Berth of a Nation
Anchored by the new Porto Montenegro, a former Yugoslav territory with a troubled past is fast becoming the Mediterranean’s next great escape.
A lazy breeze blows over the Bay of Kotor, gently nudging cocktail napkins and menus on crisp white tabletops at Al Posto Giusto. It is only 10 am, but the Italian restaurant in Porto Montenegro is packed, its fashionable patrons awash in the August sun’s golden glow. Perfectly coiffed men wearing mirrored sunglasses eat frittatas with Bloody Marys, while their long-legged companions sip Champagne between cigarette puffs. All are dressed as though for an evening out—which, it occurs to me as I shuffle down the restaurant’s catwalk-like terrace, they might just be: Last night’s party may only now be coming to an end.
I settle into a padded turquoise chair across from Becki Milton, a petite Brit who arrived in Porto Montenegro in 2013 to sell space in the development’s new marina. The 60-acre community, located within the coastal town of Tivat, opened in 2009 with fewer than 100 berths; since then, its marina has quadrupled in size. One look at the sailboats and superyachts anchored alongside Al Posto Giusto tells me Milton has been quite busy.
“See that white one over there?” she says, pointing over my shoulder at a behemoth Lürssen with the name Queen K scrawled across its side. “It’s 70 meters. And the one just behind it? That’s the Mayan Queen, owned by one of the richest men in Mexico. It’s 90 meters. We had the Eclipse here earlier this year, and the Maltese Falcon is on its way. We already have a waiting list, and the bloody marina’s not even fully built!”
Porto Montenegro’s popularity is certainly understandable. Located in an unspoiled corner of the Adriatic Sea, the yachting destination is surrounded by glistening fjords and emerald mountains. But the development’s site—a former Yugoslav naval shipyard known as Arsenal—was not always so sexy. When Yugoslavia started to dissolve in 1991, leaving Montenegro to form a coalition with neighboring Serbia, the waterfront was abandoned. For more than a decade, it remained a derelict backwater blighted by asbestos-laden barracks, retired submarines, and corroded ships. That began to change in 2006, when the Canadian businessman Peter Munk purchased the land directly from the Montenegrin government. Newly independent, the country appeared ripe for tourism, and Munk—who would soon be joined by LVMH Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton’s chairman, Bernard Arnault, and other investors—saw a golden opportunity to build the Adriatic’s first megayacht marina. Porto Montenegro made its debut three years later, with a residential complex and 85 berths.
Today, Porto Montenegro has completed 400 of an eventual 850 berths, 176 residences in six Mediterranean-style complexes, and the Regent Porto Montenegro hotel, a nautically themed retreat that opened in August with 86 rooms, three restaurants, and an Italian garden. The latest residential section, Ksenija, is scheduled to debut this summer with 48 one- to three-bedroom residences priced from about $433,500 to more than $2.5 million. Porto Montenegro is also home to upscale boutiques—resort wear by Heidi Klein, jewelry by the Italian designer Carolina Bucci—as well as the Naval Heritage Collection museum, which offers guided tours of a refurbished Yugoslav submarine.
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