Move over, French Riviera: there’s a new – and until now, somewhat secret – Mediterranean destination that’s emerging on the travel map, and its name is Montenegro. Francesca Lee-Rogers discovers where the yacht set are flocking to
It’s like our very own version of The Truman Show as my husband and I arrive at Porto Montenegro, and exactly how one would imagine a model village to be: superyachts gleam and glisten in the 450-berth crystal-clear marina that Novak Djokovic’s boat calls home; exclusive designer retailers such as resort-wear brand Heidi Klein face each other across the tree-lined pavements, and the calm waters of the harbour and the imposing mountains beyond set a James Bond-like scene. This sums up Porto Montenegro, which is home to a famous yacht club, a prestigious property development and the world-renowned Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel.
It wasn’t always such a well-known or esteemed destination, however. Part of the Bay of Kotor, known simply as Boka, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Porto Montenegro is located on a winding bay in the Adriatic Sea in the south-western part of the country. Previously an Austro-Hungarian naval base until the break up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the area was used to house and repair submarines.
This was until wealthy investors saw an opportunity fit to rival the likes of Monaco, Cannes and Saint-Tropez. Now, Porto Montenegro is a place to see and be seen; families of 2.4 children are immaculately dressed in the latest chic brands, city workers are aboard their superyachts and ladies who lunch are out in force, complete with tote bags and designer dogs. And with flights from three international airports – Tivat (7km), Dubrovnik (46km) and Podgorica (90km), as well as the option to land a private jet and take a helicopter transfer, it’s no wonder Porto Montenegro is firmly on every A-listers’ map.
For those who want to explore all that Porto Montenegro offers, the Regent Porto Montenegro hotel provides the ultimate luxurious base. The exclusive hotel in the marina includes 51 rooms and 35 (one-, two- or three-bedroom) suites, as well as opulent penthouses and a residence. Demand is so high, in fact, that the hotel is expanding to offer rooms in a mixed-use development project, which is set to open in 2018.
Envisioned by ReardonSmith Architects and world-renowned interior designer Tino Zervudachi of Mlinaric, Henry & Zervudachi, Regent Porto Montenegro unites a Venetian palazzo-style traditional exterior with contemporary lines, soft colours, elegant stone and hardwood floors. Our home away from home certainly has the ‘wow’ factor and it also offers a distinct nod to its coastal location, with striped blue furnishings, a compass-print coffee table and a lamp base made of rope. Not that we need much reminding of where we are, though, as the expansive balcony looks out onto the marina and its surrounding boutiques, which include Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Tom Ford.
Hotel guests can use the super trendy Yacht Club, but be warned: just looking at the 64-metre infinity pool will make you want to dive straight in. It’s not just humans: during our trip, two ducks decide to take a dip, which is both a rarity and a rather sweet poolside amusement.
Meanwhile, the sumptuous day beds are the ideal place to watch the world – or ducks – go by, cocktail in hand, of course. However, it’s worth mentioning that if, like me, you wish to grab 40 winks, the dance music might make it difficult to do so, but of course, it’s all part of the Club’s atmosphere.
If this is to your liking, you’ll love the themed evenings, such as Martini Night Fridays and Moët Ice Sundays. Meanwhile, during the day, you can muster up some energy with a poolside snack or dine at the Yacht Club’s summer restaurant – the sharing platter with seafood and vegetable tempura, mini fish tacos and arancini balls is worth a special mention. You won’t regret it.
There’s also a whole host of global-inspired restaurants to try. The hotel’s own dining room offers a formal setting and features Mediterranean, Adriatic and a few carefully chosen Asian specialities on its menu, as well as a selection of prime cuts of meat and naturally, excellent seafood. Meanwhile, those with a sweet tooth can sate it in the Gourmet Corner, which transports one straight to a Parisian pâtisserie. For after dinner, the Library Bar, all dark timber and leather touches, harks back to a bygone gentleman's-club era and offers some of the finest cigars and spirits. In Porto Montenegro itself, there’s Italian, Lebanese and Asian cuisine to choose from, to name just a few. It really is a foodie’s paradise and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Those with a sweet tooth can sate it in the Gourmet Corner, which transports one straight to a Parisian pâtisserie
The culture here is just as important as the food, however. Make sure you pay a visit to the Naval Heritage Collection Museum, which features a decommissioned P-821 Hero submarine, and take a speedboat trip to the Bay of Kotor or walk through the old town of Perast and simply soak up the ambience.
And, once you have explored all that Porto Montenegro has to offer, why not head up the Adriatic coast? After all, there are plenty more places to discover where you can live the luxe life.