The Coolest Cat in Town: Welcome OneOcean Club
Sometimes a place is just so fabulous every fibre of your being yearns to be a part of it. In the case of great hotel it might be to make it a regular weekend retreat where soon enough everyone knows you by name, what paper you read and what hour you favour a pre-dinner drink; a restaurant might know your favourite table, put aside an unusual wine, or send you delicious little morsels to sample from the kitchen. The trick is in finding these extraordinary places. Or, you could simply join OneOcean Club, a sleekly designed contemporary cube on the newly polished Port Vell and make it your playground.
Designed by El Equipo Creativo (Ikibana, Tickets, Disfrutar) who are known for their ability to make every project seem completely unique, this was two years in the making and the result of the vision of Salamanca Group Owner, Uri Nachoom. Showing me around the property mere hours before opening the doors for the first time he explains how he’s been busy-as-a-bee re-imagining the rather beleagured Port Vell into something a little more seductive. “I want it to be the best super marina in the world,” he says as if this is nothing, the picture of elegance in a tailored navy suit, iron-grey hair and dashing looks, “but the challenge of course is to communicate that ‘special’ but intangible something that’s so crucial to the experience. The thing about joining this club is that you don’t have to be part of the yachting community to enjoy it. But, perhaps by being here and seeing those beautiful vessels cruise by you’ll think about it. Maybe first with a charter to the Balearics, then perhaps later you invest in the boat.”
It’s certainly a very compelling idea. I was transported immediately into a petit reverie imagining myself gazing leisurely out across the marina with the papers and my morning coffee, and soaking up the sun on a lounger once my guests or clients had left after a business lunch. As ‘offices’ go this one’s a no-brainer, but what El Equipo Creativo have been so clever about is creating a really strong sense of space that fits neatly into this smart, sexy new package of Mediterranean living. Enclosed within glass that opens up completely in the summer, the bar, restaurant and terraces are all inspired by the sea – tubular brass pencil-lights hang over green and grey marble table tops, blue tiles cut into curves evoke an almost ethereal underwater world, terraces enclosed by circular cut-out screens provide intimacy, and day segues seamlessly into night aided in part by state-of-the-art sensors that react to the number of people in the house, the time, the vibe, even what people are eating and drinking, and change lighting, music and scent accordingly.
By 9.30pm OneOcean Club had opened in a blaze of glory that is rare in this laid-back city where shorts and tees are as at home in most places as gold lamé and stilettos. Not so this past Friday when the great and good of Barcelona, intrigued by this chic new take on the seafaring life, finally got to rub shoulders with captains and crew of the super yachts now taking their place the marina. It was a sparkling, impossibly charismatic affair with alluring creatures draped hither and thither in sleek outfits and sky-high heels, lovers holding hands over glasses of champagne, and gastronauts checking out the latest hub for fine dining.
Food, as you’d expect, is an important part of the experience and Chef Llorenç Valls who hails from a crowd of Michelin starred restaurants promises a dynamic menu that’s ingredient-focussed with the influences from Japan and elsewhere in Asia. The result is a tightly edited menu of clean tasting dishes with a fun, creative edge: think freshly shucked oysters and ceviche made on the spot at the bar, smoked eel with pickled garlic shoots and black cod in miso or dry aged beef entrecote grilled over oak chips in the restaurant, and late-night signature cocktails like the Caravan – Gin Mare (from Vilanova i la Geltrú), cardamom, basil, lemon juice and tonic.
I’m no sailor, but I will say this: if you are making the move to Catalonia it would be churlish not to celebrate, and indeed get to the know the locals, with just a little bit of this: www.oneoceanclub.es.