Aman Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan Budva, Montenegro 382-33 420 000 www.aman.com
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At a Glance
Featured in such films as Casino Royale, this Aman was hotly anticipated when it opened in 2009 after a lengthy renovation. The reason for the buzz: the spectacular setting. The reason for the wait: to become a luxury hotel, the former fishing village needed to be rebuilt and preserved at the same time. For instance, while digging one of the three pools, contractors discovered the fourth of the island’s medieval churches, subsequently restoring it. Today, Riva boats shuttle guests between the island and Villa Milocer, the former summer residence of the Yugoslavian royal family (now part of the Aman complex). Guests can also helicopter over Dubrovnik and the Tara Canyon (the second-largest river canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon) or charter yachts. Alternatively, stay put and enjoy the perfect simplicity of the Sveti Stefan’s interiors, the stand-alone spa or people-watching over espresso in the old town square, where the tanned, sea-swept patrons are more likely to be movie stars than mariners.
The Standout: The picturesque peninsula jutting into the Adriatic
Don’t Miss: The village of Perast with a view of the Boka, known as “the fjord of the Mediterranean”
- Sleeping in a 15th-century fortress
- Access to three semi-private and private beaches (including the famed Queen’s Beach), as well as sister property Villa Milocer
- The freedom to explore the island, which contains a restored church, a taverna, enoteca, pizzeria, bakery and antipasti bar
Aman Sveti Stefan Review
Featured in films like Casino Royale, this Aman was hotly anticipated—and greatly delayed before it opened in 2009. The reason for the buzz: the natural setting may be more spectacular than any other: a picturesque peninsula jutting into the clear blue Adriatic sea with a charming village of red-tile-roofed houses and the occasional ancient pine tree. The reason for the wait: the former fishing village-turned hotel that Aman took over in 2006 needed to be completely rebuilt and preserved at the same time.
A sleepy fishing village until the 1930s, Sveti Stefan was only a stone’s throw from the summer residence of the royal family’s Villa Milocer (now also part of this Aman complex). Nearby Queen’s beach was named for its most famous regular visitor, the then-infamous Tito who chose to spend some of his summer days there while he was in power. During the jet-set era of the 1960s and ‘70s, movie stars, such as Sophia Loren, who sought serenity and distance from the paparazzi would come to stay. Even if the hotel rooms couldn’t compare to those on the French or Italian Riviera, the location was luxury enough.
When Montenegro gained independence in 2006, the new government decided to bring back the glamour and Aman won the project. The previous hotel had 120 rooms, but Aman has reduced the total to 51. Architect Jean Michel Gathy, who also masterminded Amanyara and the Aman Summer Palace, brings a contemporary clean aesthetic inside the ancient walls. In order to maintain a sense of place, the rooms are simple yet chic and incorporate original details as exposed wooden beam ceilings. The spacious bathrooms are luxurious.
The concept remains a hotel within the buildings of a real fishing village. Like Chateau Eza in the south of France or some of the hilltown villages in Tuscany that have been transformed into hotels, each little house or shop has been turned into a hotel room or shared space. The island contains a restored church as well as pools, a taverna, enoteca, pizzeria, bakery and antipasti bar.
Since the whole island is for hotel guests, though, the guy sitting in the main square sipping a coffee is more likely to be a movie star or venture capitalist from California than a boat captain from Montenegro. The boats, in fact, are Rivas from Italy, and they shuttle guests back and forth between the island and sister property Villa Milocer, their shared beaches and restaurants. For those who want an even more modern mode of transport, a helicopter to Dubrovnik can be arranged or larger yachts for cruising to secluded coves. Most will probably want to stay put, though, for this really is a fantasy island.
Who Should Stay
Couples and families in search of an off-the-beaten-path, one-of-a-kind destination and resort rooted in history. Those expecting perfect Aman service may be disappointed. Those with mobility issues will have difficulty navigating the cobblestone streets and should consider Villa Milocer instead. Also be aware that the hotel is seasonal and closes in October.