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  • The little black book for the City
    Travel — 11 July 2013

    The Montenegrin Riviera:
    Luštica Bay

    David J Constable explores the burgeoning yacht scene in Montenegro and the development of Luštica Bay – a village of prime real estate that will make you never want to leave

    After recent visits to Plymouth, St Tropez and now Montenegro, I’m convinced I need a boat. Not a multi-tiered mega yacht – just an acceptable, easy-to-dock bowrider.

    Luxury riggers are just a way for the super-rich to spend their money once they’ve bought a footie team. OK, so I mock their Napoleon complex, but, really, it’s a loathing that stems from jealousy, and now I want to be part of their world. I want to dip my toe in the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and shout ‘Ahoy!’

    I came to this decision while in Vino Santo restaurant, on the edge of Kotor Bay in the foothills of Luštica Bay in Montenegro. I’ve accepted I’ll probably have to dock my dinghy further out, wash it myself and sail it solo, my one-man floating shoe overlooked by the towering bateaux of Abramovich, Melnichenko and families from the Middle East. I just want to be in Montenegro bumping bows with the best.

    My first sight of coastal Montenegro prompted a need to check whether I was, in fact, in Croatia or the Italian Lakes. Located in the south-western part of the Balkans and only 46km from Dubrovnik, it is made up of a collection of small bays: Risan, Kotor, Tivat and Trašte, with the Luštica Peninsula jutting out and narrowing the Adriatic funnel. The waters are green and still, and each bay is semi-enclosed by sweeping mountains. It’s very reminiscent of Como.

    ‘Luštica Bay makes the most not only of its proximity to the ocean but also its enviable position close to the mountainous parks.’

    One of the islets off the coast of Perast in the Bay of Kotor is Our Lady of the Rocks. The island was built on the reef where, in 1492, two Venetian sailors found an icon of the madonna and child, which, according to legend, cured one of them from illness. At first, the islet was so small it could hardly be seen above the water, but over the next two centuries, local people sank old ships and seized pirate boats around it. Then a law was passed obliging every passing ship to throw a rock near the islet. It now houses a monastery and museum. Montenegro is full of such quirky mythology.

    Orascom’s Luštica Bay project will see the development of a new village in the hillsides overlooking the Adriatic – the perfect place to dock my fictitious boat. Its aim is to create a ‘stylised historical ornament of Montenegrin culture’ that will bring together locals and visitors within the magnificence of Montenegro.

    New builds will include 300 apartments (from €162,000), 14 townhouses (from €565,000), seven bespoke villas (from €1,820,000 for a three-bedroom property with an infinity pool, private access road and panoramic sea views) and a hotel, while the library, fire station and other amenities will be relocated here from Radovivi. In 2016, the completion of an 18-hole golf course designed by Gary Player – the first course in Montenegro – will be one of the bay’s premier selling points, along with a short and long-term berthing marina. Halfway up the mountain, there is currently a driving range, an archery range and a ‘pop-up’ bar. I cleverly combined archery with a double Campari, which no doubt aided me in puncturing the target straight through the bullseye.

    Luštica Bay makes the most not only of its proximity to the ocean but also its enviable position close to the mountainous parks. A 4.8km boardwalk will follow the curve of the bay with the backdrop of the hillside and its hiking trails and UNESCO world-heritage site Kotor behind. I don’t just want a boat – I want it here.