The marketing slogan for Porto Montenegro, a luxury 450-berth marina and residential village, is A Life less Ordinary. And what could be less ordinary than the accompanying launch photo of a small boy fishing with his dad from the back of their boat: a gigantic superyacht?
Given this new development is funded by the Investment Corporation of Dubai whose president is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, displays of ostentatious wealth are actually pretty ordinary, really… But anyway. Located in the UNESCO protected Bay of Kotor, Porto Montenegro is housed on the land that was once the base for the Austro-Hungarian navy.
It’s only 40% complete but it’s not difficult to see how in the next decade, this sun-drenched harbour could fulfil the developers’ dreams and become a leading Mediterranean superyacht destination – a new Monaco or St Tropez housed in a dramatic fjord-like inlet enclosed by rugged mountains. The former Yugoslavian republic of Montenegro is located between Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albania on the eastern shore of the Adriatic. The nearest airports are Tivat, 3 miles away, and there are twice-weekly Easyjet flights to Tivat. Dubrovnik is under 30 miles away if you fancy a jaunt elsewhere.
The name Montenegro means black mountain and here there is a truly mountain lifestyle: you can swim off the Adriatic coast in the morning and go Alpine skiing in the afternoon in the northern mountains. There is also the Tara River gorge, the second-largest gorge after the Grand Canyon, mediaeval villages, fortified towns, secluded unspoilt beaches and forests with bears, wolves and eagles.
Judging by the impressive array of super yachts in the Porto Montenegro harbour, the billionaire visitors like what they see. Last year, Roman Abramovich, who is worth an estimated £11.5 billion, was linked to the destination. Although the marina would normally be teeming with an assortment of oligarchs’ luxury vessels, Russian billionaires are currently in short supply. One particularly impressive boat is the 107.6 metre behemoth Luminosity which costs an eye-watering £20 million a year to run. It might be the understatement of the century to call it an impressive sight.
During my visit two of the world’s biggest sailing yachts, Black Pearl at 106 metres long and the Maltese Falcon, 88 metres, were also moored in the harbour. Tourists tend to visit in the July and August peak summer months, but it’s equally pretty earlier in the year, when the seafood restaurants have more available tables so there isn’t the constant need to think about booking.
There’s more to see away from the boats, though you could gawp at them for days. A chic nautical village centre is reminiscent of Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive, with big name boutiques including Alexander McQueen, Lamborghini and Valentino. There’s also a Rolex salon that can service your timepiece as you tuck into grilled octopus and sip Veuve Clicquot. Even at less than half built, Porto Montenegro is the largest superyacht homport in the Mediterranean. It also holds the record for being the deepest natural harbour in Southern Europe.
More impossibly high-end boutique shopping and entertainment galleries are to come as the futuristic development continues to take shape. A market, food hall, three-screen cinema and all sorts of mind-boggling wellness facilities are expected, plus summer entertainment including classical music and rock concerts. There’s even a polo field, because of course there is. The latest stage is the Boka Place development, with 144 luxury serviced residences and 69 private residences. Activities for home owners have included underwater art galleries reachable exclusively via scuba diving.
A life less ordinary indeed. I fancy a slice of this excess myself, so I check into the five-star Regent Porto Montenegro, its décor inspired by Venetian-Renaissance architecture. To access the lobby you enter via one of three striking archways which emerge into a grand space centred around a fountain and clad in floor-to-ceiling mirrors. The décor was conceived by Parisian interiors designer Tino Zervudachi, who was behind Mick Jagger’s and Jacob Rothschild’s interiors. I lived the life of a billionaire. The Regent Spa offered me a massage before I languished in the sauna, steam room and hammam. Then I dove into the outdoor pool overlooking the marina. Oh, then I had a go in the 40-metre infinity pool. That night I drank well in Marea, a stylish bar with tangerine-coloured chairs and black tables with a gold backsplash marble bar. The food’s great too: I had monkfish in truffle sauce, lobster and delicious homemade pasta a la vodka with shrimps.
Later the bar turns into an impromptu disco but I’m ready to fall into bed. Crush Wine Station is also unmissable: a chic wine bar set on an outdoor terrace overlooking the superyachts of the marina’s jetty, it’s known as Montenegro’s top viticultural venue. I was craving an understanding of the wider area, so I headed to nearby Perast on Boka Bay, a quaint village overlooking the water. Here we explored stone villas that date back almost four centuries to when this area was part of the Adriatic empire of La Serenissima.
From Perast we take a boat to the tiny island of Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island separated from the sea by a defensive bulwark. According to legend, the island was created over centuries by local seamen who would lay a rock in the bay after returning from successful voyages. The ritual is still alive and well today, and each year on July 22 the locals hold an event called fašinada, where everyone takes to their boats and throws rocks into the sea. #
Kotor, a charming mediaeval town surrounded by stone walls built like a maze to confuse invaders, is also fascinating for a visit, with its narrow cobbled streets and Baroque, Venetian and Austrian architecture. Lord Byron described Kotor Bay as “the most beautiful encounter of land and sea.” What would he make of Porto Montenegro? We will never know, but as a hedonist himself, I’m sure he’d approve.
Visit Porto Montenegro yourself
Visitportomontenegro.com for more information on the destination. Gotoihg.com/regent/hotels/us/en/reservation to book a stay