In 2007, Canadian businessman Peter Munk, founder of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest mining company, along with a group of investors, put money into a defunct, rusting Serbian naval base on the coast to Tivat, with plans of transforming it into a traveler’s dream destination. A port fit for a king, nestled among a tiny coastal town in Southeastern Europe. Behold Porto Montenegro.
A port fit for a king, nestled among a tiny coastal town in Southeastern Europe.
It takes a true genius to see potential in dilapidation, but since construction began in 2010 the site has grown from a rundown shipyard to one of the world’s premier vacation resorts and marinas. Eighty-five berths were built in that first year. Today, Porto Montenegro has 400, and by the beginning of this summer it will have 60 more, with an additional 120 specifically for superyachts.
Nestled between Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia, Montenegro is filled with unspoiled beauty: shockingly clear blue waters and rocky hills that burst with greens and greys. The country’s 295km coastline is decorated with countless uninhabited islands, secret coves and lush harbors.
Equally magnificent is Montenegro’s mountainous interior with its monasteries, river canyons, wildlife reserves, glacial lakes and the Durmitor National Park, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1980.
While the resort is now the undeniable crowning point of Montenegro, its early conception wasn’t always smooth sailing. At first mention of the naval shipyard’s new owners and their plans of tearing it down and building anew, Montenegrins protested in the streets by the thousands.
The proximity to the water guarantees raucous activities like sailing, scuba diving and white-water rafting. Adventure, in other words.
Suspicions of natural resources being abused for the gain of outsiders ran rampant. But, once the locals realized the wealth of new jobs and potential for growth available, they were converted to Munk’s vision. It was boon for both parties.
Now, 80% of the staff at Porto Montenegro are locals. Well-educated and with extensive knowledge of customer service and sailing, most of them can speak upwards of three languages, including English, Italian and Russian.
Sitting on the patio of the Regent Porto Montenegro hotel facing out to the seemingly endless turquoise water of Boka Bay, one has the sense of the final scene in a James Bond film—not surprising, really, since Montenegro did serve as a setting for parts of Casino Royale (though no scenes were actually filmed there). Perhaps it’s because it mixes rustic and exotic so seamlessly.
A pastel-coloured palace sits against a brilliantly blue sky behind you with every amenity one could need, powerful top-of-the-line boats are a few sandal-clad-feet away and gorgeous women in designer labels lounge about, tan and vibrant.
At no point will you ever be far from a stunning view.
ReardonSmith Architects of London kept the region’s 400-year history as part of the Venetian Empire in mind throughout the process of designing the elegant, five-story hotel. Its ochre yellow facades, Italianate balconies and terracotta roofing distinguish the Renaissance-inspired hotel from surrounding buildings.
Fittingly, a subtle nautical theme runs through the interior of the hotel, matched with soothing earth tones and calm ocean shades.
Few marinas in the world can accommodate yachts quite like Porto Montenegro.
Two magnificent freehold penthouses sit perched at the top of the hotel, each with three bedrooms, a study, kitchen, dining room and living room. Generous west-facing living and dining areas with floor-to-ceiling French windows allow dramatic sunset views over the Bay.
The hotel’s state-of-the-art spa comes equipped with a 20-metre infinity-edge outdoor pool as well as a hammam (Turkish bath), all only steps away from the Mediterranean waters.
Yes, there are views. Thus, the pull of the lounge chair is strong. But, if you are a yacht owner—not to mention a captain of your very own super-yacht—scenery can seem staid. The mind reels. Still, there is more to do than take in nature’s grandeur at Porto Montenegro. Thanks to Munk’s investment, the town is electric with shopping, dining and dancing.
With a steady incline of tourists every year, the coastline of Tivat is constantly opening new restaurants, bars and cafes, which yes, means taking in those views again. Thankfully, the proximity to the water also guarantees an assortment of raucous activities like sailing, kitesurfing, wake boarding, scuba diving and white-water rafting. Adventure, in other words.
Despite the lavish hotel and village, the main source of pride for Munk will always be the marina. Few marinas in the world can accommodate yachts quite like Porto Montenegro. They offer onshore provisions and crew services against a beautiful backdrop.
Awarded the 5 Gold Anchor Award by the Yacht Harbour Association for services and amenities, the marina has a team of multi-lingual marina fixers, on-hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyone looking to dock their yacht here need not worry about their berthing options: Porto Montenegro offers visitors anything from a few days to 30 years. Three decades. A commitment that should be easy to make once you step foot off your yacht and into Porto Montenegro.