Hotel & Sail Review: Regent Hotel Montenegro, Porto Montenegro Village in Montenegro
Words by William Bruton, a professional sailing yacht captain and writer from the UK.
Upon arriving at Cambridge, Lord Byron learned that university regulations outlawed the dog he had brought with him. Undeterred, having read the small print, he introduced a pet bear to the dreaming spires of Trinity College; suggesting to all that protested that the creature might apply for a fellowship. As a professional yacht skipper, similar regulations are clearly established for weekends away with my partner, the most absolute of which being ‘accommodation must not be afloat.’ So, travelling in the wake of Lord Byron, to Montenegro, I found a wonderful hotel- complete with a flotilla of sailing yachts at its guest’s disposal.
The Hotel Regent is the shortest of chauffeured drives from nearby Tivat Airport. On arrival at reception we were handed a welcome cooler, helping to ease adjustment to brilliant weather, whilst being introduced to the front of house team. Each radiated a quiet air of capability. Five star hotels brimming with affectation and fuss, take note, The Regent’s first impression left the lightest but most indelible of marks- the type that lingers and keeps guests coming back. Following a frenetic forty-eight hours of travel, we immediately felt relaxed.
Our room, with a view of the Black Mountains (from which Montenegro draws its name,) was truly capacious. Beautifully appointed with substantial furniture, amenities included a portable Bose speaker, Nespresso machine and numerous other well thought through additions; making our stay one not wanting for anything.
Situated on the edge of Boka Bay, the architecture of The Regent Montenegro gives a nod to both local seafaring and the Venetian grandeur of the nearby UNESCO protected town of Kotor. Clearly no accident. What shines through is how cautious the port has been to avoid dominating the landscape- showing a fundamental awareness of the need to tread carefully in an area of such natural beauty. The hotel is only four stories high and we thought; all the better for it.
Looking out across the bay, there was a rare moment; that of Alice announcing a sail ‘really did sound like a great idea.’ And so, we headed to the marina in search of what I had come for- to discover a coastline Byron described as ‘the most beautiful merging of land and sea.’ Needless to say, over the next few hours, we weren’t disappointed.
Sailing arrangements for the Hotel Regent’s guests are thought through with beginners and experts equally in mind. Several day sailing yachts and a beautiful motor launch are available from the Porto Montenegro’s fleet, with experienced instructors. Unlike a yacht charter, where you typically live aboard, sailing with the hotel means you can retire to dry land as and when you want- making it ideal for those that just want to spend a few hours taking in the bay as part of their holiday.
Blessed with predictable winds that pick up at around eleven in the morning, then fade in the late afternoon, as well as wonderfully sheltered waters; sailing here provides the perspective that’s needed to take in Montenegro’s mountains in the widescreen format they deserve. From the waterline, the true enormity of the fjord like landscape becomes clear, a distinguishing feature from its neighbor Croatia. Both are wonderful countries by land and sea, but Montenegro wins easily on sheer vertical impressiveness.
With Alice at the helm and sailing instruction in the hands of the capable Ben, a British Royal Yachting Association instructor, we raised sails and opened up the picnic hamper thoughtfully provided by The Regent’s kitchen. The wind picked up, propelling us at a gentle pace towards Our Lady of the Rocks, an island local seafarers have built over hundreds of years; giving thanks for their safe return. By the time we had rounded this impressive landmark, we were perhaps as relaxed as it’s possible to be.
The Tofinou 9.5 was the perfect gentleman’s day sailor for this sort of leisurely outing. Topped off with gorgeous teak that’s warm under bare feet, we, or rather she, drew a good measure of appreciation when overtaken by the tourist boat chugging around the bay. Alice found herself tacking and gybing over the course of three hours sailing with ease, whilst I was more than happy playing deckhand/dogsbody; particularly as I was in charge of the picnic.
We came back ashore sunned, rested and ready for a swim in the pool; positioned to offer great views across a marina built with space for even the largest of superyachts. A wonderful sun-trap in the late afternoon, polished stone surrounding the pool are perfect for lounging by the water’s edge. I might have nodded off. Venturing inside, we found the sanctuary of a comprehensive spa, sporting both a Turkish bath and steam room; though quite what the difference between the two was, we weren’t quite sure!
Before dinner in the hotel’s dining room we made our way to the Library Bar, where a brilliant Dirty Martini and Old Fashioned were served outside in the last of the day’s balmy sunlight. It proved the perfect sundowner spot, where locals are encouraged to indulge alongside a loafered superyacht set wondering in from their moorings opposite.
The hotel’s main dining room is of a classical design, with a beautiful terrace, one that also capitalises on the marina view. Serving modern Mediterranean food, Executive Chef Zeljako Kenezovic cut his teeth at the world famous Noma in Denmark. His front of house team is friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable. A genuine passion for food came across from our waiter, as well as interesting insight into the local wines on the list.
Despite having a pioneer in the kitchen, we couldn’t resist the simplest of Adriatic pleasures- wonderfully fresh sea bream and something that reminded me of a long summer sailing in Croatia. This wonderfully simple main was bookended by beautiful tasting courses, including a de-constructed interpretation of a Caprese- after all, Italy is only a stone’s throw across the Adriatic. It was a wonderful meal. Nothing short of the mark, deeply satisfying and regionally honest- leaving no room for desert. As with the rest of the hotel, there’s a palpable sense of the team’s ambition.
The Regent Montenegro is a rare thing amongst the plethora of new luxury hotels appearing across Eastern Europe. Thoroughly modern in its offering, but operating on a par with the most established and well-oiled of old guard establishments; it makes a compelling case for itself naturally. Underpinning the operation is a knowledgeable team and extended network of partners, such as the sailing instructors, that make it an even more promising offering for a brilliant weekend break or longer. We will be back.
Address: Obala bb, Porto Montenegro Village, Tivat 85320, Montenegro
Phone: +382 32 660 660