Montenegro focuses on the five-star set

The former Balkan state has dusted itself down and turned its sights on high-end investors with very deep pockets


The strange thing about Montenegro for many is that their perception stems from a total fraud: the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale. Despite multiple references, not a single frame of film was recorded there. The property masquerading as Hotel Splendid is actually in the Czech Republic. There are no bullet trains in Montenegro, and all the beach scenes were filmed in the Bahamas.

It is strange because, if anything, the real Montenegro is even more spectacular than depicted in the film, which makes you wonder why the subterfuge.

Travelling around Boka Bay to Kotor Fjord on to Porto Montenegro, then striking out for Budva’s old town and along the coast to Aman Sveti Stefan, the Montenegrin coastline is simply gorgeous.

Montenegro boasts a population of just 620,000; it only declared independence from Serbia in June 2006. But it has long gone out of its way to show that it is different. From the break-up of Yugoslavia, it used the German mark as its currency and subsequently the euro.

Its young government, known for political stability, has fostered an environment in which it is easy and safe for foreigners to do business. This is not always a given in Balkan states. The country’s openness to foreign trade has led to one of its most extraordinary success stories: Porto Montenegro.

Luxury choice Less than a decade ago I stood on a site in Tivat, looking at an abandoned naval base with ambitious plans and doubting it would ever come to fruition. How wrong could I be? Porto Montenegro is rapidly becoming the Mediterranean’s choice for luxury yacht berths – the transformation has been spectacular.

The land was purchased by Canadian entrepreneur Peter Munk for €23

Montenegro: What’s on offer

If you wish to purchase a property in a five-star resort it will cost upwards of €5,000 per sq m. You can, however, find nearby properties from €2,000 per sq m.

The Regent Porto Montenegro is offering a range of managed upmarket apartments, with prices ranging from €195,000 to €5 million.

Lustica Bay includes a ground floor three-bed, three-bath apartment with sea views and communal parking. It is 117 sq m with a 33 sq m patio, access to a residents’ swimming pool and a beach closeby. This property is on the market for €743,400.

Ten minutes from Tivat in Krasici is a 285sq m, four-bed, three-bath, two-level waterfront villa. The property has panoramic views over Tivat Bay, Porto Montenegro marina and the island of St Marko. It comes with air conditioning, sauna and an additional kitchen. The price is €1.5 million.

In Becici, between Budva and Sveti Stefan, is a fully refurbished, south-facing, five-bed, four-bath, 486sq m villa with a heated pool and spectacular sea views. The villa is spread over four floors, located 700m above the beach. It is just a stroll from lively cafes and restaurants and close to two five-star hotels. It could be used for holiday rentals, sleeping 10. The asking price is €950,000.

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Hotel Fjord: Dilapidated site in Kotor Bay

One of the most controversial Irish property investments in Kotor Bay is the Hotel Fjord site. The 320-bed hotel is in a strategically important tourist location on the bay right beside Kotor’s famous old town.

The site was purchased for €5.5 million in 2006 by a consortium, including former Irish Nationwide Building Society boss Michael Fingleton and agent Louis Maguire. Fingleton valued it at €4 million in a statement of assets in 2010.

It remains a dilapidated shell despite lavish plans for a five-star development on the site. The owners have fallen out.

Despite claims to the contrary from Michael Fingleton jr, it is understood by those on the ground in Montenegro that this development is no closer to being developed than it was 10 years ago. Kotor’s stunning old town area attracts volumes of tourists but it cannot facilitate accommodating even a fraction of these because it doesn’t have a hotel of significant capacity.