Sveti Stefan – The Island Seaside Resort of Montenegro

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

National Geographic Traveler cover featuring the Sveti Stefan island resort

Sveti Stefan is quite the gem of the Mediterranean: a tiny island surrounded by the sparkling blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, home to buildings with bright red roofs squeezed in together to make use of every inch of the limited space available. With all constructions displayed on circles at different heights, from the top of the island down to the very margin of the rocky land structure, it’s not difficult to enjoy a breathtaking view from anywhere on Sveti Stefan.

A former fishing village that used to be completely detached from the mainland, Sveti Stefan has been turned into a seaside resort, now linked by a rather narrow road allowing for easier access to the former island. Due to its uniqueness, Sveti Stefan has become extremely famous. It even made it, along with Montenegro, in National Geographic Traveler ‘s “50 Places of a Lifetime”.

Established in the 15th century, the beginnings of Sveti Stefan are a mix of historic fact and myth. Starting out as a fortress after a great battle between the lords of the land, the Pastrovics, and Turkish armies looking to plunder the Adriatic seashore, the island was mostly a fishing village up to the 1950s when all residents were evicted and Sveti Stefan became an island-hotel, a most exclusive seaside resort.

Welcoming stars in their beach holidays –  Princess Margaret, Marilyn Monroe, Willy Brandt, Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, Monica Vitti, Ingemar Stenmark, Kirk Douglas, Jonathan Miller and Claudia Schiffer – Sveti Stefan remained one of the most exclusive beach resorts in the former Yugoslav federation untill the 1990s. When the federation broke apart, the resort was no longer cared for and maintained and its golden years seemed just a distant memory.

Sveti Stefan, MontenegroPhoto source

It is hard to say what is going on right now on the Sveti Stefan island-resort. It is now owned by a consortium initiated and originally controlled by Aman Resorts. The island-resort has been renovated, it has even been celebrated with a concert featuring Andrea Bocelli and it’s open for business. At least theoretically! Aman Sveti Stefan, the official name of the beach resort, is described in detail on the Aman Resorts site and is available in the booking list. However, once you select your dates, it sends you straight to a contact form, and you have to wait for them to get back to you to know if the room you want is available.

As I would love to go there and enjoy a relaxing stay on the island of Sveti Stefan, I asked for some details and hopefully, will receive them. What threw me off when reseaching Sveti Stefan was a comment on the National Geographic site saying the whole town was rented to a single person (a very rich one that is) and was closed to the public. Let’s wait and see and hope is not true! It would be a shame for all travelers looking for a unique beach paradise to enjoy to their heart’s desire.