In Montenegro, legend has it, the island of Our Lady of the Rocks was built up from nothing over centuries by fishermen laying a boulder at the site after every successful catch.
Lustica Bay, Montenegro, from €297,000
For sheer force of will, the huge development taking place at nearby Lustica Bay must surely be the modern-day equivalent.
On 690 hectares of former military base land near Tivat, in the southwest of the Balkan country, Swiss-based backer Orascom is developing not just hotels and apartments, but an entire village – complete with school, fire brigade and hospital – as well as two marinas and an 18-hole golf course designed by nine times Major winner Gary Player.
The stone buildings mimic traditional Venetian architecture and the building is low-density and sustainable, with many of the rocks quarried from the surrounding land. Building is scheduled to continue over nearly 20 years, with 500 villas and townhouses, 1,000 apartments and seven hotels in the final offering.
Look out to sea and the view is of clear, unspoiled Adriatic waters. Look across the bay and it’s like a scene from DIY SOS – a hive of hard hats in action
The scale of the €1.1bn project, which includes 10 per cent investment from the Montenegro government – is as breathtaking as the local scenery.
And with openings scheduled this summer for one marina, the adjoining retail, bars and restaurants, plus The Chedi, a five-star hotel including condominiums, there are some heart-stopping deadlines in place, too.
Look out to sea and the view is of clear, unspoiled Adriatic waters. Look across the bay and it’s like a scene from DIY SOS – a hive of hard hats in action. Yet Lustica Bay developers are adamant the 51-room hotel will be ready on time – along with its 60 condominiums, luxury spa and beach bars. “It just has to be,” says spokesman Slavica Milic. “It’s opening on July 14 and there are a lot of bookings already.” It seems a near impossible feat, but that Montenegrin willpower does have some serious backing.
Orascom is led by billionaire Samih Sawiris, who has already developed monster “integrated” projects in El Gouna, Egypt, and Andermatt, Switzerland. GHM (General Hotel Management) is also a partner in the hotel development.
“For me, the thing that sets Lustica Bay apart is that it’s built around a place that has existed for many, many years. I compare it to mixing a new wine with a vintage. The result is so much better,” he says.
His investment – and that of others – is certainly welcome in Montenegro, which gains 11 per cent of its GDP from tourism and hopes to increase that to 16 per cent in the next three years. A relaxed tax regime, the use of the euro (though it is not in the EU) and full ownership rights for foreigners are just some of the sweeteners.
Of course the country’s natural scenery has massive pulling power, too, with national parks, the world’s second-largest canyon and long stretches of coastline – all set within an area that’s roughly the size of the Bahamas.
If you want to take it easy, you could go superyacht spotting around the recently developed Porto Montenegro, take a short boat ride from Lustica Bay to an Almara Beach Club or stare across the waters to Croatia from the idyllic Ribarsko Selo restaurant, eating freshly caught fish.
Near Lustica Bay, is the beautiful Bay of Kotor, a natural inlet that is home to the walled medieval city of Kotor. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site – along with Perast, where tourists can hire a boatman to steer them to the island of St George, with its 17th Century Benedictine monastery, or the aforementioned Our Lady of the Rocks, to perhaps build up the local land bank by dropping a stone or two.
Condominiums in The Chedi start at €297,00 for a studio and rise to €765,000, with prices similar for built residences in the marina village, although studios are pricier at €430,000.
There’s a five per cent rental yield guarantee for the first five years, too, with a non-guaranteed option with higher projected returns of up to 10 per cent, according to Countrywide.
For more information, visit lusticabay.com