Business Insider: Montenegro not Croatia the 2019 Billionaire Adriatic Destination

By 18 March 2019

March 18, 2019 - Another endorsement of Montenegro as an emerging luxury tourism destination from Business Insider. Meanwhile in Croatia...

One of the things I love about running the Total Project over three countries (Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia) is the opportunity to meet with a variety of amazing people from all walks of life, as well as the chance to compare and contrast. and move beyond the stereotypes that I, along with many others, have embedded within us. 

Until recently, for example, it was the perceived wisdom that Croatia was a much more attractive destination for luxury tourism than Montenegro. Montenegro, so the stereotype went, was a corrupt country and a Russian playground. When I started posting that my observations were in fact that Montenegro was moving ahead of Croatia in terms of luxury tourism, the topic seemed to touch a raw nerve with some of my Croatian friends and readers. This brought on that very familiar Croatian reaction when criticism comes their way - the policy of deflection. Normally the policy is to attack my Britishness (which is fair enough - as if we hadn't caused enough crap in the past, Brexit is pushing us into the world's biggest joke...), but any suggestion that Montenegro is somehow doing better than Croatia is explained by one word. 


I always laugh at this argument, the only time you ever hear Croats talking about other countries being more corrupt than their own. The reality of course, is that this is the Balkans baby, and of course Montenegro, as with other countries in the region, has its major issues in this regard. But the difference on this issue between Croatia and Montenegro was nicely summed up by a Russian billionaire investor to an acquaintance of mine:

"There is corruption in every country in the region here. The only difference in Croatia is that you pay the politician and nothing happens, so four years later, you have to pay again. And nothing happens."

I digress. 

A year ago, I made my first visit to Montenegro in years, and I was stunned. I knew all about Porto Montenegro, of course, but what was happening at Lustica Bay was mindblowing for someone living in Croatia. A 1.1 billion euro luxury tourism investment that was actually happening. When I came home from, I wrote Lessons from Montenegro: Why Lustica Bay Will Never Happen in Croatia

Porto Montenegro, Lustica Bay, Portonovi - the luxury developments kept on coming, and the super-rich were arriving in their superyachts. Montenegro was de facto becoming the Adriatic destination of choice for the billionaires. Meanwhile in Croatia... 

I was curious to see which were the biggest tourism investments on the Croatian coast. Thinking our heroes at the Ministry of Tourism might have some idea, I contacted them, but in the end had to do my own research. The largest ever tourism investment was Falkensteiner Punta Skala near Zadar (and very lovely it is too, and this summer will be home to The Monster, the world's largest bouncy castle), at 160 million euro in 2011, followed by Sun Gardens Dubrovnik at 150 million euro back in 2009. Nothing bigger in the intervening years in Croatia. Indeed, if you looked at the 2018 dollar value, the biggest investment ever was some $245 million, back in 1971 - Learn more on Lessons from Montenegro: Penthouse Haludovo in 1971, Croatia's Biggest Adriatic Investment

But Croatia is preserving its coastline, say the defenders, and yes they have a point. But tell that to the many foreign investors who have spent millions buying up land they were told they can build on (and may well in time). The coastal map of Croatia with all the planned developments in would be a very interesting one to read. 

Croatia, one of the most beautiful countries in the world and a potential luxury tourism haven if ever there was one, is missing out. Having worked as an aid worker back in 1994 during the genocide, I was amazed to learn that Rwanda too is becoming a luxury tourism destination. The major luxury tourism hotel brands are opening in Kigali but not Croatia. 

And so to the catalyst for this article - the Business Insider These are the 15 hottest destinations billionaires are traveling to in 2019, which was published over the weekend.

No Italy. No Greece. No Croatia. Just one entry on the Adriatic (Rwanda also made the list by the way):


This wasn't a random list of countries put together, but based on

"Business Insider teamed up with boutique luxury travel agency Original Travel, which plans trips for high-net-worth individuals, to find out the hottest spots the elite are spending their money on in 2019. They based this ranking on the number of bookings and performance; the latter was assessed by feedback, their expertise, and client inquiries."

About Montenegro they said:

"Montenegro is set for a luxury upgrade in 2019 with the Chedi Lustica Bay newly opened and One & Only opening its first resort in Europe next year with Portonovi in Boka Bay," he said.

"Lesser-known than neighbors Croatia and Greece, the tiny slice of Adriatic coastline that is Montenegro has previously lacked high-quality accommodation (other than the Aman network) to rival its fjord landscapes, Tom Barber, co-founder of Original Travel, told Business Insider.

"Montenegro is set for a luxury upgrade in 2019 with the Chedi Lustica Bay newly opened and One & Only opening its first resort in Europe next year with Portonovi in Boka Bay," he said."

(Editor's note Lustica Bay last month won an award as the Best Property Development in Europe at the Luxury Network International Awards in Dubai)

About Rwanda they said:

"Rwanda was named a new African luxury destination to watch in 2018 by Luxury Travel Mag. The destination is all about nature and wildlife, home to three national parks: Akagera, Nyungwe, and the Volcanoes National Park.

"The latter is the perfect spot — and one of the few remaining places — to see mountain gorillas in the wild, according to Original Travel."

About Croatia they said:

Absolutely nothing.

But as long as Croatia keeps cramming tourists and cruise ship passengers into its old towns, the numbers will look good and the season will be a success. 

If you are interested in learning more about Montenegro, follow our sister site, Total Montenegro News