The Journey of the Dream Builders: The prominent Brazilian entrepreneur Ricardo Bellino gets on board.
Interview with Stefan Maria Gast & Ricardo Bellino
“Think Big! Focus! And think holistically!” Stefan Maria Gast, builder of the world-famous FIFA World Cup quarter, Campo Bahia, for the German national team and subsequent world champion at the 2014 World Cup and the Brazilian-born self-made millionaire, Real Estate Dealmaker and serial EntrepreneurRicardo Bellino have come together to produce a force to be reckoned with. These two visionaries share a dogged determination to focus on their goals until they achieve them. And it´s with this formula for success that they are now embarking on the construction of the new “The Comporta Polo Club” in Portugal. Both entrepreneurs have had their eyes on bringing premium polo to the Comporta area for two years now. Now their paths have crossed and they are tackling the big goal together. The club, set in the heart of the beautiful Alentejo countryside, an hour from Lisbon, is due to open its doors this year. The polo world has Portugal in its sights where the club will host the first international polo tournament with a prominent line-up this autumn.
We are eagerly awaiting news about your exclusive new Polo project in Portugal, which was announced a few months ago. You promised to reveal the exact location in January …
Stefan Maria Gast:
Yes, the location has now been finalised and the land is contractually secured. The new Polo Club will be built on the Herdade da Monteira in Alcácer do Sal, one of the most beautiful country estates in the Alentejo. A mere 10 minutes from the centre of the historic, picturesque town of Alcácer do Sal and only 15 minutes to the dream beaches of Comporta. From Lisbon it takes only about an hour by car. So the location is unique – offering perfect conditions in a stunning setting along with excellent international connections.
When and how did you two come together as a team?
I lived in Miami for over ten years before moving to Portugal a year and a half ago. Like Stefan Gast, I am convinced that we have a tremendous development ahead of us here. Our joint project, the construction of the Comporta Polo Club with the adjacent villas and hotels, is a holistic and sustainable design that we are building in partnership. We, as in our joint company “Bellgast – actually see ourselves as “Dream Builders”. We make dreams come true by thinking big and focusing relentlessly on our objectives. We have experienced what you could probably call the synchronicity of life. We are both on the same page as it were as we both think along the same lines and have the same end goal.
As a Brazilian, you have found a new home in Portugal and are very interested and talented in many different fields. What would you see as the most important milestones in your professional career so far?
Together with John Casablancas I built up the American model agency “Elite Models” in Sao Paulo, Brazil and turned models like Giselle Bundchen and Adriana Lima into world stars. Years later, the current American president Donald Trump, invited me to a pitch – I had three minutes to present my project to him. Fortunately that was enough to convince him and together we developed a multi-million dollar real estate project in Brazil. It was an impressive experience, which I documented and recorded in a bestselling book, “You Have Three Minutes”. Years later, on a visit to Manhattan, I visited the Nespresso Boutique Bar on Madison Avenue with my wife Marina. I was amazed by the graphic power of these small, shiny Nespresso capsules adorning the shop walls. This gave me the idea of using the capsules artistically like the pixels of a picture. So I ended up creating a whole series of portraits of famous people. That was the beginning of a very productive and successful artistic phase, which I called “Pixels”. I have also been involved in the fight against breast cancer for many years. Together with a major global brand, we have achieved remarkable successes in this field. And the Comporta Polo Club will also be involved in the fight against cancer.
And what timing do you have in mind? When will polo be launched in Comporta?
Stefan Maria Gast:
The grand opening of the Polo Area with clubhouse and restaurant will take place at the end of October this year. In this first phase, two full-size polo pitches with three stick & ball fields are planned. By then, the clubhouse and restaurant as well as the first large section of the stables will also be complete. The Polo Club is the launchpad for the step-by-step development of a unique overall concept for the international sport of polo in Comporta over the coming years.
Our visions for the location complement each other perfectly. And we are already in discussions with an international partner, a global brand that represents polo like no other. The countdown is has begun and we are working around the clock.
What exactly are the next steps?
Stefan Maria Gast:
In mid-February, experienced polo architects and a selected international team will be based on site to complete the plans for the two full-size pitches and the three stick & ball in detail. We are aware of the time challenge, but fortunately we have the most important factors such as weather and soil conditions on our side.
It is the kick-off, the zero hour, where it all begins. At the same time we will also start the workshops for the architects and engineers and prepare everything for the construction work. The authorities have promised us the approval of the building permits which will enable us to then start building.
The entire area covers about 220 hectares. In the first phase we are building the Polo Club, followed by, in Spring 2021, the Boutique Hotel with 35 suites and the Private Residences for sale. The second major phase will see the resort hotel with 150 rooms and an apartment complex, the Polo University and Boarding School and the villas. The entire project will be completed over four years – 2024. The Polo University will house a campus for around 200 students. Our vision is that the new polo elite in Portugal will be educated here over the next ten years. The University will be built on 3 main pillars 1. A state-of-the-art sports academy for a new generation of polo players 2. Breaking paradigms to be successful in today’s VUCA world (VUCA = Volatility, Uncertainity, Complexity, Ambiguity) 3. A game-changing entrepreneurship boarding school inspired by the successful paths of true “dream builders”.
An event hall is also to be built on the site?
Stefan Maria Gast:
That´s right, an event and performance hall which, in addition to the polo activities, is also available for concerts, conferences and theater events with a capacity for 5,000 spectators will round off the overall concept.
A holistic and sustainable approach is particularly important to both of you. Why does respect play a major role in this?
Stefan Maria Gast:
For us, respect is one of the most important approaches. The harmonious interaction of nature, people and horses is our magic formula. My business partner, Ricardo Bellino agrees wholeheartedly with this concept. He, like me, focuses on a goal and never loses sight of it. That is exactly what makes us unbeatable in terms of turning dreams into goals and then reality. Hence why we chose the name Dream Builder.
For example, we must not forget the millennia-old history of Alcacer do Sal, which began long before the Phoenicians and left important Roman, Islamic and also Germanic traces. With our project we will bringing people to the region of Alentejo who have their own history and culture. Different cultures will meet here in the future which could naturally give way to a degree of tension. Our goal is to integrate these trepidations in our project and its offering. Only then will we be able to ensure that both the locals and the new residents and guests will feel comfortable and understood alongside each other. The key to this is to apply mutual respect.
We want to instill a sense of happiness, fulfillment and above all a desire to return, or rather stay and make a new home here in Comporta. The Portuguese word “saudade” – the longing for a re-encounter – could not express it better. Success is therefore a logical consequence of this.