Thursday, 7 October 2021

Montenegro Digital Nomad Visa in Early 2022: Jan de Jong

October 7, 2021 - Regional collaboration on show, as Jan de Jong annnounces the imminent Montenegro Digital Nomad Visa.

In the words of Split-based Dutch entrepreneur, Jan de Jong, whose efforts to promote digital nomad tourism in Croatia have now officially gone regional, as can be seen from his latest post on LinkedIn:   

BREAKING - #Montenegro  will follow into Croatia's footsteps as it plans to introduce a Digital Nomad Visa by beginning of 2022 

I would like to thank Minister Tamara Srzentić MS MBA & State Secretary Marina Banovic - from the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media in Montenegro - for supporting legislative changes, turning Montenegro into a digital nomad welcoming country. 

It's amazing to see how you recognize the opportunity of opening your borders to #DigitalNomads. Thank you for your support to make this a reality. 

I strongly believe that the entire Adriatic region can benefit from becoming a hotspot for remote work professionals - and this region has all ingredients to make that happen. 

It's an honor and true pleasure to be part of this process. Step by step, we are moving forward to a more sustainable region.

Milovan Novakovic MRICS - thank you for all your efforts and facilitating this meeting. 

Montenegro - I applaud you for your progress 

Regards from Podgorica,

Jan

Follow me on #LinkedIn to never miss an update on this exciting new journey 

The announcement follows months of discussions with de Jong and his Montenegrin counterparts, and it is another concrete example of the cross border collaboration that is strengthening the remote work opportunity in the region. 

cbcc-2021_5.jpg

The LinkedIn announcement was accompanied with a photo of the key stakeholders on this initiative - from left to right in the lead photo above:

Milovan Novaković who contacted me last year, for me to help him push this in Montenegro,. Minister Tamara Srzentić, and State Secretary Marina Banovic. Both are from the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media in Montenegro.

De Jong is currently in Montenegro, having just taken part in the two-day Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva. You can read more about the event in TCN's coverage of the first day - Croatian Digital Nomad Energy Crosses Border at Budva CBCC 2021. He spoke to TCN about the current momentum:

It's great to see how countries like B&H and Montenegro are following closely what is happening in Croatia - which has demonstrated true leadership by being among first countries in the world to welcome digital nomads.

What is even more fascinating to see is how Croatia private sector is leaning in on this opportunity.

This Cross-Border Co-working Conference was the perfect platform to share experiences with the goal to turn the entire region into a hotspot for remote work professionals.

The feedback we got from digital nomads like Kate, Steve and Dean - about the attractiveness of this region for digital nomads was more than pleasant and only confirms that this region has all ingredients to become a top destination for digital nomads.

For the latest news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 17 September 2021

Milanović: Pro-European Montenegro Important as Neighbour, NATO Partner

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - Croatia will continue to support Montenegro's European path as a pro-European Montenegro is important as a neighbour and NATO partner, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on the Brijuni archipelago on Friday, where Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović wrapped up a two-day visit to Croatia.

The two presidents exchanged information and views on Montenegro's EU accession negotiations as well as the situation in Montenegro and Southeast Europe, Milanović's office said in a press release.

Montenegro should continue to develop as a democratic, secular and pro-European state, said Đukanović.

For more on politcs, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Croatian President Expresses Support to Modern, Civic and Open Montenegro

ZAGREB, 16 Sept 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Thursday received his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Đukanović and after the meeting, Milanović told the press that he supported the modern, civic and open Montenegro.

Commenting on the rising political and ethnic tensions triggered off by the recent inauguration of a Serbian Orthodox Church bishop in the Montenegrin city of Cetinje, Milanović said that the Montenegrin head of state was expected to pay a reciprocal visit to Zagreb anyway, however, "the latest developments in Montenegro have accelerated it to happen." 

Đukanović's visit ensued the day after the opposition parties, led by Đukanović's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) demanded that a transitional government should be set up which would be tasked with calling early parliamentary elections.

Those Opposition parties brand the cabinet led by Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić marionettes who promote anti-Montenegro interests.  They also describe the recent enthronement of Serb orthodox bishop Joanikije as "a Great Serbian offensive".

Milanović told the press conference in Zagreb that Đukanović's visit was an opportunity to extend support to "the modern, civic and open Montenegro".

He went on to say that Croatia's relations with Montenegro are good and commented that the relations had oscillations, however all that has been settled.

Milanović went on to say that Montenegro, Albania, and North Macedonia deserved preferential treatment on their journey towards the European Union.

My duty is to attract the attention of those in the EU who cannot see that to this fact, he added.

The Montenegrin president arrived in Zagreb on his first official visit abroad since the situation in his country has worsened with the 5 September enthronement of Joanikije in Cetinje.

Montenegrins perceive the ceremony held in the Montenegrin historical capital city as yet another attempt of Great Serbia advocates to exert their influence in Montenegro and negate the Montenegrin identity.

The current PM Krivokapić is believed to have risen to prominence during a series of protests in reaction to a law on religion in late 2019. Those protests were led by senior members of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The original law proposed by Đukanović's DPS passed in late December 2019 — dubbed the 'Law on Religious Freedoms' — pledged to return all property granted to the Serb Orthodox Church after 1918, unless they had proof of ownership prior to that year. However, in the last elections, Krivokapić, supported by the Serbian Orthodox Church, managed to defeat Đukanović's party that was in power for 30 years.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Montenegrin President to Visit Zagreb Next Week

ZAGREB, 10 Sept 2021- Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović is coming for an official visit to Croatia next week at the invitation of his Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović. 

Đukanović is due to arrive in Zagreb on Wednesday, 16 September and meet with Milanović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, Hina learned unofficially from the President's Office on Friday.

The visit comes following the inauguration of Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Joanikije in the Montenegrin historical capital Cetinje earlier this month, which sparked protests by several thousand people who blocked the access roads to the city for two days. Seven police officers were injured in clashes, a dozen protesters sought medical assistance and another 14 were detained by the police.

Đukanović said that the violent inauguration was "against the will of the vast majority of the citizens of Cetinje and a considerable number of the citizens of Montenegro", condemning "the inappropriate use of force against peacefully gathered citizens."

Đukanović accused Serbia of humiliating Montenegro and pursuing the policy of territorial expansion in the region. On the other hand, Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, who is close to the Serbian Orthodox Church, blamed Đukanović for initiating the protests in Cetinje.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Croatia’s Foreign Ministry Closely Following Developments in Montenegro

ZAGREB, 5 Sept, 2021 - The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs stated on Sunday that it was closely following the developments in Montenegro, and that it condemned any form of violence.

The ministry calls for dialogue in the search of solutions to the current problems and expressed hope that the latest developments will not have repercussions for the status of ethnic Croatians in that country.

"We expect all political protagonists in Montenegro to solve all the issues facing the Montenegrin society in the European spirit and through inclusive and constructive political dialogue," the ministry said after the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) bishop Joanikije for Montenegro was inaugurated in a monastery in the Montenegrin historical capital of Cetinje despite the days of protests of thousands of Montenegrin patriots.

During the clashes of the police and demonstrators, seven police officers and a score of protesters were injured. The police detained a dozen protesters.

Croatia "condemns any form of violence and we expect all protagonists in Montenegro to contribute to the defusion of tensions and to peace and order in the country."

"We are hopeful that the current situation will not adversely affect the position of the Croat community in Montenegro," says the ministry.

It recalls that Montenegro is a neighbour of Croatia and that the two countries have developed good relations, and that both are members of NATO.

It underscores that Croatia strongly supports Montenegro's EU membership aspirations.

Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović said on Sunday afternoon that the enthronement of the SPC bishop for Montenegro in a monastery in Cetinje had been conducted with the use of force which he condemned in the strongest terms. He also accused the government of excessive force against peaceful protests.

The Embassy of the United States in Montenegro has called for the defusion of tensions. It urges protesters not to vent out their anger on law enforcement forces that were trying to preserve peace.

The embassy says on its Facebook that all who support the multi-ethnic, inclusive and democratic Montenegro should defuse the current tensions.

DP blasts Joakinije's enthronement, supports Montenegrin patriots

The Croatian oppositionparty called the Homeland Movement  (DP) on Sunday condemned the forcible enthronement of Joanikije and criticised the SPC for continuing to be a key player in attempts to destabilise Montenegro.

The DP says that the arrival of SPC Patriarch Porfirije and Joanikije by helicopter in Cetinje was an air landing operation and war-mongering act.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 6 August 2021

Croatian Minister Condemns Threats against Montenegrin Croat Minority Official

ZAGREB, 6 Aug 2021 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has condemned threats against the leader of the Croat Civic Initiative in Montenegro, Adrian Vuksanović. 

The threats against the leader of the Croat minority party were made in comments on the In4s portal, with some of the readers saying that Croats should have been killed or expelled from the former Yugoslavia and that Vuksanović would be "among the first to pay for it."

Grlić Radman condemned the threats in a conversation with Vuksanović and the leader of the Croat National Council, Zvonimir Deković, noting in a Twitter post that he had discussed the matter with his Montenegrin counterpart Đorđe Radulović and that minority protection was the focus of bilateral relations.

The threatening messages against Vuksanović were posted under a text in which he responded to Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Aleksa Bečić's comment on the 1995 Operation Storm, with which Croatia put an end to a four-year Serb armed insurgency, in which Bečić said "May Storm never happen again."

"You can rest assured that the military and police, liberating Operation Storm will never happen again because nobody will ever dare again to conquer Croatian territory, expel its residents and heartlessly shell towns across Croatia, including its capital, for four years," Vuksanović said in response to Bečić's comment as carried by In4s.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

After Croatia, Montenegro Digital Nomad Visa One Step Closer to Becoming Reality

June 1, 2021 - The energy of the Croatian digital nomad visa is spreading through the region as the Montenegro digital nomad visa is in the works. 

Bankar.me reports that the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society, and Media has sent a public invitation to organizations, associations, and individuals to get involved in the initial phase of preparing a Program for Attracting Digital Nomads and Encouraging Foreign Investments in Montenegro until 2025.

According to the invitation published on May 27, the consultations of the interested public in the initial phase of the Program will last for 28 days from the publication date of this invitation.

The invitation states, among other things, that priorities and challenges can be proposed in the consultation process when it comes to conditions for defining the status of digital nomads and incentives for foreign investments, including other important topics that this Program may cover.

As stated in the invitation, the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society, and Media will update all received initiatives, proposals, suggestions, and comments should be updated and, after the consultation, a report should be prepared containing an overview of the participants in the consultation and an overview of received initiatives, proposals, suggestions, and comments. It will then be published on its website http://www.mju.gov.me/ministarstvo and portal e-administration https://www.euprava.me/ and submitted to the participants in the consultation within seven days from the expiration of the aforementioned deadline of 28 days.

"The Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society, and Media will consider and take into account all received initiatives, proposals, suggestions, and comments during the preparation of the Program for Attracting Digital Nomads and Encouraging Foreign Investments in Montenegro until 2025," the Ministry said.

This is one of the most important steps in bringing digital nomads to Montenegro, which will be among the first countries to grant a visa to this tourist group.

A digital nomad visa is a great chance for Montenegro

Several countries have already legally regulated the issue of visas for digital nomads. Estonia became the first country in the world to officially start with digital nomad visas. Shortly afterward, other countries such as Barbados, Bermuda, Georgia, Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Dubai, and Mauritius followed in Estonia's footsteps. The initiative was first shown by Croatia from the surrounding countries, which is most similar to Montenegro with its beaches and beautiful destinations for tourists.

One of those who realized in time that Montenegro is an ideal destination for digital nomads is Milovan Novakovic, CEO, and partner of Colliers International. Novakovic and his team have taken the initiative with the Government to approve digital nomad visas as soon as possible. The team includes Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, one of the most deserving of Croatia on the list of countries that approve digital nomad visas. As they say, there will be support from Estonia, which was the first country to regulate the visa legally.

Novakovic believes that Montenegro is a very suitable destination for digital nomads and has a satisfactory infrastructure, so in that sense, it would be necessary to introduce a one-year digital nomad visa and harmonize the Law on Foreigners as well as relevant bylaws, all to create a suitable legal framework that would encourage the arrival of digital nomads in Montenegro.

At the end of last year, he launched an initiative to position Montenegro as a new popular destination for digital nomads because, as he said earlier, a digital nomad visa would be a special benefit to improve tourism and extend the season to a whole year.

"Covid-19 has accelerated this industry as well, and more and more people in the world want to do their job remotely. Research predicts that by 2035, one billion people will work "remotely." If Montenegro regulates the visa program for digital nomads, a special benefit would be improving tourism and extending the season to the whole year. Digital nomads would no longer come to Montenegro for just a couple of weeks, but for a minimum of a few months or a whole year," Novakovic said.

For all, you need to know about digital nomads in Croatia, bookmark our dedicated section.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians - Scientific Conference by Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute

May 12, 2021 - Earlier in May, Boka Kotorska, in the town of Tivat in Montenegro, was the host of the scientific conference "Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians" which will introduce changes in Croatian education.

Croatia has a big diaspora, no secrets there, but its worldwide spread makes you miss the region.

In Boka Kotorska, in Montenegro, Croatia's first neighbor on the southern border after Dubrovnik, not only is there a huge population of Croatians, but they also have a significant cultural impact on the area. So significant it even calls for social science to step in.

As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute reported on its website, May 6 to 9 saw the conference “Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians“. The three-day conference gathered crucial scientific institutes in Croatia to the town of Tivat in the Bay of Croatian Saints. Headed with Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, Croatian Catholic University, Croatian Studies Faculty, Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics as well as Institute for Historical Sciences in Zadar attended the conference while Croatian ministries of European, and Foreign Affairs, Science and Education, Culture, and Media, as well as Croatian Central State Office for Croatians Outside of the Republic of Croatia, founded the event.

„The scientific conference went well as well as signing conclusions with recommendations that that knowledge on Bokelj Croatians we learned on this conference enter the Croatian national curriculum in important subjects. These conclusions are the crown of our efforts to launch this conference in public, not just in an academical way, but to massively popularize to ensure long-term benefits for Bokelj Croatians as for every educated citizen of Croatia and Montenegro“, said Dr. Željko Holjevac, head of the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Conference conclusions suggest additions to the curriculum documents on key definitions of Croatian National Identity to make space for Croatians outside Croatia, including Boka Kotorska Croatians. Identity features and creativity of Bokelj Croatians in Croatian education, and the book „Boka Kotorska - the Bay of the Saints and Croatian Culture“, by Vanda Babić to be the mandatory literature for tourist guides in Montenegro.
Final meetings at the conference, as well as sailing with a „Katica“ ship through Boka Kotorska Bay, Saw the participation of Boris Bastijančić, the advisor and representative of the Montenegro president and representer of Croatian parliament and MP, Zdravka Bušić, and others.

„I'm glad to be at this scientific conference, and I want to thank everyone's effort for something like this to happen in Boka Kotorska. I would especially like to thank students that took part in this and gave their part as young people who love the truth of Boka, the place of saints. This is a message that we too need to do something to mark this time with love, hope, and faith“, said the Kotorska bishop, mons. Ivan Štironja.

Some Croatians live outside of Croatia, but maybe you would want to live in Croatia. Learn more about living in Croatia on our TC page

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 30 November 2020

PHOTOS: The Seven Fantastic Fortresses of FORTITUDE

November 30, 2020 - Fortress of Culture Šibenik has this year begun leading a cross-border heritage project involving seven of the most incredible historic forts on the Balkan peninsula. FORTITUDE joins together three Šibenik strongholds with fortresses in Karlovac (Croatia), Bar and Herceg Novi (Montenegro) and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Here, we take a look at the adventurous project and each of its seven fortresses

Last week in Šibenik, a meeting was held to discuss how seven historic forts should be linked thematically in the EU-sponsored FORTITUDE project. Over 1.6 Million Euros is being put into the project, of which 85 percent is co-financed by the EU's Interreg IPA CBC Croatia - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Montenegro.

FORTITUDE is being led by Fortress of Culture Šibenik, under which the city's St. Michael's Fortress, Barone Fortress and St. John's Fortress will be run. They join with Old Town of Dubovac in Karlovac (Croatia), Forte Mare, Herceg Novi and the Old City of Bar (Montenegro) and Kastel Fortress, Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the FORTITUDE project, which aims to strengthen and diversify the cross-border culture and tourist offer, as well as develop high quality and sustainable management of these cultural assets.

Though running from 1st March 2020 - 28th February 2022, FORTITUDE will leave permanent links between these incredible, historic places, not least the annual Fortress Night and the sharing of cultural programmes such as exhibitions, festivals or even entertainers.

As Total Croatia News has just shone the spotlight on The 21 Most Incredible Croatia Castles To See Year-Round, we thought it only fair to pay attention to the seven fantastic forts of FORTITUDE

St. Michael's Fortress, Šibenik (Croatia)
Kaštel_s_TanajeDobarSkroz.jpg© Dobar Skroz

The oldest of the three fortresses in Šibenik's contribution to the FORTIFICATION project, St. Michael's is also the most famous, not least for its historical importance, its prominence in the city skyline and its beloved standing as a cultural event space of international repute. Medieval Croatian kings Petar Krešimir IV (in 1066), Zvonimir (in 1078), and Stjepan II (in 1080) all made official and lasting visits here. They probably enjoyed seeing the incredible building upon approach to the city, and the incredible views offered from its walls, in much the same way we do today. Several islands of the Šibenik archipelago and the medieval town form the vista from the top.

tvrdava-sv-mihovila-sibenik-2fortressofculture.jpg© Fortress of Culture Šibenik

Most of St. Michael's preserved ramparts and fortress bastions date from the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, but this original settlement can be dated back to the Iron Age. Named after St Michael's church which once lay within its walls, some estimate the church to date as far back as the 8th century (its first official mention is the 12th/13th century). Sadly, the church, along with a large part of St. Michael's Fort, was destroyed in 1663 when lightning hit the store of gunpowder necessarily kept there for its defence. St. Michael's Fortress has been rebuilt many times since it was first founded and a great multimedia museum inside will guide you through its history. Afterward, take advantage of the sun-sheltered bar.

Tvrđava-sv.-Mihovila-Šibenik-(6)_JU_Tvrdava_kultre_Sibenik_2.jpgSt. Michael's Fortress is a host venue to internationally renowned music stars and festivals © Fortress of Culture Šibenik

Barone Fortress, Šibenik (Croatia)
LadyIvyBarone_izgradnja-43.jpegBarone Fortress © Lady Ivy

Named after the defender under whose control it lay upon its 1646 build, Baron Christoph von Degenfeld, modern attempts to more Croatian-ise this fortification as Šubićevac - using the name of a local medieval family - are largely observed only domestically. The fortress was given a more modern rebuild in 1659 – at the time it was so badly needed, its walls had probably been hurriedly built in the same way as those of a shepherd's grazing plot. The northern facade of the fortress was the part used to repel the invaders and is marked by two bastions that extend outwards, allowing returning fire to be issued in multiple directions. These bastions were reinforced with mounds and contained all of the artillery for the fight. The fortress was renovated and reopened in 2016 and today uses multimedia tools to guide visitors through its history and that of the town of Šibenik. There are great views of Šibenik and St. Michael's Fortress from the walls.

View_of_St._Michael_Fortress_from_Barone.jpegView of St. Michael's Fortress from Barone Fortress © Zvone00

St. John's Fortress, Šibenik (Croatia)
AnyConv.com__Tanaja_s_Baronea.jpegSt. John's Fortress © DobarSkroz

The medieval church of St. John the Baptist that stood on a hill, north of Šibenik's historical centre, dates to at least 1444. It is around this church that St. John's Fortress rose up. Naturally, it's also where the name comes from. In early 1646, when it was speedily built, its contemporary construction helped save the entire town. The population vastly outnumbered and the fortress not even complete, between late 1646 and the end of 1647, St. John's Fortress served as the main - and successful – defence against the largest invading army to have been seen in Dalmatia since Roman times. After the Yugoslavian army stopped using it, St. John's Fortress became somewhat neglected – locals enjoying to visit on a wild walk with incredibly rewarding views. It has lagged behind the city's other such assets in its state of repair, but incredible effort to address such neglect has been undertaken in recent years and the revitalised St. John's Fortress is set to open in 2021.

AnyConv.com__Tanaja_sa_sv._Ane.jpegView of St. John's Fortress from St. Michael's © DobarSkroz

Old Town of Dubovac, Karlovac (Croatia)
karlovac-dubovac-optimizirano-za-web-ivo-biocina.jpg© Ivo Biocina / Visit Karlovac

The Old Town of Dubovac is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful monuments of medieval architecture in Croatia. Although the architectural style is a dead giveaway to such dating, you struggle to believe such a pristine building it really so old – not least because, as a defensive fortress, it has been attacked many times. This fortress is the ancestor of the entire city of Karlovac. Nobody is quite sure when construction of the original fortification was begun, but it was certainly standing by the 13th century. Its Renaissance appearance of today comes from a 15th-century reconstruction. The fortress stands 185 metres above sea level on the western side of Karlovac and overlooks the Kupa – one of the city's four rivers.

VisitKarlovacDub.jpg© Visit Karlovac

The fortress has a permanent museum in its main tower, which details the history and fascinating, notable ownerships. One of its best features is a map of the ancient terrain detailing all of the other castles and fortresses that once existing in the region along the same defensive line of which the Old Town of Dubovac was a part. The tower holds incredible views. The ground floor of the fortress has a brilliant restaurant 0 arguably the best standard of food that has ever been served within its walls (and that's saying something, considering the dignitaries who used to live here). The courtyard plays host to art & crafts, gastro and other social events – best of all, perhaps, the music concerts and cinema screenings which take place with the looming, citadel walls gifting an incredibly atmospheric backdrop.

1280px-Stari_grad_Dubovac_-_Karlovac_2Miro.jpg© Miroslav.vajdic

Forte Mare, Herceg Novi (Montenegro)
BigMareH.jpeg© TZ Herceg Novi

Forte Mare, meaning literally Sea Fortress, is appropriately named as it sits impressively on top of a rock which rises directly above the Adriatic. It was once the epicentre of life in the town today known as Herceg Novi, the modern town lying just to its north. Construction of the fortress began in 1382 under the first King of Bosnia, Stefan Tvrtko I Kotromanić, and was originally named Sveti Stefan (Saint Stephen). It acquired the name Herceg Novi some time between 1435–1483 and continued to grow as a town and structure until the 17th century and was restored in 1833.

HercegMare5a78f3015bd19286b33c65657114fc4_2_XL.jpg© TZ Herceg Novi

Rather than ever being forgotten, the fortress is an integral part of the town's tourist offer and cultural life. Visitors love to see the narrow passageways that lie within the fortress, particularly the one which stretches from the upper fortress all the way down to the sea. The views are also fantastic – lying right at the start of the incredible Bay of Kotor, you can see the southernmost part of Croatia from the top. In warmer months, the site hosts fantastic events like open-air cinema.

FortMare95a78f3015bd19286b33c65657114fc4_XL.jpgIn this photo, you can see the screen of the outdoor cinema on the top of Forte Mare © TZ Herceg Novi

Stari Grad Bar (Montenegro)
AnyConv.com__Stari_Bar.jpgThe construction of FORTITUDE stronghold of Stari Grad Bar was probably started in response to attacks by the Pannonian Avars © Bojana Smiljanić

The Old City of Bar and its fortress actually lie several kilometres inland from the modern coastal city called Bar and sits on the Londša hill, at the foot of Mount Rumija. The modern city was constructed on the site of the port which served Stari Grad Bar, the relocation necessitated by the 1979 Montenegro earthquake which destroyed Stari Grad Bar's aqueduct. Parts of the wonderfully-arched aqueduct can still be seen today, as can the old city walls which form the fortress of Stari Grad Bar.

1280px-Aquaduct_in_Stari_Bar.jpgThe aqueduct in Stari Grad Bar © Dudva

The original fortifications are guessed to come from the times that Roaman-Illyrian people sought an urban refuge from the attacks of the Pannonian Avars between 568 to 626. Such people inhabited Bar until at least the 14th century, being joined by Slavic people until the city was a mixture of Catholic and Orthodox peoples at the point the Ottomans arrived. The city had been known for its builders and stonemasons, as well as the agriculture of its surroundings, and the unique architecture of Stari Grad Bar today attests to that. Even some of the singular, modern dwellings that lie in the now repopulated town seem to fit in with the stonework of much earlier centuries perhaps, in some cases, as forgotten parts of the old city were borrowed and put to contemporary use. Medieval streets and palaces still stand in the town. It is a fascinating place to visit.

1620px-Ruins_Stari_Bar2_Montenegrochenyingphoto.jpgSome of the fortifications of the fascinating Stari Grad Bar, the southernmost inclusion in the FORTITUDE project © chenyingphoto

Kastel Fortress, Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
TomasDamjanovicBanjalukaNKD136_Kastel_tvrava_Banjaluka.jpegKastel Fortress in Banja Luka, the only fortification from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the FORTITUDE project © Tomas Damjanovic

Sat on a small hill on the banks of the Vrbas river, at the exact point where the more minor Crkvena river flows into it, Kastel Fortress is one of the oldest inhabited parts of Banja Luka and one of the city's key tourist attractions. The fortress itself is medieval, built by the Ottomans, but is situated on the site of Roman fortifications. Archaeological excavations have proven people lived on this exact tract of land from at least the 13th millennium BC. From the year 1553, Banja Luka served as the seat of the Ottoman ruler of the region. Shortly thereafter (1580), it became the capital of the newly-formed Bosnia Eyalet, the most westerly administrative district of the Ottoman Empire.

Bosanski_pasaluk_1600-_godine.pngThe Bosnia Eyalet, of which Banja Luka and the FORTITUDE Kastel was the capital. The Ottoman territory stretched throughout much of modern-day Croatia © Armin Šupuk

It held this status through the entirety of the Eyalet's strongest period until 1683. During this period, the Eyalet included much of modern-day Croatia including, at its peak, most of Dalmatia, right the way up to Lika. After then following a similar path to today's border with Bosnia, it again encroached into today's Croatia, just east of Sisak, engulfing all of Slavonia.

__7SaaKnei.jpegFORTITUDE inclusion Kastel lies on the Vrbas river © Saša Knežić

The Ottomans used this site as an arsenal, its development as a fortress taking place between 1595-1603. It was reconstructed to become the fortress we see today between 1712 –1714 and it is said that around 1785 the fortress held some 50 cannons. It was used as a military site up to after World War II. The Kastel covers an area of 26,610 m2 inside the fortress walls and about 21,390 m2 outside the ramparts and it is dedicated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

SaaKnei__2.jpeg Kastel Fortress in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina © Saša Knežić

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Lekcije iz Crne Gore: divlja ljepota i "staro normalno" u Chedi Luštica Bayu

13. studeni 2020 – A što učiniti kada zrakoplovi prestanu letjeti i tradicionalna turistička tržišta presuše? Inovativna promjena fokusa u hotelu Chedi Luštica Bay, te neke lekcije iz Crne Gore o tome kako promijeniti turizam.

"Luksuz različitim ljudima znači različite stvari”, nedavno mi je rekao prijatelj. “Meni trenutačno luksuz označava prirodu, prostor, svjež zrak i aktivnosti na otvorenom".

Stvari koje smo nekad uzimali zdravo za gotovo, kasnije sam pomislio – posebno oni među nama koji smo morali izdržati tjedne zatvoreni u urbanim sredinama ranije ove godine (a u nekim slučajevima, još jednom ove zime). COVID-19 čini se da ne razlikuje svoje žrtve prema njihovoj važnosti, budući da je dohvatio najuglednije stanovnike Downing Streeta i Bijele kuće, da navedem samo dvojicu. Priroda, svjež zrak, prostor, privatnost – prigoda da se odahne i vrati staroj normalnosti. To zaista jest luksuz, složio sam se, dok sam vraćao masku na lice ulazeći u zagrebački aerodrom.

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Bio sam na putu u Crnu Goru, gdje sam trebao odsjesti u Chedi Luštica Bay hotelu, gdje sam iz prve ruke otkrio kako trenutačno plove kroz nemirne vode hotelske industrije. Htjeli su mi pokazati kako se prilagođavaju značajnim izazovima nove stvarnosti. Vrijeme je spektakularno, obećali su mi, a vožnja quad bikeovima po poluotoku trebala mi je biti vrhunac ove godine. Dok sam gledao kroz prozor u još jedno kišno i sivo poslijepodne u Varaždinu, nije me trebalo mnogo nagovarati, pa smo isplanirali da odem na tri noći, letom do Dubrovnika.

Vjerni pratitelji TCN-a možda se sjećaju članka koji sam napisao nakon prve posjete Luštici, u veljači 2018. Tada sam bio šokiran da se takav projekt uopće može pokrenuti na Balkanu, nakon što sam godinama gledao kako velike investicije u Hrvatskoj zapinju na papirologiji, birokraciji i korupciji. A ovdje, samo preko granice, vizionarski investitori sa švicarskom adresom ulažu 1,1 milijardu eura da bi razvili vrhunsku nekretninu. Površina od 7 milijuna kvadratnih metara na poluotoku Luštica postaje mjesto gdje će nastati 7 luksuznih hotela, novo selo za 2.500 ljudi, dvije marine i golf teren s 18 rupa. Na projektu je sudjelovala i crnogorska vlada i napredovao je silnom brzinom. Ključno je bilo da je, s obzirom na veličinu terena o kojoj se radilo, investitor imao potpunu kontrolu nad dizajnom prostora. Ako je želio stvoriti iskustvo koje se temeljilo na miru, ljepoti, prirodi i životu bez stresa, nije bilo susjeda s kojima je trebao pregovarati.

I upravo se to dogodilo u zaljevu Luštica

To me je iskustvo dovelo do pisanja jednog od najdiskutiranijih članaka na TCN-u (razgovaralo se o njemu čak i na razinama ministara, kako u Hrvatskoj, tako i u Crnoj Gori) nakon te prve posjete Lessons from Montenegro: Why Luxury Lustica Bay Will Never Happen in Croatia.

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Tijekom moje prve posjete Luštici sada pred već gotovo tri godine, došao sam na gradilište, i sjećam se da sam se nasmijao kada su mi rekli da će luksuzni Chedi Luštica Bay biti otvoren u srpnju te godine, posebno kad sam se sjetio mojih iskustava sa sličnim projektima u Hrvatskoj. Ali zaista je bio otvoren u srpnju, a napredak koji se vidi od tada više je nego impresivan, unatoč kočnicama koje je sa sobom donijelo doba korone.

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Da budem iskren, kada su mi se javili iz hotela začudio sam se što je Chedi Luštica Bay uopće otvoren sredinom studenog, posebno ove lude godine koja je uništila turizam diljem svijeta.

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Jedan od izazova turizma kako u Hrvatskoj a tako i u Crnoj Gori je ovisnost o vremenskom dobu. Ovaj graf dubrovačkog aerodroma, preko kojeg u Lušticu dolazi najviše gostiju, daje sjajne naznake te ovisnosti o sezoni. A ovo je statistika za 2019., koja je bila normalna godina.

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Razumljivo je da dolasci turista ovise o frekvenciji letova. Kada nema letova nema niti dolazaka s tradicionalnih turističkih tržišta. Samo pitajte Dubrovnik: dok je većina ostatka Hrvatske imala koristi od smanjenog broja letova, jer je većina gostiju iz susjednih država bila prisiljena odabrati destinaciju do koje može autom, Dubrovnik je ostao bez priljeva turista i u prvih šest mjeseci ove godine ostvario je samo 12% dolazaka iz 2019.

Situacija je bila još gora u Crnoj Gori. Kako još nisu član Europske unije, neka od njihovih najvažnijih tržišta praktično su nestala za ovu godinu kada je Crna Gora uklonjena s liste sigurnih zemalja Europske unije. Obavezna 14-dnevna samoizolacija pri povratku učinila je godišnji odmor u Crnoj Gori nezanimljivim za sve osim za najzagriženije ljubitelje. U 2019. godini, 49% turista u Crnu Goru došlo je iz Njemačke, Rusije i Velike Britanije – sva su ta tržišta ove godine praktično bila nepostojeća! Posjetitelji iz regije prošle su godine činili samo 9% turističkih dolazaka.

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Ali gosti iz regije imaju jednu jednu veliku prednost za one koji se bave turizmom, a koji su ih željni potražiti: oni mogu doći autom. I dok prosječni turist iz regije vjerojatno nema onoliko sredstava za potrošiti kao što imaju Britanci, Nijemci ili Rusi, ipak postoji značajan broj bogatih ljudi u zemljama poput Srbije, Hrvatske, Bosne i Hercegovine, Kosova, Sjeverne Makedonije i Albanije. Oni su također možda planirali odletjeti nekamo izvan regije, a izostanak letova znači da su sad oni postali ciljano tržište. To posebno vrijedi u zimskim mjesecima, kada je lokalni turizam tradicionalno nepostojeći. Mnoge turističke tvrtke zimske mjesece na Jadranu provode zatvorene. To je doba godine kada se vlasnici odmaraju nakon duge i uspješne sezone, te i oni često odlete nekamo na produžen zasluženi odmor. Kako ni ove zime neće baš biti mnogo letova, postoji tržište za one koji imaju što ponuditi.

I rezultati su bili impresivni. Bilo je jasno da će turističke brojke za ovu godinu biti smanjene, ali posjetitelji iz regije ove su godine premašili 80% svih dolazaka (u odnosu na 9% lani), a prognoza za 2021, kako se stvari budu vraćale u normalu, je da će tada činiti 60%.

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A kako sam otkrio pri svojoj posljednjoj posjeti Chedi Luštica Bayu, nude mnoštvo toga, dok se u pozadini nalazi netaknuta priroda, svjež zrak, prostor i privatnost. Luksuz, kako bi to nazvao moj prijatelj s početka članka.

Pa što to Chedi radi drukčije, da može biti otvoren cijelu godinu, dok mnogi hoteli u Dubrovniku 2020. uopće nisu otvorili svoja vrata?

Dva su ključa za njihov relativni uspjeh: fantastično avanturističko igralište koje nema susjeda, te management team koji se ne boji istraživati novosti i širiti poslovanje.

Često se govori o tome kako je obala Crne Gore preizgrađena i njena ljepota time kompromitirana. I dok je to nedvojbeno istina u nekim mjestima (naprimjer, u Budvi i u Herceg Novom), ništa ne može biti dalje od istine na poluotoku Luštica. On je zaista mjehurić pozitivne energije i neukaljane ljepote na svim stranama, posve drukčiji od svega drugog što sam susreo na crnogorskoj obali. A na obilasku na quad vozilima sam otkrio i da je mjesto pritajeno bogate (i iznimno zdrave) turističke ponude.

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Kada sam prvi put posjetio Chedi Lustica Bay, početkom 2018., još je bila u izgradnji. Moj dojam je bio da se radi o izvrsnom projektu, ali da je malo daleko od ostatka turističke akcije

Tek sam sada počeo u potpunosti cijeniti magiju doživljaja zaljeva Luštica, sada kada je više toga izgrađeno i kada stvari počinju sjedati na svoje mjesto. Ne radi se samo o hotelu, tih 7 milijuna kvadrata pružaju cjelokupno iskustvo Luštice, koje je moguće među najboljim takvim luksuznim iskustvima prostora, prirode, ljepote i svježeg zraka u Europi danas.

Koristeći hotel kao bazu, možete iskoristiti prilike koje oduzimaju dah za bicikliranje po cestama na kojima nećete sresti nikoga.

Ili za jogu uz vodu, opuštajući način da započnete dan.

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Gary Player teren za golf s 18 rupa još nije otvoren, ali je driving range uređen i otvoren i vrlo popularan u većem dijelu godine (zatvara se 15. studenog).

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Na plaži je bilo ponešto ljudi, neki su se čak i kupali usred studenog, a kajaci i SUP-ovi su bili raspoloživi za uporabu.

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Očekuje vas cijela flota quadova i e-bicikala, koje možete unajmiti s ili bez vodiča. Vodič uz quad se svakako isplati.

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Moram priznati da sam bio malo nervozan oko te vožnje na quadu, jer mi je to bilo prvi put, ali su me sjajni (iako pomalo ludi) vodiči iz Chedija uvjerili da će to biti obilazak za pamćenje.

Nisu bili u krivu.

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Kakav sjajan način za istražiti poluotok, brzinom i razinom interesa kojom želite!

Bilo koja ideja kako bi ovo mogla biti nježna vožnja po glavnim putevima brzo se raspršila čim smo sišli offroad, a stajali smo samo da bismo s puta micali prepreke (pogledajte video gore).

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Bilo je vremena i za diviti se mnogim prelijepim crkvama koje se nalaze u selima Luštice.

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Prilika za uočiti opušteni lokalni način života – Crna Gora u jesen, na prekrasno kasno jutro u studenom.

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Vožnja kroz tradicionalna sela na obali, oazu mirnoće.

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Naš vodič Milan domaći je iz Luštice, strastven zaljubljen u svoj poluotok. Odveo nas je na neka od svojih omiljenih mjesta, gdje ide na planinarenje s prijateljima, daleko od gužve, gdje uživaju u roštiljanju u prirodi, kao što je ovo mjesto uz jednu od 85 utvrda bokeljske regije, koje su izgrađene za vrijeme Austro-Ugarske.

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Utvrde imaju i svoje tajne, pa nas je Milan proveo kroz 400 metara dugačak tunel ispod utvrde na Grabovcu.

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Kako je osjetio da nam se zaista svidio ovaj obilazak, Milan nas je odveo još dublje u svoj svijet, pokazujući nam simpatična kamena sela, u kojima su nažalost mnoge kuće u jako lošem stanju.

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A druge su prekrasno uređene i nude fantastičan pogled, okružene prirodom i bez drugih ljudi u blizini.

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Boje Luštice u jesen.

Divlja ljepota i staro normalno. Nakon što sam mjesecima bio u stresu i pisao o pandemiji, učinilo mi se da sam pronašao mjehurić prirodne svježine koji je podsjećao na život kakav je nekad bio.

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Nastavili smo voziti kroz polja i uz maslinike iz kojih nastaje fantastično crnogorsko maslinovo ulje. Ako imate vremena i želje, postoji mogućnost da uživate i u kušanju maslinovih ulja obitelji Morić u njihovom masliniku, kao i senzacionalnih lokalnih sireva koje proizvodi Ruskinja koja se prije 9 godina doselila na poluotok.

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Možete malo i hraniti magarce.

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A svugdje kameni zidovi slijede ceste.

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Austro-Ugarski utjecaj je snažan u regiji Boke, i ne samo zbog mnoštva utvrda. Kako su bili majstori infrastrukture, čini se da su bili daleko ispred svoga vremena pa da su oni čak postavili i temelje za puteve za današnja quad vozila, prije više od stoljeća. No, sad smo išli potpuno off-road.

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Ali, ako ste pomislili da je to najgore što ćemo ići off-road, Milan je imao drukčije planove. On zna za neka mjesta iznimne ljepote na poluotoku na koja čak niti Austrijanci nisu nikada naišli. Do njih nije vodio nikakav put, pa sam samo slijedio quad ispred sebe. Pogled je bio izniman, kao i vrijeme (21° C sredinom studenog).

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Pogleda na utvrdu Mamula, koja bi sljedeće godine trebala biti otvorena kao hotel s 5 zvjezdica.

Obilazak koji nikada neću zaboraviti.

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Ogromna zahvala ludom Milanu i Tamari za njihov dio u najboljem turističkom iskustvu ove godine za mene. Zaista preporučam.

Kada je obilazak završio, došlo je vrijeme da se vratimo u hotel Chedi Luštica Bay, isprobati njihovu vansezonsku ponudu.

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I dok su se neki gosti kupali u vanjskom bazenu, u unutrašnjem nije bilo nikoga.

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Dok sam boravio u Luštici, objavljeni su dobitnici 2020 World Luxury Hotel Awards i među njima je bilo dobrih vijesti za Chedi Luštica Bay, koji je proglašen najboljim luksuznim obalnim hotelom u Europi, najboljim luksuznim boutique restoranom u Europi i najboljom ekipom Spa u Crnoj Gori. Impresivan broj nagrada, pa sam morao malo istražiti. Palac gore za tajlandski curry od kozica i kokosa, egzotični djelić menija koji se inače koncentrira na lokalne organske proizvode.

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... od tajlandskog curryja do tajlandske masaže. Opuštajući način da se oporavim od avantura na quadu.

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Jedan od izazova za team iz Chedija leži u privlačenju domaćeg tržišta. Kada je otvoren Porto Montenegro u Tivatu prije više od deset godina, bilo je očekivano da će biti doživljen kao mjesto za bogate strance, nedostupan domaćima. Ta se percepcija sada promijenila, te je taj projekt postao popularan među domaćima, ali sam imao dojam da Chedi i njegovo selo oko marine domaći i dalje doživljavaju tako.

No, i ta se percepcija polako mijenja kako marina otvara sve više dućana, kafića i restorana, pa je sve više domaćih stanovnika tamo otišlo na kavu i prepričalo doživljaje. Promjena je percepcije također i posljedica novog pristupa managementa hotela, čija je strategija povećati broj aktivnosti koje nude. Ne samo biciklizam, kajaci i quad vozila, nego također unutar i oko samog hotela, a na kojima će domaće stanovništvo biti više nego dobrodošlo.

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Tečajevi kuhanja za odrasle četvrtkom

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Tečajevi izrade kolačića i umjetnosti za djecu vikendom.

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Besplatne filmske večeri, uključujući i besplatne kokice, srijedom. Ponekad se to odvija u amfiteatru u marini, koji je zaista spektakularno mjesto za gledanje filma.

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A ponekad u predvorju hotela, gdje gosti mogu uživati u njegovom komforu i velikom ekranu.

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A zabava za djecu ne ovisi o vremenu, pa preinačena konferencijska sala nikad nije izgledala zabavnije niti bila popularnija.

Kratki video-obilazak

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Svi ovi dodatni sadržaju su besplatni za hotelske goste, ali i – a to je lijepa gesta – besplatni i za domaće posjetitelje i svakoga tko dođe u hotel i tamo išta potroši. Nije loše investirati, da biste se opustili u ovoj oazi uz more, dok vam se maleni zabavljaju i igraju istražujući.

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I posjetitelji iz regije im pristižu. Da su stvari normalne, možda bi ove zime razmišljali o plaži u Tajlandu ili Šri Lanci, ali kako im te opcije nisu baš dostupne ove godine, ispunjujuća obiteljska zabava s nešto prirodnog luksuza pokazuje se kao ugodna, iako neočekivana alternativa. Jedna sjajna inovacija koja mi se zaista svidjela je „resort credit“ – ako uzmete sobu ili više njih s pogledom na more u ovoj destinaciji aktivnog stila života za 199 eura ili više, cjelokupnu ćete cijenu sobe moći iskoristiti u cijelom resortu, te čak dobiti i neka noćenja besplatno. Malo uživanja na quadovima, kajaci, masaža, filmske večeri i dobra hrana, a smještaj dobijete besplatno.

I ovaj novi fokus na aktivnosti čini se da djeluje, jer hotel predviđa da će imati daleko veći prihod od aktivnosti u sljedećoj godini. Zanimljivo je bilo da je tijekom mog boravka jedna četvrtina gostiju uplatila neke od dodatnih aktivnosti. Zaista, čini se da je ovaj promjena smjera prema stilu života, outdoor aktivnostima i regionalnom tržištu je vjerojatno najbolji turistički odgovor koji sam vidio na Jadranu tijekom ove bremenite godine.

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Bila je ovo stresna godina za sve nas, i nisam bio siguran što će me čekati u Crnoj Gori ovaj put. Ali, ono što sam dobro zapamtio i 48 sati kasnije jest luksuz. Ne udobni kreveti, ne fantastični pogledi, ne ukusna hrana, ne pamtljive aktivnosti. Nego luksuz koji je spomenuo moj prijatelj s početka – priroda, prostor, svjež zrak, privatnost. Dojam je bio kao da smo i dalje u staroj normalnosti, kada smo te neke stvari uzimali zdravo za gotovo. Zaljev Luštica je mjehurić, nema dvojbe, a energija ljudi koji tamo žive i rade jednostavno je zarazna.

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Jedna od najzanimljivijih prilagodbi novom dobu je odluka da se neke hotelske sobe pretvori u uredske prostore. Ovi su novi uredi dostupni po all-inclusive cijeni od 790 eura mjesečno, uz neograničeni parking i brzi Internet. Pristup svim uslugama i aktivnostima hotela, kao i inspirirajući pogled kao što je onaj iz ureda koji vidite gore, još je jedan inovativni iskorak koji se već isplaćuje: prvi digitalni nomad već je iskoristio ovu ponudu u inicijalnom tromjesečnom periodu.

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Staro normalno na kraju 2020. Da, to zaista postoji. Nije da se epidemiološke mjere ne provode. Provode se, i čini se da ih se ljudi pridržavaju bolje nego sam navikao vidjeti u Hrvatskoj. Možda je jedan od razloga zašto sam stekao takav dojam i taj što nisam vidio mnogo ljudi – možda ukupno njih 10 tijekom 4 sati obilaska na quadu, naprimjer.

Jedan običan ručak u marini Luštica sredinom studenog.

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U vožnji natrag do dubrovačkog aerodroma, za oko mi je zapeo prometni znak na mjestu gdje se napušta aerodrom. Dubrovnik je desno, na 19 km, Gruda lijevo, 11 km. A ispod toga, neko mjesto koje se zove Tivat u Crnoj Gori. Nasmijao sam se.

Tijekom prijevoza od hotela moj mi je prijateljski nastrojen vozač rodom iz Tivta pričao o životu u Tivtu prije dolaska luksuznog turizma, prvo kroz Porto Montenegro a sada i kroz Luštica Bay.

"Prije 15 godina, Tivat je bio toliko nebitan da ga nisu spominjali ni na vremenskoj progonozi na nacionalnoj razini. A vidite ga sad."

Svakako. Tada bi i sama ideja da bi netko otišao iz Dubrovnika u Tivat za vikend odmor bila ismijana. Danas se to vrlo često događa. A sada ako pristanete putovati još 10 minuta, možete istražiti divlju ljepotu i staro normalno. U luksuzu. Luksuzu koji uključuje prirodu, prostor, ljepotu i beskonačno mnogo svježeg zraka.

Srdačno vam to preporučam.

Dugujem mnogo zahvala timu Chedi Luštica Baya što su mi omogućili posjetu i sa mnom podijelili svoja razmišljanja. Saznajte više o čaroliji u zaljevu Luštica na službenoj web stranici.

(Paul Bradbury bio je gost u The Chedi Lustica Bay tijekom studenog 2020)

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