The sleek superyachts lined up in the marina are as impressive as anything in the South of France. The sun worshippers lounging at newly opened Purobeach Club are as dazzling as at its sister club in Mallorca, and the views along the crisp Adriatic Coast are some of the finest in the Med.
Welcome to Porto Montenegro, a marina resort that's open for business and attracting a classy crowd.
Montenegro, two and a half hours from London in the western Balkans, is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in the world according to the World Trade and Tourism Council. They predicted annual growth of 16 per cent between 2011 and 2021 for tiny Montenegro, more than double that of India and China.
New twice-weekly flights from Gatwick to Montenegro's coastal town of Tivat have made it more accessible for Londoners.
The beauty of the coastal region, directly south of Croatia, is the big draw helped by a largely undeveloped shoreline where steep, impenetrable mountains rise up from the Adriatic. Small fishing villages, labyrinthine stone alleys and one of Europe's lowest crime rates make Montenegro a winner.
Property developers are banking on the potential. International projects in planning stages include Lustica, Egyptian developer Orascom's vast golfing resort, while a Qatari company is spending £197 million on a hotel resort.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Porto Montenegro is the forerunner and highest-profile residential project, a marina on the exquisite Unesco Heritage Kotor Bay.
It's a long-term project financed by Jacob Rothschild, France's richest man Bernard Arnault, Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska and led by Canadian Peter Munk. They took a former Yugoslavian naval shipyard in the unprepossessing coastal town of Tivat and have created one of the hottest tickets in town for rich sailors.
Early buyers of the waterfront apartments include Italian, Swiss, British and Russian investors who have seen sales prices double in three years. In such trying times what's the secret to its success? High-quality property, an untouched waterfront location, but most of all, timing says Porto Montenegro MD Oliver Corlette.
"Montenegro had little inward investment before 2007 so escaped the overbuilding that has blighted parts of the Med," he says. "Then, when other property markets stalled after 2008, Porto Montenegro offered value, freshness and potential growth."
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
More than 100 apartments are sold and occupied with a further 500 planned over the next decade. The village centre has 40 small retail units including five restaurants, a grocery store, yacht chandlery and boutiques.
Purobeach Club attracts an international crowd and there's a tennis and yacht club.
Prices of completed apartments start from £244,600 for a 615sq ft studio and £372,440 for two bedrooms. A four-bedroom 2,281sq ft apartment with wide balconies overlooking the sea is £1.69 million.
The properties are light, airy and well finished with high ceilings and limewashed oak floors. Underground parking is included along with round-the-clock security.
An 80-room hotel is under construction, operated by Regent Hotels. It will include 45 studios to four-bedroom apartments, priced from £197,270 to £5.12 million, for 485 to 5,380 square feet. Owners have full flexibility to use these as they choose, and can put them in the hotel rental pool for some or all of the year. Half the apartments sold within three months of release this year, says Oliver Corlette.
Porto Montenegro is defined by its beautiful marina with 250 berths — occupied by some seriously glamorous yachts — and plans for a further 300. The port takes boats up to 377ft with state-of-the-art services and berthing costs under half of those in Antibes.
'EASY PLACE TO LIVE'
Roger and Liz Batho from Camberley bought land on the Montenegro coast in 2006 and set about building their own house where they now live full time. "This is an easy place to live with beautiful weather, friendly people and fabulous views," says Roger. "In 2006 buying here was more risky but now there is a proper notary system and the process is transparent."
The couple discovered Montenegro while working for the British Embassy in Sarajevo. They also own an apartment in Kavac, near Kotor Bay, which they rent out easily from May to October through Owners Direct.
With Porto Montenegro raising the profile of Kotor Bay other developers are moving in. The British-based Boka Fund is about to start construction on the first of 50 two- and three-bedroom detached villas at Sea Breeze.
Designed to resemble a Dalmatian hill village with homes close together, Sea Breeze will be on a south-facing steep slope overlooking the sea at Kavac. Homes cost from £314,850 for 1,290 sq ft with private pools and small gardens. Annual maintenance starts from £1,970.
Porto Montenegro: 00 382 32 674660; portomontenegro.com
Sea Breeze: 00 382 32 331555; seabreeze.me
Savills: 020 7016 3740; savills.co.uk/abroad
* Annual maintenance charges at Porto Montenegro start from £2,700.
* Porto Montenegro is 10 minutes from Tivat airport with two flights a week from Gatwick on Montenegro Airlines, and 25 miles from Dubrovnik airport with BA and easyJet flights from London.
* Buying costs include £1,580 for notary. VAT is included in quoted prices at Porto Montenegro.