When it comes to submarine bases, it seems those of the former-Yugoslavia knew how to pick the best spots. After the break up of the state over a decade ago, which lead to the formation of the modern country we know as Montenegro, the base sat empty, until some canny developers had the idea of making it the hottest new yachting spot in Europe. Possibly inspired by neighbouring Croatia’s quick turn from post-war country to tourism superstar, Montenegro set about developing the already existing deep water harbour into a village and hotel complex with some of the biggest berths in the world. And true to the age-old adage; if you build it, they will come.
Porto Montenegro has been hitting the headlines for several years now, being often described as the new Monaco. The small town is positioned in one of the most beautiful spots of the region, on the shores of Boka Bay and Kotor Bay, which are known for it towering granite cliffs, crystal waters and UNESCO World Heritage protected Venetian merchant towns.
The port itself is based along a waterfront strip with hundreds of moorings, ranging in size from weekend getaway boats to 250 metre super yachts (of which there are only a handful in the world). Set behind this are two parallel roads, with designer shops, a delicatessen, ice cream parlour, chemist, dry cleaners, florist, clubhouse bar, art gallery and, of course, private jet concierge – everything you could ever need. There are also a slew of delectable restaurants ranging from a sushi bar to Lebanese – something for ever palette.
At one end of this road sits Porto Montenegro Yacht Club. A sea-front infinity pool surrounded by cabanas which is open every summer offers guests of the port arriving by boat somewhere to stretch their sea legs, while listening to a DJ and drinking champagne. At night, the yacht club hosts ‘Club Platinum’ for those wanting to celebrate the night away.
But between the port and the yacht club, is where the real star of Porto Montenegro can be found; The Regent Hotel. The wondrous thing about building a brand new hotel on empty land, is the sky can be the limit and planner’s imaginations can run riot. Here that has been done – but in a way not necessarily felt.
The hotel looks like a new take on the European 19th century model for a grand hotel – think Wes Anderson with yellow and white stripes. Inside the décor is understated luxury – perhaps highlighting the designer’s brief to appeal to both European and Middle Eastern tastes at the same time. The rooms are clean and sleek, with each having a fully fitted kitchen. This unusual addition hints at perhaps the number of boat staff who get lodged in the hotel. Rooms have been well planned – clearly the work of a wise consultant, with Nespresso machines, Bose audio docks, welcome wine – even the smallest details down to illuminated mirrors suited for make-up application and easily accessible plugs have been considered. The nautical theme of the rooms might seem at first a little cliché, but when you move out to the balcony and see the rusting machinery of the ex-building docks it makes more sense.
Back downstairs the hotel has a sumptuous spa with indoor pool and singles and couples treatment rooms, an afternoon tea shop with some of the most delicious cakes this side of Paris, an all day casual restaurant, and of course – a late night library themed bar serving an array of cognacs and cigars – something no quasi-European grand hotel can be without.
To the side of the hotel, in a recently opened wing, is a multi-levelled jaw-dropper of an infinity pool complete with floating sun loungers. Palm fringed and with an all day menu and bar it can be hard to leave. As the sunsets in front of you, shimmering on the sea and reflecting off the pink-stone mountain, it's the perfect spot to soak in the atmosphere of the port.
At night the hotel’s signature restaurant opens, with a pan-European menu offering the finest Italian, French and British cooking. Portions are healthy, presentation is top quality and while it isn’t Michelin starred we don’t think it will remain so much longer. Despite being in a country that feels a little lost when it comes to national cuisine, the Regent has done a brilliant job of choosing which top chefs to poach from around the world.
The real highlight of the Regent though, comes in the form of the staff. Incredibly warm and charming, no problem is too small or too big for them. While the hotel feels like a home from home, its elegance lies in its simplicity. The price of the rooms however, is justified by the level of service. Whether you want a private speedboat tour of the bay, a golf buggy to take you to the local submarine museum, advice or where to eat, or your luggage packed for you – they make you feel like ‘no’ isn’t in their vocabulary – and without feeling guilty for thinking it.
The Regent has hit a wonderful balance. It is flash without being flashy, and low-key without being pretentious. Finding that tipping point which appeals to the global super-rich clientele who arrive daily on their yachts is no mean feat.
Especially when tasked with doing so on a piece of land which was until recently a derelict military compound. But, the proof lies in the product – and extension plans are afoot. And even if you’re not arriving via the water, The Regent in Porto Montenegro is the perfect hotel for some fly and flop relaxing with everything on your doorstep and every whim looked after.
Regent Porto Montenegro. Rates start from €200 per room per night.
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