Interview: Superyacht Marina Porto Montenegro
By Alex Pope
Located in the World Heritage Bay of Kotor, Europe's largest and most protected natural harbour, Porto Montenegro is a purpose-built, nautical community that offers guests tax and duty free fuel, onsite customs and immigration, crew club with fitness centre, squash and tennis courts, bowling, fashion boutiques, restaurants, crew bar and more.
With the summer season coming to an end, Porto Montenegro is now focusing on the upcoming winter season. There are a whole host of reasons why wintering in Porto Montenegro should be considered by every superyacht captain. From the operational benefits of berthing and running maintenance tasks throughout the winter, to tax benefits, to a wonderful social opportunity for keeping crew happy. Regardless of the astoundingly beautiful scenery one is surrounded by, there is so much on offer.
Last week, we met up with Splinter Fangman of Porto Montenegro, to discuss the port’s latest developments.
SYT: Could you please tell us about the current situation in Porto Montenegro?
SF: We just finished a great summer. We launched our 64-metre infinity pool, our tax-free fuel was busy all season and our onsite immigration office saw boats from all over the world coming to Montenegro. We have three residential buildings which are now finished, sold, and home to clients from around Europe and abroad. We opened 20 new retail stores on the ground floors of our residential buildings, including fashion shops, wood-oven pizzeria, sunglass store, crew bar, bakery, day spa, and hair salon. It is very important to us to create the right ambiance and services to deliver the quality our type of clients expect. At the same time, the people coming to Montenegro are very adventurous in general, so we want to supply a retail experience parallel to this. Our fashion retailers are all up-and-coming high-end designers, kind of outside of the box. It’s not something you’ll find on Rue d’Antibes, but rather something special and unique. In the marina, we now have 185 berths. We were full all summer and currently sold out up to 50 metres for the winter, putting us at above 90% occupancy, which we can be quite happy about considering it’s only our second winter. Other than that, we are looking at extending the marina in about a year or two’s time. At the end of that expansion, we should have about 600-630 berths, 150 of which will be for superyachts. So big plans ahead.
SYT: Now that you’ve had your first real summer in Montenegro, what has the response from the clients been like?
SF: Very good, everybody is very happy with the services within the marina, from the dock guys catching the ropes to our Yacht Assist team helping out with custom clearance. The boats can go straight to the berths; one of our guys will pick up the passports and clear everybody in the customs office, so that’s working very smoothly. We take that hassle right out of clients’ hands, and everybody seems very happy about it. We offer tax-free fuel as well, which we can also supply to private yachts, which is not always the case in Europe. Everybody also loves our leisure facilities: fitness centre, squash and tennis courts, yoga, bowling, the Yacht Club, and especially our spectacular 64-meter infinity pool.
SYT: What about Porto Montenegro as a charter destination?
SF: We’re very much a home base to the whole Dalmatian coast. Due to regulations you cannot start and end a charter in Croatia. It’s one or the other. This is not the case for Montenegro, so we are the perfect charter base for our region. Add to that our great facilities in arguably the nicest location in the Mediterranean…
SYT: What’s the largest superyacht you’ve had visiting you this summer?
SF: The biggest boats we’ve had this summer was Cakewalk, but then Eos swung by…
SYT: You can berth up to which length?
SF: With the floating mooring systems we can go up to 100 metres, however we can easily unclip them, allowing boats to go anchors down stern-to 130-150 metres. When we extend the marina we will have 3 unlimited berths.
SYT: With so many big boats under construction are you already targeting those boats to come to Montenegro?
SF: We do, but softly. Our expansion plans aren’t completely set yet, so we don’t want to overpromise and then underdeliver. We really want to know exactly what it’s going to look like before we make any promises. That being said, many of the older ports don’t have the facilities to handle boats of today’s sizes. Since we inherited the site of a former naval base that housed submarines, we naturally have the deep waters necessary for the superyachts of todays’ calibre.
SYT: What about the sales of the apartments?
We have three completed buildings that are now home to people from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Russia, Germany, the US, Australia, even one buyer from India. We love that it is really an international market coming to our project. On top of that we have two apartment sites under construction right now, which are Milena and Tara. Milena is nearly finished and we just started construction of Tara in June. It consists of 47 apartments, of which 75% have already been sold. Needless to say, we’re very happy that they are selling so quickly. This coming winter we will also start building our boutique hotel, which will be finished in 2013. It’s going to be great combination of apartments and hotel rooms. The residential team is doing a great job.
Splinter concludes by saying:
“We’d like people to realize that in addition to a strong focus on providing the best and most comprehensive facilities to make us the best homeport in the Mediterranean, we are a very crew-focused port. We have an 18 bed ski chalet in one of the two ski resorts close to the port, where crew members can stay free of charge throughout the winter season. We also offer city trip packages to Sarajevo, Belgrade, Istanbul, Budapest and Rome to name but a few places. And finally, Porto Montenegro truly is a beautiful area. I usually tell my clients there are two things you can’t construct with money: natural beauty and local culture. Those are two things Porto Montenegro has in spades… “