Montenegro: The New Monaco? Not exactly…

In an article by Claire Wrathall, the March 2015 issue of Boat International Magazine asks, once again, is “Montenegro the New Monaco?” Claire has been writing about Montenegro since as early as November 2004 in The Scotsman, so she is certainly a credible witness to the regional transformation that has occurred over the past decade.

Many others have asked the same question over the years: I think it might have been Jack Grimston, in an April 2009 Sunday Times article, who originally inferred that Montenegro was “the new Monaco” (I could be wrong though). The Financial Times labeled Montenegro the New Port of Cool in their Boating Special in the June 26th 2009 issue of How to Spend ItThe New York Times in August 2010 referred to the same comparisonFrance 24 News also asked the same question back in 2010. The Times pondered the idea (again) on July 9th 2011. The Boat Blog raised the question as recently as August 2014.

I think they all didn’t quite hit the mark.

The reason so many began comparing Montenegro to Monaco originates from when one new local marina began to offer superyacht berths about six years ago. Investors, journalists and others all got on the bandwagon.

However, I believe that, if you limit the comparison of Montenegro to Monaco’s Port Hercule with such a tight lense you grossly diminish what Montenegro really has to offer. Yes, perhaps in very specific locations (like the Port of Kotor) and at certain times of year (August, for example), it might somewhat resemble the main port of Monte Carlo.

Port Hercule Monaco

A more precise comparison of Monaco and Montenegro, might instead refer to the principality in the first half of the 20th Century. Actually, it is probably better to compare this region to the entire French Riviera of 50-plus years ago. Monaco, at that time, still wasn’t yet a superyacht destination or on the Mediterranean charter circuit, but it was a principle intersection of Eastern and Western Europe societies.

Great families from the United Kingdom arrived and played with their Russian and Eastern European counterparts. It was a marvelous time of cross-cultural experiences and entertaining. Less than a century earlier the region was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, so the Italian influence was also tangible there, as it is here in Montenegro. Before the turn of the 20th Century, the Casino of Monte Carlo opened, and so did the Hotel de Paris. We still don’t have such iconic institutions here, but you know they are on their way.

Economic development in Monaco was spurred in the late 19th century with a railway link to France, much as it will be in Montenegro with the new Bar-Boljare highway project.

Hotel de Paris Monaco
Party at Hotel de Paris Monaco

Monaco of that era (the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th), was a land that welcomed cultures from across Europe and beyond, as Montenegro does today. Here on any given day, sitting in a seaside café, you can hear languages from across Europe and beyond. Monaco, at that time, had much more to offer than a simple harbour for yachts, as does this enchanting land that sits on the Adriatic Sea. This is a place full of awe-inspiring mountain parks and lakes; flawless natural reserves; spectacular coastlines, significant UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Venetian and Roman historical references, and so much more.

So, instead of wondering if Montenegro is the “New Monaco” because of the yachting season alone, I think the intriguing question to explore now should be:

Is Montenegro the 21st Century’s Intersection of Eastern and Western Cultures?

I think it just might be.

Yachting and sailing, chartering, culture, art, hospitality, education, economies and so much more will be impacted forever if I am right. But, I will leave it up to sociologists, journalists, investors, writers and bloggers to examine the question further!

9 Comments

  1. I hope Montenegro will not only make a progress in Real Estate and tourisem but also in: Health Care, Infrastructure and Environment, which is the basic of an new growing holliday destination!

    • I agree Gadafi. All these elements are essential, and part of moving towards European integration. I know the government is working on them with their European counterparts.

  2. Nice post and well thought article! Montenegro has incredible growth potentials but struggle to defeat terrifying backward politics often driven by foreign influences. And yes, we need roads and highway so damn much to wake up the coastal side from the winter sleep, we need tourism also in the winter period. Many have forgotten but it used to function way better in the eighties and nineties… Colin, this seems like appropriate place to raise

  3. Continued: …to raise some questions on problems and issues we encounter here, right?

    • You are right Vuk. You have given me some inspiration for a future post. Thank you for commenting!

  4. and I’m afraid the people do not realize and respect what they already have… Montenegro THE WILD beauty… if they would realize what this country already has, they would act differently and work stronger together instead against each other…see politicians… I guess this will take some time until the new generation comes… I just hope it won’t be too late as the influence of foreign investors is growing quite fast… see Lustica Bay including Mamula Island from Orascom etc.. good, but also scary.. anyhow, I still love this country and want only the best for.. ! Hope you’re doing well my friend and looking forward to meet you again this summer.. 3 weeks are booked :-)

  5. Hi Colin! New reader here. I loved reading this post. One of the reasons I moved my family to MNE is the vast mount of potential here. I am hopeful the highway will help realize some of it especially for the North. How amazing would it be to spend a sunny winter day in the mountains while catching dinner by the sea in the evening?! Locals do that now, but tourists will realize this and do so more. Sadly, it is going unrealized. Would love to hear more from you and possibly have a coffee together. Cheers!

  6. Hi Colin, I and my husband have been expatriates all over the world for the past 20 years, relocated by our employers. We are now looking for a place that we chose and is not imposed anymore by the logic of someone else’s profit. We are considering Montenegro for its natural beauties, potentialities and proximity to Italy that is our home country.
    We are now very far away, close to USA but I am planning to come there on August and have a tour of the coast to start feeling the country.
    Would you be in the position to suggest (even roughly) would you consider an interesting itinerary on that sense?
    I feel your analysis are so authentic, so calm, that I would love to see the place through an itinerary suggested by you.
    I would like not to miss the most representative reality of this country.
    Meeting you for a coffe would be a plus!
    Tanks a lot

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