Read the words ‘Monte Carlo’, and you’ll probably be picturing something a little glitzy, a little sexy, and altogether very exclusive. Read ‘Montenegro’ on the other hand, and you’ll probably be picturing… nothing much at all.

Tucked away in the east of Europe, somewhere between Greece and Rome, steeped in a history almost as old as theirs, lies the little country with a population of about 600,000. At the beginning of this year, Vice Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Jean-Claude Baumgarten, predicted that Montenegro would become one of the fastest growing Travel & Tourism economies in the world over the next decade.

This begs the question, how could such an unknown nation have been named the ‘Monte Carlo’ of the Adriatic? What great expectations could it be nurturing?

…a picturesque, wildly beautiful bay…

Landing second place in Lonely Planet’s: ‘Top 10 Best Travel in 2013’ this year, it was certainly off to a flying start.

After declaring independence from Serbia in June 2006, Montenegro finally entered into accession negotiations for EU membership this July. Its tourism has rocketed, and last summer the country enjoyed one of its most successful season’s yet – which may have had something to do with four giant new developments, all centred within a picturesque, wildly beautiful bay, set to reshape the nation’s tourism industry.

…an unexpected favourite with the stars…

Perhaps the biggest of these is the luxury super yacht marina: Porto Montenegro, owned by Canadian multi-billionaire Peter Munk. Interest has exploded at the marina over last summer, and like the rest of the county it is becoming an unexpected favourite with the stars.

Senior marketing manager, Matt Morley, says: “Nathaniel Rothschild celebrated his 40th birthday here the summer of last year, and that drew in a lot of celebrities.

…€500,000 to about €2 million…

“The marina attracts some of the biggest boats on the sea, and we certainly get some interesting characters, let’s just say that.”

Having built almost 130 apartments so far, they have sold all but four of them. The price range, for those with a few million to spare, ranges from about €500,000 to about €2 million.

…a 5-star hotel which will offer some 80 rooms…

“Ultimately we have a premium product,” says Mr Morley, “if you want to tie your dingy to a port you’re probably not going to come to us. This is a different experience to just pulling up along a wall.”

The development is now in phase two, which will see the completion of 370 berths by May 2014, along with the Regent Porto Montenegro, a 5-star hotel which will offer some 80 rooms, suites, and luxury apartments.

…suddenly everyone wants to come here…

Mr Morley says: “We are seeing a massive turn of attention; suddenly everyone wants to come here. Over the last two years, particularly this summer, Montenegro’s suddenly been put on the map.”

“We have visitors stretching as far as the UK. The English would have bought property in the South of France or Tuscany and would have kept their boat in Greece or Turkey, but now a lot of those are coming here.”

…imposing mountains…

And if you gaze over views of the UNESCO-protected Bay of Kotor, it isn’t hard to see why. Surrounded by imposing mountains, where man meets nature at the site of the fortified rock face, built, destroyed, and built again by Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Austrians, the land overflows with history and legend. 

“We aim to work without damaging the pure nature, which is what this place is all about,” says Mr Morley.

“You won’t find a McDonald’s or Starbucks here, you can get right to the DNA of Montenegrin culture as soon as you step outside.”

Stay tuned for part 2…

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