You have to admire the pluck.
Porto Montenegro, once the main base for the Austro-Hungarian navy, is now home to super-yachts, gin palaces, infinity pools, nightclubs, fleets of helicopters – and festering controversy.
It’s has Monte Carlo in its sights; St Tropez and Porto Banus, too.
Boats, boats everywhere you look: The harbour at Porto Montenegro is the place to park your super yacht +3
Boats, boats everywhere you look: The harbour at Porto Montenegro is the place to park your super yacht
All it needs now is a little time and a few more millions.
For the rest of us, watching its development will be fun. Canadian gold mining billionaire Peter Munk, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Hungary, is the chief investor.
A friend of Munk’s from Toronto says that when he visited Porto Montenegro seven years ago, the site resembled Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack.
Not any more. Its first five-star hotel, The Regent, has just opened and Lord [Jacob] Rothschild, an investor, was there to witness it. ‘It’s a miracle.’ he said. ‘I look forward to coming back here again and again.’ Sadly, there was no sign of his old friend Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch.
Serene scene: The Regent, which opened in August this year, is Porto Montenegro’s first five-star hotel +3
Serene scene: The Regent, which opened in August this year, is Porto Montenegro’s first five-star hotel
The latter has a house here but has fallen out with the prime minister Milo Dukanovic over an aluminium smelter he bought, later putting thousands of local people out of jobs.
Porto Montenegro is described as the deepest natural harbour in Southern Europe and Kotor Bay is said to contain 42,000 species of fish. It is next to the town of Tivat, which has a small airport, although most visitors use Dubrovnik airport 27 miles away.
Nearby, the town of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site with baroque, Venetian and Austrian architecture. It is surrounded by spectacular untouched mountain scenery.
Porto Montenegro is still in touch with its past.
Two cold war submarines, now open to the public, stand on the harbour shore, and the sawmill and repair yard have been turned into a maritime museum.
Lord Byron described Kotor Bay as ‘the most beautiful encounter of land and sea’.
What he would make of modern Porto Montenegro we will never know. But it’s some spectacle.