For sellers

Black Sea coastline heads upmarket*

06 November 08

31 October 2008
Bulgaria’s Black Sea shoreline once marked the country’s eastern border. Under communism, the coastal waters were effectively barred to all but licensed fishermen and small boats from officially approved clubs. Twenty years on, the secluded coastline is acquiring a special allure for the global super-rich hoping to escape the sometimes unwelcome attention they attract elsewhere on Europe’s crowded beaches.

Kavarna, the northernmost town along Bulgaria’s 380km stretch of Black Sea coastline, is one place where they have found a welcome retreat, says Tsonko Tsonev, mayor. “Some legendary rock groups play our summer festival, then stay on for a quiet holiday,” Mr Tsonev says. “The yacht business is at an early stage of development and we don’t get crowds of pleasure boats up here.”

Rock star Alice Cooper and members of Manowar, the heavy metal band, were seen in Kavarna recovering from marathon gigs at the Kaliakra rock festival in July. Members of the Bulgarian ex-royal family, the Saxe-Coburgs and friends, are regular visitors and so is Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, who owns a seaside resort in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is keen to encourage this trend and exploit the coastline’s potential for high-end tourism, overcoming the country’s image as a provider of cheap apartments for beach and ski holidays.

After several years of economic growth – above 6 per cent yearly – a new class of entrepreneurs can afford a motor or sailing yacht, says Petko Bachiyski, co-founder of Yachting, a company that imports yachts and provides crews and maintenance for owners.

Bulgaria has only one private marina with capacity for about 350 yachts in a bay south of Varna, a large commercial port. But another half-dozen private marinas are set for construction, mostly near small fishing ports. Skilled sailors go north from Kavarna, past the Danube delta, rich in wildlife, to Odessa in Ukraine, beating against the prevailing northerly winds.

“It’s a rougher sea and a shorter season than in the Mediterranean. But as the supply of yachts for chartering increases, we expect more people to try sailing here,” says Georgi Mihov of Venid Yachts, an importer and charterer.

*The article is shortened without any changes.

Source: Financial Times
By Kerin Hope and Theodor Troev in Sofia
Published: September 8 2008 17:54