One of the most iconic images associated with Montenegro is the tiny islet of Sveti Stefan. The amazingly picturesque island is perched on an outcrop of rock and joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus which arcs out into two perfectly formed sandy beaches. Once again a luxury resort now owned and run by Aman resorts it has had a fascinating history.
Around the 15th century, the Pastrovics a group of 12 tribes built a fortress and houses as well as founding the church of St Stefan . Fortress Sveti Stefan achieved a grand rise in the first half of the 19th century when it counted 100 houses, three churches and 400 inhabitants on its small space limmited by the sea and walls. There was no space for any more. However at the begining of the 20th century it soon lost both its economic power and political importance. Many inhabitants left, going to war or emigrating to the U.S. and by 1954 only 20 remained.
A group of architects and artists moved in and began the adaptation and renovation of the abandoned houses in 1954 and remarkably by 1957 they had turned them into a unique town-hotel - the most attractive and luxurious hotel complex in the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, intended for tourism at the highest level. The renovation was done expertly so the buildings from the outside looked exactly as they were before, while the inside spaces were richly decorated and turned into luxurious apartments.By the 1970's Sveti Stefan had become famous for attracting the global jet set as well as Hollywood stars including Sofia Loren, Richard Burton and Elisabeth Taylor. It remained the most exclusive resort on the Montenegro coast until the 1990's, when it fell into decline during the break-up of the Yugoslav federation.
The Resort Today
In early 2007, Aman resorts, a Singapore based luxury resort operator won a contract to lease Sveti Stefan, along with Milocer and Kraljicina beach resorts for a 30 year period. The island was subsequently closed and extensive renovations began. Sveti Stefa n was finally re-opened and relaunched in 2010 with a concert by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. The site now incorporates two kilometres of coastline including the sandy beaches of Sveti Stefan . Milocer beach and the famous Queens beach. Aman Stefi Stefan enjoys breathtaking views out to sea across the bay and along Montenegro's most renowned stretch of coastline. Under Aman, the property now includes the queen's former summer residence, overlooking the island from a mainline cove, which has been recast as the eight-suite luxury Milocer hotel.
Whilst access to the private resort island is limited for non-residents, Sveti Stefan and the surrounding area including Pržno, a smalll fishiing village with a beautiful cove is well worth a visit. There are a number of beaches open to the public - for example the beach at Pržno is a must, particulary out of high season and the beach to the left of the causeway (Kings beach) is free whilst the one to the right (Queens beach) is for hotel guest only.
Pržno is worth particular mention, just a kilometer from Sveti Stefan, this small, quiet resort town surrounded by hilly olive groves and cedar forests retains the atmosphere of a traditional fishing village. Known for its seafood restaurants its busy enough to be lively in high season though not often overcrowded, with a handful of informal bars and restaurants lining the cove.
Things to do
Take a swim in the bay's turquoise, blue flag water
Dinner at the Olive tree with splendid views of the beautifully illuminated Sveti Stefan
Lounging on two of the prettiest pebble beach coves on the coast