has the only covered dry stack in Puerto Rico as part of its facilities; counts on an exclusive VIP service for customers. Grand Caribbean Marinas, belonging to the Bacalia Group holding, completed the acquisition of Villa Marina last week, accumulating more than 2,200 spaces (between wetslips and dry storage) on the Fajardo coasts, thus becoming the largest marina owner and operator in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Additionally, this investment consolidates Grand Caribbean Marinas among the top five marina groups with the most slips within the United States.

As part of its commitment to the island, the development of Grand Caribbean Marinas plans to diversify its offerings during the next five years and implement a series of experiences that enrich the tourism and recreational offerings in Puerto Rico, the company said.

The president and founder of Bacalia Group, Italian businessman Giuseppe Cicatelli said that Renaissance Villa Marina has great advantages for the company, such as “obtaining not only a dominant position at the state and Caribbean level, but also at the federal level of the United States, where we have become a relevant company. The scale and unique positioning of Grand Caribbean Marinas further highlights the importance of Puerto Rico in the nautical industry.

“Puerto Rico is critically important to the rest of the American marinas, because the vast majority of the vessels that come from other states towards the Caribbean, pass through Puerto Rico, and it’s a trend that grows every day,” he said.

Cicatelli told THE WEEKLY JOURNAL that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the boating and yacht industry on the island has been booming. “Last year was one of the best years, dare I even say, of the last 50 years. This was mainly due to the type of activity involved, which does not agglomerate large crowds; they are always small groups and it is done outdoors. Families have opted for this type of recreation, as they are less exposed and away from crowds,” he said.

Cicatelli also told your correspondent that boat owners are a mix of locals and “foreigners… and something very interesting is the explosion of boat buyers to develop nautical tourism and operate them as charters… Demand has transformed nautical tourism into a very attractive and safe business in this pandemic.”

Plans Underway

Villa Marina, now renamed Renaissance Villa Marina, has the only covered dry stack in Puerto Rico, which will be completely remodeled. The facilities will have a private entrance and an exclusive VIP service to take the boat owner experience to the “next level,” the company said. The marina also has its own boatyard, which will operate the maintenance and repair of ships up to 100 feet for the entire Grand Caribbean Marinas complex. In addition, a complete modernization of its security systems will be carried out in all the marina facilities to give greater peace of mind to residents.

Marlon Mellado, CEO of Grand Caribbean Marinas, adds that “one of the main benefits of Renaissance Villa Marina is that it offers maximum protection during hurricane season.” In addition, Mellado emphasized how Grand Caribbean Marinas has encouraged tourism in the Fajardo area, since “we are not only promoting nautical activity and raising quality standards for our clients, but we are also strengthening the offer of activities for the general public, with high quality touristic and gastronomical developments.”

And that gastronomical offering is also expanding, he noted. The founders of El Makito de Naguabo restaurant will develop a gastronomical venue on the grounds of the marina called SeaSide Grill.

Asst. Editor/Reporter for The Weekly Journal. She is a journalist with more than 20 years of experience. Rosario received both of her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

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