EVEN the most dedicated boat fanatic needs some time out to shop, drink and dine and at Ocean Village in Gibraltar you are certainly spoilt for choice.
The marina complex on the sheltered west side of the Rock has become the preferred destination for a well-heeled clientele looking for fine dining, shopping, gaming and of course five-star berthing.
Fashion stores such as Esprit, Signature and Aftershock cloak the boardwalk promenade rubbing shoulders with businesses like Chesterton estate agent. A mini supermarket Ocean Village Express is where you pick up a range of wines and spirits, your daily newspaper. Take a stroll around the village at lunchtime or in the early evening though, and the place is clearly abuzz with people looking for the best place to eat. They can now choose from up to 20 restaurants, including big brand names like Pizza Express and KFC to classic pub grub at O’Reilly’s. Exotic tastes are also catered for with The Water Margin Chinese restaurant and Laziz Indian, while you cannot go wrong with the menu at Harley’s, Petit café, Savannah Lounge and the Celebrity Wine Bar.
Most exciting of all has to be the increasingly popular Brazilian-style international food at Ipanema, run by amiable owner Danny Breeze, 34, from Kent. A great place to order a classic Caipirinha cocktail, it is also extremely popular for its Brazilian-style of serving meat via the pasador. A fun way to be served, the pasadors come around to your table with swords laden with tasty dishes. “We get packed at weekends and evenings and best of all around 90 per cent of our business is local,” explains Danny, who is a livewire, full of ideas. “We get a lot of weddings and we somehow manage to pack in around 180 people in here… There is certainly no shortage of atmosphere.”
Leisure Island, which divides Ocean Village from neighbouring Marina Bay, is the location for the first Gala Coral facility to house a casino and bingo club. Within months of opening, the establishment had already exceeded its five-year business plan in terms of attendance, income and profit. In line with it’s promise to further improve the complex, Gala has now increased its investment in the site, by another £750,000. The investment includes a new Coral Lounge with tax free betting in May, as well as a new dedicated poker zone and a new slot machine area. There is also a new Island Bar where you can relax in the sun and enjoy your favourite drink. And best of all in the restaurant there is a special two for one deal for anyone looking for a bargain lunch or supper.
Meanwhile next door Marina Bay has plenty more taverns and eateries for a refreshing pit-stop, including the ever-busy Charlies. Now, in time for the arrival of good weather the merchants and restaurants in the marina have launched a special discount scheme to entice more custom in. Customers can get up to 12 per cent off their lunch or a voucher for £10 if they spend over £25 in some shops and restaurants. “We want to get more people in to eat and shop,” explains Ocean Village Business Development Manager Ros Astengo. “There are around 16 restaurants in the scheme and we expect them to get a nice amount of extra custom.” Coupons can be picked up at all the entry points and at the airport.
Ocean Village was conceived to compete with established marinas around the Mediterranean coastline and, after significant investment, is now legitimately giving the likes of Monaco a run for its money. Previously known as just a stop-off for cheap marine fuel, while still very much the case, Ocean Village is now also a fully fledged destination for residents, visitors and the megayacht fraternity alike to relax, shop, socialise and generally indulge in the coveted Mediterranean lifestyle.