President Solís inaugurates first phase of long-awaited Golfito Marina Village

Karl Kahler | April 21, 2017
President Luis Guillermo Solís, center right, prepares to cut the ribbon for the Golfito Marina Village on Friday.

GOLFITO, Puntarenas — The president of Costa Rica flew into Golfito on Friday to inaugurate the first phase of a dream a dozen years in the making, the Golfito Marina Village and Resort.

Golfito Marina Village, looking toward the pier and new marina.
Golfito Marina Village, looking toward the pier and new marina. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“Few things satisfy the president of the republic more than inaugurating projects like this that create jobs, produce conditions of well-being for communities that need them, and to do it in a region so rich and so beloved for me as the Southern Zone,” said President Luis Guillermo Solís at an event attended by hundreds of people, including local schoolchildren.

Phase I includes a 50-slip marinas for 40- to 140-foot yachts, plus one for a gigayacht. When all three phases are completed, estimated to be in 2020, there will be about 155 slips, including several that can accommodate the biggest yachts in the world. There will be a commercial village with stores and restaurants, a 70- to 100-room hotel and dry dock for boats.

Golfito Marina Village, looking toward the malecón and the commercial center.
Golfito Marina Village, looking toward the malecón and the commercial center. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

It’s one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in the Southern Zone, with about $34 million invested so far, and it’s expected to create hundreds of jobs in a former banana town that has long struggled economically. Figures were cited Friday of $50 million for the total project, some 70 percent of it financed by Banco Nacional, though this appears to be a low-ball estimate that could rise higher.

The visionary behind this project and one of the chief investors, is a 66-year-old U.S. developer born in Israel named Noam Schwartz.

Yachts docked at Golfito Marina Village.
Yachts docked at the new marina. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“We developed a lot of projects in Quepos and Manuel Antonio, 10 or 11 projects,” Schwartz said in a brief interview on the pier. “And then we had an opportunity to buy a piece of land here, and that was before the recession. Everything was quick — how much money do you need, 20 million, 40 million? And so we bought the land with some other partners, and it developed from there.

“And then we started construction about 10 years ago, and the recession came, and we had to stop. So it was sitting dead for about eight years. And now I’m semiretired, so I decided to come here and make this the — I don’t want to say the last project — but THE project.”

President Luis Guillermo Solís addresses the audience.
President Luis Guillermo Solís addresses the audience. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

Pedro Abdalla, the San José-based chief architect, noted in remarks to the audience that Golfito’s duty-free zone, the Depósito Libre, opened its doors exactly 27 years ago, on April 21, 1990.

“Golfito is a real treasure, with an extraordinary potential for development,” he said. He cited figures about the employment this project would create and said it was the goal that 80 percent of the employees come from the Southern Zone.

Golfito Marina Village pier.
Golfito Marina Village pier. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“After 12 years, I’m extremely emotional,” he said, sniffing back tears, as the crowd broke into applause.

Also in attendance, most of them addressing the audience, were Vice President Ana Helena Chacón, Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura, Golfito Mayor Elberth Barrantes and Banco Nacional General Manager Juan Carlos Corrales.

Dignitaries singing the national anthem.
Dignitaries singing the national anthem. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

After the speeches, a ribbon-cutting was held in front of the marina, but Solís first called for the schoolchildren to file in for the photo. Ventura, with scissors in hand, asked which girl’s ponytail he was supposed to cut off, and the kids shrieked.

David Johson, the Fort Lauderdale-based marina sales director, said the Golfito marina fills a need for superyachts that routinely pass Costa Rica by, on their way to the Galapagos or elsewhere, because there’s no place for them to dock.

Big yacht docked at the new Golfito marina.
Big yacht docked at the marina. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

“We built a marina for the future,” he said. “We’ll be able to fit the biggest yachts in the world.”

Contact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net

 

4 Comments »

  1. I assume they did not forget to build a road from San Jose to Golfito?

    Comment by Robert Comperchio — April 24, 2017 @ 6:25 am

  2. this is nice a dead project finally finished good for the country the people and business it would be great to see some effort put into playas del coco there are several project there that make costa rica look 3 rd world half done empty projects

    getting these done or getting some media attention would help bring the image of costa rica back again

    Comment by alan — April 24, 2017 @ 9:50 am

  3. What a wonderful and splendid project, thank you.
    I grew up in Golfito by the airport and it was the best growing up as
    a kid and as a young girl. I am thankful I was not there to see it run
    down as I saw it when after many years I returned with my husband and
    my children to show them how beautiful it was.
    I thank you again for making it beautiful and with gainful employment
    for many of our Golfito’s wonderful people.
    Thank you again.. wish you tons of success.

    Comment by Grace Fallas — April 24, 2017 @ 10:29 am

  4. Big question is whether costaricans will in any way benefit from this project, apart from a few extra jobs. Or is the project indeed primarily for US boatowners flying in and having their multimillion dollar yachts brought by cargoship to the marina?Moreover, the US developers intend to build some Hawai-style islands with houses which do not fit in the Golfito bay and will have various adverse environmental impacts.

    Comment by Julian Bakker — April 29, 2017 @ 2:18 am

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