Montenegro losing its appeal as a luxury market ?

Sveti Stefan (Aman Resort), Montenegro

Promoted as the new ”Monte Carlo”, the ”star” tourism destination of Montenegro seems to be gradually losing its appeal as a luxury market, especially due to the international financial crisis but also because of the sheer size of the grand real estate projects annouced, some even started, most of them luxury residential combined with hospitality and marina.

The only major project that seems to have taken off the is the much publicized Porto Montenegro complex which completed its first phase of residential units in 2010. Teuta, the first residential complex in Porto Montenegro’s waterside village was fully occupied in summer 2010.  The two residential buildings currently under construction have very few apartments left for sale. Milena, the fourth building, is 50% sold out. The fifth building, Jelena, with 50 apartments is currently being planned. According to the developers, a luxury retail area with 10 shops will be launched by the end of this year. The marina facilities of the complex have been fully committed. However, the relatively small size of the project is hardly an illustration of the potential of Montenegro as a luxury destination. Creating a luxury destination is much more than competitively priced yachting and marina facilities but also about lifestyle and community, which will take much more than the existing facilities. It remains to be seen what extent the residential sales were made purely as an investment to lease or whether they would actually be inhabited by the buyers. I believe the complex would greatly benefit from attracting non-yachting customers too.

The second major project which was to be developed by Egypt’s Orascom is far from even being started and with the current crisis in Egypt it is hard to believe it will ever be completed. The only true luxury hotel project is the newly opened Aman Resort, an ultra luxury boutique with less than 20 rooms.

Recently, the largest regional luxury watch and jewellery retailer announced it would close down its shop in Montenegro, moving all its remaining merchandise into its flagship store in Belgrade. The company CEO told CPP-LUXURY.COM that Montenegro has slowed down dramatically as a luxury market and the prospects are dull. As it was obvious to many, the largest city in Serbia and its capital, Belgrade is the only ”hub” for regional luxury markets. Most of the wealthy consumers from Montenegro and Kosovo are already used to take shopping trips to Belgrade and some onwards to neighbouring Trieste in Italy.

Oliver Petcu