Montenegro Regent and One & Only Portonovi, Montenegro

Pool in the Regent

The view goes out to sea, over the Bay of Kotor.

(Photo: Carsten K. Rath)

The Bay of Kotor is around 30 kilometers long on the south-eastern Dalmatian-Montenegrin Adriatic coast. Mountain flanks rise steeply and give the bay a fjord-like appearance – but with the pleasantly warm climate of the Adriatic Sea.

I chose two very different properties for my visit here: Montenegro Regent, just 10 minutes from the airport on the port of bustling Tivat, and opposite, on the waterfront, completely secluded One & Only Portonovi.

The Regent is a true resort hotel. It is located right on the Tivat marina and has views across the bay and also to a couple of very large super yachts in the marina. The house is excellently managed, I can feel that in every detail.

At breakfast, for example, the eggs are prepared a la minute and there is a great selection of fruit. The service is courteous and attentive. And then there’s the pool. Actually, there are even four pools that extend over two levels – a main pool, a round pool and two children’s pools.

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However, I’m missing one thing here: I wish someone would drop by the pool to offer drinks from time to time. You could definitely do more there. I know from other resort hotels that the service staff regularly runs through with a frozen yoghurt or a fruit skewer.

Over two levels

The pool at Montenegro Regent actually consists of four pools. The largest pool has 237 square meters.

(Photo: Montenegro Regent)

I really like the room decor. The furniture is made of solid wood, as is the parquet floor. The beds are comfortable and the bathrooms are spacious. All rooms have a balcony or terrace facing the marina. In general, you can always see the sea from every room, whether in the spa, in the meeting room or in the restaurant. Architecturally, this is solved very cleverly.

The pride of the people, which manages without a spark of arrogance, is striking. I find this atmosphere extremely pleasant. You can tell that the employees are well trained and some speak several languages, some even German.

They all want Montenegro to develop further, especially in tourism. But unlike in neighboring countries, people here want to achieve a high standard of quality. By the way: In Montenegro you already pay with euros, although the country is not yet in the EU.

At the foot of the mountains

The house is located at the foot of the mountains right by the Tivat Marina. There are many large yachts here.

(Photo: Montenegro Regent)

My conclusion: The Regent is a beautiful, very well equipped five-star hotel. It lives from its cordial staff, from the great gastronomy and the port with its huge yachts. Here is life in the booth. You can stroll, you can quickly reach the old town and next door there is an exhibition of old submarines that is well worth seeing. All of this is available at very good value for money.

Rath’s travel rating (current rating in bold):

1. Explicit Travel Warning
2. Better than under the bridge
3. So-so, not oh, là, là
4. Complaining at a high level
5. If only it were always like this
6. Great cinema

One & Only Portonovi

The hotel is located at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor, almost diagonally across from the Regent.

(Photo: One & Only Resorts)

The atmosphere in the second hotel I visit, the One & Only Portonovi, is completely different. 132 extraordinarily luxurious rooms, 21 pools, 500 employees and a sandy beach – quite impressive. The hotel is located at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor, almost diagonally across from the Regent. It is considered a gem on the “new” Riviera of Europe. This is where the rich and beautiful relax, such as the German pop singer Helene Fischer, who is actually lying next to me on the beach.

So much exclusivity is also noticeable among the employees. It is reserved, distinguished and servile. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but in the most professional of all senses. It fits perfectly with the ultra-luxurious ambience. As perfect as the service at One & Only is, I personally still lack the connection to the guest, i.e. what Quality Assurance calls “emotional networking with the guest”.

I’m impressed by the number of restaurants: there are three – unusual given the number of rooms. My favorite is the Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Tapasake Club. It’s built into the hotel’s own marina, so it’s right on the water. In the afternoon it serves more as a party location with good music and is reminiscent of bars on Ibiza, in the evening Japanese food at its finest is served here.

Own boats

Luxurious amenities await guests at One & Only.

(Photo: Carsten K. Rath)

But what really bothers me are the cats that run around everywhere. If they even jump on the bench at dinner and are constantly around you, it’s really annoying. How uncomfortable that must be for people with a cat allergy. For such a hotel that is simply wrong in my opinion.

In the spa, I think Chenot’s medical concept is outstanding. Tailor-made programs and innovative treatments are offered here – all based on the latest scientific findings. A modern form of detox.

My conclusion: The One & Only is like something out of 1001 Nights. Pure luxury. The marble slabs are thick, the armchairs are upholstered in heavy leather, the furniture is made of wood, and the light is indirect. Everything is big, elegant and every detail seems thoughtful. Really: a hotel at its finest.

Rath’s travel rating (current rating in bold):

1. Explicit Travel Warning
2. Better than under the bridge
3. So-so, not oh, là, là
4. Complaining at a high level
5. If only it were always like this
6. Great cinema

Spa at One & Only

The Chenot concept, which originated in Switzerland, is used here.

(Photo: Carsten K. Rath)

Insider tips:

Restaurant: Rent a boat to Fisherman’s Village restaurant. A perfect setting and fantastic fish. I opted for the large menu with seven courses – it was two-star quality. And I recommend, against my conviction, the Serbian rosé. This restaurant is absolutely comparable to the best places in Saint-Tropez, Miami Beach or Porto Cervo.

Excursion: The boat takes about 40 minutes to the end of the fjord. Here is the town of Kotor, whose medieval old town is surrounded by an impressive city wall. Kotor has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

Story: During the times of the Warsaw Pact, when Montenegro was still part of Yugoslavia, numerous submarine bunkers were built on the Adriatic coast. Today they are no longer used and some of them are now open to tourists – you can even dive into them in the Bay of Kotor. Two of the submarines manufactured there are on display in front of the Naval Heritage Collection at the port in Tivat. Fascinating story to touch.

About the author: As a former grand hotelier and operator of the travel platform, Carsten K. Rath is a professional globetrotter. He travels to all the hotels he writes about for the Handelsblatt on his own account. Rath is the brain behind the ranking “The 101 best hotels in Germany”, whose partners include the Handelsblatt.

Carsten K. Rath, Rolf Westermann: The 101 best hotels in Germany.
Institute for Service and Leadership Excellence AG
521 pages
34.90 euros
ISBN: 978-3033088719

Rath is also the author of the book on the ranking. The next edition of the book will be published with the cooperation of the Handelsblatt at the end of November as part of the publication of the next ranking of the 101 best hotels in Germany.

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