While a picture may be worth a thousand words, in some cases it simply isn't enough. Such is the case with Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, home to Amanresort's first European venture. The seriously luxurious resort is something you have to see to believe...
Montenegro's crowning glory
Once rested, tanned and relaxed, there is only one thing that remains to be done: eat and drink well - which is as easy as anything in this slice of paradise.
Montenegro itself is a spectacular country, not yet over run by Western tourism. Aside from a 293 km coastline there are also 4 national parks, the largest fjord in Southern Europe and the 1300m deep Tara Canyon. It's a playground for outdoor enthusiasts with opportunities to kayak, hike, mountain bike, dive, white water raft and kitesurf. That is, of course, if you manage to pull yourself away from the tiny islet of Sveti Stefan, which Aman lovingly refer to as 'the jewel in their crown'.
In the 15th century the island was a fortress housing 12 families, in the 19th century it was a fishing village with 400 inhabitants. In the 21st century it is a luxury hotel with 30 rooms and another 20 due to open when the main pool and the Aman restaurant are completed. The builders haven't had it easy as the island is a UNESCO heritage site, so none of the buildings could be changed and all renovations could only be done on the inside.
Because of this, all rooms are different in size and layout, while preserving original stone walls and using traditional doors and windows. There are quirky door latches and lanterns by the windows that are a nod to fisherman's wives who used the hang them out to light their husband's path home. Each room has a freestanding bath and the showers and toilets are big enough to house a family. Fresh fruit is laid out and the free minibar replenished daily, and each evening the turn down services comes with a local gift - from a small sealed carafe of rakija to a CD of soothing Montenegrin music.
Crystal clear waters and delicious cuisine..
Until the spa is completed, there are four spa cottages, in one of which I was virtually taken apart and put back together, walking two inches taller by the time I was finished with.
There are three beaches for the use of Aman guests - including the famous Queen's Beach with crystal clear waters that were warm enough for swimming at the end of April. Once rested, tanned and relaxed there is only one thing that remains to be done, that is to eat and drink well, which is as easy as anything in this slice of paradise. The hub of all indulgent activity on the island is the Piazza, with iron chairs and tables overlooking the churches and the Adriatic where crispy pizzas and Italian cold cuts are served alongside a refreshing glass of rose.
Off the island, the Olive Tree is great for informal meals of grilled fish and meats and Queen's Chair with its breathtaking views of the sea is the place to wear a floating dress to and enjoy a romantic dinner. Villa Milocer also has a fine dining a la carte restaurant. For those who enjoy a pleasant stroll en route to dinner, Przno village which is a 20 minute walk away has some wonderful local restaurants right over the water. If you look carefully you'll see your dinner swimming in the lobster pots under water.
Exclusivity and authenticity
Aside from the feeling of exclusivity and authenticity, the unique location and the air of history surrounding Sveti Stefan, it is the unmistakable Aman service and attention to detail that makes this destination so special. Some staff have been working here for over 40 years, and if you get them chatting they will happily relay the story of Sophia Lauren teaching the chef how to cook pasta to a perfect al dente. And if it was good enough for her, Elizabeth Taylor and Jeremy Irons who are we to argue?