The Fladgate Partnership is preparing to open the World of Wine (WOW), a 105 million euros project that includes six museums and nine restaurants, in Vila Nova de Gaia in the summer.
At stake is the opening – “at the end of July or beginning of August” – of a new cultural and tourist area in Porto, after the renovation of a set of old Port wine cellars on the south bank of the Douro River, in Vila Nova de Gaia, with a view over the Ribeira and the D. Luís I Bridge.
In an interview the president of Fladgate, Adrian Bridge, estimated recruiting about 350 people, something that the leader of the group that owns the hotels Yeatman (Vila Nova de Gaia), Infante de Sagres (Porto) and Vintage House (Pinhão) believes “will not be difficult”, since many projects and tourist structures are currently in ‘lay-off’.
“The WOW also includes the creation of accommodation for people coming from other parts of the country. But with this crisis, we believe that there will be manpower nearby. We are interested in building the best possible team to serve a diverse audience in age, interest and nationality,” said Adrian Bridge.
With the WOW – which is made up of six museums and nine restaurants, a 142-space car park, shops, exhibition spaces and a school on wines – the Fladgate Partnership group points to a shift in the region’s tourism landscape.
Adrian Bridge believes that with the creation of “a tourist space that offers contents” the average time of stay in Porto for tourists will change, as well as the current difference between demand in high and low season.
“This investment gives us the ability to transform tourism in Porto in two ways: by prolonging people’s visit – so far, tourists stay, on average, 2.6 days – and by decreasing the seasonality of visits. With more content on offer, we can double that average and this content remains available in winter, on a rainy day for example”, described Adrian Bridge.
This is a private project, but with a percentage of public investment thanks to applications to European programmes, which has been classified as Potential National Interest (PIN).
In this “cultural block” five museum experiences will be distributed over 35,000 square metres: Wine Experience [a journey on Portuguese wine], Planet Cork [about Portugal being the largest cork producer in the world], Porto Region Across The Ages [about Porto’s historical and cultural heritage], The Bridge Collection [a private collection of world glasses], as well as the Wine School, which is aimed at “three different audiences”, first of all “tourists who want to learn the basics about Port wine, for example”, but also “the population of the region who are curious and are looking for courses and ‘workshops’ and also catering workers who “are looking for courses and qualification”.
“And to help them, it helps the country’s wine sales capacity. Portugal is full of very exciting wines. The WOW is a great opportunity for the region. We benefit the restaurants, the hotels, the taxi companies that work beside us. Only when we have a vibrant tourism sector does everyone benefit”, he said.
For a second phase, the opening of two other museums is planned: ‘The Chocolate Story’, which includes a chocolate factory, in which it will be possible to watch, in real time, all the processes of the transformation of cocoa beans into chocolate, and the ‘Fashion & Design Museum’, which, according to the press file, translates into a “compliment to Portugal” and is housed in a historic building dating from the 18th century and which includes a chapel by architect Nicolau Nasoni, whose frescos have been restored.
To Lusa, Adrian Bridge pointed out that “besides the tourist, cultural and heritage interest”, the Fladgate Partnership group, which also owns Port wine brands, “wants to invest in history and training”, which is why it created a program dedicated to schools and special prices for families.