Though we’ve just moved in to our dreaded winter months here in the UK just a couple of weeks ago I was drenching myself in sun whilst exploring a brand new country from my ever expanding list.
I was invited on a press trip to a stunning new development in Montenegro called Lustica Bay and whilst I was pleasantly happy to accept the invitation back in September I could have never imagined how special this trip would be.
Montenegro was a country I knew very little about in recent years but I heard about it’s charm when I fell in love with the neighboring country of Croatia. As soon as I arrived home from exploring it’s Balkan buddy last year I looked up other places to visit in the area and so forth Montenegro was on my added to my must-visit-map!
The country itself is located in the located in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic Sea. Not only does it nestle side by side with Croatia but it also borders Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. It’s a very small country with a population of just 600,000 but I learned very early on during our stay that Montenegro though small, is very very powerful. I’m talking in terms of the strength showcased by their people but also of the scenery’s ability to quite literally take your breath away.
The team at Lustica Bay kindly invited myself and two other amazingly talented bloggers to witness the impressive early stages of the development. I travelled with the gorgeous Natalie from Sister Sister Travels and Bonnie from The Style Traveller, we were each invited out by the marketing team to experience the location and then share our experiences with our readers on our blogs and social media. With these two lovely ladies and our wonderful host Charlotte it made for quite the fun girls weekend* and I’m excited to further share it all with you now.
* Without digressing too far from talking about the location it was really special to share discovering Montenegro for the first time with these women, company makes all the difference and it was so nice to be surrounded by such friendly, hard working and positive chicas!
The Chedi Lustica Bay
Whilst in town we were hosted by TheChedi Lustica Bay for our three night stay and it was the dream.The hotel had all of the five star luxuries that you would associate with the esteemed Chedi brand name.
Located directly in front of the marina it also boasts a private beach and the hotel’s design focuses on showing off both of those brilliant surrounding factors. It’s a hotel that is very obviously new because of all the modern amenities, fresh open spaces and modern decor but it also impressively incorporates the heart of the Balkans with a rustic flare.
The rooms are incredibly spacious with over sized beds, wall to wall mirroring and gram-worthy free standing baths. I hit the jackpot with my coastal and marina views. Check out the full room tour in my Vlog of the trip here.
The hotel’s private beach boasts a beautiful stretch of sea to swim in during the summer months and dip your feet in when the weather turns cooler The development is working on creating a sandy cove to make the beach more of a recreational spot but right now if you are happy to hobble down on the stones there’s no denying the beauty of the water, it definitely didn’t stop me!
With the country’s 280 days of sunshine and relatively short flight time from London if you are travelling to Lustica Bay the chances are you are there to simply relax and unwind. It’s a place designed for privacy with a steady stream of affluent guests staying on site throughout the year and the location is famed for being known as such.
Guests want to travel somewhere almost anonymously to enjoy those things that we only really make time for when we are on ‘holiday’ and the Chedi caters for that wonderfully.
The showstopper for me was the large infinity pool that looks out over the marina. Morning’s spent here whilst the sun shimmered it’s way over the yachts and delicate waves in front me was really something special. We usually headed out exploring for the day but I could have happily remained here until sunset!
After a busy day of nothing, should you so choose, you can then continue the art of pampering in a more commonly recognized way to do so, at the Chedi’s sumptuous spa. She’s quite a beauty! With underfloor heating throughout, a dreamy central swimming pool, sauna, steam and tropical shower, working on that relaxation is an easy task.
I was treated to a Balinese massage during my stay and it.was.divine.
When it comes to dining options the Chedi has 3 restaurants; The main restaurant which serves both a-la-carte and buffet dining options, The Spot which offers a delicious menu service for lunch and The Rok which is casually located on the beach.
The food at Chedi, as with the rest of the hotel is in-keeping with the five star status but should you wish to venture out during your stay we were lucky enough to ‘test’ out some alternative local eateries
Quite possibly one of my favourite restaurants of all time was the secret garden style set up of Stari Mlini. We arrived like royals on the Adriatic and wondered past the crystal clear river that nestles side by side the restaurant itself. On a sunny day the lush vegetation lends shadow over the tables whilst you dine and the sound of trickling water creates a serene ambiance. Now, the food could have been terrible but I would have still have loved the location enough to recommend this place BUT the food was actually incredible! So deliciously fresh and tasty, my mouth actually starts to water when I think of the parmigiana we ate here in fact! It’s a restaurant not to miss if you are in town, you can either get there via the sea like we did or there is also an option to drive in as well. ENJOY!
On our first evening we ventured out to the town of Tivat which is a destination within itself and a short drive from Lustica Bay. We ate at Mala Barka and it was the perfect introduction to the local area and foods. Fresh fish was served for my fellow diners whilst I tucked into a yummy risotto and the wine flowed perfectly like the conversation.
The restaurant has a really lovely atmosphere with all tables set up outside, a live band and a ‘family-run’ feel to it.
Stepping up the game to a fine dining experience, Gallion is a gorgeous option for a romantic meal. It’s based in the old town of Kotor with the town walls creating a beautiful backdrop for the waterside location. Whilst the ‘foam-filled’ menu may raise a few eyebrows at first glance the food here was delicious and the whole experience of being able to wander through the awe-inspiring historical old town afterwards makes for the perfect evening in Montenegro if you ask me!
Bay of Kotor
When it comes to exploring Montenegro there really isn’t any excuse worthy of not going on a boat trip, if you do travel to Lustica Bay and I hear you didn’t make it out onto the sea………please remove yourself from my mailing list!
Most importantly for sailing would be The Bay of Kotor. The Fjord like bay is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site and rightly so, it’s simply remarkable. The Adriatic is an invitingly crystal clear blue and the pastel stone-heavy coastline is breathtaking.
We traveled past the Church of our Lady of the Rock which looks like an oil painting bought to life and also showcases a great tale of the Balkans. Historically so many locals would battle the harsh surrounding waters in small wooden boats, fishing or travelling out by sea was a risky but necessary trade and every time the fishermen or sailors would return to the bay they would throw a rock into the ocean as a thank-you for returning safety. Over time these rocks stacked up and on top of the grateful foundations they built a church to commemorate the triumphs as well as creating a remembrance for those that did not make it back.
A little farther outside of Lustica Bay you can explore more natural wonders of this tiny but mighty country and visit the national park. Skadar Lake is the largest lake in Southern Europe and it sits in between Albania and Montenegro. It’s the most beautifully calm place to escape and there’s a wonderful serenity about going out on the water to enjoy the unobstructed views of nature.
There are a number of activities for tourists to enjoy on the lake from Kayaking to Paragliding but the best way to see it in my opinion is on a guided local tour boat. We learned so much about the history of the country with our wonderful guide whilst being served some local delights in the form of freshly made donuts and cheeses, spirits and wine all made by our hosts by hand and offered to us with a smile.
The lake attracts 280 different species of birds so it’s a nature lover’s mecca!
Kotor Old Town
Though we only visited at night I can’t not mention that a visit to the old town of Kotor is an absolute must when travelling to Montenegro. The cobbled streets are full of history and Balkan Charm. When I return to Montenegro, which I will one day, I’ll head back there to explore it in more detail but here’s a few evening snaps to paint somewhat of a picture
The future of Lustica Bay
Whilst the team at Lustica Bay did their best to showcase the stunning local scenery, fill our bellies with gourmet gobbles and rosy our cheeks with wine we were also informed of the amazing opportunities that the development has created for the country of Montenegro itself. Where possible all of the materials used to build the town are from the surrounding areas and everything has been designed and created with sustainability in mind, for both the environment and the people.
The local community has always been at the forefront of the project from design to completion and the development has a strict staffing policy, the jobs created were/are first offered to the local community and then sources extend to further out within Montenegro.
This is just the beginning of this huge project as well, so many more jobs will be created as the development expands. Further additions of luxury hotels, amenities and even a golf course are all planned to be built in the next few years. It was a honor and a privilege to see the marina town so early on in this process and I am excited to return in a few years to see the area thriving in it’s expansion!